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Saturday, February 26, Windsor chairmaker Mark Soukup demonstrated the techniques he uses to turn the spindles, legs, and stretchers for Windsor chairs using a skew chisel and a detail gouge.

During the first part of the demonstration, Mark described the geometry of his skew chisel and how he sharpens it using a blue or white grinding wheel. The short edge of the chisel is rounded so the chisel can be rotated smooothly when he cuts beads. He uses a 15 degree skew angle and the chisel is hollow- ground to an included angle of 25 degrees. He does the final sharpening with a waterstone to give a flat face on the hollow ground edge. On the long point of the skew, he grinds the bevel back slightly where the bevel meets the back of the chisel to avoid having a high spot that might mar the surface he has just cut. He also described the geometry of his detail gouge and how he completes his sharpening using a rubberized abrasive wheel.

Mark prefers to turn wood that is air dried to around 20% moisture content so the fibers will cut cleanly. He checks the blanks carefully to be sure the grain is straight. If it runs diagonally through the blank, it will be almost impossible to get a smooth surface that is ready for finsihing by using only a skew chisel. Sanding is not normally necessary for pieces that will be painted. Whenever a piece does not turn cleanly, it's better to add it to the firewood box rather than spend a lot of extra time struggling with a piece that will never be right.

Visit Mark's website to see examples of the Windsor chairs and period case goods that he makes.

by WVWA, a chapter of the American Association of WoodturnersReturn to the Events page