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Lathe w/ extension versus "full-size" lathe

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Forum topic by nathanegriffin posted 04-21-2015 10:14 PM 981 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


04-21-2015 10:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning lighting question

I make table/desk lamps and would like to start turning some lamp bases. This, of course, requires drilling out the length of the piece for lamp cord so any lathe I buy would, in theory, need to have twice the length of my lamp base in turning capacity (the piece + the drill bit). I currently only have plans for shorter pieces in the 8” tall range but I may like to turn longer pieces in the future.

Is there any reason (beyond lower up-front cost) to buy a smaller lathe which can be upgraded with an extension in the future versus spending the extra money up-front to purchase a lathe with a much greater turning capacity?


18 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3125 days


#1 posted 04-21-2015 10:33 PM

If all you are going to turn is spindle work (e.g. lamps, table legs, etc.) a midi lathe with a bed extension may be all you need.

If, however, you think you may be turning bigger stuff, a midi may not have enough oomph to handle the work. Midi lathes have smaller motors (e.g. 1hp or less), and large blanks may be too much for the motor to handle.

I started with a midi (Delta 46-460) and bed extension. It has been great, but I am getting ready to pull the trigger on a lathe with a bigger swing (20” as opposed to the Delta’s 12” swing) so I can do larger bowls and hollow forms. The lathe I am likely to go with has a 2hp, 240vac motor which will deliver substantially more torque than the Delta.

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

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Rick M

7910 posts in 1842 days


#2 posted 04-22-2015 01:04 AM

You can drill by hand on a normal size lathe or glue up blanks with the channel pre-cut, which is what I would do.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#3 posted 04-22-2015 04:09 AM

TheDane, I suppose I should take some time to decide what my turning future looks like, eh? For now, I’m pretty focused on spindle work and will probably have more than enough of that type work to keep me busy for a loooong time.

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#4 posted 04-22-2015 04:12 AM

Rick, interesting thought (re. pre-cut channel)
I haven’t done any lathe work since I was a kid in my dad’s workshop so I’m sure there is going to be a good bit of problem solving and trial and error that goes into this. I’ll definitely keep your idea in the back of my mind.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1597 days


#5 posted 04-22-2015 11:28 AM

Turning firewood lamps how I got started in woodturning. Wasted a lot of wood until learned something about drying wood.

What brand name mini or midi lathe have you been looking at? I would recommend getting a bed extension if looking at those size lathes. Have owned a mini lathe but never turned a lamp on it. All my lamps truned on full size lathe.

Remember distance between centers on any size lathe is reduced by chucks and face plates mounted on the headstock and live center or drill chuck mounted in tailstock. Even on a full size lathe may end up flipping the blank to drill both ends whether using drill bits or lamp auger.

Of course if gluing boards together Rick’s table saw method or using router makes life easier. On some style lamps only holes have to drill is for top lamp hardware and one at bottom for the cord.

Only real secret to turning lamps is getting balance & proportions right! Wood has to close to EMC, and not dripping wet!

-- Bill

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LeeMills

271 posts in 763 days


#6 posted 04-22-2015 12:09 PM

This is the way many drill deep for lamp cords. Of course your lathe must have a hollow tailstock.

http://www.technologystudent.com/equip1/wturning8.html

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#7 posted 04-22-2015 01:23 PM


What brand name mini or midi lathe have you been looking at? I would recommend getting a bed extension if looking at those size lathes.

I was initially looking at the JET JWL-1221VS as it seemed a fair balance between price and praise, not to mention the option of an extension later. The first lamp designs I have in mind will be shorter pieces; no taller than 6”. And, as I’ve been building my shop slowly in this way, the profit from the sale of those would go toward the extension bed as I develop my ideas.

I have a little less than $2k to spend on my workshop right now and, though I could spend it all on turning equipment, the less I spend on a single tool means a bit more to spend on another. I still need a planer, jointer, router, etc.

Like you, I’ve already learned my lesson about wet wood. The first lamp base I made was a geometric (faceted) block which I cut with a chainsaw from a recently felled tree. It looked great until the bottom split wide open!

