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Author Topic: Lathe advice  (Read 491 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
Lucas 10-30 Swingsaw Blade Mill, Husqvarna 3120XP, Makita DCS7901 Chainsaw, 30" & 56" Granberg Chain Saw Mill

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

Nine out of ten trees recommend wood for your building project.

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.
EZ Boardwalk Jr,  Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill, Stihl 660 and 211, Logrite 60" cant hook

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.

 

 
Collector and builder of many things.
I have a
machine shop
Wood work shop
And a Weld shop
And now a saw mill
and a bunch of new forum friends.

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.
Collector and builder of many things.
I have a
machine shop
Wood work shop
And a Weld shop
And now a saw mill
and a bunch of new forum friends.

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