Saturday, April 25, 2009

Making an Oland Tool

Using Tormek Jig 185 and a Modified Belt Grinder

I recently have been making and using Oland Tools. These are incredibly simple to make and even simpler to use. They are also very inexpensive, virtually catch proof, leave smooth finishes even on dry softwoods and keep their edges for a long time.

I have some very nice bowl gouges (Thompson, and if you need great gouges, his are the best I've seen), but honestly, I'm wondering what to do with them now that I have been testing my Oland Tools.

I use the belt grinder set up described earlier using the Tormek Jigs.

How I Made the Tools
Notice I didn't say "How to make the tools". That's because I used a metal lathe which has a milling attachment. But you could make them with your wood lathe if it can handle a 5/8" rod through the spindle or even a drill press. The metal lathe made making the tools fun.

I got some 303 Stainless Rod 5/8" diameter for the 1/4" tools and 3/4" for the 3/8 and 1/2" tools. You need to hold the HSS (High Speed Steel) bits in the rod with a set screw so the diameter of the rod needs to be big enough to hold the bit and thick enough to safely thread the set screw. Make the tools a length that you like. Make them double ended if you like.

Second, I bought some stainless set screws from McMaster with flat bottoms. You could use any.

Third, I measured the diagonal on the HSS bit I wanted to use and drilled a hole about 2 inches deep down the end of the rod. The bit didn't quite fit, so I relieved the bottom edges on the belt grinder and it slipped right in. This is a good idea in any case since it keeps the bit from cutting into the stainless steel shaft with its sharp edges.

Fourth, I milled a bevel on the shaft and then put the shaft in the milling attachment and ground a flat. This flat is necessary since it provides the Tormek jig a place to register. Without it you could still use the jig, but you wouldn't get back to where you started from each time because you'd be guessing. The flat takes the guess work out of it. Have someone mill it for you or put the rod in a drill press vise and hold it against a grinding wheel or belt to make the flat. How deep isn't important-- about 3/8" or 1/4" wide is what you want.

Fifth, I located the rod in a drill press vise with the flat at dead center. I drilled the hole for the set screw and then tapped it. Use whatever size you want on the set screw, as long as it isn't too big or too small.

For the 5/8" Rod, I found it a bit skimpy to hold, so I put golf club grips on it. You can get them on Ebay. I bought the self-shrinking ones.

For the 3/4" Rod, I make it double ended and it feels good in my hand without the golf club grip. You can do whatever feels comfortable.

You need to shape it. I'm not going to get into detail, but basically, put it in the 185 Jig and using a course tough belt, grind it to the shape you want. You can get a pointy shape or a flat tip or a tip that leans to the right (making a longer bevel on the left for hollowing), etc. Rough shaping takes a few minutes at most. I use the JS 2 setting (45 degree angle for bowl gouges).

Next, You need to polish it. I put on my oldest, finest, worn-out belt and charge it with black or green buffing compound. Three seconds later it is mirror polished. And razor sharp. Make sure you spend a bit more time on the center than the sides or you will end up making it too pointy. This is easy to fix by spending a bit more time on the center of the tool.

It takes longer to load the tool in the 185 jig than it does to sharpen it. It takes longer to read this than shape and sharpen it. You could not do this on the original Tormek without destroying the wheel and becoming older in the process.

Some people think the Oland Tool is a scraper. I SOMETIMES
use it as a scraper, but it isn't in normal use. You find your bevel and ride the bevel just like a bowl gouge. The shavings are like gouge shavings (see photo), not like scrapings. The bevel is a bit tricky to ride and get a smooth sweet sweep, but on the other hand it is almost catch proof. I'm still learning and am very impressed with how it slices through very tough, dry wood. It holds an edge longer than my best bowl gouges as well. I haven't tried green wood yet.

It cost a few dollars for the 303 Stainless Rod. You could use any rod. I bought mine on Amazon (Small Parts). The HSS inserts are cheap -- $2-4 bucks each. You can get them from McMaster (a bit expensive), Enco, Grizzly, MSC or any machines shop supply. You can get them for almost nothing on Ebay as well. So for less than ten or twelve dollars you have a very nice tool.

Given the repeatability of the Tormek jig in the belt grinder, only a tiny amount of steel is removed, thus, a bit should last for a very long time. You can also use both ends of the bit for different shapes.

Many thanks "AROUNDTHEWOODS.COM" which introduced me to Oland Tools. You should check it out if you are going to make one yourself-- he goes into more detail than I did including the history (interesting) and some other matters. He also has some videos of the tool in use which are worth watching.