Wood Turning Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by docholladay posted 09-17-2010 02:34 PM 1819 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3026 days

09-17-2010 02:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe

My youngest son is learning to play drums. He also enjoys getting out in the shop. He is trying his hand on the lathe. One project his is interested in trying is to make his own drum sticks. The finished size of a standard drumstick is approx. 15-16” long and about 1/2” in diameter. On the first attempt, we were trying to turn one between centers like a typical spindle turning. The wood flexed a lot near the center making it very difficult to get a good surface on the wood. It would spin fine, but as soon as you touched it with a chisel, you could feel the wood flex slightly. We did not have any problems on the ends, just in the center. I have a chuck, I was wondering if the flexing could partly be the result of the pressure between the turning centers and possibly I could place one end in the chuck therefore, not needing that pressure to hold the piece between the centers (of course using the other center to stabilize. I also was wondering about using a steady rest. Do any of you expert turners out there have any suggestions for turning something like this? I don’t know if this is relevant, but we were experimenting with a piece of oak. We have some maple that we want to try on the next attempt.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

7 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3042 days

#1 posted 09-17-2010 03:01 PM

The right solution is a steady rest. It’s a device with rollers that steadies the piece. You can buy them if you can find one that fits your lathe or you make one. Do a search for steady rests.

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

View davyj's profile


36 posts in 2818 days

#2 posted 09-17-2010 03:02 PM

small stuff like that is always a vibration problem I think ! guys lot of times use whats called a steady rest. some sort of device that will rotate with the spindle yet rub against it to held stop the vibration. for a look at some, go to Google “Images” instead of “web” and type in steady rests. main thing that would help tho might be to be sure when the vibration starts is to slow the speed of the lath down as slow as you can get. I don’t think your gonna get away with out a good bit of sandin no matter! I do think i’d go with the chuck too. you probably would have to turn the sticks around a couple times. how about a cone in your tail stock center?

-- retired GM/Delphi , Retired USN/USAFR

View swirt's profile


2648 posts in 2939 days

#3 posted 09-17-2010 04:54 PM

You know I’m an absolute novice when it comes to turning so feel free to discard this as ridiculous, but here is something I was playing with a couple of days ago when using my spring lathe. I noticed when I got down to thinner stuff that it flexed. I took a scrap of sisle rope and made a bit of a loop at the end, then put the item through the loop as I re-mounted it in the lathe. I found I could pull the rope by locking it under my two little fingers of my left hand at the same time I held skew against the tool rest with my two larger fingers and thumb. I was able to put enough tension on the rope to support it while cutting and keep it from flexing. I also discovered the rope did a nice job of burnishing the surface. .... which got me totally off track and lead me down a path of using it to try a variety of objects to burnish .. great fun, but accomplished little. Great example of adult ADD.

I found as a support, it worked even better and was easier to set-up and remove if I tied the rope on the tool rest, then wrapped it half a turn around the spindle and held the free end with my two little fingers on my left hand. Care has to be taken to make sure that if the rope binds it passes out of your hand without grabbing a finger as it goes. Don’t make it too long.

Anyway. This might not work and in fact be real dangerous at electric lathe speeds, but it actually worked pretty well at spring lathe speeds. I’m not sure how slow you can go on your lathe. Avoid “plastic” ropes as they melt from the friction…don’t ask me how I know ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2834 days

#4 posted 09-17-2010 05:23 PM

doc, as Rich and Davy said, I think a steady rest would work good. When we use a metal lathe the carriage of course moves back and forth and it carries the cutting tool. The carriage would also hold a follow rest if it is needed and the wheel/wheels are placed so that they are behind the part opposite the tool and are opposing the forces created by the cutting tool. You could easily build one; of course it wouldn’t move back and forth as on a metal lathe. It would be in a stationary place and you would turn a bearing surface for the bearings to ride on. A steady rest could also work. It would have usually 3 rollers at 120 degrees and the rollers would again have a turned area to ride on. Either could be built and would actually be a good Lumberjock project for you to document. Good luck.

Here’s some info – just the first I saw – it’s not necessarily the best. Just google

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3082 days

#5 posted 09-17-2010 09:04 PM

hello Doc
try to look at this and there is severel other on L J
but I think this is the right solution for you

good luck

View Jonnyfurniture's profile


59 posts in 2794 days

#6 posted 09-18-2010 08:54 PM

A steadyrest will work but what is happening is that the piece is being caused to vibrate in phase. That should make sense to him if he is musical. So you can posibly adjust the lathe speed up or down untill the cut dosen’t cause it to vibrate in phase. Also learning to use a skew properly will enable you to turn much thinner stock. When turning it down close to the final dia. with a gouge I will place my thumb on the flute close to the tip and rap my fingers over the turning. Simmilar position for useing the skew as well. Loosen the tailstock a tiny bit after you turn it down some. Choosing the right piece of wood can also be key. some pieces will have stresses that are released after you remove some stock. Not much you can do about that.

View peteg's profile


4275 posts in 2790 days

#7 posted 09-23-2010 06:05 AM

Hi Doc, I have make a few sets of sticks for a drummer mate, Dennis is on the money with his link,I make a similar steady for the first set I made a few years ago, doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but just watch what you use for the rollers, anything too hard or thin will leave an impression on your turning, I often use a piece of pvc pipe (slit) so it opens up and sits firm on your piece where the rollers are bedded, this way there are no marks.
Good luck

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics