Signs of Addiction?

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Forum topic by Bobby posted 12-14-2016 12:55 AM 1022 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Bobby's profile


108 posts in 3200 days

12-14-2016 12:55 AM

Greetings all

Because of being laid up since September (major foot surgery) I have been spending a lot of time in front of my computer screen. While on YouTube I started watching some wood turners doing their stuff and that kind of put the bug in my ear to start doing some turning myself.

I have a lathe that I bought 15 years ago and it has been used no more than twice. It is a Mastercraft… a store brand of tools made by a chain store here called “Canadian Tire.” For the most part I stay away from Mastercraft tools because they are really not very good quality wise. But they do have a few things that are hard to turn down because of the small cost. I think I paid less than $200 for it back then.

I really didn’t want to break the bank so I settled for a “PSI Woodworking” chuck from Amazon for $150. Yes… it has the 2 tommy bars but that’s not an issue for me right now. If I find that I’m doing a lot of turning more frequently I’ll shell out for the more expensive key type.

Long story short. My first project was to be a goblet (wine glass) that I saw on YouTube. First mistake was to make it out of oak and walnut. Should have started learning on softer wood. Next… I have to learn how to sharpen chisels. I spent major hours trying to hollow it out with dull gouges. Started looking at how cool carbide tools are. It looks so much easier. So I sprang for one today… $120 for the tool and 3 different tips. Brought it home and started using it on the outside of my project and was amazed at what I was doing… and so easily!!! Figured that I would have the rest of the inside hollowed out mere in minutes. Proceeded to insert the tool, promptly caught an edge and watched one side of the wine glass fly to the other side of the shop. Yep… I’ve found that there is a learning curve attached to the carbide tools too.

I did manage to glue the broken piece back on to the wine glass and think I’ll be able to save it. But even if I can’t, I’ll have fun starting a new one – with softer wood, no doubt. Main thing is that I’m having a ball!!!


11 replies so far

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3515 days

#1 posted 12-14-2016 03:17 AM

Just keep repeating “practice” “practice” “practice”

View LeeMills's profile


601 posts in 1448 days

#2 posted 12-14-2016 01:40 PM

Sounds like you are off-and-turning…..
I haven’t used the PSI chuck but on other brands the holes are off set.
Just scroll down to finger tight.
On the ones I have used.. Imagine the back hole (towards the headstock) at 12:00 At some rotation the front hole should be about 1:30, just squeeze to tighten. Likewise to loosen the back hole will be about 12:00 and the front hole about 10:30..squeeze again to loosen. Some one said that if you can use a set of pliers with one hand then you can use a tommy bar chuck with one hand.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View HokieKen's profile


6293 posts in 1286 days

#3 posted 12-14-2016 01:53 PM

My chuck has the tommy bars too. I don’t find it to be an issue but if/when I get a new one, it won’t ;-)

In my experience, turning Walnut is a purely pleasurable experience. Oak, on the other hand, can be a real PITA. The grain structure begs for catches and tearout. Soft woods aren’t necessarily better either. Softer woods tend to have looser grain. I’d recommend Walnut, Cherry and Maple for good “learning” stock. Walnut paired with either of the other two also make some beautiful laminated blanks.

Enjoy the new addiction!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Bobby's profile


108 posts in 3200 days

#4 posted 12-14-2016 05:15 PM

No… like I said, I have no problem with the tommy bars. This chuck is a hundred times better than my old one, the kind you have to screw into the bottom of my work piece. But whenever I do buy another one it will probably be one with a key.

And yes, PoppaDan… I have found out that it is going to take a lot of practice. I was pretty sure that I could just dive in and start turning like the pros on YouTube. They make it look so easy. Was I ever mistaken!!!

HokieKen… I have a wood guy I’ve bought my rough lumber from for quite a few years now. It’s absolutely unbelievable the amount of lumber I come home with for the same price I would pay for one board in the big box stores. I’m primarily a furniture maker and I use a lot of oak and birch. I also was using a lot of walnut up until now. My wood guy manufactures hardwood flooring. He found that walnut was getting way too expensive and he really wasn’t selling enough of it to justify the cost. However, he does have ash and cherry. I’ll be getting some of this after the holidays. I also have to make room in my shop for it.

You mentioned that maple is a good wood for turning. I went to see my guy last Saturday. You wouldn’t believe the load of maple I brought home for $50.

My other problem is that where I’m living there really aren’t any exotic trees around, nor are there any trees at all that are cut down to use as blanks. So I have to do a lot of gluing up boards to make my blanks. All the big box stores here have 3 kinds of wood… oak, birch and maple. The price of this stuff is unbelievable. And just try to get one that is straight. There aren’t very many.

The bottom line is that I’m having fun!


View Wildwood's profile


2426 posts in 2282 days

#5 posted 12-15-2016 11:47 AM

Just a suggestion, look for firewood in front of many stores this time of year. Also lot of fire wood vendors advertise in local media this time of year.

I don’t read or speak French but see firewood ads in Quebec yellow pages.

