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07-18-2011 11:55 AM - edited 07-18-2011 12:40 PM
Like kids in a candy store, the editors at WOOD salivate at the opportunity to test new tools. What’s really challenging, and a lot of fun, is when we are able to test tools in areas of our expertise.
I’ve been hollow-turning for nearly thirty years and cut my teeth using John Lea’s Arizona Toothpicks. These straight shafted tools have either a welded carbide cutter or an adjustable cutter. John’s tools served me well and allowed me to produce many quality vessels. But it did take a bit of brute strength when using them to keep the tool from rotating a quarter turn on the tool rest when the tip made contact with the spinning vessel. When I heard we had the opportunity to try Carter Products’ new Hollow Roller™ Vessel Turning System, I jumped at the chance to test a system that would allow me to concentrate my efforts on guiding the tool rather than fighting its natural tendency to rotate with the workpiece.
Out of the box the Hollow Roller required little set up. It consists of just three basic components; the tool rest, the torque arrestor, and the cutting tool. Because the diameter of mounting holes in tool rests are not standard, you need to specify the hole diameter of your tool rest when ordering for the correct-sized adapter stud used to mount the torque arrestor to your particular tool rest base.
For the test piece, I epoxied a large piece of spalted maple to a wood auxiliary faceplate.
I mounted the piece to the headstock, slid the tailstock in place for support, and at a low speed, turned the blank exterior to shape.
My 11”-diamter turned piece had several large cracks that I filled with epoxy.
With the exterior of the vessel turned to rough shape, I slid my tool rest of the bed of the lathe and positioned the Carter tool rest with horizontal rest bar approximately 3” from the end of the vessel. Next, I removed the tool rest horizontal member from my tool rest and replaced it with the torque arrestor. Then, following the instructions that come with the unit, I swung the tool rest to the back side of the lathe base. If your lathe sits next to a wall like mine does, you’ll need to move the lathe a foot or so from the wall.
Next, I assembled the Carter handle assembly, sliding the cutting bar into the handle and locking it in place with the collet.
Then, I slid the handle and cutting bar (it has a flat bottom) into the torque arrestor between the rollers with the flat side of the cutting bar facing down. Next, I secured the high speed stell cutter to the cutter bar with an Allen wrench. Once the cutter is securely in place, you’ll either need to remove the cutter or loosen the top bar and roller on the torque arrestor in order to remove the cutter bar from the torque arrestor.
After reading the entire manual (something I should have done before I started rather than as I did it, but hey, I was a bit anxious to get turning), I learned the best way to start a hollow turning is to predrill a hole in the center of the piece, so I removed the vessel from the lathe and used a 1” Forstner bit to drill about 4” into the center of my turning.
The setup required little practice and within minutes I was hogging our waste from the vessel’s interior. From time to time I would stop to adjust the angle of the cutting at the end of the cutting bar. Since the cutting bar is supported between the upper and lower roller assemblies, the bar moved back and forth easily, yet wasn’t allowed to roll, allowing me to concentrate and positioning the cutter with little to no concern on keeping the cutter parallel to the inside wall of the vessel.
One problem I encountered within the first hour of using the setup was that I stripped the plastic locking handle on the threaded rod making it impossible to adjust the tool rest. I removed the plastic locking handle and replaced it with a machine screw.
In visiting Carter Products' site today, I scrolled down this page, and noticed a video demonstration on how to install the unit and turn a vase. I'll be watching that tonight to gain more insight.
As I continue to test the Hollow Roller this week, I'll continue to update and edit and post. Got questions or want a closer view of something, just reply and I'll update my post to respond to your inquiry.
Marlen @ WOOD
07-18-2011 12:25 PM
Marlin My biggest concern was the lack of other available tooling. The flat bottom of the boring bar means you can't use anyone else's tools. That may not be a concern if the tools they offer will cover all the different forms that you need to hollow. I looked it over and it is a very well made tool and handles very easily.
07-27-2011 08:11 AM - edited 07-27-2011 08:15 AM
When it comes to tool reviews, there are two basic types of responses we receive from manufacturers; those that defend their designs and those that take our comments and suggestions into consideration and use them to better their products. Luckily Carter Products falls into the second category.
After testing the Carter Hollow Roller System, I posted on it (above) and then shared my concerns with Carter. Within 10 days of sharing my feedback, I received the following update:
1. The locking knob you received actually was the only prototype part on your unit. All the production units that are on the market have a much more robust knob, which I would be happy to send you. That being said however, we have gotten feedback from users in the field and it seems most would prefer a hex bolt versus the quick release knob that comes with the current unit. Future runs will come with this bolt or an Allen bolt. The plate that goes between the ways will be narrowed as well, so the whole front rest unit can be removed without taking the plate off.
2. We are in the processing of designing a whole basket of accessories for the Hollow Roller, and a narrower tool will be a part of those accessories for smaller vessels. We also have a larger bar in the works for deeper vessels. The real beauty of this system, is that because we use the collets for the handle and the captive roller bars are adjustable, you can use any size bar with the system. For the longer deeper hollowing bar we’re planning on using 1” to 1 1/4” bar stock and turning the mounting handle size down to 3/4” or 5/8”. For the smaller we haven’t finalized the size just yet, but it is in the works.
3. As for the S/hook tool, we are now prototyping a fixed hook tool. I should have the prototype within the next few months.
4. You asked about the cutting tip. The base package includes 1 dual headed HSS cutter. The HSS bit can be sharpened, and we are making a simple jig to hold the bit when sharpening. The Hunter Carbide bit doesn't need sharpening and will dull over time, but since it’s round it can be turned to bring a sharp surface into the cutting path. When it’s completely dulled it is simply replaced with a new unit. Both the HSS and Hunter Carbide are available as replacement accessories. The HSS steel bit has undergone one change since the first production run, so the current bit is different than the bit you received or was shipped with the first production run.
5. We are looking into the rings for the wrenches. What we typically do is stick a rare earth magnet to the side of the lathe, then stick the wrenches to that. This way there always at hand, but can’t fall off.
07-27-2011 12:48 PM
They were excellent on addressing all my concerns. I am really looking forward to the develoment of their S-shaped tool as most of my pieces are based on Indian-inspired bowls from the SW which are squatter than they are tall. Is anybody manufacturing an S-shaped tool now? Marlen