Easy Wood Tools Ci3 Easy Finisher

Ease of use and consistently great results make this tool ideal for novice and hobbyist turners

ci3_800

Easy Wood Tools Ci3 Easy Finisher



Insert tooling has been around for some time; you'll find it on shaper cutters, planer and jointer cutterheads, and more recently on router bits, woodworking chisels and woodturning tools.
 
Insert tooling essentially refers to any any tool with a replaceable cutter - the tool body is re-usable, while the cutter is replaced when worn or damaged. Insert tooling offers tremendous advantages to both professional and amateur woodworkers. One of the greatest benefits is increased productivity - cutters are very quick to replace, significantly reducing down-time, particularly in a production environment. Not having to bother with re-sharpening is another important time saver. As well, most cutters are made of tungsten carbide, and the grade of carbide used typically has a finer grain structure and is harder than carbide brazed onto tool bodies. The result is a longer wear life and better cutting performance.
 
Easy Wood Tools (EWT) offers three styles of turning tools with replaceable insert cutters. The Rougher tools have a square or radiused cutter, and are used for quick removal of stock. Finisher tools have a round cutter for light finishing, particularly on convex surfaces, and for forming coves. Detailer tools have a diamond shaped cutter and are used for cutting beads and coves, and for detail cuts. These tools come with handles and bars of various lengths and widths. The smallest, suitable for pen turning, have 3/8" x 4" bars and 12" handles, while the largest have 1/2" x 8-1/2" bars and 20" handles. I had the opportunity of trying the Easy Wood Tools Easy Finisher Ci3 (6300), which is part of the mid-size series.
 
The Ci3 is an exquisitely made tool, and comes in a clear, durable plastic storage container. The 16" hard maple handle is nicely turned, with a 4-1/4" hand grip on the end, swelling in a gentle arc near the tang, which is encased in a 1" x 1-1/8" copper ferrule. At it's widest, the handle measures 1-3/4", which I found a good size, affording me a secure, comfortable grip. The handle is finished with a catalyzed industrial gloss lacquer that gives a durable, abrasion resistant finish.
 

ci3_mid500
Nicely shaped hard maple handle   
      
The square stainless steel bar is 3/8" x 7". The bar is square because, in use, you keep it flat on the tool rest, and parallel to the lathe bed. The end of the bar has been precisely milled to accept the carbide insert. The bar tip is milled at the same angle as the edge of the cutter; this ensures that the cutter is fully supported at its edge, where the downward force is greatest. The edges of the bar are lightly rounder over, so that they move more smoothly across the tool rest, and are more comfortable to hold. The Ci3 comes with a hex key to remove the cutter; change over takes all of 30 seconds.
 

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Stainless steel bar 

Learning how to use a tool correctly is a key factor in being able to use it efficiently and effectively. The Ci3 is, in my view, a very easy tool to learn how to use. There are three simple steps to follow. The first is to keep the tool flat on the tool rest. There is no need to rotate the tool side-to-side off of the tool rest. This is a very easy concept for novice turners to understand, and adopt. You want the Ci3 to glide across the tool rest. If the tool rest you use is somewhat rough, you might consider refining it with a smooth cut file.
 

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Copper ferrule
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Carbide cutter
The second step is to keep the tool parallel to the lathe bed (or the floor). While simple to understand, this technique is somewhat more difficult to adopt, and requires constant diligence until it becomes an ingrained habit. EWT recommends tucking the handle against the body to give an anchor point. I found this worked quite well.
 
The final point is to set the tool rest so that the top of the cutter is centered on the stock. EWT provides a useful tip, which is to establish the correct tool rest height, and then mill a stop block to fit on the tool rest post (or place a registration mark on the post) so that you can quickly re-set the proper height in the future.
 
In use, you move the tool in towards the stock, and right or left along the tool rest, without rotating the tool or tilting it up or down (or out of parallel with the lathe bed). I found this stance to be reasonably intuitive, and easy to assume at the lathe. Novice turners will, in particular, I think, find it fairly easy to adapt to this stance. There certainly is much less technique to learn, compared to conventional turning tools. The only problem I initially had was remembering to keep the Ci3 parallel to the lathe bed.
 

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Flat, parallel, centered
006-20
Easy cutting with the Ci3
EWT states that you can expect about 20 hours of turning per cutter. That figure, will, of course, depend on the wood you're turning. I used the original cutter on the Ci3 for almost 40 hours of turning with Silver Maple and Cherry. Of course, once I noticed the quality of the final cut had decreased I only used the cutter for hogging out, and then switched to a new cutter for the final finish cuts.
 
Ultimately, the service life for the cutter and the quality of cuts depends on the quality of carbide that was used in the manufacturing process. EWT uses a proprietary carbide mix that is custom mixed for each of its three cutter shapes. The cutters are sharpened on super rigid CNC grinders to prevent micro chipping, using optimal diamond grit wheels to ensure the flattest and smoothest cutting surfaces possible.
 
Everyone who has tried the Ci3 over the past two months has been very impressed with how easy the tool is to use and the resulting cut quality. I'm very pleased with how long the cutters last. I'm convinced that novice turners will find the Easy Wood Tools much easier to use than conventional high speed steel turning chisels. And a set of three of these tools will be just as economical as purchasing a set of six or eight HSS tools, along with a grinding system to sharpen them with. Professional turners are likely to be a lot more skeptical, but as the saying goes, 'try it, you'll love it'.


KEY FEATURES:

  • 7/16" diameter replaceable carbide cutter
  • 3/8" x 7" stainless steel bar length
  • 16" hard maple handle

Manufacturer:Easy Wood Tools
Available From:Lee Valley
Retail Price:$119.00
$16.99 carbide cutter
Model #:6300
Made In:USA
Carl Duguay, March 2010
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