Tormek Community

In the Shop => Wood Turning => Topic started by: Ken S on July 30, 2018, 08:02:23 am

Title: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on July 30, 2018, 08:02:23 am
We receive questions occasionally about sharpening Alan Lacer skews with the Tormek. I do not feel we have ever offered a satisfactory answer. Until now, I have not been an active turner. This week I purchased and assembled a metal stand for my lathe. I hope to join the active turner ranks very soon.

We seem to get hung up because the Lacer skew doesn't quite fit in the closed seat of the Multi Jig. The skew is 1 3/8” wide by 3/8” thick. I think the problem is that none of us actually has a Lacer skew. One reply thought the constraint was that the 3/8” thickness was too thick for the closed seat. My unaltered closed seat opening is 12mm (almost 1/2”) by
1 1/2”. No thickness constraint.

I think the 1 3/8” width could be made to fit with some filing. At present, I do not have a Lacer skew. I think it is a well designed, useful tool. I intend to purchase one and a spare closed seat and try to fit it.

The real constraint was that the closed seat is designed to work with skew angles from zero to forty five degrees. "Forty five degrees" has a nice marketing ring, however, who among us ever sharpens a turning skew to that angle? Alan Lacer recommends a twenty degree skew angle. Even the Tormek videos only recommend thirty degrees.  That room in the closed seat might be put to better use accommodating larger turning skews. I hope Tormek remembers this when redesigning the Multi Jig to be made of zinc.

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on October 01, 2018, 04:41:51 am
We are a couple steps closer to being able to sharpen the Alan Lacer skew with the Tormek. First, I have been able to reshape and sharpen the combination grind on the Tormek. (The Lacer grind is a combination of approximately a third of the edge at the long point being straight like a bench chisel and the rest of the edge being radiused.) I reshaped and sharpened my one inch skew to this grind using my Tormek T8 with the DC-250 diamond wheel.

Second, I ordered a large Lacer skew this evening. It is important to work with the full size product.

I will keep you posted.

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on October 04, 2018, 03:08:25 am
My new Alan Lacer 1 3/8” skew arrived today. It is formidable! It looks like a very useful, versatile tool. I have devised an all Tormek method of sharpening it. It is not the method for sharpening skews in the handbook or turner's information box. My method also works well for reshaping on the Tormek.

Alan Lacer recommends using an eight inch diameter grinding wheel to add a small hollow grind for hand honing. I am sure my method will also work with my T4. I will try using both size Tormeks.

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Fernando on October 04, 2018, 05:12:05 pm
I follow you closely
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on October 05, 2018, 12:15:39 pm

I have learned a lot about the Tormek from working with this one tool and the way it is ground. The Lacer grind for a turning skew is a combination of a radius ground skew for about two thirds of the width and a flat straight grind on the remaining third of the width. The combination creates a very versatile tool. The combination also prevents the Multi Jig from working properly.

In fairness to the Tormek engineers, I will add that the Multi Jig, while it is very versatile, was never designed for this combination grind. As with any Tormek jig, there is a range of tools which fit the jig very well, an extended range of tools which barely work with the jigs, and some tools which are outside the range of the jig and do not work at all. For example, my everyday kitchen knives, from my paring knives to my chef's knife all fit the Tormek jig nicely. The Small Blade Holder extends the range to small blades with substantial handles.  For small blades with small handles, a few of us on this forum went beyond the handbook and devised our own jigs. (Today young people doing this kind of thing with electronic devices call it "jailbreaking".  :)  ) Herman's platform is an example of the best of these "jailbreaks".

The method which I found worked very well for me is essentially the same method that Alan Lacer uses, except that it is done with a Tormek instead of a dry grinder. Lacer calls this freehand sharpening with a platform. In this case, I use the Torlock platform with the opposite edge facing the grinding wheel. I consider this not within the conventional handbook technique, however, not quite a jailbreak.

The lesson here is that the versatility of the Tormek is not limited to handbook technique. The handbook is an excellent starting reference guide. It works best when paired with user imagination.

There is also a size constraint with the Lacer skew. At 1 3/8”, it does not quite fit into the closed seat of the Multi Jig. That is a minor issue.

The Lacer grind works well with smaller skews. Before I purchased the Lacer skew, I reshaped a one inch skew to Lacer grind with my Tormek. I like the new grind. In my opinion, the difference is worth the time spent on this one time operation.

Some turners would see the large Lacer skew as too heavy and large. I see the weight as providing stability. I plan to turn forty table legs for my grandchildren's school. The large, stable tool should prove very useful in turning evenly tapered legs.

