Starting to Turn

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Blog entry by USCJeff posted 05-29-2009 03:56 AM 1573 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I ended up with a little money from selling a few things to Woodsmith a while back and two of them made it to print. As any good husband and father would do, I cashed the checks and went to Woodzone (plug). I was having an internal debate on what I wanted to get. I NEED a jointer. Essential tool, really is, but come on, not much fun. Long story short, I caved and bought several things to give turning a try. I’ve never used a lathe and felt overwhelmed trying to make sense of all the accessories. I picked up a Shop Fox lathe. Since I have no patience to sharpen and would likely not do it well, I got a Worksharp 3000. I had no idea what tools to get. The owner set me up with a standard gouge, skew, and scraper to start. I then found out I needed a chuck (didn’t know they cost as much as some lathes). I couldn’t quite make the jump for the Nova, but settled on the newer Barracuda Kit. It was under $200. Nova, wow, must be something I’m not understanding. I suppose they’ll outlast many lathes though.

I got home and set up. Turning isn’t as easy as I anticipated. Getting the tools sharp was easy, really great sharpener so far. It went through all the grits very fast when I sharpened a shop worth of chisels and planes. The second round of consumables has lasted a while as I only need to touch up now. I decided to turn a simple carvers mallet as a first attempt. Pretty straight forward. The first one (maple) ended up too small to be effective. The second one (purpleheart) was perfect. Well, it was. i was turing some V grooves and things to dress it up a bit. One slight wrist movement and boom, 2 hours were wasted. Doesn’t require much to take some huge chunks off the piece.

In the end, I’m really enjoying it. It’s fast compared to full blown shop projects. A couple hours and you’ve got something to show for it. It’ll get better when I learn how to really use the tools. I’m guessing somewhat at technique and tool angles and such. There seems to be a lot of content on the web. Haven’t gotten much of a chance to sit down and read up on it. Still need that jointer, but I’m having fun.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

15 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3851 days

#1 posted 05-29-2009 04:11 AM

Jeff, the lathe sounds like a nice addition to your shop and they do look like a lot of fun to play with. I have one on my list as well. Every time I see a turning posted the lathe moves a little higher on the wish list.

I am looking forward to seeing how some of your project “turn” out. :)

Have fun.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3749 days

#2 posted 05-29-2009 04:22 AM

Please keep us posted. A lathe sure seems like fun. It’s a ways down my list, but floating higher.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3377 days

#3 posted 05-29-2009 05:25 AM

”The second one (purpleheart) was perfect. Well, it was. i was turing some V grooves and things to dress it up a bit. One slight wrist movement and boom, 2 hours were wasted.”

as David Pye would say you just demonstrated the concept of the “workmanship of risk”

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3796 days

#4 posted 05-29-2009 05:29 AM

Congratulations on your new lathe. As for the jointer, it will make a sturding staging area for your turning projects. My table saw is the perfect work station for applying aniline dyes.

Check out your local American Association of Woodturners clubs. They typically have mentoring programs and a library full of books and DVD’s free for it’s members to use. You can check out the AAW homepage and search for clubs in your area.

Have fun!

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View MegaWatts's profile


4 posts in 3625 days

#5 posted 05-29-2009 06:11 AM

Look up Palmetto Woodturners. We meet the first Saturday of each month at Mann Tool. A great bunch of people and I always learn a lot.

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#6 posted 05-29-2009 06:14 AM

good purchase

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3510 days

#7 posted 05-29-2009 07:03 AM

Check this site out too:

They have a lot of great projects and info on how to use the tools. Also, if your looking to get a decent set of chisels for not a lot of money, check these out. I use them and they are great. I did a review of them a few weeks ago if you want to check it out.

Good luck and happy turning.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3727 days

#8 posted 05-29-2009 02:07 PM

I’ve been playing with a lathe too for several months now. Great fun. I still haven’t mastered the skew, I have ruined a few projects with it as well. Make sure tto not finish your bowl and let it dry awhile and then return it later. It’s terrible to finish a bowl in a few hours only to have it crack the next day.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4328 days

#9 posted 05-29-2009 07:16 PM

I had the advantage of learning to use a lathe, when I was in 9th grade.

Wow! that was over 60 years ago. When you’re in ninth grade you have no fears, & you throw caution to the wind.

Most of us kids turned out miniature baseball bats. they were all over the place.

So enjoy your new adventure.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View waukez's profile


21 posts in 3319 days

#10 posted 05-31-2009 05:16 AM

A lot of the time I cut a close to size blank and then take it off and let it dry. If it is already close to size it dries much faster with less cracking and less warpage. especialy with bowls or vases. once in a while though something will warp so bad that you cant save it at all. But I heat with wood.

-- Tool Maker

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3363 days

#11 posted 05-31-2009 02:43 PM

Might be worth a try to let your roughed out item lay in the shavings from your turning and pop it all into a paper bag to dry. In the old days turners often let them dry out in stored grain. It can take a couple of months or so before it is ready for final turning. If you turn end-grain pieces to an all-round even thickness you can finish it up in one session without further drying, but the bottoms are a bit more fragile and difficult to get nice.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim's profile


120 posts in 4027 days

#12 posted 06-01-2009 12:00 AM

Welcome to the Vortex called turning. Have fun with it and wear a shield. Stuff coming off the lathe at speed hurts when it hits ya.

-- Jim in Cushing Oklahoma

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4034 days

#13 posted 06-01-2009 12:05 AM

Looking forward to seeing what you create with it. Have fun!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4097 days

#14 posted 06-01-2009 04:41 AM

OK, so I’ve been playing now for a week or so. It’s fun. My other tools are getting jealous. I’ve got a little gripe though. The belt on the Shop Fox Lathe was damaged somehow. I can’t say for sure. The treads on about a 2 inch section are now distorted. This could have been a user error thing, but I can’t imagine what happened. Changing the speeds with the belt is pretty straight forward and I find it hard to imagine I mounted it in a manner that distorted it. Must have though, can’t think of anything else. Now the belt will drop to a wheel one lower than where it started on the bottom axis leaving it slanted. Grr. . . Guess I’ll need a new one. I’ll post a mallet I made soon. I find finishing on a lathe is more fun than finishing typicilly is. Seems like less work. Makes it easy to buff it out to the right sheen as well.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4097 days

#15 posted 06-01-2009 04:43 AM

The link to the Benjamin’s Best chisels made me kick myself when I read you’re original review. I think I posted there as well. I bought three of the 8 a la carte not realizing there was a set. Spent between $15-$20 each for the three. Couldn’t obviously gotten more value out the set.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

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