Woodturning Tips – Micro Turning Tools Create Fine Detail With Ease
Almost twelve years ago I opened my professional woodturning studio. One of the first specialty tools I purchased was a five-piece set of micro turning tools. These are essentially smaller versions of regular sized woodturning tools. They are very useful tools for many tasks on the lathe. My micro turning tool set is comprised of the following tools: ¼” micro spindle gouge, 3/16″ micro spindle gouge, ¼” micro skew chisel, 5/32″ micro parting tool and a ¼” micro round nose scraper. These tools have become my favorite detail tools for small and intermediate sized lathe projects. I also use them frequently on larger projects, up to two feet in diameter.
Benefits Of Using Micro Turning Tools
Micro tools by their very nature are small in size, microfusione in cina But the versatility of micro tools does not end there, they are true multi-purpose tools that can be used for numerous tasks on the lathe. I also use my micro turning tools for creating dovetails on the bottom of faceplate projects, turning pens and bottle stoppers, beads and coves on small and large projects, gullet definition on beads, back-cuts on floating beads, finesse cuts near adjacent design elements, detail and finishing cuts on boxes and lots more.with very small bevels and short handles. This allows you to get into really tight areas with ease and execute certain tasks that would be difficult, if not impossible with a larger tool. The micro bevels on these tools take light cuts, allowing you to achieve glass-smooth surfaces right off the gouge. If you have to do a lot of sanding on fine detail, you will probably radically change the profile. Having the ability to get such a smooth surface off the gouge is invaluable, because your crisp detail remains intact and requires little, if any sanding prior to finishing.
Ergonomics Of A Micro Turning Tool
The short handle on a micro tool makes it possible to turn with the tool directly in front of you, instead of to the side as you would with a larger spindle, or faceplate tool. This creates an ergonomically comfortable turning position, that makes it easier to execute difficult or intricate details. The ultra lightweight of the tools is an added bonus, because it’s much easier to execute fine detail with a small lightweight tool than a larger tool.
Most turners think that micro turning tools can only be used on small turnings, and tend to dismiss their use on larger projects. However, with proper tool support, micro tools can be used on larger projects. I have used micro turning tools to turn details on projects up to 30″ in diameter in my studio. The key to using a small tool on a large project, is to keep your tool rest support as close to the cutting edge as possible and take light cuts. Of course, you cannot expect micro turning tools to waste wood away like a larger spindle gouge or bowl gouge. However, you can expect them to deliver smooth and crisply detailed surfaces, when used with proper support and turning practices.
Modifications To The Bevel Profile
I always modify the grinds on my micro turning tools when I purchase a new set. The ¼” and 3/32″ micro spindle gouges are reground with a long swept back Irish wing, just like you would see on a bowl gouge. The 5/32″ micro parting tool and the ¼” micro round nose scraper are both reground with standard skew chisel profiles. I use a lot of skew chisels in my studio and these modifications give me three micro skews out of the five-piece set, plus the two Irish ground spindle gouges. I’m a big fan of the swept back Irish grind and I use it frequently on spindle gouges and bowl gouges in my studio.