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View Full Version : Vortex tool - Cindy Drozda - questions.....



John Keeton
02-08-2010, 6:30 PM
In watching the Cindy Drozda DVD on the Finial Star, she is using a "Vortex" tool. This looks to be nothing more than a piece of drill rod that has been honed with a flat surface at an angle to the center of the rod, and then ground with swept back wings, and undercut to get rid of the excess heel. She uses the tool for crisp cuts on small details with great success.

I have looked for a source without luck, but it seems one could make a "Vortex" tool easily enough. Any experience with this little tool?

Bill Bolen
02-08-2010, 6:38 PM
John if I remember right this is also called the skeewchie gouge and I believe she made it herself...Bill...

John Keeton
02-08-2010, 6:55 PM
It does look very similar to a Sorby Spindlemaster, or the Versa chisel from PSI, but the flat portion does not appear to be parallel to the length of the rod, but at an angle. I don't guess that makes a difference so long as the grind of the bevel is indexed off the flat surface.

Dave Mueller
02-08-2010, 7:03 PM
John,
One of the guys in our club makes these out of 1/4" square cobalt tool steel welded to a 1/4" square cold rolled rod. I suppose you could just use HSS, but the edge will not last as long, however, since you will not be cutting very aggressively, it may not matter. He just gave me one, but, I have not had a chance to try it yet.

He believes there are two keys to using the tool. First, if you grind the wings so that there is a sharp intersection between a wing and the top surface, he said it is really grabby. He grinds a small vertical flat at the intersection of each of the wings and the top surface which makes it much tamer, especially for finials. Second, he does not go straight in, but comes up from under the finial, otherwise it tends to break the finial easily. Look at his latest finials here http://www.gulfcoastwoodturners.org/GALLERIES/MeetingGalleries/2010/January/index.html under the Segmented Catagory. He does beautiful work and gets them really thin with the very fine grooves near the top.

Dave

Bernie Weishapl
02-08-2010, 7:30 PM
John Packard Woodworks has it on page 1 of their catalog. I am thinking of getting one myself. They have most of the tools she uses the most. I watched her use that tool and it is pretty neat how crisp she can get her finials with it.

Ron Erickson
02-08-2010, 8:53 PM
I made one from a 1/4" screwdriver, just cut the end off and start grinding. Works good. Ron

John Keeton
02-08-2010, 9:18 PM
John Packard Woodworks has it on page 1 of their catalog. Thanks, Bernie! I found it.


I made one from a 1/4" screwdriver, just cut the end off and start grinding. Works good. RonThis is a thought, but I sure would prefer HSS, but it probably needs very little maintenance since it doesn't see heavy use.

Dave, thanks for the link, and the thoughts on making one. If the one from Packard is handled (and, I assume it is), the price at $45 is terrible, but if one could get some HSS 1/4" rod, looks like it would be a breeze to make one.

John Keeton
02-08-2010, 9:38 PM
Did a little surfing around - to buy a piece of 1/4" HSS rod 36" long looks like about $24, plus shipping. That would make 3 tools, but what to do with the rest of it? I guess there are other configurations one could make, but I think I would want some bigger rod for other tools.

Makes the Drozda tool at $45 sound better!

David E Keller
02-08-2010, 10:03 PM
Little hard to tell from the picture on the Packard website, but it looks like a spear point scraper with a rounded heel... can't imagine that it would be too tough to make one.

I use a spear point scraper sometime for detail, but it's nowhere near as small as that one.

John, where did you price the HSS rod?

I've got a Drozda DVD on the way, but I think it's the other one(not finial star). Maybe we can swap them at some point if you're interested.

Dan Forman
02-08-2010, 10:14 PM
8 inch 1/4" HSS bits can be ordered from Enco at a very reasonable price. Look for HSS tool bits, round. Get more than you think you will need, cause the shipping is kind of high. They make a good 1/4" round skew too. I'd pick up one or two of the 5 inch, 3/8" bits too, cause you never know, you know?:cool:

http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INLMK3?PMK0NO=1100135

Dan

Rich Aldrich
02-08-2010, 10:25 PM
I though a lathe was a vortex tool....

Bernie Weishapl
02-08-2010, 10:27 PM
Did a little surfing around - to buy a piece of 1/4" HSS rod 36" long looks like about $24, plus shipping. That would make 3 tools, but what to do with the rest of it? I guess there are other configurations one could make, but I think I would want some bigger rod for other tools.

Makes the Drozda tool at $45 sound better!

John make you a round skew. It works well on finials also.

