As The Lathe Turns #8: Close Only Counts With..............

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Blog entry by William posted 03-05-2013 12:02 AM 11886 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: The Bent Shaft Lathe Part 8 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 9: Now THIS Is What I Call Fun »

I was going to title this entry, Close To Success. Every time I think of the word close though, I think of my Uncle who used to say, close only counts with horse shoes and hand grenades”.
I’ll get to that unsuccessfuly, but learning, experience in a bit. First, I wanted to share a few thoughts of mine as I go down this turning road.

First, I’ve learned an important lesson lately. I’ve been down a lot the last few weeks. I’m currently going through a particular bad spell. My wife has been having to help me just to get my socks on most of the time the last few days. So walking and standing much has been out of the question. Thanks to that though, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and video watching about turning.
I’ve known this lesson before now, but somehow didn’t realize the significance of it until I tried it. I’ve seen so many people on videos turning bowls simply attached to the headstock in various manners with no support from the tail end. That’s all fine and good, but I have to remember that these guys making these videos have more experience than me. So, the tailstock is my friend.
Lately, when I’m able to practice my bowl turning skills, I’ve been using the tailstock to help support my work piece. This has helped greatly. It keeps the piece from moving off center in case I do get a catch. Also, it allows me to bring the speed up a little more with confidence. I have found that, while I don’t want the bowl blanks spinning at deadly, airplace propeller speeds, turning at the slowest speed also seems to always set me up for catches. A little more towards the middle of the speed range seems to do a better job. The use of the tail stock support helps me achieve this.

Some of you may remember the hard wood piece I turned for the buffing station. I intended to use it like a moving strop. We discussed on one of these earlier blog series if it would work or not. It did, but extremely poorly. I had to leave the tool on it so long and with such force, that it quickly wore away any compound you put on it. Since I haven’t been able to do much lately, I was able to take the time for this easy task and removed the hardwood piece and go with MDF.
I hate working with MDF and have never tried turning any, so I wanted to keep the pieces as perfectly round as possible. So I drill a three eighths hole, the size I needed for the shaft, and made a temporary circle jig for my router. I have a circle jig, but it uses a quarter inch center pin, and I wanted to be sure to have the three eighths hole perfectly centered. That’s why I made a temporary instead of using my regular one.
I happy to report that, useing the circle jig, it took very little effort to true up the setup after mounting it on the shaft, and the MDF works great as a strop.

This is the old bar and bent shaft lathe I turned into the buffing station. I can’t remember if I showed this whole setup last time or not. Anyway, I’ve basically turned this whole area into a buffing station/grinding station/accessory storage area. This whole setup sits just to the end of where my two lathes are. The grinder is just below the buffing station. The two tool holders hold a majority of the turning tools.

Actually, the one on the right holds the basic tools I use for pretty much everything. There are extra Harbor Freight tools on the side of the station that I grab to grind some one time profile I wish to try. The ones in the left tool holder are a cheap set that was given to me. The ones in the right though, the ones in the right are my better quality tools I have bought in smaller sets or seperately to get just what I wanted. Someone told me once that a matching set looks nice, but when you get the proper tools, nothing will match. They were right. A lot of these tools don’t match. All are various lengths. Each has it’s own use and does a good job though.

This is a view from the back of that station. Here I’ve drilled holes to hold other accessorries like extra tools rests, centers, and such. I’ll be having to add more hole as needed, and soon, because I have on order now a couple of S-shaped bowl rests and some better quality centers.

You may notice the bowl sitting towards the left of that last photo. That is the bowl that is the main topic of this entry. I was proud of the progress I was making on that bowl, before it all went to crap.

I was getting near the point of making finishing, shearing cuts on that bowl when the lathe started bogging down. A couple of times it actually came to a complete stop. I thought maybe I was trying to make too deep of cuts. I thought about that though. I was to a point of taking very fine cuts, trying to make a real smooth finish. Besides, even though this is a ten inch bowl, towards the end, when it is actually much lighter than I started with, it shouldn’t be bogging down a three quarter horse motor.
So, my first though, since the only complaint I’ve heard about this lathe when I was researching it, was some people having problems with the Reeve’s Drive system, I thought it was maybe the belt slipping. So I took the cover off to investigate. It was not the belt. Actually, it was also the time when I realized it was the motor for sure, that I also noticed the burned smell coming from the motor.
So, since it was still under warranty, and my son offered to help, it was an aggrevating task of disassembly, making a trip to Jackson, and reasssembly. I’m hoping this was a case of just a bad motor in a batch. This is the first I’ve heard of motor issues with these lathes.
The new one, the one pictured above, seems to be working fine, but back to the story about the bowl.

