Beginner issue with turning

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Forum topic by jcn posted 05-27-2011 09:15 PM 1074 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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37 posts in 2965 days

05-27-2011 09:15 PM

This is probably a silly question, but you gotta learn somewhere.

I’ve been turning on a midi-lathe for a while, with good results. Mostly pens and bowls. But I’ve recently started trying to turn larger items, like a vase or something. I have some wood from different downed trees I’ve come across, but I can’t get anything that isn’t perfectly balanced to work on my lathe without it making the lathe jump around all over the bench. Which means all this unprocessed wood is useless to me. I don’t have the equipment to cut the logs into spindles and blanks. I guess I was just hoping to be able to put a small piece on the lathe and turn it as-is.

Would this be alleviated with a bigger lathe? I was thinking so, but when I look at them in the store, I’m really not sure even the larger floor lathes are heavy enough to not get wobbly with an unbalanced piece of wood on there.

Anybody have a suggestion for me?

4 replies so far

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 3061 days

#1 posted 05-27-2011 10:15 PM

I have my little Delta bolted to the top of a 400 lb tool chest…she jiggles a little, but she don’t jump no more. Ballast is your friend

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#2 posted 05-27-2011 10:15 PM

I’m barely a beginner wood turner myself, but after reading a lot on the subject, and going through it myself, you need to weight your lathe down. I have a full size lathe and have turned very large pieces. My lathe is bolted to a stand. I keep exta wood on a shelf built into the stand, below the lathe, to double as weight. Also, if your lathe has different speeds, always start with the lowest speed until the wood is balanced.
Before weighting my lathe down, it danced all over the place if a blank was not perfectly balanced. Another way to weight it down (I’ve seen this on other’s lathes) is with sandbags.


View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 3427 days

#3 posted 05-28-2011 07:47 AM

I have a Powermatic 3520B that weighs on the order of 900-lbs but if I turn out of balance stock too fast I can feel the vibration. I just turn it slower initially to get it more rounded and in better balance and that lets me turn it faster.
You should always turn “found wood” like that pretty slow to start with both because of the vibration possibility and because you don’t know what is going on inside of it. Finding internal cracks or rotten spots is better to do at lower speeds.

-- Tom Hintz,

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3923 days

#4 posted 05-28-2011 08:41 AM

dont ever expect that a bigger tractor will yield more bushels of wheat

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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