In The Beginning #6: Enough to Make a Grown Me Cry!!!

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Blog entry by Crushgroovin posted 01-26-2011 02:09 AM 4759 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: My Shop Helpers! Part 6 of In The Beginning series Part 7: Food Safe Finishes »

I have been turning for a few months now and have had some moderate success with spindles and a couple platters, even a bowl or two has worked out ok. But in attempting to learn how to turn bowls I have had many a “Learning Opportunity” which has resulted in me screaming non nonsensical almost curse words from my shop. Now the outside of the bowl isn’t a problem, I have made some absolutely beautiful Bowl Outsides. The trouble has come with my Fracking Lathe and the hollowing process. You see as I am making smoothing scrapes my tools rest moves ever so slightly until BANG and there is a big dent in the bowl. Even when I am making my final light cuts the damn tool rest will move and I end up uneven! Eventually the result is the bottom of the bowl is too thin and I end up with a bowl flying off the lathe looking like this

Now that isn’t so bad if you look at it from this angle

The problem is most people don’t really need bowls like this

Now if I can just figure out how to make the whole bowl without the HOLE!!!!

There is a great deal on a Jet 1642EVS on CL right now but I can’t get the poster to get back to me. I am hoping that if I get a real Lathe with a better motor and tool rest that instead of focusing on making the dang thing work I can focus on doing the work.

Look later for my review of the Harbor Freight Lathe and how it isn’t worth it, even when it’s free!

Yes I am sure that much of this has to do with my lack of turning skills but I don’t need to hear your f’ing opinion on that! I am well aware of my own shortcomings thank you very much!

-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

9 comments so far

View lew's profile


12154 posts in 3811 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 02:37 AM

Great looking funnels!!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Not sure if there is a way to fix the tool rest problem- I’m not familiar with the Harbor Freight design.


Did you see this—

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3251 days

#2 posted 01-26-2011 03:02 AM

Which HF lathe do you have? I haven’t had any problems with my 33 3/8” bed HF Central Machinery lathe. The only issue I had was I didn’t like the tool rest it came with and it had an odd sized diameter that I couldn’t find rests for. I think its somewhere around 7/8. So I bought a 1” Sorby rounded tool rest and sanded it for an hour on my Worksharp 3000 until it fit.

I haven’t had the adjustment knobs loosen on me though. How long have you had it? I’ve only been using it for a couple months so maybe thats why, but I’ve tightened and untighted each knob already many many times.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3165 days

#3 posted 01-26-2011 03:31 AM

As an experienced HF lathe user I can feel your pain but I think I also know what the problem is that you are experiencing. I believe, from your description, that you have the same HF lathe I used. This HF lathe is light, this causes a great deal of vibration that is loosening up your tool rest and throwing the piece off balance. I have a blog about it here. Plywood on the inside of the stand and cinder blocks helped control it enough for me to start getting hollows out that I was satisfied with. I would never discourage anyone from upgrading from the cheaper HF lathe, but I still believe one can learn quite a bit on it with just a few modifications to it.

Hope this helps,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3251 days

#4 posted 01-26-2011 03:33 AM

Ok from David’s description it sounds like you have a different HF lathe. Mine is cast iron.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3161 days

#5 posted 01-26-2011 03:55 AM

I have the cheapest ( I think?) HF lathe.-$79.00 on sale about 10 years ago. It is a 14” by 42” and I spent more on the stand for materials than on the lathe. It has little vibration now and is pretty stable. I have broken a few tool rests and learned to order 2 at a time from China! I have replaced the knob for tightening the tool rest with a pair of vice grips. works great. One day a good Jet or better. The HF can be made better. Maybe look at the surface of the bolt where it meets the tool rest for tightening. Good Luck

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3582 days

#6 posted 01-26-2011 04:05 AM

Turn a gobblet with a rim or a box bottom and glue you bowls to them and you will have a rised bowl.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4251 days

#7 posted 01-26-2011 04:47 AM

Instead of addressing the lathe, I’m going to go in a different direction. I don’t have a HF lathe to speak about anyway.
While I do a lot of woodworking, I don’t do a lot of turning, but wanted to get better. I looked in my area & found a turning club. It’s been a great learning experience. The guys in there have been helpful to the extent of inviting me over to their shop & literally teaching me to turn a bowl. I learned some subtle chisel techniques that made the difference between a good result & a failure. I definitely don’t know it all (or much), but I’m getting better.

I don’t know if you have any groups in your area, but I think there are a lot of turning clubs around in general. My suggestion is to look around for one & get involved. It’s a great way to meet guys (& gals) who have a common interest. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Crushgroovin's profile


234 posts in 2980 days

#8 posted 01-26-2011 06:00 AM

I have the Central Machinery 34706 from Harbor Freight. I new before I got it that it had some issues. But I decided to sell my Shopsmith & had a Harbor Freight gift card for $270. So it not costing me anything out of pocket I thought I would give it a shot. I made some upgrades right out of the gate knowing that they were an issue. I replaced the Locking handles on the tool rest with some nice ones from Grainger. I then replaced the belt with a high quality Napa belt. Finally I used Locktite to try and get the but below the tool rest to keep from vibrating loose. So far the Locktite has kept it from loosening but hasn’t kept the tool rest from slipping.

Thanks for the link Craig I will check it out!

I am going to add bases to both and make them Bowls on Pedestals! Should end up pretty well.

I have been wanting to join a local turners group but I can never make their meetings. I am usually busy at night with my kids so it is hard to get to them. I will make it eventually. I have taken one class and am taking a couple more next month. I am sure that will help quite a bit!

-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

View Crushgroovin's profile


234 posts in 2980 days

#9 posted 01-26-2011 06:07 AM

Oh and I have no problem with it being sturdy enough. I skipped the legs and mounted it on a piece of 1” Melamine then clamped it on top of my rock solid Universal Tool Stand. It aints going nowheres!

I am thinking of a couple tricks to make the tools rest stay put. The Red Locktite seems to be working so it is just a matter of the surface being to slick. I am thinking some sandpaper on the bottom of the tool rest base might help keep it from sliding down the bed.

I am open to other suggestions though!

-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

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