Brian Effinger
02-09-2010, 12:06 AM
John - also check out Cindy's website. She has some more info on all of her tools as well as how to sharpen them. I've been wanting to make one of her little notched negative rake scrapers and found the site helpful. Now I just have to make one. :rolleyes:

Ken Glass
02-09-2010, 12:13 AM
John,
I have one of her Vortex tools I purchased at Craft Supplies a few months ago. It has three sides and two of them are straight angled and the other one is rounded for rounded radial cuts. I like it very well for fine finial work as long as you backup your cut with a finger or thumb, as Cindy shows in her videos. It isn't a big tool by any means. It has though, made a difference in my detail on finials for sure.

Sid Matheny
02-09-2010, 1:19 AM
John I ordered a 1/4" X 36" bar of W1 tool steel from McMaster-Carr a couple of months ago for $2.64 along with some other bar stock and shipping was about $8 for the whole order. You can heat W1 enough with a MAPP torch for hardening after it is formed and just dip it in water. It is not as deep hardening as O1 or A1 but a lot easier to harden. I used it to make a skew and point tool. Just a thought.

Sid

John Keeton
02-09-2010, 8:02 AM
John - also check out Cindy's website. She has some more info on all of her tools... Brian, just did that! Thanks for the suggestion. I guess a little effort on my part would have figured that out - but, much easier to have friends do the work!:o


John make you a round skew. It works well on finials also.I have thought about that, Bernie, and may do that if I decide to make one of these. Just didn't realize the cost of the HSS, and the shipping would be so much. Even getting the 8" pieces Dan suggested, the shipping is almost $14, although the stock is relatively cheap. I could get 4 pieces of 1/4" and a couple of 3/8" pieces for about $34 total.


John I ordered a 1/4" X 36" bar of W1 tool steel from McMaster-Carr a couple of months ago for $2.64 along with some other bar stock and shipping was about $8 for the whole order. You can heat W1 enough with a MAPP torch for hardening after it is formed and just dip it in water. It is not as deep hardening as O1 or A1 but a lot easier to harden. I used it to make a skew and point tool. Just a thought.

SidSid, I don't have a MAPP torch, and I hesitate to get one as I rarely use the little propane torch I have. Heat treating has never held my interest much, and I really know so little about it. I guess that is why I am drawn to the HSS idea.

By the time I buy some HSS, and spend a couple hours making this tool and handle, I am just about at the point where the $45 looks like a good deal. I like woodworking, but the rest of it seems a lot like work - even making the handles is minimally fun for me.

I may just have to order one of them - sounds like from Ken's description, getting the tool profile would be tricky without having one to go by.

Mike Minto
02-09-2010, 10:42 AM
In watching the Cindy Drozda DVD on the Finial Star, she is using a "Vortex" tool. This looks to be nothing more than a piece of drill rod that has been honed with a flat surface at an angle to the center of the rod, and then ground with swept back wings, and undercut to get rid of the excess heel. She uses the tool for crisp cuts on small details with great success.

I have looked for a source without luck, but it seems one could make a "Vortex" tool easily enough. Any experience with this little tool?

John, Packard Woodworks carries 5 tools of Cindy's, including the 'vortex'.

Mark Hubl
02-09-2010, 12:05 PM
John, John, John,

Making tools is another level of the Vortex! It is wise of you to beware!

Personally I have had great fun making tools. And the more challenging the pieces I am creating the more I see having a custom tool part of the job. If you change your mind, like Sid said, check out McMaster-Carr. A 3' O1 is $2.76 and I have found their shipping to be very reasonable compared to others.

Jeff Nicol
02-09-2010, 4:32 PM
Did a little surfing around - to buy a piece of 1/4" HSS rod 36" long looks like about $24, plus shipping. That would make 3 tools, but what to do with the rest of it? I guess there are other configurations one could make, but I think I would want some bigger rod for other tools.

Makes the Drozda tool at $45 sound better!
John, You can buy it in shorter lengths than that. I have bought 6"-8" and 12" pieces. You can get a 36" length of drill rod cheaper and temper it yourself too. Check out Enco and Wholesale tool and I think it is called US steel is another place that is not to bad. Just bought a bunch of carbide inserts of different styles to play with.

Jeff

Jim Slovik
02-09-2010, 6:58 PM
John,
Doug Thompson sells 6" x 3/8" blanks of his steel. Maybe he would sell you a 1/4" piece before he finishes it into a gouge. It's worth a try.
Jim

Paul Maue
02-09-2010, 7:46 PM
I went to HF and bought a set of 24" long drill bits to make a 1/4" round skew gouge. There are three rods in the pack 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2" diameter. I don't remember what I paid but it wasn't much.
The actual drill bit is only 8" long so when I cut the rod in half, I used half for my skew and the other half is a long 1/4" drill bit.