I will keep you posted.

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: RichColvin on October 05, 2018, 02:01:48 pm
So when do we get pictures of what you’re making on the lathe ?
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Fernando on October 05, 2018, 06:59:59 pm
I agree with RichColvin, I would also like to see some pictures  ;D
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: gabecker on November 16, 2018, 02:51:33 pm
Is there any update on sharpening the Alan Lacer skew with the Tormek? How do Tormek users sharpen the Lacer grind?
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on November 16, 2018, 05:46:08 pm
Welcome to the forum, Gary.

Sorry, not much of an update yet. Some progress in two areas. First, I now have a large Alan Lacer skew. The procedure I worked out involved using a smaller, one inch straight grind skew. I reshaped and sharpened it. I am confident that the technique will transfer. Second, I have "cracked the code" and now can upload photos onto the forum.

No surprise, I really like the big Lacer skew. It is very stable! Somewhat surprising to me is that after using the Lacer skew, I still like the one inch skew with the Lacer grind just as much as I did.

In hindsight, changing out the original four prong drive center and cup dead center was an excellent idea. No burning with the new Oneway live center. The Oneway "safety center", which allows the wood to slip and stop in the event of a catch, has really given me peace of mind. I bought the Oneway, which I like. In hindsight, the old dead center would have worked.

I will make a concerted efgort to add photos (or, don't hold your breath,,,,video).

Gary, I hope you will continue to post. Being a beginning turner continues to be an education for me. I hope my beginning steps and missteps will benefit the forum. I also hope to gain from other members' beginning steps. (Experienced steps are very welcome, too, of course.)

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: gabecker on November 20, 2018, 08:42:45 pm
I bought an Alan Lacer skew--I think it's 3/8" thick and 1-3/8" wide. I'm trying to decide how I'm going to sharpen it. Alan sharpens free hand. You could do that on the Tormek--I think. But I've been wondering why I couldn't make a jig just for the Lacer grind. It would kind of be like the SVS-50. For starters I might try to make it barely wide enough for the big skew to fit in--that would take care of centering issues. Then I would have the front rounded so that it would pivot on the USB. There would still be an element of free-handed grinding involved--especially with the skew angle--but it seems like the bevel angle would be more consistent and a single facet bevel would be easier for me. Probably set it all up using the marker method.

Anyone care to give additional input?
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: RichColvin on November 20, 2018, 10:49:53 pm

Consider something like a curvilinear slide (used in ornamental turning).  This video shows a number of things, including the use of a curvilinear slide (around 3:50 into the video).

Kind regards,
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on November 21, 2018, 05:57:26 am
We have two issues involved:

First, the large Alan Lacer skew does not quite fit in the closed seat of the SVS-50. That seems solvable with a little filing.

The shape of the grind seemed the second issue to me. Starting from the right in the photo, around a third of the grind is straight, with no curve. Then, the grind curves to about a seventy degree skew. This effectively combines a bench chisel and a radius skew. The flat, “bench chisel” portion is very effective for removing a lot of stock quickly. The radius part works like a radius skew, and makes planing and oother cuts easier.

My work on this project is incomplete. When I started, I did not yet own my large Lacer skew. I reground my one inch wide sraight skew to the Lacer profile. I used the DC-250, Tormek’s new coarse diamond wheel. The result is shown in the photo. I essentially followed Alan Lacer’s sharpening procedure, substituting the Tormek with Torlock platform for the dry grinder with a platform.

When my Lacer skew arrived, I honed it a bit with a CBN hone and tried it. I like the heft of the large skew. It seems verey stable. To my surprise, I also like the performance of the smaller and thinner one inch skew. I like the combination grind.

I think the SVS-50 type jig could easily be modified to accept the Lacer skew. The constraint is the desire to be able to skew the chisel forty five degrees. The present closed seat is a revision of the original. I think it may have been designed with oval skews in mind. It will securely and accurately hold an inch and a quarter wide oval skew and handily grind it straight of radiused. If the Tormek engineers wanted to, redesigning the closed seat for a Lacer skew would be an easy project. I think it would most logically be an optional accessory, with the present design being included with the basic jig.there is no need for forty five degrees of skew with the Lacer skew. Alan recommends twenty degrees (seventy degrees from the axis he uses).

Tormek may well be in the process of redesigning the jig to zinc. The newer design jigs are zine, and I believe soon most if not all of the jigs will be zinc.Unfortunately, I do not believe any of the present Tormek engineers are active turners, and the Lacer skew will probably be overlooked, as is the Stuart Batty forty forty bowl gouge.That will give the untrue implication that the Tormek is not able to sharpen these tools, and many turners will move on to other sharpening systems.

