For beginner wood turners, how to use a skew chisel for carving is probably the most intimidating and challenging. A small slip of the skew chisel can cause dig-ins, which are not a good sign. If you want a smooth and perfect wood project, then mastering a skew chisel is essential. Common as it may, dig-ins can still be avoided as long as you follow the right actions and proper techniques.
What Is a Skew Chisel?
Unlike a traditional chisel, a skew chisel has a beveled edge and an angled long and flat tip. Professional turners utilize this tool to turn spindles. If you need to level your woodworks, as well as turn beads, this is the tool to use. Its other uses include making V cuts, pummel cuts, and turning long and shallow coves. The standard skew chisels measure from micro 3mm (1/8in) to big 38mm (1 1/2in). Depending on preference, you can choose whichever type of skew chisel you like. But a standard 25mm skew chisel is recommended for starters. However, learning how to use a skew chisel for carving will take more effort to master.
How to Use a Skew Chisel
Before starting to learn how to use a skew chisel for carving, try to study the tool in order to maximize use and practice safety procedures. Aggressive handling of this tool will result in most dig-ins, so be extra careful.
Just like using tools initially, try to be more comfortable using standard methods and techniques. Before using the skew chisel, try to practice and find your most comfortable grip. Try it a few times before your actual turning. As they say, practice makes perfect. In this case, practice is everything.
Skew chisels are generally used in smoothing out spindles. When you are carving out a piece of wood into a round spindle using a gouge, you can utilize your skew chisel to create a smooth and better finish.
How to do Smoothing
- The center part of your skew chisel, up to the heel, is your focal point. Using your right hand, grab the handle and let your left hand rest for balance. Make sure to position your rear hand farther to shorten and minimize the edge of the rounded spindle.
- Using a 25-degree angle, position your skew chisel to that the toe part is at an angle while the heel of the edge stays on the tool rest. Make sure that the edge of your chisel and spindle meet. Prevent dig-ins by keeping the toe part off the spindle.
- Smoothing starts on the right side of the tool rest working to your left, keeping the two angles as you cut with one on the rear hand, pausing to the forehand’s right. Next, tilt your skew chisel at an angle with the heel part touching the tool rest. Make sure not to let the toe reach the spindle, as this will result in a rough and rugged finish.
- Practicing how to use and skew chisel for carving will help you create long bands of wood, indicating that you have the smoothing step down pat.
Other Techniques to Learn
Making Long Tapers
Once you have mastered on how to use a skew chisel for carving using the smoothing process, another skill to learn is making long tapers. Follow the same steps as with smoothing but adjust the angle a bit more to engage the heel of the edge. A parting tool that cuts a groove in the spindle makes the most tapers. Use the skew chisel to smoothen wood and create thin strips until you reach your desired form.
Making Pummel Cuts
Another skill to master with your skew chisel is making pummel cuts. Most carvers make pummel cuts by making V cuts first at the transition point. Before the actual cut, try to mark where you want the V shape to be made.
After marking the lines on your timber, make the first angled cut on the right side, and move your tool to the left until you create the V shape. Repeat the first cut and adjust accordingly, until the two cuts meet in the center. Continue cutting until your V cut is sufficient enough to break the timber.
Making V-Cuts and Beads
Making V-Cuts and Beads, on the other hand, is a different story. You can easily create these shapes using only the toe part of your skew chisel. The first thing you need to do is to position your chisel so that the toe part is in contact with the tool rest. The idea is facilitating the end into the wood then glide the tool to either of the sides, creating a bead or V-cut. The handle must stay perpendicular to the floor, and only the device’s toe tip should contact the spindle. Be careful to prevent any dig-ins.
For beads, use the heel of the skew chisel to cut rolling beads using a parallel technique. Be mindful since your rear hand navigates the movement and controls the direction of the tool. Work gradually, always keeping the chisel in contact with the tool rest, and, most of all, practice. Woodturning is a skill you can learn by following instructions diligently, followed by lots of repetition. Here’s how to learn more about wood carving chisels.
Learning how to use a skew chisel for carving might be too overwhelming at first. However, with practice and dedication, you can surely take advantage of this device. It will help you put into reality whatever wood projects you might have, either for home use or professional services.