Chris Stolicky
02-10-2010, 10:53 AM
John,
Doug Thompson sells 6" x 3/8" blanks of his steel. Maybe he would sell you a 1/4" piece before he finishes it into a gouge. It's worth a try.
Jim

Now that sounds like a good idea. Imagine how long the edge would last when used as a hollowing tool. Man, the ideas and the 'I wanna try that' list just never ends!!

John Keeton
02-10-2010, 11:14 AM
John,
Doug Thompson sells 6" x 3/8" blanks of his steel. Maybe he would sell you a 1/4" piece before he finishes it into a gouge. It's worth a try.
JimExcellent!!

Salvatore Buscemi
12-16-2010, 5:23 PM
I know this is an old thread, but it came up in a search. Did you end up making or buying one? And what kind of angles are ground?

Scott Hackler
12-16-2010, 6:18 PM
John, our local club had a tool making day and one of the tools was a three sided point tool. It is somewhat similar to Drozdas vortex tool. Very nice to have and I use it on every finial to enhance the dividing lines. We used drill rod. It was very inexpensive. I don't worry about the hole HSS aspect as this is a detail tool.

John Keeton
12-16-2010, 6:47 PM
Scott, I have seen the point tools, and they look like they would work for several things.

Salvatore, I did end up making a couple out of some Benjamin Best spindle gouges I no longer use. This pics were taken shortly after making them, and I have since cleaned up the grind on the underside, and removed more stock. I use these only for very deep undercuts in finial work, and it is absolutely critical that you not enter the piece above center with one of these! You will only do it once!:o I now use Thompson 1/4" detail gouges for 95% of the detail work on finials.

I thought I had posted some pics previously, but don't recall the thread, and too lazy to look thru my list of attachments - too many! Excuse the hair in the pic - didn't notice it until I looked at these.

Salvatore Buscemi
12-16-2010, 6:59 PM
Ok, thanks. On a whim I ordered the 3/8" blank from Doug Thompson when I bought some gouges. I was just looking for the best use for it.

Sal

charlie knighton
12-16-2010, 7:16 PM
John, our local club had a tool making day and one of the tools was a three sided point tool. It is somewhat similar to Drozdas vortex tool. Very nice to have and I use it on every finial to enhance the dividing lines. We used drill rod. It was very inexpensive. I don't worry about the hole HSS aspect as this is a detail tool.

Scott Hackler, i wonder if you could post a picture of this tool, thanks

John Keeton
12-16-2010, 7:21 PM
Ok, thanks. On a whim I ordered the 3/8" blank from Doug Thompson when I bought some gouges. I was just looking for the best use for it.

SalSalvatore, I would suggest you do a vortex type tool on one end, and a 3 point tool on the other. These tools are used with such light pressure, you could make a handle with a 3/8" hole, and simply have the tool so you could flip ends. In fact, were it not for the fact that the tools I use are very sharp (honed with 600 grit sandpaper on a flat surface) you could use the rod unhandled.

Wally Dickerman
12-16-2010, 7:36 PM
Lots of replies here John. I bought one of Cindy's tools from Cindy. She was demontrating turning finials at the Packard booth at the Albuquerque symposium in 2008. She showed me how she used it, but my memory is short. I've used it a couple of times but not enough yet to pass an educated opinion on it. Aww heck...if Cindy can do it, so can I....?

Wally

John Keeton
12-16-2010, 8:22 PM
Lots of replies here John. I bought one of Cindy's tools from Cindy. She was demontrating turning finials at the Packard booth at the Albuquerque symposium in 2008. She showed me how she used it, but my memory is short. I've used it a couple of times but not enough yet to pass an educated opinion on it. Aww heck...if Cindy can do it, so can I....?

WallyWally, Cindy does some nice work, but let there be no confusion on which of you is the master!!!;)

Harvey Schneider
12-16-2010, 8:54 PM
I went to HF and bought a set of 24" long drill bits to make a 1/4" round skew gouge. There are three rods in the pack 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2" diameter. I don't remember what I paid but it wasn't much.
The actual drill bit is only 8" long so when I cut the rod in half, I used half for my skew and the other half is a long 1/4" drill bit.

Typically the shank of the drill bit isn't hardened. You will probably have to harden and temper the working end of the tool.

