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Reply by David Kirtley

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Posted on Hey Turners, what am I getting myself into?

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David Kirtley

1285 posts in 1752 days


#1 posted 06-02-2012 05:37 PM

Definitely go for something that is variable speed. Belt changes are a pain. Being able to change speed a little can help a lot when you hit some harmonics as stuff is spinning. The pivoting head lathe from HF and others is not a bad lathe if you only have one. If you have something that can turn leg size pieces (30-36 inch range) you can do just about anything furniture related. A smaller one is nice for an extra lathe but unless you are only going to be turning pens and a few handles, it is too limiting for your only lathe.

The tools are pretty basic. A variety of calipers comes in really handy. At first you will stick to a few main cutting tools but you quickly get into the territory of making some that suit you. When starting out, don’t do anything but HSS. Carbon steel tools work well but beginners overheat them by scraping a lot. I am not a big fan of the carbide insert tooling for wood (I don’t think a whole lot of them for metal either in a non-production setting.) Being about to turn around and sharpen quickly makes it a lot more enjoyable. Nothing is more frustrating than dull cutting tools.

Do get a faceplate. Also take a look at some of the stuff that Beall Tool sells. A tap that matches your spindle is a nice way to mount stuff. I am not that thrilled with chucks on a wood lathe. I would put that off until you find what you really want. The cheap ones are worse than not having one and the good ones are a major investment. They can also be dangerous for beginners. Lots of sticky out parts to get you by surprise. A spur center holds well and is less likely to bite you.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/


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