Hollowing tools are crucial for woodturners who want to create hollow wooden forms and vessels, small or large, such as vases or bowls. Hollowing tools fall into one of two main categories: freehand, which are held in the lathe operator's hands, and "captured," which are held or supported with some sort of tool rest or rig. There are commercial tools sold in both categories, but some craftsmen are adventurous enough to create their own homemade hollowing tools for lathes.
Despite their name, boring bars are definitely of interest to the lathe operator who wants to turn a hollow form. They are essentially a range of metal bars with different neck profiles into which tungsten carbide-tipped cutting teeth, or inserts, are fitted. They can be used to create square, rectangular, stepped and curved hollows in wood and other soft materials. Some boring bars have a drilled-through body into which coolant can be fed to the tip. Sculptor and Instructor Lyle Jamieson made his own boring bar, a combination of the ideas of two other toolmakers. Jamieson's boring bar consists of a handle with a welded U-shaped support piece and a tool rest. This absorbs the majority of the impact from the cutting. The rest can be made from metal or wood, as it does not take much stress. Jamieson claims that the stress of the lathe operator is reduced too, as his design makes hollowing much more comfortable and anxiety-free.
A gradual refinement in design by different toolmakers is also apparent in Woodturning Online's hollowing rig. The original design was by noted woodworker Steve Sinner. The hollowing rig consists of a support structure, acting as a secondary tool rest, and a restraining bar. The bar keeps the cutter level by resisting twisting forces at the cutting end. An attached laser, working as a thickness guide, is a useful addition to ensure more uniform cutting. The lathe operator need only be concerned with moving the cutter into place, a job that is straightforward and requires very little effort.
Steve Gellman of Fine Woodworking makes his own tools. One of these is the peeler bar, a "beefy" square-nosed scraper tool with a steep bevel. Steve says the wide edge of the tool allows full contact with the work piece and so a lot of wood can be removed quickly. The peeler bar was made from an old planer blade. The end profile is square, viewed from above, with a cutting edge bevelled to 45 degrees. The left corner is rounded to a half-inch radius. This means that on long, fast pulling cuts from right to left, the edge does not dig in and spoil the work.
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