Reviewed By: Peter Boyd, Professional Sculptor
Tool Reviewed: Arbortech TURBOPlane
I have been working with wood for 30 years. I started in historic house renovation, and then moved on to traditional chair making and woodcarving. I combine experience and the correct tools to work efficiently, and this brings out the best of my abilities and the qualities of the wood. I have made hundreds of pieces of unique woodwork; chairs, tables, mirror, cabinets, figurative and abstract sculpture. I have always been driven to seek out new projects and new tools, and soon found that the Arbortech products used with a standard angle grinder opened up exciting new possibilities.
I have been using an Arbortech Tuff Cut for many year and it has outlasted three angle grinders and is still as good as new. The only problem I have found is that it is hard to make curves accurately, as it cuts on the outside edge of the blade. It is also quite dangerous as it could jam into the wood and run backwards. Angle Grinders have no safety switch so they run around like a manic shark until you pull the plug. Firmly holding the tool will prevent this. I have only had this happen once in 10 years of use, but it is not something I want to repeat.
When I heard about the Arbortech TURBOPlane , I was very excited to see if this would open up new opportunities and it certainly did! I found it excellent for removing bark, smoothing off the rough finish made by chainsaw or axe work, and even shaping bowls and large carvings such as the tree carvings (as shown in my pictures below).
It is much safer to use than the edge cutting discs as it cannot dig in, and also because it makes nice big shavings rather than dust, it massively reduces the risk of lung or eye damage. I found it did need resharpening more than the Tuff Cut, though it still kept sharp for a long time. I only needed to sharpen it twice on a life size female nude carving in oak. Keeping it sharp is easy. No need to remove it from the machine; just make sure it is unplugged though! A few passes with a cheap diamond flat file on each cutter brought it back to a sharp edge. Carving bowls is a good way to start using this useful tool, and even a beginner to power carving should be able to make beautiful gifts easily, and soon cover the cost of buying the TURBOPlane.
See Peter's life sized nude woman carving from start to finish of the project here. Peter used the Arbortech TURBOPlane and Power Chisel.