Turn! Turn! Turn!
Brian Simmons, WOOD's turning expert for over a decade, loves woodturning so much he even plans vacations around it! And he's tried out lots of tools over the years—many for the magazine, some just because he wanted to—but keeps coming back to these stalwarts for "everyday" turning.
Wolverine grinding jig, no. 2291
Vari-Grind attachment, no. 2480
Sold at Woodcraft, 800-225-1153, woodcraft.com
Since its introduction about 25 years ago, this sharpening jig has become the go-to standard for turners. Mounted to a bench grinder, this jig helps me quickly and—more important—repeatably sharpen most turning tools to the same profile. No more frustration from freehanding tools at the grinder. The jig comes with an adjustable flat rest for sharpening skews and scrapers (and regular bench chisels), as well as an extendable arm for spindle roughing gouges. And the Vari-Grind attachment works great for spindle detail gouges and bowl gouges, especially for shaping a swept-back fingernail grind, which I prefer.
Robert Sorby 11⁄4 " spindle roughing gouge, no. B843325
Sold at Woodcraft.
When it comes to roughing out spindles (where the grain runs parallel to the lathe axis), this 11⁄4 " roughing gouge is my moneymaker. A 3⁄4 " roughing gouge, standard in most turning-tool kits, proves a little small for turnings over 3" in diameter. With a larger cutting edge, more mass, and a longer handle, the 11⁄4 " gouge better tackles larger turnings, while still being suitable for small pieces, even pens. With this tool sharpened to a fine edge, I sometimes use its large wing like a skew for finishing cuts.
Talon 4-jaw chuck, no. 2985
1"× 8 tpi or 11⁄4 "× 8 tpi mounting sizes
Sold at Woodcraft.If I can't mount a blank between centers, I reach for my Oneway Talon chuck. This self-centering, key-operated chuck holds turnings securely on the headstock either by expansion into a recess or compression onto a tenon. The parallel jaws grip the wood with minimal marring yet don't require a dovetail because of small serrations on each jaw. Thanks to a nickel-plated body, hardened base jaws, and a coated scroll, my 20-year-old chuck still performs like the day I bought it.