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What do I need to turn game calls?

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Forum topic by dpoisson posted 04-12-2011 06:46 PM 12028 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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dpoisson

190 posts in 2377 days


04-12-2011 06:46 PM

Howdy everyone, I’m just starting out at woodworking. I have to say that initial intention for looking at woodworking is to replace my cheap-looking plastic stocks on 2 of my hunting rifles. I’m been looking at various wood working sites and I saw that it’s possible to turn game calls. Wow! That got my attention.

I’d really like to learn to turn game calls, however I have ZERO knowledge in regards to turning. If I do get a lathe, I’d want to have something that could turn chisel handles, plane knobs, mallets, perhaps pens, pepper/salt mills, oil lamp…I have no interest in turning bowls or biggers things for now and don’t think I ever will.

All the lathes I’ve seen are pretty expensive. What’s the least expensive one that I could purchase to turn game calls? I’m guessing any of the mini-lathe that are for “pens only” would do,right? Could I turn the other things as well on such a lathe or would I need something bigger?

Finally, I’ve seen sets of tool for anywhere between 30$ to 1 mortgage payment ;-) Is there a set that’s hands down, the best value for your money?

There’s something else that I’m confused about tough. Once I buy a lathe, and a pen mandrel and game call turning kit (brass bushing washers and rubbers), a reed / a piece of wood and turning tools: I’m good to go right?

Cheers!

Fish

-- http://picasaweb.google.ca/dpoisson


23 replies so far

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2156 days


#1 posted 04-12-2011 06:51 PM

It’s really quite simple & I’ve done many (one is in my projects section). There’s a lot of different ways to go about it but I’d recommend buying a pre-drilled blank from Penn State or equivalent. OregonBurls.com has some wonderful blanks and you’d be supporting a fellow LJ. You will need…
1) A lathe, a mini-lathe will be just fine
2) A mandrel (a bar that spans the distance between the headstock and tailstock)
3) Rubber bushings that match the pre-drill on your blank (as you tighten the mandrel, the bushings expand and grip the interior of the blank)
4) A blank, of course, I’d choose a predrilled unless you have a drill press and some large boring bits
5) Lathe tools, I’d recommend a roughing gouge, spindle gouge, and a parter; you can go crazy here, but I’d consider those the minimum
6) Some way to sand it (an assortment of sandpaper from 180 to 2000 will do just fine)
7) Some way to finish it (I like a quick coating of shellac followed by wax)
8) The innards, meaning a reed system (you can go crazy here too and buy some expensive equipment but the metal insert kits from Penn State are of high quality and good sound (IMO))
9) Optional stuff like brass ferrules, lanyards, and pretty bags (if you choose)
If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. Welcome to the world of call turning!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Bertha

13003 posts in 2156 days


#2 posted 04-12-2011 06:57 PM

^I didn’t adress your lathe question. I wouldn’t go a lot cheaper than the JET but that’s my own personal opinion. I’ve had zero problems with the two JET minis I’ve owned and you can add an extension if you choose. If you buy the JET with 1/8 threads, you can easily buy a chuck in the future. You might not want to make bowls but a chuck is really nice to have for little items like ornaments, knobs, etc. I’ve got some really expensive tools but I went for years with the Pinnacle brand that are quite inexpensive. I would consider Thompson lathe tools to be the best for the money. I don’t think you’d regret the extra money. Once many people buy a lathe, they’re off to the races and never want to do anything else, so consider yourself warned :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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dpoisson

190 posts in 2377 days


#3 posted 04-12-2011 07:08 PM

Bertha, you should be a teacher!! those simple extra comments like “a bar that spans….” made sure I understood what you were talking about.

I had a pen turned by someone on another forum for my dad and he used shellawax. It looked pretty sweet so I was thinking of using that.

Would you mind explaining what the morse taper 1 or 2 does? I think that whatever lathe I’ll buy will specify which one is included. Is this correct?

