Crown Verses Sorby Spiraling & Texturing Tool

“Crown Spiraling and Texturing Tool”http://www.crownhandtools.ltd.uk/page121.html verses “Sorby Spiraling and Texturing Tool” https://www.robert-sorby.co.uk/b320-spiralling-tool

The Sorby “Spiraling and Texturing Tool (System)” has been around for along time. Last year I discovered that Crown also makes a “Spiraling and Texturing Tool (System)”.

Note: On line dictionaries seem to think that spelling “spiraling” or “spiralling” is ok. One or two L’s is ok.

I also discovered the Crown tool is like 10 times better than the Sorby tool!

Why? Because the indexing attachment (the platform) that comes with Crown Tool is very good.

The Sorby indexing attachment is completely and totally useless in my not so humble opinion. Because it is to wide, to hard to adjust, etc. Thus, must people discard the Sorby indexing attachment.

Note: Sorby calls there indexing attachment the “360 Tool Rest”.

What if I already own the Sorby Tool?

The great news is the diameter of the shafts on the LARGE Sorby Tool and Crown Tool are the same! You can purchase just just the “Crown #IND1 Texturing Tool Indexing Attachment” from Hartville Tool and install on your existing Sorby Tool. $25 on 4/10/20.

The bad news is they only sell the index for the LARGE tools separately. You have to purchase the entire “Crown #ST2W Miniature Spiraling System” if you want a better index for the small Sorby Tool.

DO NOT Waste Your Money!

Learning how to use the Spiraling and Texturing Tools takes lots of practice, time, and infinite patients.

You MUST be able to accept that they are like “random number generators”. You never known in advance what results you will get! If you are not willing to invest the time and live with the unpredictable results then don’t waste your money!

Way to many people have seen the tool demonstrated. They buy one.  When they get home they can’t get the damn thing to work! It then spends the rest of it’s life on a shelf or in a drawer. A complete waste of money.

Purchase from Hartville Tool

Right now Hartville Tool (https://www.hartvilletool.com/category/spiralling-and-texturing) has the best prices on the tools. All prices on 4/10/2020.

  • The “Crown #ST1W Spiraling & Texturing System” with good indexing attachment is $120. It comes with 2 spiraling cutters and 1 texturing cutter.
  • The “Sorby #330H Spiraling System” with useless indexing attachment is $166. It comes with 3 spiraling cutters and 1 texture cutter.
  • In my not so humble opinion the extra 2mm cutter that comes with the Sorby system is not worth the money. I have all the Sorby cutters. I almost never use the 2mm cutter. The distance between the teeth is just to fine.

  • Hartville also stocks all the extra optional cutters. Crown cutters are $25. The Sorby cutters are $39.
  • Hartville sells JUST the “Crown #IND1 Texturing Tool Indexing Attachment” for $25. It works on the Sorby Tool.
  • Hartville sells the Miniature/Micro (smaller) versions of the Crown and Sorby tools. Crown with good indexing is $62. Sorby with useless index, no handle is $56.

Note: When you lose the washers that come with large wheels you can replace them with www.mcmaster.com item # 98032A334

Large Verses Small Spiraling Tools

Crown and Sorby have standard (large) tools and small tools. Crown calls their small tool a “miniature” tool. Sorby calls their small tool a “micro” tool. If they don’t say Miniature/Micro then it is the “standard” or large tool.

A common misconception is the small tools are make small patterns and are only good for small things. Not so. The size of the tool is not important! i.e. the diameter of the wheel is not important! It’s the distance between the teeth (2mm, 4mm, 5mm, etc) on the spiraling or texturing wheels that determines the size of the pattern made by the tool.

I use the small tools on large things if I want a small pattern! I use the large tool on small things if I want a large pattern.

The small tool is NOT easier to control!

I STRONGLY recommend purchasing the standard (large) tools first! Then maybe the small tools if you really need. Why? Because there are no ball bearings in the small tools. They can lock up and screw up your projects.

Number of Teeth per Wheel

Crown and Sorby have multiple wheel sizes. i.e. the number of teeth per wheel. Remember, it’s the distance between the teeth (2mm, 4mm, 5mm, etc) on the spiraling or texturing wheels that determines the size of the pattern made by the tool.

Crown and Sorby use different systems for measuring there wheels. Crown sells there wheels by specifying the number of teeth (17, 18, 30, etc) on each wheel. Sorby uses the distance between the teeth (2mm, 4mm, 5mm, etc).

With some help from my friends we have measured and counted all of the Crown and Sorby wheels. Click on the photo for results.

No Bearings in Small Tools

The wheels in the Crown and Sorby standard (large) tools have good ball bearings. The wheels never lock up while you are trying to use them.

The wheels in the Crown and Sorby small tools DO NOT have ball bearings! The screw that holds the wheels in place is a brass shoulder screw. The wheels have NO bearings. The wheels just spin on the brass shoulder screw. Maybe this works on small projects for some people. Personally, I have found it really sucks! Some times it is hard to get the wheel turning. If you push in hard to get a nice deep impression in your wood then the wheel locks up and makes a huge mess out of your project. Err…

Beware! I have ball bearings in the small tools that I demo. This is only possible if you make your own custom tool shaft. See last section below.

Add a Knob

I really like the Crown indexing attachment (the platform). But the set screws that come with it are to much of a pain to adjust.

I replaced the set screws on the side with a nice knob on the top. With a knob it is easy to adjust things. You often need to adjust the indexing attachment before each cut or even on the fly during a cut.

If you just want to replace the set screws on the side with a knob. Then you need a hard to find m6 x1mm (metric) knob.

