Got a lathe and here's my first bowl (lotsa pictures)

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Project by JoeinGa posted 11-11-2014 05:12 PM 1975 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Got a lathe and here's my first bowl (lotsa pictures)
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I’ve been wanting to try my hand at turning, but didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a lathe and tools then if I decide if I didn’t like it, I’d be stuck with the lathe and tools. A friend at church (who is a turner) told me about a guy he knows who had a lathe and said he would sell it “cheap”

So I call the guy and he tells me he bought it a couple years back and never used it. Said he’d take a hundred bucks for the lathe and he’d throw in the tools he bought for it too. So what the heck. How can I go wrong for $100. Turns out it’s the Central Machinery (Harbor Freight ) 14” X 40” lathe and he had also bought the metal stand for it.

Got it home, cleaned it up and I’m ready to go! Grabbed an 8” wide piece oak, cut it into 8” squares and glued ‘em up. Put it on the bandsaw and made it into a “sorta” circle.


Mounted it on the face-plate and said to myself “Well, here’s goes nuthin.”



Didn’t take long to figure out that these tools can really DIG IN if you get too “heavy handed” with them. So I “backed off” on the pressure and pretty soon it actually started to look kinda sorta like a BOWL!


Since I had put some pretty deep gouges in it, I figured I’d give it some SHAPE rather then just be a straight-sided bowl.


In this next pic you can see where I turned the tool rest sideways and started cutting out the insides. You can also see where I was a bit “heavy handed” the tool caught the oak, doing some pretty hefty tear-out spots.


So I had been working on this bowl on-and-off for several weeks when another friend from church steps up and GIVES me ANOTHER LATHE! Physically it looks like a twin to the one I have. It’s gray instead of green and the biggest difference is the square stock that the tool rest mounts on is welded at each end rather than bolted on like the Harbor Freight lathe. This one didn’t have a base so I set the bowl aside and built a base for this 2nd lathe.




I did add wider feet to give it stability and what you cant see is under the 5/4 oak the lathe sits on is 2 pieces of angle iron running the length of the base, behind the maple skirt on the front. The cord was cut in a few places so I also put a new (longer) 10ga cord on it.

So now it’s back to turning (on the new lathe) and even though they’re BOTH “cheap” lathes, the difference is quite noticeable. The whole head on the HF lathe actually FLEXES when you put pressure on the piece being turned and this clone doesn’t. The welded square stock on the clone versus the bolted on square stock of the HF, along with the angle iron braces I put under the stand make a BIG difference in how smooth it runs.

So now it’s REALLY beginning to look like a bowl.


Oh, and along with the lathe that was given to me, the guy also included a pretty cool CURVED tool rest, which makes a world of difference in cutting the inside of the bowl.



And here it is … TAA DAAA ! My FIRST EVER turned piece. A bowl (by any other name is still a bowl). It has some pretty glaring errors, but considering I’ve NEVER used a lathe before, it ain’t all THAT BAD!




Oh, please disregard how filthy dirty the hood of my truck is. It was the first white surface I could find to take a couple pictures of the dark bowl.



So… Anybody near enough to SE Georgia wanna buy a HF lathe? Has the stand, wrench, face plate and live center. Will also include the eight piece toolset that I got with it (I bought myself another set on E-bay)
Not looking to make any profit on this, I’d just like to re-coup my hundred bucks.
Too big to ship so you’d have to pick it up.

Looking at the HF web site, the lathe is $150. the stand is $43. and the tools are $55.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

20 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21555 posts in 1759 days

#1 posted 11-11-2014 05:23 PM

Great job. I have been fighting off the urge to get a lathe, but I know it’s coming.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View doubleDD's profile


5063 posts in 1464 days

#2 posted 11-11-2014 06:06 PM

First of all let me say you suck. From no lathe to two lathes for a hundred bucks. Wow!
The shape of your bowl is different than most and makes it unique. You should keep this forever since it is your first and see how you progress. Well done for a first time and I’m sure you can’t wait to try it again. You will be looking for logs soon to build up a turning stock.
My first bowl ended up being a coaster from all the disasters I had, but we still have it under a plant.
Have fun.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7709 posts in 1801 days

#3 posted 11-11-2014 07:20 PM

Excellent work for a first timer, or any timer.