-- http://picasaweb.google.ca/dpoisson

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rance

4245 posts in 2623 days


#4 posted 04-12-2011 07:23 PM

On tools… you can get the cheap carbon tools, High Speed Steel(HSS), or go all out with the cryoginic stuff. At a minimum, get HSS. And don’t forget you’ll need a way to sharpen them often. Sometimes multiple times a day. Only thing I’d add to Bertha’s list is a skew chisel. It can also be used as a scraper(double duty). I too started out with the Pinnacles, I still use them.

Most mini lathes will do more than you realize. Yes, the Jet mini is great. I’d spring for the variable speed(VS) if you can. Also, take a look at the still fairly new Delta Midi VS. It is just a bit larger/more powerful, it has reverse for special situations with sanding, and it is just an all around great lathe. I liked it so much I bought my wife one. As for the morse taper, stay away from the MT1, they are not as common. A lathe with a MT2 and 1”-8 spindle seem pretty much standard for the good mini lathes.

Keep in mind that you can even turn many bowls and platters on these mini lathes. As Bertha mentioned though, turning can be VERY addictive. Also realize that for a full set of turning accessories(chucks, tools, mandrels, sharpening equipment, etc.) that they can cost as much as the lathe itself, or more.

On learning. Try to find a local turners club or take a class on turning, even if it is bowl turning. You’ll use almost all that training on your calls. Videos are great after you’ve had some one on one personal experience, but a video can’t tell you what you are doing wrong.

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

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dpoisson

190 posts in 2377 days


#5 posted 04-12-2011 07:31 PM

thanks rance for those additional comments.

I’m almost afraid to ask, but could this be something that could be used for call turning?

http://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524443294672&bmUID=1302628554093

-- http://picasaweb.google.ca/dpoisson

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3205 days


#6 posted 04-12-2011 08:26 PM

Fish –
Your link would likely work fine for what you want to do.
Especially I would look for a variable speed lathe (which the canadian tire lathe IS)
I just have a Delta Midi – which has a belt that you move from wheel to wheel and I HATE it.

It is nice to turn the dial down and flip the lathe on at low (or no) speed and then just dial it up to a speed it is working fast enough but not out of balance.

Good Luck
Dave

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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Bertha

13003 posts in 2156 days


#7 posted 04-12-2011 08:46 PM

The morse taper is what allows insertion of a mandrel into the headstock, like below:

Here’s one inserted into the JET headstock:

It creates a friction fit that allows your mandrel (or piece) to turn; you can pop it out of the headstock with the supplied tool.

Here’s a game call mandrel with the attached morse taper

Here’s a gamecall setup with the bushings I mentioned earlier

If I’m not mistaken, the JET uses a #1 Morse taper and is threaded 1/8. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View rance's profile

rance

4245 posts in 2623 days


#8 posted 04-13-2011 06:22 AM

Al, actually the Jet uses a M2 taper.

dpoisson, Yes, it ‘could’ work for your calls. Read ALL the reviews AND the Q&A. Yes, the VS is nice, but there’s a whole lot of questionables. Nothing wrong with asking about this one though.

For Pens, Game calls, and Bottle stoppers, I don’t see why someone can’t build a very small lathe that is also a good one, at a reasonable price. Could you imagine taking a 25 lb lathe with you on vacation?

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2156 days


#9 posted 04-13-2011 03:56 PM

My apologies about the taper. When buying attachments, I’ve usually had the opportunity to provide my lathe model rather than ordering based upon the taper type. I hope I haven’t caused any confusion. I agree that the physics behind a small lathe are pretty manageable. With some pillowblocks and a small motor, I’m sure you could build a very capable one, especially for chucked work.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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dpoisson

190 posts in 2377 days


#10 posted 04-13-2011 04:20 PM

Rance, the only reason I’m looking at smaller lathes is because space is limited as well as budget. I wouldn’t take it on vacation hehe

