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Author Topic: Lathe advice  (Read 1219 times)

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Offline xlogger

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Lathe advice
« on: October 09, 2017, 07:06:18 AM »
I've been looking at Youtube for a couple weeks now and thinking about trying my luck with turning bowls and playing with a lathe. I've never used one and was hoping to getting some advice here on what I need to start. I also don't have a shop bandsaw. I've got what I think are some nice pieces off the mill to make bowls, etc. I know I should start small but don't want a cheap unit or the most expensive one either.
Starting advice?
Timberking 2000, Turbo slabber Mill, 584 Case, Bobcat 773, solar kiln, Nyle L-53 DH kiln

Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 08:44:37 AM »
My first lathe was a gift from my children and it's one of the variable speed low end lathes from Penn State Industries.  I couldn't wait for chisels to arrive from ordering online and bought a set of high speed steel chisels from Harbor Freight. Those chisels have worked fine.  I've added other chisels.  Since that time I've bought a Grizzly full size lathe and a Penn State Maxi Lathe (12" swing).
The Grizzly has a 16" swing over bed and the headstock (motor) can swing around to turn a larger bowl off the end of the lathe bed.  Since you plan to turn bowls you need to make sure you can stabilize the lathe because you'll get the wildest shakes when first turning an out-of-round piece of wood. 
If you have a friend or relative that has a lathe ask them if you can try it out.  Spend plenty of time practicing turning different shapes - v-cuts, ovals, tapers, small bowls, etc.  A couple of the items I like to make are dibbles and mallets.  The dibbles let me cut the handles, digging point, depth reference grooves and work to get a spectacular finish on them.  Mallets are generally larger and chunkier but still have most of the parts the dibbles have other than the depth reference grooves.  I've also turned lots of pens, bottle stoppers, purse holders, etc.
One of these days I may even upgrade and get a Oneway lathe.  Good luck
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Offline Larry

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2017, 10:56:55 AM »
A good idea is to join a turning club.  Besides making a bunch of new friends there is a high probability you will sell some wood, get custom sawing jobs, and a few free logs.

First decision about the lathe is size.  Deduct about two – four inches from the advertised swing for the actual size of a bowl you can comfortably turn.  My lathe has a 20” swing but most bowls I turn are in the range of 10 -12”.  I sometimes turn bigger platters.  I think for a newby wanting to do bowls look for something with a 16” swing or greater.

Next decision is how the lathe is powered.  Step pulleys are a pain.  Most older lathes have variable speed with a Reeves drive.  Two problems with that system.  Low speed is to fast for initial bowl turning.  They require maintenance and are sometimes noisy.  Modern lathes have electronic variable speed from a VFD.  I think low speed on my lathe is around 10 rpm, which is really useful for power sanding.  EVS is the only way to turn.

I used to trim bowl blanks down on the bandsaw.  It was always awkward holding a large chunk of wood on the table.  Never liked doing it.  I started watching videos of guys that never trimmed down a blank.  Now I might trim a blank a little with the chainsaw but never use the bandsaw anymore.  Another reason to join a club.  Most have a library with lots of videos you can check out and watch for free.  Good ones are by David Ellsworth, Richard Raffan, and Lyle Jamieson.  Lots of others just as good.

You need a few tools to get started.  The first is a faceplate to hold a glue block.  Spend more money and get a four jaw chuck.  The best are either Oneway or Vicmarc.  I run Vicmarc but Grizzly cloned them and they are cheaper.  You will need a 1/2” bowl gouge, and a parting tool.  A round nose scraper will help.  Craft Supplies sell a house brand called Artisan.  They are really quality Henry Taylor tools at a reduced price.  I like Thompson lathe tools and get them without handles to save a few dollars.  A lathe can become a money pit, especially when first starting.  Club members can help and some might let you try before spending.  A club is also an excellent place to pick up used tools.

Happy turning.

Edit for more content.

I need to add a way to sharpen your tools is essential.  The general consensus is to use a CBN wheel on a 8” grinder.  Some of the pro's still use white wheels or even the old grey wheels.  I sharpen most everything I own freehand but never could get the knack of sharpening a bowl gouge correctly.  I made jigs similar to the Oneway Wolverine and Vari-Grind.  I'll always sharpen my bowl gouge at least one time on every bowl.  Usually right before I make my finishing cuts to keep sanding to the minimum.

Larry

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Offline xlogger

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 06:08:00 AM »
Thanks Larry, I'll keep my eye open on craigslist for someone selling out lathe and maybe all things I might need to get going. I'll pm you with one I saw on craigslist and see what you think about it.
Timberking 2000, Turbo slabber Mill, 584 Case, Bobcat 773, solar kiln, Nyle L-53 DH kiln

Offline Downstream

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 02:37:31 PM »
another heads up comment I heard when looking for a lathe was the cost of the lathe is small compared to the cost for tools and accessories.  boy is that true!  x2!.  by the time you have added a basic set of starter tools, chucks,live centers you will double initial cost.  if you want to do specific things like bowls you can target those tools/access to control costs.  I bought the delta midi lathe with bed extension and it is rock solid for me as a beginner but probably not good for bigger bowls or plates which ok with me for what i do.  I got a great spot deal on amazon late one night or I would probably have bought the harbor freight floor lathe that has decent entry level reviews around the web.  if you can find somebody getting out of it on craigslist with the accessories you will be miles ahead.  I looked for awhile but gave up and bought new.
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 07:51:57 PM »
Also watch for auctions. I picked up this jem for $75.00.