Dahl Troy Perry
12-16-2010, 9:14 PM
John I hope your wife has dark hair:eek::eek: because that hair in the picture is way to dark to be yours :D:D

John Keeton
12-16-2010, 9:27 PM
Must just be the light, Dahl!!:rolleyes: While Ms. Keeton has a few dark ones left, they are....well, outnumbered!!

My guess would be that it is from one of my granddaughters as these pics were taken during the summer, and they frequent the shop sometimes.

Roger Chandler
12-16-2010, 10:35 PM
Must just be the light, Dahl!!:rolleyes: While Ms. Keeton has a few dark ones left, they are....well, outnumbered!!

My guess would be that it is from one of my granddaughters as these pics were taken during the summer, and they frequent the shop sometimes.


I don't mind so much that they turn white, but I object to so cotton-pikkin' many turnin' loose! :(:(:(

Ryan Baker
12-16-2010, 11:05 PM
I've finally found a video clip that gives a decent view of the shape of Cindy's vortex tool. This is one of Cindy's videos showing how to sharpen the vortex as sold by Packard. Here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/user/cindydrozda#p/a/u/2/k4xSSBJVzUY . The HD version gives a pretty clear view of the shape ... good enough to take a shot at making a good copy.

John Keeton
12-17-2010, 7:02 AM
Ryan, I had seen this video prior to making my tools, and originally had the two underside bevels on mine. Cindy uses this tool kind of like a skew in her work, and the extra bevel on the underside certainly would help for that purpose. For what I do with mine, the bevel is obstructive, and so I removed it. Otherwise, I basically copied the angles from this video when making mine.

Cindy's tool is really a 3 point tool with much more acute angles than normally seen on these tools. Dale Miner, a member here, and an excellent turner, uses a 3 point tool for some of his platter work, etc. He has done an excellent job making his, and the angles are much more obtuse.

charlie knighton
12-17-2010, 9:41 AM
thanks Ryan, that's an interesting tool, i have a piece of 1/4 drill rod left over, now if it will only warm up enough to shape and harden it

Michael Mills
12-17-2010, 10:31 AM
If you have a WT Tool local (or you can order) they have HHS for about $5 for either a 6 or 8 inch length. Plenty long enough for light work.
I bought a couple of them and other diameters to swap out in my handle with a chuck. Or is that my chuck with a handle?

Dale Miner
12-17-2010, 1:32 PM
John,

Pardon me while I let out my hat band a size or two.

Thanks for the plug.

The point tool works very well for doing beads and vee cuts in both spindle grain and face grain. The more obtuse angle (to me at least) gives some shear to the cut when in use, and in so doing, reduces the amount of tear out that typically comes from using a scraper type cutting action. I did see a Vortex tool that Stuart Batty uses when he did a demo for our club. It definately has a more acute shape, and would be better suited for making the deep narrow details found on finials. I have a piece of 3/8" steel from Doug Thompson for the purpose, but haven't gotten a round tuit yet.

Later,
Dale M

Ryan Baker
12-17-2010, 7:42 PM
The only solution is to make all of them!! :)

I definitely want to try out a very acute version like Cindy's for fine finial details. I've seen her tool shown a number of times, but it is just one of those shapes that you can't get a good video or still view of. The link above is the first time I found a really good view of the bevels on the bottom. It's actually a bit different than what I had expected. Now I just need to pull out some steel and get to the toolmaking. Every design has something it is perfect for. The good news is that if you try it and don't like it, it only takes a quick trip to the grinder to try something else!

Mark Hubl
12-17-2010, 8:07 PM
These tools are pretty easy to make. Here are a couple of pics of my point tools and my version of the "vortex" tool. I made the smaller point and the vortex. The larger point is a Jet tool. The vortex comes in handy for finial details, but I have not quite figured out how to use it for shearing. The point tools are nice for detail and beading, like on the bottom of a platter. If you make a point tool use the hex nut sharpening secret. Get a hex nut that fits nicely over the size of the stock you are using. Drill and tap a hole in one of the sides of the hex nut for a set/grub screw. Set your grinder up for the angle you want, I think mine are around 40. Then by using every other side of the hex nut on your grinders table you will get a nice evenly spaced point tool.

Don't ask about the grind on the vortex tool. It is based on the Drozda/Packard version, loosely. I have never seen it except in the video. And if you watch CD's video's her early models were a bit different. I just put some serious angles on the under side and ground the top flat with a slight angle. I am sharpening it as Cindy describes in her video.