I have had a skew chisel, or more correctly two of them, for around a year now. Until recently they were used mainly for scraping the surface of wood.
It seems the skew is one of the hardest tools to master, and boy have I struggled with it. I have blackened my fingernails on so many occasions I have lost count. I have also lost count of the number of times I have launched it across the shed in a fit of childish temper. (Hey, I’m a man – it’s my job)
I’m on a very tight budget, hobby-wise, and don’t like to see things I buy go unused, so have been determined to learn how to use these tools.
First off was the sharpening. Although I tried to keep them really sharp, and they always had a good edge, I just couldn’t seem to make them cut gracefully. I adopted the Cap’n Eddie Castelin method for sharpening the skew, where the bevel is maintained convex, rather than concave.
This may well be mind over matter, but I can definitely feel a difference. I think the principle is that the bevel pushes the point away from the surface, helping to prevent dig-in.
Second is addressing the piece of timber spinning madly in the lathe. I think that I was approaching the timber at too wide an angle. The convex bevel makes this very difficult, and forces a much more acute angle of approach.
The skew then shaves the timber, rather than gouging at it. My beginners tendency to try to take too much off at once was clearly a factor here too. Although the skew can be used to remove large amounts of material quickly, it is not its primary role.
Yesterday evening I went to the shed to try to unwind, and used a bit of seasoned beech to make this goblet.
I’m really quite pleased with the outcome, considering the outside was done with the skew. The finish is a few coats of teak oil, which accents the lovely figuring in the beech.