You can spend more time turning than waiting for glue up ‘s to dry. You may get any combination of dry or wet wood to turn.

-- Bill

View Underdog's profile


1189 posts in 2183 days

#6 posted 12-15-2016 01:22 PM

You had a catch. Catches are no fun. And the point of wood turning is to have fun. So to remedy that lack of fun, I’ll try to explain what to do…

Here’s what causes catches:

Making an unsupported cut.

Basically your cutting edge must have support from the tool rest. If the down forces of the wood spinning past your cutting edge are not supported by the tool rest, then it results in a catch.

When spindle turning (stem of the goblet) the cutting edge should be almost directly above the the point where the tool contacts the tool rest. This will keep the tool from “skating” left or right depending where you have the tool positioned. (This is where you’re making a shearing cut rather than a scraping cut.) That’s another thing for you to learn; the difference between scraping and cutting.
(Cutting tools are: gouges and skews. These generally have sharp bevel angles- say 35-45 degrees. Scraping tools generall have large bevel angles say 45-70 degrees and usually have rectangular cross sections. The angle of approach is generally different also. Usually cutting tools are presented with the cutting edge higher than the the handle, and the cut “shears” like a good plane. Scraping tools are presented to the wood with the cutting edge lower than the handle, or in “trailing mode”, and the cut it made like… well, a good cabinet scraper.)

When bowl turning or inside spindle turning it’s even more important to prevent catches, because you’ll break something- as you found out. If you use a bowl gouge to make an inside cut (NEVER use a roughing gough!) lay the tool on the rest, flute pointed toward the center of the bowl (3:00), and angle the tool such that the tip comes into contact with the left side of the bowl (as you’re facing the headstock) and then “glide” the bevel to the center.
If you’re using a scraper (generally the carbide tools are scrapers) to do this, make sure you keep the bottom of the tool FLAT on the tool rest, and have the rest as close as possible to the inside of the bowl. The tool edge should be presented in the trailing mode (handle generally higher than the cutting edge. You can have a catch if you: 1) let the left side of the scraper raise up and the force of the turning wood slams it down onto the tool rest. 2) If you present the scraper in “cutting mode” with handle lower than the cutting edge.
It’s also important to have as much leverage as possible when cutting the inside of bowls. Longer handles mitigate the down force of the wood in case of bad technique…

Hope this helps. And HAVE FUN! Woodturning is addictive and the closest thing to instant gratification in woodworking that I know of.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Bobby's profile


108 posts in 3200 days

#7 posted 12-16-2016 01:50 AM

Hi Wildwood. Yes… there is a bunch of firewood that I can easily get my hands on around here. The thing is that it is mostly burch and maple. I haven’t tried turning burch but from what I’ve read, it can be a real challenge. As per the maple, I’d have to dig deep in the pile to come up with a piece that hasn’t been split in half or quarter. I’m just thinking that it might be difficult for me to start roughing it out? But I could be wrong, being the newb that I am.

View Bobby's profile


108 posts in 3200 days

#8 posted 12-16-2016 03:07 AM

Here’s the result of my pretty much first attempt at turning something on a lathe. I did manage to glue the chunk that got away back on. It’s not perfect but for a first try I’m pretty happy with it. I learned a lot from doing this and am thinking that the next one will be better. One thing is for sure… I had a blast doing this!!!


View Kelly's profile


2092 posts in 3091 days

#9 posted 12-17-2016 07:54 AM

Not too shabby at all.

I avoided a lathe for over forty years for the reasons indicated in the title of your post. That forty years is up and now I’m toast (bought and touched my first lathe this year, now have a Jet Mine and a Rockwell Delta monster.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1408 posts in 1877 days

#10 posted 12-17-2016 02:42 PM

Bobby, if you think you’re hooked now, wait until you do a bowl. There’s no turning back. (pun) I had a lathe since ‘83, and didn’t really start turning until ‘09… A broken neck, nine stitches on my head, two broken banjos, 3 lathe upgrades and still hooked…......... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Eric S.'s profile

Eric S.

40 posts in 768 days

#11 posted 12-18-2016 07:05 AM

Hi Wildwood. Yes… there is a bunch of firewood that I can easily get my hands on around here. The thing is that it is mostly burch and maple. I haven t tried turning burch but from what I ve read, it can be a real challenge. As per the maple, I d have to dig deep in the pile to come up with a piece that hasn t been split in half or quarter. I m just thinking that it might be difficult for me to start roughing it out? But I could be wrong, being the newb that I am.

- Bobby

You don’t always need to turn big. Take a pole saw, find a tree with a 2”-3” branch, and cut it into 4”-6” pieces. Then turn small boxes, ornaments, mini-goblets… whatever. Just turn stuff. Hell, turn a 2×4 if you have some scraps laying around. When in doubt, wear a face shield, and try it. Seriously, just toss a piece of wood on the lathe and give it a shot. The wood will let you know if you screw up, and as long as you listen to it, you’ll improve fast.

-- Why waste the money buying it, when I can spend twice as much on new tools, a week online researching new techniques, and a month building it.

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