My first lathe, coupla questions

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Forum topic by Raftermonkey posted 07-22-2010 09:57 PM 1485 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2336 days

07-22-2010 09:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip lathe turning bowl chuck tool rest faceplate helpcentral machinery

My girlfriend just gave me my first lathe for my birthday. It is the Central Machinery #34706 12” X 36” with reversable head. She also bought me a set of HSS tools. I am wanting to turn bowls but I have no clue what I am doing, haha. I have watched a lot of videos on the web and think I’ve got the gist of it. The lathe came with a 6” faceplate and I was wondering if there is any way to turn a bowl with just a faceplate? What accessories do I need to turn bowls? I’ve looked at some 3 and 4 jaw chucks but I can’t afford a $150-$350 chuck. I may could throw $50 or $60 at one. Do the chucks screw onto the spindle or do you have to buy some type of adapter? I know some that read this will be shaking thier heads like how green can you get, but you gotta start somewhere, haha. I was also wondering if there is a different tool rest assembly that will fit my lathe. I would like to have one that allows the upper arm to not only pivot but also slide in and out. Anyone know of such a thing? Please help with some of these questions.


-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

7 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2497 days

#1 posted 07-22-2010 10:20 PM

Certainly you can turn a bowl with a face plate and no chuck. Some will argue that it is better that way.

You start with the top of the bowl on the faceplate and turn the sides and bottom. Then you flip and attach the bottom to the faceplate and do the inside (and refine the outside).

You need to either leave the bottom thick so you can screw on the faceplate without creating holes in the bottom of the bowl from the screws or you need to glue on a waste block. You’ll be surprised at how well a glued on waste block will work. After you have turned the bowl, you can usually remove the waste block with a hammer and chisel.

There is a little trick about attaching a waste block. The underside of the bowl should be very slightly concave so that when you put it next to the waste block it makes contact around the outside edge. Then, only glue around the outside edge. Use a thick CA glue on the bowl and spray an activator on the waste block. When they make contact they seal up almost instantly.

The primary cutting tool you will need is a bowl gouge. There a little different than a spindle gouge. I also use a big heavy scraper when finishing up bowls. There are better (and more expensive) cutting tools for bowls. I do all the rough work with an Easy Rougher with a carbide tip and I also use a carbide tipped eliminator for finer work, but you may not be ready to spend that kind of money.

If using conventional bowl gouges remember the most important rule in woodturning – - SHARP CUTTING TOOLS.

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

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4541 posts in 2497 days

#2 posted 07-22-2010 10:28 PM

After writing the previous post I thought an additional comment is in order. I would advise you to stay away from bowls until you are reasonably comfortable doing spindle work. Turning bowls is a little harder than turning on the spindles.

You really need to get a feel for how to hold and handle the bowl gouge. You really need to “ride the bevel”.

Start with small bowls.

The bigger the bowl, the slower you should be running the lathe. Examples – for an 4” bowl, I would start at 900 rpm. For a 6” bowl I would start at 600 rpm and for an 8” bowl I would start as slow as the lathe would let me (400 rpm would be ideal). After all the rough work is done, speed up.

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

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2336 days

#3 posted 07-22-2010 11:19 PM

Thanks Rich, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to turn a bowl with just a faceplate and not have holes in it. I’m guessing that the CA glue will sand off and not leave any residue or difference in wood color?

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Raymond's profile


676 posts in 3150 days

#4 posted 07-22-2010 11:25 PM

I got a great chuck from Woodworks depot, for less than 100.00. Also check out Penn State, they have chucks for a good price.

-- Ray

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 3132 days

#5 posted 07-22-2010 11:59 PM

Grizzly makes a nice chuck for about $100 it is a copy of a Vicmarc and it works well.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3722 days

#6 posted 07-23-2010 12:20 AM

I’ve turned many bowls using a faceplate.

This tutorial will show you how much better than I can explain it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16814 posts in 2528 days

#7 posted 07-23-2010 05:04 AM

Hi Raftermonkey. Congratuation on getting a lathe. You’ll become addicted when you see what you can do with it. HF makes a pretty good lathe so I think it will do you well.
For your questions, watch the videos and take notes so you can refer to them. First get used to what each tool is used for and what it can do. I assume you have 1 or 2 bowl gouges, a roughing gouge, a parting tool a skew and a scraper or two. Always start your work between centers-use a four blade driver in the head stock and a live center in the tail stock. Drill a small hole in each end of the piece as close to the center as you can and then load it in the lathe. Drive the piece into the head stock driver to make sure the blades are engaged in the wood. Turn the lathe on at low speed to check for balance of the piece. Even though you find the geometric center of a piece, it may be out of balance because of wood densitiy.

The best tool to round up a piece is the bowl gouge. Remember the ABC’s of the gouge- Anchor, Bevel ,Cut. Make sure the tool rest is as close to the part as possible and clear of the piece. Anchor or rest the tool firmly on the rest. The Bevel of the gouge is what supports the tool against the work. To see how that works, butt the bevel against the work with the cutting edge away from the work so it just rubs on it. The Cut starts when you turn the gouge to have the sharp edge engage the work and run it along the part to turn out chips. There are push cuts, pull cuts, scraping cuts and shear scraping cuts with a bowl gouge- learn them.
Watch the videos to see how the pros do it and practice a lot before getting into real parts.

A chuck if very handy for making bowls. I have a 4 jaw one from Grizzly and it was about $70 and I use the heck out of it.The chuck screws onto the external thread of the spindle so you need to buy a chuck with that thread inside of it. After you get feeling good about turning and have a chuck, you can turn a spiggot onto a part that fits into the chuck. The spiggot is the way you hold the bowl for turning without using the the center in the tail stock. I like to drill about a 1/2” hole to the depth that I will turn the inside of the bowl. That makes it a little easier for stock removal and gives you a target for the bottom of the inside..

You can use a faceplate for bowl making in which case the piece is screwed onto the faceplate( all this after starting between centers and making a flat face to screw to the faceplate). You could start with planed wood and just screw it on, too. I could go on but you really need to get comfortable with the machine and the tools. Good luck….........Jim

If you send me an E mail at, I’ll send you a file of photo steps on bowl making.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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