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Spinning around the idea of getting into turning

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Forum topic by live4ever posted 06-23-2011 12:37 AM 1091 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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live4ever

983 posts in 2471 days


06-23-2011 12:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: turning question lathe

So I’ve been spinning (hehe) around the idea of getting into turning. I’ve long admired the bowls and hollow-form vessels I see people make (more than pens or chair spindles I’ll admit). I know that turning is a really fun and fulfilling past-time for those who enjoy it, and I’d like to learn and try my hand at it. It just feels a little more…organic than other areas of woodworking.

I’m trying to get a clear picture of the financial commitment involved. I’ve had my eye on a midi-lathe, but I’m not sure how much a decent (not top of the line, but good quality) set of tools and accessories would run. From what I understand, turning bowls and hollow-vessels is a little more expensive toolwise.

I also don’t have a good grasp on materials cost. Large turning blanks for bowls and vessels seem pretty rare and expensive. I know roughing out green blanks is a cheaper way to go, but not sure how much access I have to fresh cut wood living in the city. I don’t want to invest in a lathe and tools only to find turning is even more expensive than non-turning woodworking!

I’ll be picking up a book on turning shortly, but thought I’d just get some feedback here. Any advice, resources, etc. are welcome. Thanks!

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.


17 replies so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3559 days


#1 posted 06-23-2011 12:44 AM

Wow. Open up your wallet. : ^ )

You will need a lathe, turning tools, chucks, sharpening materials, sanding and finishing materials as well as the wood itself. If you can find a local turning club.

One of my favorite vendors is Craftsupplies USA. Get their free catalog.

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/util/catalog_request?Args=

My local Woodcraft store has a class on harvesting wood. I think there are lots of opportunities in the city after storms and such. You may need to add a chainsaw to your materials list.

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

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2536 days


#2 posted 06-23-2011 04:13 PM

Others may disagree but, IMO, you need to plan on about $1000 to get started. In round numbers, $450 for the lathe, $250 for a sharpening set-up, $150.00 for some good (but not great) cutting tools and $150 for a chuck.

You might consider the chuck to be optional. Face plates work and, in some cases, are preferable (and cheaper).

Be advised that if your objective is bowls you will be quite limited with how big of a bowl you can do with a mini or midi lathe. It is not just an issue of clearance. You need a lathe that has sufficient weight and substance to remain stable when handling the vibration of an out of balance piece of wood.

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

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3680 days


#3 posted 06-23-2011 05:06 PM

I was thinking $1,000 before I even read Rich’s response.

You’d have to buy a much more expensive lathe if you want to turn 12” platters and bowls, but a decent mini/midi lathe will allow you to turn bowls in the neighborhood of 6” and under. There really is a whole world of turning you can do within those size limitations, so I wouldn’t go spend $2,000 on a lathe without having spent some time on a smaller lathe, and being sure you want to go in that direction.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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thefishingschool

41 posts in 2479 days


#4 posted 06-23-2011 05:22 PM

well to be honest i got a haror frieght lathe and tools to start off with and if i rember right the lathe was 125ish and the tools were 10-20 after i decided that i loved turning i got some better tools such as a bowl gouge and a robert sorby multi tip hollower. and a barracuda 2 chuck. after all that i think i have about 450 invisted in turning and i love it

-- wood takes time and effort... just like women

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2536 days


#5 posted 06-23-2011 05:33 PM

Let me comment on mini/midi versus floor standing. IMO, there are only 2 reasons to buy a mini or midi lathe and neither one of them is price. One valid reason is limited space in your shop and the second reason is a desire to have a portable lathe that you could take with you to other locations. If neither of these 2 conditions apply, please consider a floor mounted lathe.

A floor mounted lathe will do everything a mini will do but the opposite is not true.

Here is the lathe I use. It is not very fancy and it lacks some goodies (e.g. indexing ability) but it is solid and dependable. I’ve written a review on this lathe if interested.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Wood-Lathe-With-Digital-Readout/G0462

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

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3124 days


#6 posted 06-23-2011 06:41 PM

Wish I had room for a lathe like Rich’s … given my space limitations, I am looking at a Delta 46-460.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 2471 days


#7 posted 06-23-2011 08:17 PM

Thank you all for your thoughts. Please keep them coming.

