New to lathes. Where do I start?

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Forum topic by JWCoffer posted 06-22-2010 04:02 AM 1141 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JWCoffer's profile


7 posts in 2326 days

06-22-2010 04:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning question

I recently found a real gem of a craftsman 10 in. diameter lathe for $50 at a garage sale. The motor runs great and everything’s properly aligned. I have zero experience with wood turning, though. Any suggestions for a beginner? What’s a good way to get some practice in and get comfortable? Simple projects? General advice?

-- JW Coffer

12 replies so far

View Roper's profile


1370 posts in 3135 days

#1 posted 06-22-2010 04:06 AM

spindle work,spindle work, spindle work. get comfortable with the skew , spindle gouge and roughing gouge, then move on from there. do a youtube search on spindle turning and you will find a bunch of videos to help you. have fun and be safe.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 06-22-2010 04:48 AM

I’m with Roper on this!
The smart money always goes for the well-built, solid machinery which will give you great results as you improve your skills, rather than buying one of those pathetic loss-leader imports. That was money well-spent! Hone your sharpening skills, (yeah, no pun intended!) and you’ll soon be making items you’ll be proud of!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2620 posts in 2531 days

#3 posted 06-22-2010 04:52 AM

Well, I think you ought to unload that $50 thing…where do you live, I wouldn’t mind helping you get it off your hands. Nah, I’m just jealous. Stick around, there are plenty of people eager to give you pointers. You can dig deep here and find some real gems to help you learn to turn.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3641 days

#4 posted 06-22-2010 05:07 AM

When I got my lathe, I ordered this book:

It was a real help getting started.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Knothead62's profile


2581 posts in 2383 days

#5 posted 06-22-2010 02:51 PM

Sounds like a great deal! How old is it? Can you get parts for it? Check on the threads on the headstock to get the diameter and threads per inch. You can get various chucks for it. Turning is addictive.

View woodsmith's profile


69 posts in 3215 days

#6 posted 06-22-2010 03:22 PM

I bought a Shopsmith about 3 years ago the same way you did. I don’t know much at all about wood turning just wanted to learn. Boy the more I learn, the more I know I don’t know. Join a woodturners club in your area and ask a lot of questions. Your tools have to be sharp! I am still trying to learn how to sharpen them. Just do a google search on woodturning clubs and join. The one I belong to has all these books and videos that you can check out. It is a lot cheaper than buying all of them and you get to see demos. Mark Sillay from Stone Mountain, Ga was there this month.

-- woodsmith

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2348 days

#7 posted 06-22-2010 03:31 PM

I recently met Richard Raffin at a Woodcraft in Tennessee, he has written a number of books on turning, and his videos are excellent! Worth a look.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View rance's profile


4243 posts in 2583 days

#8 posted 06-22-2010 04:23 PM

Get some instruction from a local woodturner, a club, or through taking a class. Your closest WC is in Ft Worth (1.5 hrs). It’ll be worth the drive.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Chiefk's profile


163 posts in 3194 days

#9 posted 06-22-2010 08:23 PM

Check to see if there is a Woodturner’s Club in your area. When I got my lathe, I joined mine. We have a library of both books and DVDs. It is a good way to begin. I caution you that if you have no turning experience, you need to be careful, it is easy to get hurt. A class at a local Woodcraft to learn some of the basics is very helpful. Good luck. pkennedy

-- P Kennedy Crossville, TN

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2497 days

#10 posted 06-22-2010 10:30 PM

There are lots of good books and good DVDs available but, IMO, nothing beats some one-on-one instruction from a capable instructor.

Turning is such a “feel thing”. When you get used to how it is suppose to feel everything goes well. It’s hard to find that right feel with a book or DVD.

You also need some decent cutting tools and a method for keeping them sharp is absolutely essential. When I began (many years ago) I looked for some cheap ways to sharpen my tools. Eventually I had to get a good setup. For me that is a slow speed grinder with 8” wheels and the Wolverine sharpening system. Unless you can find it used, that will set you back about $250. You’ll need to spend close to that amount plus another $100 for a decent set of starter cutting tools before you will get much value out of your $50 lathe.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View JWCoffer's profile


7 posts in 2326 days

#11 posted 06-23-2010 05:02 AM

Thanks for the input, guys. I’ll put it to good use (the advice and the lathe).

-- JW Coffer

View sandt38's profile


166 posts in 2330 days

#12 posted 06-25-2010 05:17 AM

Nothing to add, just adding to favorites for when I get the guts up to buying a lathe. Please carry on…

Man I love this site. It has opened my eyes to so many different woodworking styles, and tools. Just amazing.

-- Got Wood? --- Somewhere along the way the people in Washington forgot that they are there to represent the people, not to rule them.

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