Hunter Swan Neck Tools Overview: In the February 2009 edition of Lathe Talk (#27), I reviewed Mike Hunters #3 and #4 straight-arm hollowing tools, as well as his 3/16" inserts for boring bars. As you recall, these tools feature small razor sharp, mirror finished round carbide cutters that leave an incredibly smooth finished surface right off the tool. These tools have become indispensable in my studio and are one of my favorite tools to use for certain applications.
Hunter Swan Neck Tools:
Mike Hunter's straight arm hollowing tools
(top) and his new swan neck hollowers (bottom)
One challenge to using any straight arm hollower comes when you need to remove the waste area under the shoulders of hollow forms, or under deeply recessed back cut rims. A straight tool can only do so much… On larger forms, I always used one of my hollowing rigs that featured a swan neck boring bar and I installed the 3/16" Hunter cutter which allowed easy access under rims and shoulders of forms.
Close-up view showing Mike's swan neck
tools versus his straight arm hollowers
Whilst that solved the problem with larger forms, it did not solve it for smaller forms, especially for projects that I preferred to do freehand, like small boxes, ornaments and under the rims of smaller bowls. Luckily, Mike released a set of swan neck (curved head) hollowers to address this need. These swan neck hollowers allow you to get under the rims of bowls and under the pesky shoulder area on hollow forms with ease.
#3 Hunter Swan Neck Tools
Mike’s swan neck hollowers use the same carbide cutters as the straight-arm hollowers, which have a proven track record for exemplary performance. Two types of curved tools are offered, a “#3 Full Swan Neck” and a “#3 Shallow Swan Neck.” The full swan neck tool has a more acute bend in the neck; the shallow swan neck tool has a slightly curved neck. Together, these two tools allow you complete more advanced projects that feature aggressive back cut rims and under the shoulders on hollow forms.
Hunter full swan neck (top) and
shallow swan neck (bottom)
Mike's full swan neck hollower features a
more acute bend in the neck (top). The
shallow swan neck features a slight curve (bottom)
Mike also has a very small #1 Cup Hook Tool that features a 1/4" swan neck shank and should be great for reaching into smaller projects like holiday ornaments and other mini-sized projects. I have not used this tool yet, but I’m sure it will prove to be another great “must-have” tool from Mike.
Using These Hunter Swan Neck Tools
Mike's full swan neck hollower is great for
reaching under the shoulder area of hollow forms
There is a slight learning curve to understand when hollowing with any of the Hunter tools, as the cutter must be rotated clockwise into the cut slightly, with a presentation that is slightly above centerline and angled down a bit. This presentation angle varies slightly depending on what type of cut you’re making and the specific type of project you’re turning. Mike includes instructions with all of his tools to help get you up to speed in short order.
Mike's shallow swan neck hollower is great
for creating elegant back curves on bowl rims
I prefer to use these swan neck tools for finishing cuts, although some turners use them for gross roughing cuts as well. These tools will not hog off wood like a gouge, but you can easily produce tissue thin shavings with the super sharp cutter head. The real beauty of these tools is revealed when you are making your finishing cuts to perfect the surface prior to sanding. The surface produced from these tools is very smooth, which means you will have less sanding to do to finish your project and that’s always a good thing! If you haven’t seen Mike’s hollowing tools, take a look. You’ll be glad you did!
Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.
Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.
Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.
Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.