LumberJocks to the forum

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodturning forum

Forum topic by Geophyrd posted 07-22-2014 02:00 AM 1286 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Geophyrd's profile


4 posts in 1602 days

07-22-2014 02:00 AM

I’ve been turning for a number of years. I recently bought the new Harbor Freight 36” bed lathe and I’m getting ready to turn a big heavy one…24”, four inch square held together with glue. I’ve got it on a faceplate and using the tailstock center on the other end.

I’ve got it set up between centers but the tail stock keeps letting go (see pics, assuming I can figure out how to upload them). Nice tightened it up as much as I can

How do you guys hold heavy wood like that? It’s spun off the lathe twice just from spinning weight, and I’ve yet to touch it with a roughing gouge. Any suggestions?

16 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


19413 posts in 2054 days

#1 posted 07-22-2014 02:07 AM

No idea, I’m not a turner, but let me be the first person to welcome you to Lumberjocks. Someone will be along to help you out.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30049 posts in 2535 days

#2 posted 07-22-2014 02:22 AM

I am with Bill. Welcome to Lumberjocks. Plenty of turners here to help you.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1746 days

#3 posted 07-22-2014 02:30 AM

I’m not a turner at all. Wouldn’t you knock the corners off first and pre-shape it a bit. That’s a heck of a glue-up.

View firefighterontheside's profile


19413 posts in 2054 days

#4 posted 07-22-2014 02:41 AM

I was thinking the same as Freddy. Maybe cut off the corners with a circular saw first. Might get it a little more balanced and keep it on the tail.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2577 days

#5 posted 07-22-2014 03:08 AM

There was a recent thread with the same problem but I can’t find it. I’m not familiar with that lathe but they are all pretty similar, the two likely culprits are: the bed is waxed or oiled and the tailstock is sliding backward; or the tailstock quill is free to spin and will not tighten down.

-- Rick M,

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1420 posts in 1927 days

#6 posted 07-22-2014 04:22 AM

Welcome to LJ, Geophyrd. You are going to learn a lot here if that piece you’re trying to turn doesn’t kill you first.

My thoughts are that this piece is flexing and coming out from between centers. It also is not centered. If you look at the last picture, you do have the tailstock centered, and I’m guessing the same on the headstock, but look at the glue up. It’s crooked, but you have the thing centered at each end. It’s not even close to being centered in the middle. That will cause some flex. I’ll bet if you were to remove it from the lathe, hold it in each hand and shake it, you would see some flex.

I think it will let go somewhere in the middle if you keep it long, and you’ll have 2 pieces to dodge. Try cutting them down to about 8” long, turn them to match each end, and assemble them when done.

If you decide not to turn it, and still want to turn something long, glue up long boards to make the size you have there. It’ll be a whole lot safer.

Now, if you choose to go ahead and turn it, and you survive, congratulations are in order. Keep me posted, please. ............ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2399 days

#7 posted 07-22-2014 04:38 AM

Is the tail spur live? I can not tell by the pic….. Nub, brought up some good points.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2409 days

#8 posted 07-22-2014 05:42 AM

The points at each end will only go in so deep with tightening alone. Drill a hole at each end with a 1/8” bit, about 1/4” deep, then tighten the head and tail points into the holes. They will go much deeper into the wood if you pre-drill.

Like others said, cut those corners back with a circular saw. They have to come off anyway, so why not do it the quicker, easier way.

Make sure the points are aligned. Slide the tail stock all the way to the head stock and the points should touch dead center, or at least very close to it. Adjust if necessary.

Set the lathe to the lowest speed, probably about 600 rpm on that lathe. Get the piece rounded before speeding it up a little.

I believe that lathe comes with a live tail, meaning it spins with the piece. If it does not spin (dead tail), wax it with candle wax.

That’s all I got… hope it works out.

Oh… and welcome to LumberJocks. :)

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2639 days

#9 posted 07-22-2014 12:18 PM

Sorry if this is an obvious question, but is the wood secured (screwed) into the faceplate? If so, how is the piece coming off? Is the faceplate coming off the headstock? If it’s not screwed in, it’ll have a pretty good chance of slipping and then you’re spinning an even more unbalanced piece and it will slip more, etc, etc, until it flies off the lathe. You need some good bite at the drive end, either by screwing the piece into the face plate, or using a spur center or steb center.

