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Jigs & Tools

Modern Tool Set


I updated the 2015 version of this document on 10/01/2018. Time marches on!

I like many turners, started out by purchasing a set of tools from a well known manufacturer. Then while attending classes, demos and symposiums, I learned that I did not need most of the tools in the set. Modern turners have moved on beyond the scrapers and spindle turing tools featured in the old fashion sets still sold by many well known manufactures.

Here are MY suggestions for a modern set of tools for new turners.

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Carl Ford's Hollowing Rig


I use a Trent Bosch Hollowing Stabilizer rig with a Rolly Munro cutter head.

I really love the Bosch Stabilizer. Because, it takes all the stress out of holding the hollowing tool level and it does not let the hollowing tool twist or roll over. However, It DOES NOT restrict my movement. I still have a tool handle, like on my bowl gouges and free hand hollowing tools. I can keep that tool handle up against my body, unlock my knees and use my body to hollow out a nice shape. Just like, I do when turning a bowl. Just like, I have practiced over and over again, while learning to turn a bowl. I don't like any of the other hollowing rigs (Jamieson, Elbo, Monster, etc) because they restrict my movement and I have to maneuver the tools using just my arms. I can't use my body.

I use a "Munro Hollower II" cutter head with a carbide cutter. I purchase the cutter head from Steve Sinner and supply my own custom 3/4" steel bar. I like the older "Munro Hollower II" rather than the new "Munro Wundercutt 10 Hollower". The new one does not work as well for this application.

I have created my own TV system. Finding the right camera is a HUGE problem. Thus I recommend people purchase the Trent Bosch Visualizer system. It is not cheap at $650. However, making your own system may approach this cost after a few miss steps, etc.

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Custom Handles


Make your own from PVC Pipe and Heat Shrinkable Fabric.

I have found most commercially available tool handles uncomfortable to use for a variety of reasons.

So I found a way to make adjustable handles that are just the right diameter for my grip, the right level of softness, and the right weight and length for my tastes.

You can make customized tool handles at a fraction of the cost out of PVC pipe, craft foam, heat-shrinkable cloth, and a few other easily attainable supplies.

Read More: See my "Custom Tool Handles" magazine article on page 41 of "American Woodturner, The Journal of the American Association of Woodturners, April 2015, Vol. 30, No. 2". Or Click Here (PDF)


Shopmade Collet Chuck


Make your own Collet Chuck from UHMW.

Recently, I needed some extra collet chucks to turn bottle stoppers at a Nutmeg Woodturners' Learn-and-Turn meeting. I own only two of the commercially available collet chucks and quickly decided that purchasing more was out of the question due to cost. Plus, I don't like turning something like a bottle stopper right up tight against the metal collets in a commercial collet chuck; visions of my turning tool running into that metal collet are not pleasant. I decided to make my own custom collet chucks out of ultra high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene plastic.

Read More: See my "Shopmade Collet Chuck" magazine article on page 18 of "American Woodturner, The Journal of the American Association of Woodturners, August 2018, Vol. 33, No. 4". Or Click Here (PDF)


Custom Centering Cones


Turn your own from UHMW polyethylene.

The aluminum cones packaged with the Oneway revolving (live) center are valuable for many turning projects. But two or three shapes aren't versatile enough to fit all projects.

Fortunately, you can easily make your own cones because the threads on the Oneway rotating cup center are standard 3/4"x10 tpi. Jet now markets a similar device.

I like to turn my own cones from ultar-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene rather than hardword blanks.

The properties of UHMW are ideal for cones. UHMW is dimensionally stable, will not split, is a little slippery, not too hard, and not too soft. It turns easily with a bowl gouge.

Read More: See my "Custom Centering Cones" magazine article on page 49 of "American Woodturner, The Journal of the American Association of Woodturners, Winter 2007, Vol. 22, No. 4". Or Click Here (PDF)


A Great Little Lathe

The TCLPROVS mini lathe from Penn State Industries is a great little lathe for around $255.

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Vacuum Chucks

What are they? What are they good for? What do I need to set up my own Vacuum Chuck System? How can I keep the cost down?

For more information see my demo handouts for "Vaccum Chucks".   Goto Vaccum Chucks Demo


Small Hollowing Tools

See my demo handouts for "Small Hollow Forms and Vases".     Goto Small Hollows Forms and Vases Demo


Tool Sharpening Templates

Templates that allow you to easily set up your grinder to sharpen turning tools.

Templates (PDF)

The templates really only work correctly with an 8 inch grinder!

If you have a 6 inch grinder then sell it and buy an 8 inch grinder. I recommend a variable speed 8 inch grinder. Many experienced turners only use the high speed. Beginners like the low speed. Variable speed is the best of both worlds.

Note: The Sharpening Templates use to be part of my "Natural Edge Bowls" and "The Detail Gouge" class handouts. They were moved to their own file on 2/22/2012.