Favorite Turning Tools, English Edition–Ashley Iles Tools for Foot Powered Lathes

Word for Today–Heaviosity

These may just look like two overgrown turning tools, and in fact, they are. The roughing gouge in the foreground–#6 sweep–is 1 1/2″–and the straight chisel is 2″. Their size is suited for their purpose, which is turning green wood on a treadle lathe, be it reciprocating, or continually spinning in one direction (“Treadle”-think foot powered version of the conventional electric lathe).

To my knowledge, Ashley Iles is the only major tool manufacturer to offer a complete set of turning tools for foot (human) powered lathes. I already had a set of four carbon steel turning tools, and these two, a couple of small spindle gouges, and some adapted straight chisels, rounded out the set. I bought both of these from across the pond, and the service offered by English tools sellers ranges from excellent to magnificent.

A Well Made Bevel

What distinguishes these tools from conventional turning tools? The bevels for one. The roughing chisel’s primary bevel is around 25 degrees, similar to a bench chisel. The edges of the bevel are ground into a triangle to keep the tool from snagging on the work as it turns. This is a cutting tool, not the typical turning scraper.

As is the shallow sweep roughing gouge. It has a similar bevel angle, and the size and sweep distinguish it from other similar gouges–my 1″ roughing gouge has a #11 sweep. I just purchased the shallow sweep one, and though the tools originally were available unhandled (my chisel has a rough and ready home made maple handle, which I scarfed out when the only turning chisel I had was a skew), this one arrived with a fine beech handle.

Finally, these tools are made from easily sharpened carbon tool steel. One reason is, that they need to be good and sharp, to avoid creating mostly sawdust. A extra bonus is that carbon steel is much less expensive than the usual high speed steel of high end turning tools.

The entire line of these tools are available from Classic Hand Tools in England. They can be purchased a la carte, or the entire set of six can be had for about $205. Several of these tools, including the shallow gouge, are unavailable in the States . Shipping is fast, and airmail is reasonable. In fact, my total for the gouge was less than it would have been for an equivalent tool here, if such a thing existed (the Iles deep roughing gouge, which is sold here, would be 5-10 dollars more if bought in the US). On top of that, no one knows how to package a tool like the Brits.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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