If you do, have the piece secured to the faceplate, cutting off the corners will certainly help. Also, since its spinning off, start off the lathe at the absolute slowest speed it will go.

One other thing is, have you checked to make sure the head stock and tail stock are aligned? If not, you’re going to be spinning about an eccentric axis and that will certainly give it a greater tendency to spin off.

View Geophyrd's profile


4 posts in 1602 days

#10 posted 07-22-2014 12:31 PM

First of all…thanks for the warm welcome! I’m glad to have found a community of like minded people, or people that seem to be of like mind!

As you mayt be able to tell, I cut apart plastic pen blanks and used them in rabbets as inserts into the column. This will be part of a fireplace mantel…24” of the roughly 60” that will be the mantel itself. Its ironic…its basically a 4” x 24” pen blank itself… I don’t want to cut it apart as I don’t want to lose a saw kerf in length…

The tail stock is buried in the wood. The head is as deep as I can manage by mechanical turning of the wheel. I don’t know what a live tail means, but while the head does spin, I have the tail of the insert locked down. The two times it cut loose, it literally tore up that end of the column

I did start cutting it last night and got about half close to round…very tentative all the way. The lathe wants to go walking with the motion of the piece turning. I stopped as it was hot and getting late.

Thanks all for the advice…will post pictures as I get closer to finishing. Appreciate your input, will be happy to input some of my own elsewhere in the forum.

View harveysoriginals's profile


107 posts in 1684 days

#11 posted 07-22-2014 12:52 PM

I believe that is the same lathe I have. If so and the head stock swivels, be sure to make sure the head is absolutely locked down!

-- The most dangerous tool in my shop is the one I am currently using! Harvey

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2577 days

#12 posted 07-22-2014 08:21 PM

I did start cutting it last night and got about half close to round…very tentative all the way. The lathe wants to go walking with the motion of the piece turning. I stopped as it was hot and getting late.

- Geophyrd

In that case it’s probably just your speed is too fast. On the next one, saw off the corners as recommended above and slow the speed until you get it round. With a piece that long you can get oscillation at certain speeds. On my lathe sometimes I get an oscillation and turning the speed up or down just a little will make a huge difference.

-- Rick M,

View Wildwood's profile


2469 posts in 2332 days

#13 posted 07-22-2014 09:47 PM

Slowest speed on this lathe is 600 RPM, normally no problem turning spindles, but that steel stand needs more support. Vibration from unbalanced spindles causes problems, adding a shelf and weight helps but will not stop all vibration from out of balance problems.

The tailstock issue another problem if cannot adjust and stop movement while turning. I would clean and see if could tighten tailstock nut below the ways and see if that helps.

Projects shown helps if rough turned in halves even if knock off the corners and glue back together for final turning.

-- Bill

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 1774 days

#14 posted 07-22-2014 11:11 PM

Get a piece of plywood and cut it to fit in the bottom section, I put 250lbs of concrete on it bags on it. I have the same lathe, the tailstock doesn’t tighten well unless you have the bolt underneath screwed up all the way.

View KE4NYV's profile


138 posts in 1659 days

#15 posted 07-24-2014 06:39 PM

Welcome to the site (I’m fairly new here too!). I have the same lathe for HF. I really like it and it seems to fit any project I have had so far. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is if the tailstock is coming loose and sliding back. On mine, the cam lock on the back side was adjusted to tighten with about a 1/3 – 1/2 turn. After a while, I found the cam had to be turned further to get a tight lock and even then it wouldn’t be as snug as I wanted it to be.

With the cam loose, reach under the bed and feel for a nut coming off of the cam assembly. The nut has probably worked it’s way down the threaded rod a bit. Give it a turn or two to snug up the “loose fit”. Now try locking the tailstock down with the cam. The rotation should be much less to get a good, tight lock on the bed.

-- Jason R.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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