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Forum topic by gkellop posted 425 days ago 622 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gkellop

10 posts in 590 days


425 days ago

Hello,

I would like to make a chair out of American chestnut wood to replicate another primitive antique chair that I have. It’s essentially a milking stool turned into a chair. Nothing too fancy. It’s sort of like this, but the legs are a bit more simple:

http://www.rubylane.com/item/489855-1518/Antique-1820s-1830s-Wood-Stool

Anyway, at first, I wanted to just have someone turn the legs for me. But the rate was quite expensive per hour for labour. So, then I started wondering if it might be a better option for me to just buy a used lathe and do it myself. I think for the price of a used lathe off of craigslist, it would probably end up being equivalent to the price I pay for the hourly rate at the shop.

I was thinking about maybe getting something like this off of craigslist:

http://worcester.craigslist.org/tls/3799225647.html

Am I getting in over my head with this? Or is this a pragmatic road to take? I’ve never used a lathe before, so I’m not sure how much skill it would take to make chair legs. Really, I have enough hobbies as it is, so I’m not looking to become a lathe expert here. I’d just like to make chair legs, and maybe small odds and ends with the lathe for different projects. I’m not sure how difficult of a thing it is to use a lathe. If it’s easy to use, and make something half-way decent then this might be a viable option.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Thanks


12 replies so far

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3774 posts in 976 days


#1 posted 425 days ago

I’d be on that like a dog on a 3 legged rabbit. Around here that lathe would probably sell for several times that price and be gone in an hour.

edit: I believe these are also good lathes.
http://worcester.craigslist.org/tls/3755826646.html

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View john111's profile

john111

65 posts in 582 days


#2 posted 425 days ago

I just got one for 30 bucks off craigslist. 1/3 HP motor. I wanted 20 turnings for a cradle I want to make and to get them was a lot of money. (The way I want them and not a stock piece from a lumber store) I have one similar to the one Rick has posted. I just have to get it set up on a table. I have never turned before either and I am kinda thinking it would be out of my league. Everything is until you try it and then you usually wonder why you hadn’t tried it a long time ago! The only thing that worries me is getting it on the lathe properly and getting some decent turning tools. I am a cheap bastard so it may be awhile before I run across those for a good enough price. Cool post! Love this site!

-- john111

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

950 posts in 731 days


#3 posted 425 days ago

That Rockwell lathe is a great find for someone looking for a used lathe for not much money. If you do not want to get into woodturning don’t waste your time buying a wood lathe. Will take a lot of patience & practice learning to turn.

If do not want to learn to turn your own spindles find a local wood turner or contact a woodturning club in your area.

http://www.woodturner.org/community/index.htm

Many lumber companies & big box home centers sell spindles you could modify in making your stool, pretty sure will involve use of stain.

You can buy a brand new or antique bar stool for much less money. May have to kiss a lot frogs before find one you like.

-- Bill

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TheDane

3647 posts in 2259 days


#4 posted 425 days ago

+1 for Wildwood’s advice … buying and rehabbing a used lathe, then learning to turn would be quite a commitment for a one-off project. By the time you got the lathe up and running and purchased the necessary tools and accessories, you would have paid many times what an experienced spindle turner would charge to do the job for you.

On the other hand, if you think turning is something you want to get into as an extension of your woodworking hobby, then go for it!

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

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3774 posts in 976 days


#5 posted 424 days ago

Many of those old lathes need little more than a cleaning and sometimes bearings, which are easy to find. I have two old lathes, one 55-60 years old and another over 75 years old and both run just fine as-is although I will eventually replace the bearings in the 60 year old Craftsman. The important thing is to make sure it comes with a tool post and centers. Centers have thankfully been standardized forever so they are easy to replace but tool posts can be a booger. The nice thing about the Rockwell is it comes with the original stand, those are less common than the lathes and potentially more valuable.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View gkellop's profile

gkellop

10 posts in 590 days


#6 posted 424 days ago

Hi All,

Thanks for all this advice! Very helpful.

Rick, what is a tool post and center? Is there a good website I could check out that would give me kind of a Beginning lathes, 101?

TheDane, how much would you expect a woodturner to charge? I spoke to one person and he said 50 dollars an hour, which I thought, if it took more than 4 hours would end up costing me a quite a lot.

Thanks!

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3647 posts in 2259 days


#7 posted 424 days ago

gkellop … The going rate may vary from one part of the country to another or one turner to another. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hourly rate was between $40 and $50.

A couple of things to consider:

—The spindles in the sample you linked to aren’t that complicated … I doubt if an experienced turner with the right tools would take anywhere near an hour to create each one.

—Ask for quote on the job, not hourly. If you show them a sample or, better yet, give them a detailed drawing, they should be able to give you a price for the four spindles.

—Even if they charge you $200 ($50 an hour for four hours), you’d still be spending less than if you try to buy and recondition an old lathe, acquire the tools, and go through the learning curve to get to the point you can produce an acceptable product.

Here is a suggestion … contact AAW ( http://www.woodturner.org/community/chapters/LocalChapters.asp ) and see if there is a local chapter near you. If there is, contact the president of your local chapter, and ask if he/she can recommend someone in their club. You may be able find a club member who has the time, tools, and skills to produce what you want at a very reasonable rate.

Now, on the other hand, if turning is something you think you would like to get into, go for it.

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

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

2375 posts in 2123 days


#8 posted 424 days ago

I recently took a spindle turning class. Then I bought an older lathe and cleaned it up. There is certainly a lot to learn for a beginner like me. I am absolutely loving it, but, at least for me, it does take some time.

Unless you already own or can borrow tools, sharpening equipment, a face shield and so on, the price of the lathe will be just the tip of the $$$ iceberg.

-- “That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet. ” ― Emily Dickinson

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3774 posts in 976 days


#9 posted 423 days ago

Hopefully you can read this.

The tool post (also called a banjo) and tool rest support your cutting tool, usually they are T shaped. Centers are pointy bits of metal that hold the piece of wood and allow it to spin. On the headstock (motor end) you’ll usually have a spur center that digs into the wood. Tailstock centers just hold the right side of the piece of wood and allow it to spin freely.

To make spindles (basically long, relatively skinny, pieces of turned wood, like a table leg), you need a working lathe, a center at each end, a piece of wood, and at least one cutting tool. Generally you’d want at least 3 cutting tools, a roughing gouge, a skew, and parting tool (or if you go with carbide, a rougher and finisher). Bowl making gets a lot more expensive. But Chuck is right, the lathe itself is just the tip of the iceberg.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2938 posts in 883 days


#10 posted 423 days ago

I’d quote about 10$ a leg, plus supplies.
If you want to learn to lathe, get with someone who does it and have them show you all their stuff along with about how much they paid for it. It’s not a cheap sport. Plus that lathe you show probably won’t turn anything longer than 16” including drive center and live center so about a 14 inch leg is all you’ll get without an extension. I just got one for my delta and I can do 42” now.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3774 posts in 976 days


#11 posted 423 days ago

probably won’t turn anything longer than 16”

Double that, it’s an 11×35” lathe.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

950 posts in 731 days


#12 posted 423 days ago

So, what are you going to do?

Buy that used lathe, check with local woodturner or turning club, or shop around for some spindles that come close to your needs?

Please let us know your decision!

-- Bill

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