View hotncold's profile


762 posts in 966 days

#4 posted 11-11-2014 07:25 PM

Like you, Joe, I’ve never turned anything but I’ve sure been looking at it lately.
I agree with doubleDD…I’d keep that one forever.

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View AngieO's profile


1245 posts in 1568 days

#5 posted 11-11-2014 08:50 PM

Super jealous!!! And love the bowl. I’d love to have a lathe. SO much fun.

View SPalm's profile


5249 posts in 3303 days

#6 posted 11-11-2014 10:20 PM

Nice bowl and good story to go with it. Oak ain’t the easiest wood to turn…...

I finished my second bowl about a hour ago, so I can feel the bites and gouges with you. I just realized that I need one of those S shaped tool rests.

And congrats on your new family of lathes,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 970 days

#7 posted 11-11-2014 10:50 PM

Nice looking bowl Joe! Go wash your truck.

View leafherder's profile


855 posts in 1373 days

#8 posted 11-11-2014 11:15 PM

Congratulations on a job well done (for future reference if you call them “mistakes” you have to sell the piece for a discount but if you call them “artistic interpretations” you can add $$$ to the price). Enjoy your new tools – I will look forward to seeing more.

-- Leafherder

View DIYaholic's profile


19140 posts in 2096 days

#9 posted 11-11-2014 11:16 PM

Fantastic “first”....
You never forget your first!!!

I’ve only turned one bowl…. Yup, gonna keep it for myself!!!

Congrats on the dueling dual lathe setup!!!

-- 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 Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2184 days

#10 posted 11-12-2014 01:39 AM

Excellent first turn! You have now found out how “addicting” this will be.

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View tomd's profile


2022 posts in 3191 days

#11 posted 11-12-2014 05:22 AM

Great first piece, I must warn you, your being sucked into the vortex.

-- Tom D

View CFrye's profile (online now)


8576 posts in 1261 days

#12 posted 11-12-2014 07:56 AM

Nicely done, Joe!

-- God bless, Candy

View Carl W Richardson's profile

Carl W Richardson

76 posts in 1916 days

#13 posted 11-12-2014 12:32 PM

Great job Joe!!!! My first bowl exploded on the lathe when I tried to make the walls a little too thin.. I’ve been turning for years and have a large box with many examples of projects gone wrong.. Some with too many ‘catches’ and some with missing bottoms and most are kept as examples of my still developing skill at turning.

Here my latest turning job.. Had to glue up two 12×24 blanks and turn them down to this so they could be legs under a large antiqued farm table.

Generated enough sawdust to keep a Hamster Farm going for years.

I work with two highly skilled turners and I’m sure they’re tired of my endless questions but I want to be as good as they are… Have fun Joe..

-- Carl W Richardson, Tennessee Woodworker

View BusterB's profile


1910 posts in 1429 days

#14 posted 11-12-2014 02:46 PM

SCORE!!!! Nice job Joe. I have pretty much the same lathe…mine just doesn’t seem to work quite as well. Has to be the machine and not the operator… Right??? Lol

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View mudflap4869's profile


1131 posts in 880 days

#15 posted 11-12-2014 03:07 PM

You did great for your first time. You will learn more with every peice you turn, and every peice will be different, even if it came from the same tree. Turning is like Crack cocain, try it once and you are addicted for life. I went for 40 years without a lathe. Then boom back to full blown addiction. Parts are ordered for the shopsmith and I’ll have the second one up and running. No more antsy dancy waiting for my wife to get her projects off the existing lathe. Gotta figure out how to lock the shopsmith so she can’t use it or she will camp out on it too.
OH YEAH! You will be eyeballing every chunk of wood along the road looking for turnables, so make sure you have room in the car for them. When we get a new load of firewood in Candy digs through it like a dumpster diver picking out about half of it for her turnings. Can you say WOOD HOARDER?

-- Still trying to master kindling making

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