-- http://picasaweb.google.ca/dpoisson

View KayBee's profile

KayBee

1083 posts in 2709 days


#11 posted 04-13-2011 08:01 PM

If you’re inclined to try making a lathe, shopnotes #73 has plans for making one.

www.shopnotes.com/issues/073

I know some of these things are cheaper to buy than make, but an idea for you.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

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Bertha

13003 posts in 2156 days


#12 posted 04-13-2011 08:10 PM

DP, you’re not planning to take your lathe on vacation YET:) I warned you earlier that this stuff can be terribly addicitve. There’s something about starting and finishing a piece in a single session that really speaks to some people.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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WayneC

12642 posts in 3560 days


#13 posted 04-13-2011 08:54 PM

I’‘m a fan of my Jet Variable Speed Mini-Lathe. It works great. Also, for turning the calls I would go with the specific tools you need to turn the calls as opposed to a “Set”. I would also go with good quality tools as identified above. The only other thing that I did not see well covered above was sharpening. Your going to need a slow speed grinder, approprate wheels and some form of sharpening system (shop made or otherwise). If your in a metropolitan area, I would check craigslist looking for a mini-lathe. Often you can find good deals. I would avoid older and cheap lathes until you know what your doing. I agree with Al, about being able to quickly finish projects. I work in the high tech industry and nothing beats being able to knock out a pen or other small project in the evening after 12 hours of teleconference calls.

My favorite supplier for kits and such is Craft Supplies USA. The link below shows their game call offerings…

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/Projects___Game_Calls?Args=

This video has a section on game calls. Anything by Rex and Kip is good quality. Their Pen turning videos are great. Turning pens is very addictive and would be a good way to build skills for making the calls.

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/Videos___Projects___Woodturning_Projects_Volume_III_DVD___rex_kip_volume3?Args=

Good luck with it.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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dpoisson

190 posts in 2377 days


#14 posted 04-13-2011 10:53 PM

I’d like to know what you guys think about this plan (and it links up to the suggestion of building my own lathe).

If I buy this lathe and find out I’m somewhat limited by the motor or something like that, I could probably swap the motor for something a bit more powerful and I at least wouldn’t have to deal with alignment of the tail and head thingies (yup, it’s a technical term ;-) It kind of sucks…the lathe is on special starting Friday @ 99$ cdn. Unfortunately, I have a bit of car repairs that need to be done ;-( Canadian tire products always come back on sale every 2-3 months, so it’s no biggy.

@WayneC: I already looked at woodturnerscatalog and it looks like they have a great selection of stuff. I did investigate a couple of their products and I wouldn’t mind turning a couple of tool handles or changing my chisel handles lol.

@Bertha: that’s probably one of the things that attracts me a lot about turning. I work in computer programming…the code I write now will eventually (in like 3 years) be used. Not really what I call “instant gratification”

Edit: I was wondering if there was anything that could be done to sharpen tools (turning tools and chisels) on a normal bench grinder like so: http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/browse/6/Tools/3/StationaryTools/BenchTopGrinders/PRDOVR~0553518P/Mastercraft%252B6-in.%252BBench%252BGrinder.jsp?locale=en

-- http://picasaweb.google.ca/dpoisson

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WayneC

12642 posts in 3560 days


#15 posted 04-13-2011 11:51 PM

On the Grinder, an 8” slow speed grinder with specific grit wheels is normally what is recommended. I have heard of folks using high speed grinders but you risk messing up the steel by overheating it. I believe you can use other solutions such as a worksharp 3000, if you happen to have one of those.

I am using a grinder similar to this….

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2080939/29437/8in-Slow-Speed-Grinder.aspx

With a wolverine jig system

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2001998/2509/Wolverine-Grinding-Jig.aspx

Wheels are similar to these (I would need to verify the grits)
http://www.woodcraft.com/Category/1002055/Grinding-Wheels.aspx

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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