I drilled a 13/64″ hole and then tapped a 1/4″-20 hole. Then installed a 1/4″-20 knob from local hardware store or www.Mcmaster.com. See photo for McMaster part numbers.

In the photos you can see that I also cut a notch in the shaft that the knob fits into. This keeps the indexing attachment from sliding around. The notch is nice to have but you can do with out. I cut the notch on my metal lathe.

Handles Are To Small

Note: I have found that tool handle length, shape, size, etc are a very personal thing. I personally like long handles that are not to heavy. Other people, like other things. Thus, some people will disagree with my comments in this section.

The wooden handles that come on all of the tools (Crown & Sorby, Large and Small) are way to small and wimpy! To short and to small in diameter.

The tools really only work good (create nice sharp patterns without tear out) on really hard woods like hard maple. You need to push the tools in with a lot of force on hard maple to make any real impression. You need to do this with a lot of control to avoid skidding the tool to the left or right. You need a big handle so you can hang on for dear life and push in with every thing you got.

The small tools (Miniature/Micro) really need a big handle! If you put a big handle on the small tool, it all of a sudden becomes a lot easier to control and use.

I recommend discarding the handles that come with the tools. Replace with at least a 16″ long handle. Go with the 18″ Hosaluk Adjustable Handle. I prefer the Aluminum (rather than steel) Hosaluk handles.

If you prefer wooden handles, I like the handle that comes on the Ellsworth Signature gouge. Unfortunately you can’t purchase these separately any more. I would go with a Jimmy Clewes handle. See next paragraph.

I really like and use the 16″ Jimmy Clewes with 5/8″ Quick Release Tool Handle on my spiraling tools. Beware! You will to need an adapter to convert the 12mm diameter shafts on Crown or Sorby tools to 5/8″. See my “Travel Tool Set” blog entry. http://carlford.info/blog/2018/12/travel-tool-set/ Beware! The 12mm shafts are to small for the 1/2″ Clews quick release unit.

Sharpening

My simple advice is DO NOT attempt to sharpen the wheels!

I have found that all the stuff about using a hone while the wheel is spinning is a receipt for disaster! You will just round over the sharp points on the wheels. Then you will have to purchase a new wheel! I known from experience.

Try honing the wheels a little by hand. What happens? Nothing! Why? The wheels are made out of very hard steel.

If you round over the points on the wheels. Then you are going to have to hone off a lot of steel to expose the points again. This is just not going to happen because the wheels are made out of very hard steel.

I don’t think the wheels every really need to be sharpened.

Learn from Nick Agar

Nick Agar has a very good video on YouTube. He demonstrates all of the wheels on the large and small Sorby tools. Click here for the video.

Carl Ford’s Spiraling Tools

Note: This section is here to answer questions I get in demos. I don’t expect most people to make there own tools.

I often change back and forth between different size (different number of teeth) spiraling and texturing wheels while working on a project. This gets real old real fast.

You quickly realize that having multiple spiraling tools would be real nice. But, way to expensive. But, wait. You already have all the wheels you need. Thus you just need multiple shafts. You only need one handle if you make all the shafts fit in a Jimmy Clewes with 5/8″ Quick Release Tool Handle.

If you want to make your own shafts the way I did then you need some metal working skills. I used my metal lathe, drill press, metal cutting band saw, belt sander and welding torch.

Large Spiraling Wheel Shafts

The big problem here is making an indexing attachment (the platform) like the Crown one. If I could find a big thick round steel tube, shipping it to me would cost to much. Drilling a deep 3/4″ hole in a steel rod is really ugly. Then you need to flatten one side. Ugg!

I decided to get around the problems here by using a piece of 3/4″ OD square steel tubing with a 1/16″ wall thickness. It already has a hole down the4 middle and a flat side. I brazed a scrap chunk of steel to the tubing to make it thick enough to drill and tap for a 1/4″-20 knob. See photo on right.

The 3/4″ diameter shaft on the Sorby and Crown tools is overkill. A 1/2″ thick shaft would be strong enough. They make the shaft 3/4″ so they can just cut a slot in the end of it for the wheel. I decided to go with a 5/8″ shaft so it would fit in my Jimmy Clewes with 5/8″ Quick Release Tool Handle.

I mounted the wheel in a slot cut in a 1-1/2″ long chunk of 3/4″ OD square steel tubing with a 1/8″ wall thickness. See black magic marker lines in photo on right. In my metal lathe, I cut a 1/4″ long tenon on the end of my 7-1/2″ long 5/8″ steel shaft that fits inside of the square steel tube. I then brazed it together.

I brazed things rather than welding them because I did not want to distort things with to much heat. Brazing is strong enough for this application.

You can get all the materials locally or from www.mcmaster.com. See photo on right for item numbers.

Small Spiraling Wheel Shafts

Making the shafts for the small spiraling wheels is easier than the big ones. Because, you can just cut a slot in the end of a 5/8″ steel rod. See photos.

The Sorby and Crown small tools lock up because the wheels just run on a brass shoulder screw. I install ball bearings in my small spiraling wheels with bronze thrust washers on either side.

Any 5/8″ steel rod that is 8-1/2″ long will do. The other materials, like small ball bearings are hard to find. I order from www.mcmaster.com. See photo on right for item numbers. The photo orders enough materials for one shaft. i.e. 2 bearings per wheel, because the bearings are a narrow width.

See Large Spiraling Wheel Shafts section above for make hints.

Tray for Spiraling Tools

I like to store all of my spiraling tools in a tray ready to travel. You can get the tray from Amazon.

One thought on “Crown Verses Sorby Spiraling & Texturing Tool”

  1. Wow!
    Now my brain is spiraling and spiralling.
    All kidding aside, thank you very much for such a thorough blog post.
    Stay healthy!

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