 

 
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Offline xlogger

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2017, 06:36:47 AM »
Kbeitz is that 3phase? I took Larry advice and went to a meeting last Thursday night. At the meeting I meet one of suppose to be the best instructors around there. He only lives about 8-10 miles from me. I'm going to his shop Monday for an all day one on one class. If I enjoy it like I think I will there is a pretty good deal at a local woodworkers store on a Powermatic 3520B that I'm going to take a good look at. If I get it not sure how much I will have to spend on the extras after that.
Timberking 2000, Turbo slabber Mill, 584 Case, Bobcat 773, solar kiln, Nyle L-53 DH kiln

Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2017, 08:10:00 AM »
Kbeitz is that 3phase? I took Larry advice and went to a meeting last Thursday night. At the meeting I meet one of suppose to be the best instructors around there. He only lives about 8-10 miles from me. I'm going to his shop Monday for an all day one on one class. If I enjoy it like I think I will there is a pretty good deal at a local woodworkers store on a Powermatic 3520B that I'm going to take a good look at. If I get it not sure how much I will have to spend on the extras after that.

it was ... It took a standard 2hp motor so I just swapped it out with a single phase motor.
It turned out to be a really good lathe.
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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2017, 07:35:51 PM »
Good heavy cast iron bed,just what the doctor ordered

Offline bdsmith

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2017, 12:32:33 AM »
Ditto what was said about tools.  But using chisels is just the first part of lathe work.
The task of putting a finish on the piece you have just created can be just as time consuming.

Your artistic and craftsman brain may revel in the challenges of finding the perfect shape that is hiding in a gnarly hunk of cherry or highlighting the live edge of a delicately rotten walnut burl but unless you can put a polish on it, no one will appreciate your efforts.

First, a strong supply of sandpaper in 60, 80, 100, 120, 180, 240, 320 and a bit of 450 grits is needed.  Power sanders can be useful.  Steel wool has its place, as do files and rasps.
Take the time to remove the tool marks.  There are techniques in using each chisel that will make sanding easier.
With all the sanding comes dust, which are worse than the chips from the tools.  Get a good dust collection system (or at least a good fan) and some good masks.

Then you need to learn about waxes, oils, varnishes, shellacs and modern synthetics. Depending on how the piece will be displayed or used, different finishes are appropriate.

Consider where all this stuff will be stored in relation to the lathe - build some good cabinets and shelves that can stand being sprayed with wood chips and dust.  Have some good lighting in arms reach that can be adjusted.   Have some good floor mats - standing in one spot for even just a few hours at a time is tough on the feet.



Offline xlogger

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2017, 05:02:36 AM »
I took Larry's advise and when to a local club meeting and got up with a guy that has classes. Took one class and found out maybe this was not for me. With my mills now and work always waiting on me I just didn't have the time. But thanks all for the advise.
Timberking 2000, Turbo slabber Mill, 584 Case, Bobcat 773, solar kiln, Nyle L-53 DH kiln

Offline Novascotiamill

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2017, 07:11:37 AM »
I too liked the midi,that and a lot of steel from henry taylor,oneway chuck with all the xtras,faceplates and shop space , mountains of sandpaper varnish,oils and waxes,pen parts,peppermills and duck calls! Sold it all 15 years ago ,now after reading this thread I want it all back with a new Oneway lathe......there goes another 6k !!!  :D
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2017, 06:55:18 PM »
Wow ... I looked them up...Not cheap....
Collector and builder of many things.
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2017, 06:57:07 PM »
Ok... Whats up with the posting.... That's not what I typed... ?
Collector and builder of many things.
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2017, 07:15:14 PM »
Dat is what you typed .... don't yu seez it?  Banjomonie
Cooks AC 36--Prentice 210C--Morgan edger--Kubota M7040 with loader--Case 580 K with extendahoe--Case 850C dozer--Int 1700 series twin cylinder dump/log/flatbed truck--logging arch--2 logrite mill sp.--Cat claw sharpening system--And a bulldog to make sure it all stays here.

Offline Novascotiamill

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2017, 08:05:30 PM »
hacked by the Swedish chef!!!!!!
2017 HM130
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Lathe advice
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2018, 10:00:41 AM »
One thing to keep in mind with your first lathe - make sure you pull the girl friend's (now wife) Sienna mini-van out of the garage before attempting to turn a surprise valentines day vase for her, otherwise you will soon learn that windshields for those vans cost almost as much as a lathe cost. 
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