The Taming of the Skew
DVD
by Mike Darlow

Produced by Mike Darlow,
Lot 17 Wilsons Lane
Exeter, NSW 2579 Australia

R.R.P.$30.00

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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 132

The skew chisel is an essential tool for competent spindle (between centres) or cup chuck turning. However many turners shy away from its use or never master it because of a fear of catches and dig-ins.

In The Taming of the Skew Mike Darlow goes into great detail on how to successfully use the skew chisel for a large number of operations from planing a cylinder to forming an ogee. A lot of material is covered in the DVDs' 2 hrs 20 mins duration and the content is more of a comprehensive look at turning profiles with the skew, particularly spindle work, rather than just a simple introduction to the skew.

Australian turner and international author, Mike Darlow, is well known for his series of books on woodturning and some of the information provided in this DVD is drawn from chapters in his book, Fundamentals of Woodturning. The video format of the DVD is ideal for demonstrating the various turning techniques that canít be conveyed to the reader to the same degree with text and photographs.

As Mike works with the skew he adds comments about the processes involved, often providing tips that are not directly related to the skew but enrich the viewer's understanding of what is involved so as to improve their woodturning.

The DVD begins with an explanation of the skew chisel, how it works, the different types available (cutting edge, profile, length, handle, etc.), how to select one or more tools which are appropriate to your needs and how to modify an existing chisel for better performance if necessary.

Before explaining how to sharpen the chisel, Mike examines the use of the skew for the relatively simple operation of peeling a cylinder. In his usual fashion Mike provides a technical look at how the cutting edge interacts with the wood, including the all-important angles for optimum performance and avoiding a catch. It is not essential to understand the theory to use the skew, but the information is provided for those who seek a better understanding of the reasons for his later comments and recommendations.

Having detailed how the skew cuts, the DVD then covers how to accurately grind and hone the chisel. Much of this information is also available in Mike's DVD, Sharpening Woodturning Tools, available separately. Inside the DVD cover are printed templates for the jigs that Mike uses when grinding the skew chisel to shape.

Chapters 5-11 cover the use of the skew to form a pommel, plane a cylinder, flatten or true the end of a workpiece, turn a simple bead (V and rolling cuts), form a variety of beads from assymetrical to tiny, cut fillets (flat sections), part off work, form rectangular channels, shape more complex profiles such as ogees, cut coves and work with slender spindles. All cuts are made in real time - ie. no jumping from half-done to finished - so the viewer can watch every step in the process.

With every operation Mike shows his preferred method but he also discusses other well-known options and the pros and cons of each. At times he even uses a gouge to show the differences where a skew or gouge may be used for the same task.

Suitable for everyone from the beginner to the professional turner, Taming the Skew is a comprehensive guide on how to use the skew effectively and thereby improve the quality of your turning.

Duration: 3 hours on 2 disks

Contents

Introduction

1 Skew-chisel geometry

2 How skews work

3 Sharpening

4 Introduction to turning chapters

5 Cutting pommels and roughing

6 Planing to a cylinder

7 Truing Ends

8 Bead-turning basics

9 Turning isolated beads

10 Fillets, parting, planing curves

11 Other skew techniques