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Forum topic by Adam Hood posted 07-08-2010 03:39 AM 1376 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adam Hood

264 posts in 2908 days

07-08-2010 03:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

I am new to this site and woodworking. My father is a cabinet builder and told me about wood turning and I am interested but more interested in turning pens and maybe bowls. I have no idea where to start and there are so many lathes I dont know where to begin. I heard about getting a midi lathe for what I wanted to do with turning pens and bowls and maybe get into the larger stuff like table and chair legs and such. Could anybody give me any info about what I need to get started.

Thanks in advance, Adam…..Lakeland, Fl.

-- Adam ~ ~ Keep the wood shavings flying ~ Lakeland, Fl

12 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9333 posts in 3461 days

#1 posted 07-08-2010 03:43 AM

Hey Adam…I’m just going to say welcome to the site. I’m not a turner but there are several here that are. I’m sure they can answer all your questions

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View rcs47's profile


190 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 07-08-2010 04:09 AM


It’s been years since I turned. Mainly because I hated the tool sharpening process (I didn’t have the right equipment). But now they have tools with carbide inserts that stay sharp longer, you can turn as they dull, and replace when there is no place to turn:

It makes me want to turn again.

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 07-08-2010 04:22 AM

There are many turners on here and some will chime in soon I am sure. You can do searches on LJ to get started. Look at all the project and blogs. There is a wealth of info here good luck and welcome to LJ.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#4 posted 07-08-2010 04:31 AM

I consider myself an experienced turner. There is so much I could say but I will keep it brief for now. If you want more information, please send me a PM.

Turning is great, but it is not something you pick up overnight. There are a lot of good books and DVDs available but nothing beats a one-on-one instructor. That’s the best way to get started.

Regarding equipment – - Just buying a lathe does not get you started. You need a lathe, some cutting tools and a system for sharpening them. With respect to all 3, you don’t need the super great expensive stuff but I advise you to avoid the really cheap stuff. If you have any specific questions about any of the tools please send me a PM.

As Doug said, there are some great carbide cutting tools available that do not need sharpening and they are very easy to use. They also cost a lot. I think they are great and I use a couple on a regular basis. I probably do 80% of my turning with them. But I still need conventional cutting tools and I need a way to sharpen them.

In my own experience I tried to find cheap ways to sharpen cutting tools. They don’t work. You need a slow speed grinder and a sharpening jig.

Some will disagree but I think the minimum cost of getting into turning is about $1000. That is $500 for a basic lathe, $200 for basic cutting tools, $250 for a sharpening system and $50 for miscellaneous stuff.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4246 days

#5 posted 07-08-2010 05:00 AM

I agree with Rich… maybe not on the exact distribution of the money… but you really need to be prepared to spend close to $1,000 to get a good start. I also ditto Doug’s recommendation of the Easy wood tools.

There are lots of turning videos on the internet, and great books available. I recently started turning, and I did a lot of reading and watching to help me get up to speed.

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

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2954 days

#6 posted 07-08-2010 05:45 AM

Richard Raffin is one of my favorites, and he has books and videos which have helped me a lot.

All the Best!

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

View Adam Hood's profile

Adam Hood

264 posts in 2908 days

#7 posted 07-08-2010 05:47 AM

Ok, thanks to everyone so far..first off Rich whats a PM? As for the equipment, my dad has a magazine and they have started get the lathe, and cutting tools..cant remember off hand if you get the sharpening system. I appreciate your input. I will look for some dvds about it and read up on it.

-- Adam ~ ~ Keep the wood shavings flying ~ Lakeland, Fl

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 3165 days

#8 posted 07-08-2010 06:30 AM

A PM is a personal message between you and who your sending it to. Go to anyones page and under their picture click on the “send a message” link and it will give you a PM page just like an e-mail to that person. Hope this helps.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2950 days

#9 posted 07-08-2010 10:54 AM

This is just based on my experience ..
I am more familiar with metal lathe machine where spindle speed can be set (important in relation with cutting speed), automatic feed for cutting both longitudinal and crossfeeding and the tailstock can be offset.
These procedures needs plenty of times to learn and practice. I was a machinist for 7 years onboard ship I can say… Whatever kind of lathe you have today, the skills required are:
1. correct cutting speed – can this be possible? depends on the diameter of the wood or shape.
2. cutting tools – different shapes and must be able to access the needed cut like boring, grooving, cutting off, etc. ——the best skill is how to sharpen the bits, even the end mill from tool steel has to be resharpened and also embeded carbon steel needs to be sharpened. Maybe for wood, it is not so difficult.
3. The table.. (not present on wood lathe but instead a toolrest) The capability for automatic operation is much needed. Threading must be considered.

I had opened this metal lathe machine as a choice fo beginners because, it is more economical to buy a metal lathe now than a wood lathe if you just can afford. LJ Philly is now making money for planemaking. He has a metal lathe machine and he uses it also for woodworks as well as for metal like making knurled screws for planes. He got also a metal milling machine for making keyways.

IT IS YOUR CHOICE.. but for me … I AM SAVING MY MONEY FOR METAL LATHE MACHINE as it will produce more application than a wood lathe alone.

-- Bert

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2989 days

#10 posted 07-08-2010 06:45 PM

you might try for info, also. Check out Craigslist for used stuff.

View tworedballs's profile


36 posts in 2917 days

#11 posted 07-09-2010 07:17 PM


I’m not a turner, however, I will share with you what I’ve learned in my short[er] existence on this planet when it comes to picking up a skill or trade: Learn how to do it the old fashioned way with the simplest of tools first. That way you’ll understand better how the newer technology makes the experience better/more efficient and if all else fails you fall back on your original skills.

Some examlpes:
learning to draw before you decide to become a painter
learning to use hand planes/saws before buying a table saw/jointer/planer
learning to write code from scratch before using an editor (like DreamWeaver for HTML)

you might find that you like the old-fashioned way better (and less expensive) than the most modern ways.

Good luck!

View Adam Hood's profile

Adam Hood

264 posts in 2908 days

#12 posted 07-09-2010 10:41 PM

I want to thank everyone for the advise..I went to a local woodturners association meeting yesterday and got alot of advise also..gonna take one of the guys up on going over to his place and have him teach me in person rather that try and learn from books and videos only.

-- Adam ~ ~ Keep the wood shavings flying ~ Lakeland, Fl

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