MCW Nov. '07 Meeting
Apr 28, 2016Public
Photo: The Show & Tell table has some very interesting and different pieces.  Unfortunately, we didn't get shots of the personal presentations, but the owners are identified in the associated Gallery album.
Photo: Kerry Kaplan looks at some very nicely prepared pieces on the Silent Auction table -- I'm guessing thanks to Phil Brown.
Photo: Our demonstrator this evening is the larger than life Bill Grumbine, down to visit us from northeast Pennsylvania  for a weekend with MCW and CAW. Bill is famous in the turning community for his two hit DVDs that highlight an organized, no-nonsense approach to our common problems. He is also well known for his teaching studio, his graceful bowls, his generous hosting of turning weekends, his gracious personality, his presence on the WoodCentral forum, and, yes, for his impressive bulk.
Photo: Bill is a big man who speaks with quiet authority, but his resonant voice needs no microphone. After you watch Bill, you say: “Yeah, I can do that.” That’s the ultimate compliment.  Tonight the topic is that notorious tool, the skew chisel.
Photo: This is the "long point", a.k.a. the "toe".  The other side is the "short point" or "heel".  Bill prefers a straight-sided cutting edge, rather than the curved one preferred by some others, as, for example, Alan Lacer.
Photo: We have a good turnout tonight at our hosting facility the Woodworkers Club in Rockville MD, whose owners we thank for graciously offering us their space.  Bob Browning has created his own bleacher seat!
Photo: Bill nominally demonstrated “spindle duplication”, and he did a fine job of it, but for most of us, I think the real show was Skew 101. I can truly say that I have a better feel for, and less fear of, that notorious tool after watching Bill handle it with great skill and apparent ease.
Photo: Here, Bill has rotated the toe into the wood, not pushed it. He talked a little bit about the different shapes and grinds, but impressed me by using nothing but a single tool – the traditional straight-edged, angled grind. First, of course, he showed how to get it quite sharp. Then he showed us how to hold it, with index finger pointing down one edge, so that the tool is like an extension of the hand, and the approach angle becomes instinctive.
Photo: He would fault me for not repeating his emphasis that proper turning form, regardless of the tool, involves pre-positioning the tool near the work piece and then bringing the turner’s body to the tool before beginning a cut. Thereafter the tool and the body move as one. This provides the best possible control and smoothness. He noted the desirability of “warming up” on some simple cuts to get the feel of the tool before moving on to more difficult cuts. He rounded the squares, where needed, and sized them with light planing cuts. He showed us, incidentally, how to get a surface so smooth that it might have needed sanding not to smooth it, but, rather, to rough up the near burnished surface so it would take finish more uniformly.
Photo: He made v-grooves and pommel cuts while showing the tools (calipers) and procedures for making a nearly-exact copy of a table leg. In short, the idea is to cut the needed diameters as grooves at the high and low points and then to “connect the dots” with a smooth curve.
Photo: Here are those calipers in action.  Measure twice; cut once!
Photo: He makes the duplicate a little oversize off the tool to leave room for sanding, as he notes that woodturning is a “subtractive” process, and it is very difficult to replace wood removed in excess.
Photo: The calipers can also be used in "active" mode -- held in the left hand while turning to the right size with the parting tool in the right hand.  He also did a simple bead on request. His use of both the long point (toe) and short point (heel) of the skew was very instructive. 

Ever practical, Bill also pointed out the value of the 150-grit sandpaper “tool” in preference to making the unnecessary “one last cut” that can often cause continuing frustration and gets us into trouble.

Bill may be known for hogging prodigious quantities of curls with a big bowl gouge, but his skew work is light, smooth, and gentle with that razor-sharp edge caressing the wood. He made it look so easy, the tool actually seemed harmless, and we had to ask him to demonstrate purposeful catches on a piece of waste wood so we could see what not to do. And that’s the truth!