After inspecting the tools, I assumed they would be aggressive and possibly create
a tear out in the wood. However, the surface left by the tools is quite smooth with no tear out. After
using them, I found the textured surface didn't even require sanding!
Click on any image to see a larger version.
Highland Woodworking recently asked me to test out their set of
Rotary Texturing Tools for Woodturners
. I have other types of
texturing tools and enjoy using them, so I was eager to try out something new. I have only had these a
short time, however, it is clear to me these tools can easily add new embellishments to a range of turned
wood items. They are so simple to use and there is virtually no learning curve.
Initially, I thought of these as knurling tools capable of leaving a heavily textured and "grippy" surface, similar to what you might find on metal knobs or bolts that were intended to be tightened
or loosened by hand.
These turning tools are best used to add decorative interest to turned items. There is some improved grip but not
anywhere near what I had imagined. After reflecting on their use, I am pleased they were not overly
aggressive nor did they require lots of sanding.
How I Used Them
It is recommended that the tool rest be set in line with the center line of the wood blank, and then run the
lathe at a slow to medium speed. The texturing wheel should be applied straight on the rotating wood
with medium force. I tested this on a range of settings and woods. I discovered, like most turning tools,
they work well within a range of settings. I preferred the texture left by running the lathe at about 600-
700 rpm with the tool rest near the center line. I also preferred the look created by making several
passes over the same area.
When different tools are applied to the same area, they create
a slightly more random appearance. The texture left on lighter colored woods is more visible vs.
The woods I used were ambrosia maple, cherry, walnut and poplar. You can view the texture left by each tool on the poplar blank below.
All settings remained the
same for each tool. The speed was in the 600-700 rpm range. The tools from left to right below
correspond to the texture and width pictured in the preceding photo.
The tools are solid and feel robust. A foam pad covers the handle and provides a comfortable grip. The
texturing wheels turned smoothly right out of the package. The Set of 3 includes the following sizes: 1/4" x 16tpi, 3/8" x 16tpi, and 3/8" x 12tpi. You can
order them either individually or as the Set of 3
A word of advice, take care in how you set these tools down. I was careful to extend the cutting wheels
over the bed of my lathe so as to not mar my lathe. Another option would be to set the tool down on its
side. This also protects the texturing wheel.
I am happy with the performance of the tools. They represent a good value. I certainly enjoyed
experimenting with the various combinations of patterns and textures.
Which one makes sense for you? In my mind, there is not a specific tool I would recommend
purchasing first. I think this is a personal preference. However, if pressed to choose, I would likely,
select the smaller tool. The justification would be that I am more likely to use it on smaller turnings or that I only
want a narrow band to decorate an item.
Fortunately, these tools are inexpensive in the world of turning tools. Just pick one and add others as needed. If you purchase them now (October/November 2017), there is currently a nice discount on the
set of 3 tools
Curtis was a former President of
Central Texas Woodturners
, is a member of the
American Association of Woodturners
, and is a member of
Fine Woodworkers of Austin
. Curtis teaches and demonstrates nationally for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He also teaches for TechShop. He owns a studio where he works and teaches. Curtis lives in Central Texas with his wife and four young children. Take a look at his website at
or visit his Instagram:
The Highland Woodturner