I believe it is possible to grind the combination Lacer straight and radius grind with the Tormek and a jig. I have just not figured out how ti do it yet. It would be a fine project for the turners on the forum to share thoughts and solve this. We would all benefit.


PS I think a somewhat clumsy, but easy to sharpen substitute for the Lacer skew would be three tools: a large radius skew; a conventional straight ground skew; and a heavy square scraper ground like a straight unskewed skew. Three tools instead of one, however, they would do the jib.
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on December 02, 2018, 12:46:03 pm
Family and school responsibilities have limited my shop time, however, I have been thinking about skews and studying them at odd times such as very early in the morning.

My primary purpose for my big Lacer skew will be turning the legs for ten tables for my grandchildren's school. The large mass of the Lacer skew will help keep the tapered legs smooth and even.

At my present limited skill level, I wonder if some of the other possible skew functions might be more efficiently performed with other tools. Roughing could be done with a spindle roughing gouge. Quick dimensioning could be done with a bedan or beading and parting tool. Beads and coves could be cut with a spindle or detail gouge. All of these tools, with less mass, are quicker to sharpen, at least at my present skill level. I hope to develop my skill level in the future.

Alan Lacer states that he learned the grind he uses (the "Lacer grind") from an old production turner. As an amateur, I don't have the same time constraints as a production turner. I can use several tools to make my table legs. An extra few minutes don't matter.

I have had good success shaping and sharpening a smaller one inch skew with the Tormek platform and coarse diamond wheel. Even with the coarse wheel, I would not call the process fast. Following the exact profile of a Lacer grind is not crucial. That said, Rich Colvin has sent me a drawing for a posdible jig using a radius. It seems very promising.

Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: gabecker on December 06, 2018, 07:59:46 pm
My attempt making a jig didn't work out. The jig did, but it doesn't work like I thought--doesn't work at all. So--I reshaped an old smaller skew free hand on a dry grinder with the Norton 3x wheels. It worked good--after watching Alan Lacer's videos many times. Now I want to try to sharpen it on the Tormek's SVD-110 tool rest in the vertical position. One question I have is if the tool is initially sharpened on an 8" wheel that gives it a hollow grind, how will that work then to resharpen on a 10" wheel? Another question: Do Tormek users hone their skews with a diamond hone, or does the leather wheel do such a good job that honing isn't necessary?
Title: Re: Alan Lacer skew revisited
Post by: Ken S on December 07, 2018, 12:40:31 am

I have not been able to spend sharpening time, however, I have made some small progress in the right direction. I just purchased a spare closed seat for my SVS-50 on ebay. I plan to file out the one end to accept the Lacer skew. That will be the easy part. I am still working on how to match the radius part of the grind. Rich Colvin has a good idea. We have work to do!

I  am still thinking through the difference in radiii. Eight inch dry grinders seem to be the weapons of choice for woodturners today. The CBN wheels are almost exclusively eight inch diameter. I recently sharpened my grandfather's one inch turning skew using the SG250 on my T7. It was more work than I realized. It was last sharpened by my grandfather using his six inch dry grinder. At least one prominent woodworking teacher recommends always sharpening skews with a flat bevel.

So, what is the ideal grinding radius? Alan Lacer has stated that the purpose of the hollow grind is to help with hand honing. His preferred hand honer is a 600 grit diamond file.

I can certainly understand why Alan Lacer has not included the Tormek in his sharpening technique.  Tormek has never made a jig which works with his most used large skew. Also, the new DWC-200 and DC-250 diamond wheels are the first grinding wheels Tormek has ever made which approach being coarse wheels.

I have four choices in eight inch coarse grinding wheels: The Tormek DWC-200; a D-Way 180 grit CBN; and Norton 3X wheels in 46 and 80 grits. Although they work best with the T4, they will work with the larger Tormeks as well as any grinding wheel worn to eight inches.

Since the Lacer skew appears to have been ground with an eight inch radius, I will start with my T4 and the 180 grit CBN wheel. I can use this wheel wet (with ACC or Honerite Gold). For anything more than touch up sharpening, I recommend using the vertical position.

Until a better jigged Tormek solution is discovered, I will use the Torlock platform, essentially like Alan Lacer uses it. I think effective honing can be done on the Tormek using either the DWC-200 or the SG-200 graded middle or fine. With the Torlock platform left in place on the support bar, changing grits should be fast. Using just the 600 grit wheel should substitute for honing, with no rounding danger.

I have much to learn about skews and will share my observations from time to time. I encourage others to do likewise.