Here is a better view of the bowl. I was quite happy with it until the lathe started messing up. I know it’s got some crack in it, but I thought it added character. When the motor would bog down, the speed would go way down to stopping, or almost stopping. Everytime this would happen, in addition to my inexperience, I wound up with extremely rough cuts. It seemed that, before I figured out the motor was the culprit, the more I tried to fix the bowl, the worse it got. I should have stopped before going to far, but hindsight…..., well, ya’ll know.

As you can see in this photo, when I kept going, I got a tad too thin on the bottom.
I was going for about a quarter inch thick. However, when you keep taking tiny bites to try and smooth out a messed up piece, those tiny bites start to add up to a bowl that’s well on it’s way to becoming a funnel.
That’s ok though. Do you remember the bowl was sitting on the accessory table in the earlier photo? I’ve been needing something on that table to throw small parts in.

All that being told, I have really been enjoying these adventures in wood turning. As a matter of fact, all my limited shop time lately has been taken up by it to the point that I haven’t done anything else, even scroll work. I now have new problem though.

I am finding that less and less wood that people give me is going in the fire wood pile, and more and more of it is going in the stacks that I think I can get usable turning wood out of. It is starting to become a pile that is getting in my way. As soon as I’m feeling more up to it and can get some help out here, I’ve got to find a better place to put it than behind my work area to the table saws.

Before anyone says it, that huge peice towards the right is not something I plan on trying to put on a lathe. That is what I use to block round pieces on so I can cut them down to size with a chain saw.


15 comments so far

View Dakkar's profile


323 posts in 1896 days

#1 posted 03-05-2013 12:20 AM

I wouldn’t discard that bowl. One thing you learn as an artist is that there are no mistakes. Just apply a bit more creativity to and it may be worth more than it would have before.

View JL7's profile


8647 posts in 2934 days

#2 posted 03-05-2013 12:40 AM

Yep – try try again and as Dakkar said, it’s not done yet.

The buffing station is way cool…..the bowl looks great…and could easily sit on the coffee table with a few trinkets in it….

Good you got the lathe exchanged….hopefully this one is better…..

Keep on truckin’

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#3 posted 03-05-2013 01:11 AM

I’m not discarding the bowl. It is already coming in useful.
Often, when I remove faceplates from blanks I am bad about simply laying the screws on the table.
They quickly get lost in the sawdust and shavings.
Now they go in my bowl and I know where they are.
From previous experience, I never reuse screws for holding on the faceplate again.
Too much stress, the lathe is not where I want a wood screw to fail.
However, they are still good for other uses when I just needing an odd screw or two.

Jeff, they exchanged the lathe with no questions asked.
I was told that as long as it’s under the two year warranty I bought with it,
That it would be exchanged for a new one for any problem that may arrise.
The only drawback is that it’s over forty miles to the nearest Harbor Freight.

There is good news on the horizon though.
My wife, since I’ve gotten two good lathe now,
The harbor freight one and a Ridgid from our friend Eddie,
has noticed how much I’ve really taken to wood turning.
We’ve discussed the fact that it is something that,
in the event I get back down in my wheelchair,
Which happens form time to time,
Can be easily adapted for me to do in the sit down position.
So we are talking about starting a savings account to save up enough for a lathe that is good enough to last me for the rest of my life.
I’m eyeing a real nice Powermatic that would probably be around the rest of my life, and my kid’s lives.
It’s only about three grand.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#4 posted 03-05-2013 01:12 AM

Oh, I wanted to add that the last bit of that reply is wishful thinking.
I don’t truly believe I’ll ever get up enough dough to afford a three thousand dollar tool,
But a guy can dream can’t he?


View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2175 days

#5 posted 03-05-2013 03:12 AM


Hang in there. Sorry to here about your hard times.

I am glad to see you have found some joy in turning!

