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Oneway Boring Bar

PRICE: $250

The Oneway Boring Bar is a torque-arresting system. The front end of the cutting bar is supported by a conventional tool rest, but an outrigger on the rear half fits through a secondary, slotted rest to eliminate tool twist. This setup preserves the feel of ordinary lathework, although the cutter moves in only one plane. The teardrop-shaped, highspeed steel cutter can be rotated to offer different cutting radii to the workpiece. A 12-volt light mounted to the bar helps the turner gauge vessel-wall thickness. SOURCE: Oneway Manufacturing, 241 Monteith Ave., Stratford, Ontario, Canada N5A 2P6; (800) 565-7288.

PROS: Experienced turners will appreciate the feel of this torque-arresting system. The tool moves easily in the rest, and the tubular bar won't damage the edges of vessel openings. The system does a great job of eliminating torque, and allows very fine control of the cut. I found vibration to be minimal, even at a 10-in. rest overhang. The cutter holds an edge very well and can be easily rotated. The light provides a great wall-thickness gauge. I had no problems turning 1/8-in. thick walls on blind vessels.

CONS: I found the teardrop-shaped cutter to be relatively inefficient for heavy stock removal. The swing of the tool seemed overly restricted by the secondary rest, which could be wider. The diameter of the bar, the light and the size of the cutter don't allow for vessel openings smaller than about 2 inches.

The HM-1 Articulated Hollowing System is designed for turning large, hollow vessels with small openings. Extension arms of graduated length can be connected to the main bar to extend the cutter a whopping 7 in. from the lathe's central axis. The 3/16-in.-radius round-nose cutters are available with flat-face or a 12-degree relief, for more of a shearing attack. A slotted table rest prevents the bar from kicking up and an outrigger on the tool's shaft restrains twist. A caliper can be attached to gauge wall thickness. SOURCE: Maple Specialties, 43306 SE North Bend Way, #1 and #2, North Bend, WA 98045; (800) 409-9663.

PROS: This finely crafted system allows a savvy turner to create highly unusual shapes. The tool slides easily on the table, and the torque and kick restraints work great. I experienced no vibration or catching at a 10-in. rest overhang, and cutting 6 in. off axis was child's play. You can articulate the cutter extensions while still inside a vessel, allowing you to really turn the corner at the bottom of a long neck. The caliper gives accurate wall-thickness readings, and all tool adjustments are quickly made with a single T-handle hex key.

CONS: Initial setup takes some time, and learning to turn uniformly thick walls takes some practice, as the tool tends to cut more quickly than you expect. But a scraper tip, expected on the market soon, will help deal with this problem. The caliper is accurate, but tends to get in the way. I removed it for all but the final cutting.

SUMMARY: A great system for turning very thin-walled vessels, as long as you don't mind fairly wide openings.

SUMMARY: This is a premium system with a price tag to match. For the professional seeking to stretch the limits of hoi low-vessel turning, this is just the ticket.

PRICE: $238

The Stewart System is designed around a unique brace that cradles the turner's forearm while allowing a natural handgrip on the handle. Straight or offset bars are locked into the brace, and various scraper cutters are locked into the end of the bars. You can swivel the cutter on the offset bar. Small 3/16- or l/4-in.-radius cutters do the primary cutting, and a larger, teardrop-shaped finish scraper offers a choice of radii for cleaning up the primary cuts. SOURCE: The Cutting Edge, 7123 SW Freeway, Houston, TX 77074; (800) 790-7980; www.cuttingedgetools.com

PROS: I like the positive control of the Stewart System. It offers good leverage even at a 10-in. rest overhang, and vibration is minimal. The swivel tip, in combination with the offset holder, allows reverse cutting, and it's easy to maneuver the cutters into a vessel with a small opening. The 3/16-in.-radius cutter removed stock well without catching heavily, and the finish scraper effectively smoothed the tooling marks. The optional wall-gauge tool ($43) is valuable when turning thin-walled vessels.

CONS: I don't like being locked into the brace. If the cutter seriously catches, the turner risks damaging his or her shoulder. The swivel-tip bolt tended to loosen under vibration when used on hard, dry material, but a longer bolt with a lock nut eliminated the problem.

OPTIONS: Many optional configurations, including various scraper tips and even a coring slicer.

PRICE: $375

The Exocet system takes a different approach to cutting. Rather than using a scraper-type cutter, it employs a sharpened, ring-type shear cutter—a variation on traditional hook tools. An adjustable limiter caps the cutter, controlling the depth of cut and eliminating the biggest problem of hook tools—the uncontrolled catch. The system comes with a straight shaft, an offset shaft, and two different cutter profiles. SOURCE: Craft Supplies USA, 1287 E. 1120 S., Provo, UT 84606; (800)551-8876.

PROS: The ring-type cutter leaves a much cleaner surface than a scraper, and removes material remarkably fast. The limiter adjusts quickly and smoothly for anything from a hogging cut to a fine, finishing slice. The double-ended ring cutters provide twice the life of a single ring, and are easily honed with a diamond lap. The small head easily enters a small vessel opening, and the locking collar on the shaft allows quick tool length adjustment.

CONS: The cutters have a limited life expectancy, and will have to be replaced if badly nicked because grinding them would be tricky. The cutter tends to clog up as it dulls, especially in soft, green timber. It should be honed fairly often. If too much of the cutter is exposed, it may drive itself too deep.

OPTIONS: A finish scraper tip is due on the market soon.

SUMMARY: My favorite among the systems that use a standard tool rest. Its shearing cut is a joy compared to the chopping cut of the small-radius scraper cutters on most of the other systems.

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Exocet System

SUMMARY: A very flexible system for an experienced turner. The grip feels tailor made. It gives a great feel for the work, especially when working blind in a closed vessel, lust be careful to keep it from catching.

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