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#8 posted 04-22-2015 01:29 PM

LeeMills, interesting. Thanks for the great link! I had done some quick research prior to now and just assumed I needed a turning capacity twice the length of my piece so as to be able to drill straight through with an auger. I didn’t realize lathes had a hollow tailstock. I’ll have to take a look at the lathe I was interested in. Is the tailstock something which can be “upgraded” or switched out?

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2143 posts in 1635 days


#9 posted 04-22-2015 01:39 PM

Look at Rick’s precut channel. The big problem with drilling long holes in wood is heat. the drill bit epands as it heat up and very quickly seizes in the hole. AMHIKT. And even after everything cools down it can be extremely difficult to impossible to remove the bit.
The link LeeMills provided is good but read carefully the author recommends removing the auger or cutter frequently. He should have highlighted and underlined it. Heat buildup is a real problem.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#10 posted 04-22-2015 01:49 PM

Look at Rick s precut channel. The big problem with drilling long holes in wood is heat. the drill bit epands as it heat up and very quickly seizes in the hole?

Hah! I must admit, the handheld auger depicted in the link had me imagining the loss of some fingers when it seizes and starts spinning at a million RPM.

My only difficulty with the pre-cut channel idea is the lack of a table saw. I’m building my shop slowly through sales from one idea or another using “what I’ve got available” then moving on to the next idea as my list of tools grows. Though I’m in desperate need of a table saw, the lathe seems like the next logical choice in terms of growing my business alongside my current list of ideas.

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3125 days


#11 posted 04-22-2015 01:54 PM

Hah! I must admit, the handheld auger depicted in the link had me imagining the loss of some fingers when it seizes and starts spinning at a million RPM.

Actually, the procedure in Lee’s link works pretty well … just turn at a very low RPM and pull the auger out to clear chips and saw dust frequently.

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

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nathanegriffin

11 posts in 594 days


#12 posted 04-22-2015 02:02 PM

Actually, the procedure in Lee s link works pretty well … just turn at a very low RPM and pull the auger out to clear chips and saw dust frequently.

True. Having experience with things like 3”+ forstner bits, I’m okay with “slow and steady. Clear the swarf. Slow and steady. Clear the swarf.”

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4167 posts in 3204 days


#13 posted 04-22-2015 02:41 PM

Also the lamp augers help with the heat issue with the auger being a larger diameter than the small shaft – - but as has been mentioned, you have to clear it often.

But I am curious other than the preformed channel – - what drilling method doesn’t require clearing?

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

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

271 posts in 763 days


#14 posted 04-22-2015 05:20 PM


I ll have to take a look at the lathe I was interested in. Is the tailstock something which can be “upgraded” or switched out?

You probably can’t upgrade or switch out a tailstock.
Most probably come will a hollow tailstock. However most also come with an inexpensive live center. You would need to upgrade the live center to a higher quality and hollow.
Everything I have heard about the Jet you mentioned is a nice lathe.
I purchased a Nova Comet2 for my daughter about 1 1/2 years ago and no problems
The Jet states 1 HP and the Comet 3/4 HP, however according to the specs I have seen the Jet is 6 amp which makes it impossible to produce 1 HP except for a very short (seconds) peak. IIRC the Comet is 5.7 amp.

I would rather drill through the tailstock, if not you have a open end of extended stock just hanging out there in the air to start drilling (and maybe start whipping about).
If the Nova may fit you needs Tools-Plus has it with a free G3 chuck and shipping for $479.
http://www.tools-plus.com/nova-lathes.html
They also have the Nova Lathes 5015 Live Center System for $70.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

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Wildwood

1882 posts in 1597 days


#15 posted 04-22-2015 07:33 PM

Have not turned a lamp in few years but have never used a lamp auger. Bought an inexpensive set of 12” long brad point bits many years ago and the one used to drill lamps has served me well. As long as keep clearing chips have no problems. Hardest part of drilling a blank whether use a drill bit or auger is do not drill a hole too big! Measure you lamp components first.

-- Bill

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