Late in the evening, I finally had a chance to correct an old turning that has laid on a shelf down in the shop for over a year. I think we can just consider this a “homework” project from jockmike2’s WoodTurning School and Coffee House.
A couple years ago, a dear friend of mine wanted to help encourage my interest in lathing and picked up a harbor freight economy lathe and a set of their HSS chisels. I read some articles on turning and seen some really pretty pictures, but my approach to turning seem to consist of finding chunks of hard maple outside, rotating it at high speeds, and praying to God I don’t hurt myself as I put the chisel to wood.
The economy lathe by HF has some serious limitations and it has proven frustrating at times. The lathe is very light and was prone to bits of tap dancing when an out of round piece was mounted on the faceplate. This made turning especially difficult as I would have to catch the machine before I could apply the chisels. Fortunately, I do not have a large shop and there weren’t too many locations the lathe could run to and hiding was definitely out of the question. The other limitation is that hollow vessels had to be turned on a faceplate and the lathe has a 3/4 10 tpi headstock. Not very useful for aftermarket chucks. Every now and again I could turn something that could be considered close to a finished project but could never re-seat the project to get a nice balanced spin on it for finishing cuts.
One item in particular was a sore spot for me. I had turned a rather small diameter log into a chalice, It was flawed and had some gouge marks, but I was especially proud of it because it was such a difficult turning for a novice. I was hollowing out a piece with heartwood attached, getting a decent hollowing from such a narrow vessel, and I was doing it on a faceplate, which is not easy for goblet style turnings. It was not good enough to finish, but too precious for me to throw away.
After meeting jockmike2 and spending some time turning with an individual who knew what he was doing (he will tell you differently, don’t listen to him ;) I decided to do a little work on the HF lathe and upgrade it some. I found an adapter on the penn state industries website and purchased their four jaw utility chuck. I also weighted down the lathe with some cinder blocks (Many thanks to fellow LJ’ers who posted pics of using similar weighting systems) and sharpened my chisels on my new Worksharp 3000 system. Because of the adapter, my tailstock needs to be elevated to get back on center, but am working on that right now. In the interim, the chuck will work fine for small projects. Here is my setup currently -
The chuck is pretty decent for the price. I have two sets of jaws as well as a set of jumbo jaws for bowls. Under $100 delivered (cost more than the lathe actually). It is pretty well balanced and I can see it making a very big difference in the capabilities of this very cheap lathe.
I was able to chuck the chalice and adjust it till it was mostly balanced. I took off a little more material and scrape most of the gouges out of it. I thinned the walls a little bit more and gave it a good sanding. Now all that is left is to apply the finish and the topcoat. Overall, I am pretty happy with it and am glad I was able to salvage the piece.
Vacation time is going great. I feel like I am entering in a new phase and am definitely feeling upbeat.
Hope everyone is doing well,
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.