If you have to remain in a wheel chair have you looked at the OneWay lathe?


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View DIYaholic's profile


19597 posts in 2644 days

#6 posted 03-05-2013 03:14 AM

One must dream….
Sometimes they become reality!!!

You got tool rests and what not on order!
Yeah, your addicted!!
Not sayin’ it’s a bad thing!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3303 days

#7 posted 03-05-2013 09:40 AM

You are definitely making good progress William. Your bowl looked good except for the damage due to the lathe problem. I’m sure we will be seeing some great stuff coming off your new lathe in no time. It’s really difficult to sit there with pain when you want so bad to be in the shop, but I see you are putting that downtime to good use learning more about turning. It’s never a bad idea to use your tailstock until you get the workpiece well balanced. I usually start rough turning a bowl at 450rpm and never go over 1150rpm except for small diameter turnings.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2773 days

#8 posted 03-05-2013 11:58 AM

You are a gr8 turner from what I see, and a gr8 craftsman, period! I hope you can get you new lathe in the future. Work/Play safe. Keep makin chips n dust

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#9 posted 03-05-2013 12:47 PM

Nate, I like the idea of the sit down One Way.
However, the features of the Powermatiic I have been eyeing versus the price tag make it a better fit for me, in my opinion, versus the price tag. For one thing, my dream is to one day turn larger, very large bowls. The OneWay has a one horse motor. For a substantial amount less money, the powermatic has a three horse. I believe that different in motor horse power is also going to give a huge difference in torque. Being an ex-mechanic, I know that the horse power is really a vague number, but the torque is what one really needs to turn those large heavy bowl blanks, especially when they’re green.

Randy, I am not addicted. At least not yet. I have not sold a kidney yet.
Seriously though, I have been staying broke lately. I told you when you bought your lathe that I had already learned that turning could get expensive fast. If I figured everything up, it is still hard to believe that I have way more in accessorries than I do in what I conisdered a fairly high priced tools, the lathe. The bad things is, even though it is the most lathe I can afford anytime soon, I can already see it is not going to be enough.

Stefang, I don’t know if I explained the speeds correctly. I am rough turning bowls at the lathe’s slowest speed, which I think is 500 RPM. After everything is balanced, I do what Bob Hamilton suggests. I turn the lathe up until I get a slight vibration, then back off a bit. This usually wind up being about middle of the speed dial, or around 1200 RPMs or less. My lathe spins up to I think 2500 RPMs. I have yet to find a use for that. I don’t even turn small spindles that fast. I guess some people do though, maybe pen turners?
As for the learning while I’m down, thats what I do a lot. This is why I have always said that wood work, although not so good for my health at times, is very therapeudic for me. Even when I’m down and can’t get in the shop and do what I want, the learning, reading, and watching still keeps my mind occupied. Sometimes, that all one needs, is to keep his mind moving even when his body can’t.

Roger, I can hope, but I know all that is really wishful thinking. The new lathe I have right now costs less than three hundred, and that was a hard price point to swing. Who knows. Maybe someone will by one of my huge scroll work pieces one of these days. I honestly don’t see that happening either though. So, until I find that great money tree, I will have to make do with what I have.


View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2825 days

#10 posted 03-05-2013 06:42 PM

William thin assed bowls make great lamp shades
A design drilled can let more light through
It is all great fun I hope you feel better soon


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#11 posted 03-06-2013 12:58 AM

Thanks Jamie.
I got some shop time today.
Blog post coming shortly.


View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2809 days

#12 posted 03-06-2013 02:48 AM

Good God are you hording wood again?
Stop that you will get termites.
A good use for a broken tool William.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#13 posted 03-06-2013 02:55 AM

Thank you Dave,
And what do you mean, hoarding wood again?
I didn’t realized I ever stopped hoarding wood.


View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3724 days

#14 posted 03-06-2013 03:33 AM

Somewhere I saw a turner that used paint rollers for buffing. Because of their length, he could put 2 or 3 different grades of compound on a single roller. He put the on the lathe similar to what you have done.

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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2811 days

#15 posted 03-06-2013 04:12 AM

I hadn’t thought of that, but paint roller would make great buffers when these wear out.
I’m going to have to keep that idea in the back of the old noggin.


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