Gerry, I too am looking at the Delta 46-460/461. It is very close in price to Rich’s Grizzly. For me as well, shop space is an issue. Although I’ve managed to cram just about everything else into the shop, I never planned on having a lathe. I probably could fit a floor-stander into the shop with some creative redistribution, but it would take a lot of work. That’s why I’ve settled on the midi – pretty sure if I enjoy turning as much as I think I might, I’ll upgrade to a better floor model a few years down the road, when I also may be in a new shop space.

The $1k price point to jump in is kind of what I was thinking. Could you guys comment a bit about the sharpening setup? What kind of sharpening jig do you need for the tools? Are we talking a slow-speed grinder, or dare I say, Tormek, here? Or will my Worksharp3000 help here?

And if anyone has the Delta midi or something similar, I would love to hear about the weight/stability issue Rich brought up as you get close to the 12” swing capacity.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5839 posts in 3047 days


#8 posted 06-23-2011 08:43 PM

I suggest perhaps couldn’t you get some experience/rent time,on a lathe before deciding to commit yourself to a massive expenditure.there are two main problems with spending a thousand pounds on a turning set up one you might not find it enjoyable then you’ve wasted alot of money on this equipment you would make a large loss on when reselling.On the other hand you might love it and decide within a year to buy bigger and better almost certainly if the bug bites you will soon want the best and then again what do you do with the starter set..I would strongly advise you to join a nearby club and try before you buy my 3 cents.Best wishes to you Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3680 days


#9 posted 06-23-2011 08:48 PM

I bought an 8” Delta variable speed grinder and a Wolverine sharpening jig. In my setup, that would fall within the initial $1k investment.

I already had the grinder and jig before I got my WS3000, so I have not tried it on my lathe tools. I’d think you could make that work, though.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 2471 days


#10 posted 06-23-2011 09:22 PM

Alistair – that’s a good idea, I will look around and see if I can get hands on turning experience somewhere nearby. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to take David Marks’ turning/patination course later this summer as I’m near his school, but price is a little too much for me to justify right now.

Charlie – thanks for the info. Helps put the sharpening gear into clearer focus.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2536 days


#11 posted 06-23-2011 09:58 PM

Charlie and I are on the same page with respect to sharpening. I also have a Delta variable speed grinder and a Wolverine jig. I always run the grinder as slow as possible so that it is, effectively, a slow speed grinder.

There has been some debate about whether or not you need a slow speed (or variable speed) grinder. Some will argue that a full speed grinder is acceptable (and they are cheaper).

I think the answer is this – - If you are using High Speed Steel (HSS) cutting tools you do not have to worry as much about overheating the tools and you can get by with a full speed grinder. If you are not using HSS cutting tools you need to be very concerned about not overheating and you need a slow speed grinder.

Let me comment on using a WS3000 to sharpen lathe tools – don’t. It can give you reasonable results on skews and parting tools. It’s virtually worthless for gouges and scrapers. In theory, someone might be able to make a jig that would allow you to use a WS3000 effectively, but I have yet to see that jig.

All my tools are made of HSS, but I am still more comfortable with my variable speed grinder.

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

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2512 days


#12 posted 06-23-2011 10:33 PM

live4ever,

I am in the same boat as you. I’ve had an interest in turning for several months now. (So far,) I have resisted the urge to buy a lathe and the various tools and accessories to go with it.

I am thinking about, and might make the suggestion to you that Alistair did, and either take a class at a local Rockler or Woodcraft, a local wood turning club, or try to meet up with a fellow woodworker that has a lathe and is willing to show you the basics and let you try your hand at it.

That is what I think I am going to do before putting all the money down. This might also lead me to a better first lathe choice if I figure out I only want to turn larger items that a mini lathe wouldn’t be good for, or a midi lathe might be underpowered on.

Keep us posted and good luck!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3559 days


#13 posted 06-23-2011 10:39 PM

I’m also using wolverine Jig and slow speed grinder for sharpening. I have a Jet VS mini lathe that is great for small projects and turning pens. I also have a mid 1940’s 12” delta lathe for larger stuff. What are peoples take on the carbide tools that take small carbide inserts? Worth using? Might be away around needing a sharpening setup initally…

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

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3680 days


#14 posted 06-23-2011 10:48 PM

Wayne, I use the Easy Wood Tools for the majority of my turning. They really do eliminate the need for a sharpening system. However, maybe I’m just being a purist, but I think anyone getting into lathe work is doing himself an injustice if he does not learn to use and sharpen traditional lathe tools.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3559 days


#15 posted 06-23-2011 10:49 PM

I’ve been thinking of picking some up for the wife and daugher who on occasion would like to turn a pen. Was looking at Craft Supplies pen turning version.

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

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