New to turning


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Brand new to turning. Look forward to getting in and my main focus is to become proficient in turning my own duck calls and maybe some pens as well. I have a class booked at woodcraft for me and one of my friends, Christmas present for him, for next week on Monday. Decided to do the intro to pen making class. Have been looking at what lathe and tooling to get to get started in turning duck calls. I do not want to start out cheap and would rather buy quality tools the first time that will last. 

 

Anyone else on here spend a good amount of time turning calls and have tips or info for a beginner. I would be glad to hear them. 

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Welcome to the forums! There lots of good threads here. You can use the same lathe for pens to turn duck calls. I would wait to purchase any until after your class. See what they use in class and what they recommend. You don't have to purchase what they suggest but it will give you any idea of what you'll need. 

 

You can turn pens and calls on a mini lathe but you can also turn them on a full size lathe. The size of the lathe really depends on what you want to turn. If you want to also turn bowls and  larger open vessels you may want a full size lathe. If you only want to turn pens, calls and small bowls  then a mini lathe will work fine.

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Welcome to the club!  Please leave all your disposable income at the door!  :)

Check out this thread, there's a lot of good info for a new turner:

 

1 hour ago, WBurke said:

I do not want to start out cheap and would rather buy quality tools the first time that will last. 

I would actually recommend against this.   You could go out and drop quite a lot on a full set of Sorby tools, only to find out you also have to drop a similar amount for a sharpening rig to do them justice, and then you find out you just don't have the proficiency nor inclination to use HSS, but would rather use carbides.   

Take the class first and see what you like.  Try every tool possible.  Pens are an awesome way to get into turning, but the actual turning of a pen is about 10% of it, and shouldn't take more than a few minutes.  It's not a real great way to figure out what you need for tools for general turning.   Pens are small and use small tools. 

But I'd recommend getting one of those like 8 piece HSS (High Speed Steel) starter sets, and a decent carbide tool with interchangeable heads.  The carbide tool will last forever, but the heads will need replaced every so often.    The HSS needs constant sharpening, and they do wear down eventually, and may also need replaced (but not for many many years if sharpened properly).   You will find that some of the tools in a starter set can easily last your entire career, they just won't get used as much, or are a much simpler tool that does the job just as well as a fancy shiny expensive jobber.   Some of my favorite detailing tools are old files that my great uncle sharpened down 80 years ago, I use them for very specific cuts, and only for a few minutes at a time, so they rarely get sharpened.  You'll also find a couple tools that you want to upgrade, and that'll be a completely personal choice. 

But try as many tools as you can under the supervision of an instructor, so they can show the proper technique for a tool.  Certain tools are awesome if used correctly, like a skew, but can be quite dangerous if used improperly.   A skew in particular rides such a fine line between the two, even experienced turners can easily ruin a piece with a bad cut with one, or worse.  Some veteran turners never touch a skew for that reason.   No reason to drop a bunch of money on a high quality tool if you never use it. 

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Welcome.  You will find a type of evolution in wood turning.  I started out with a HF lathe and then went to a smaller Rikon.  I  have a HF turning tool set.  Not great but works for me.  Sharpening is a must for any HSS tool.  I bought a Rikon low speed grinder and Wolverine jig for sharpening.  Pen making is fun and you can do all kinds of things with the blanks as to colors, wood types, contours, etc.  I recommend www.penturners.org for another great resource.  My next purchase is a good bowl gouge.  Hope Santa drops some cash in the stocking.

The class will be well worth the $$$$ spent.  I took one and got one for one grandson who is getting into turning.  He has turned about six pens and one ornament.

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Thank you all. I am looking forward to the class at woodcraft to learn and dive in. My planning is to turn pens, and game calls mostly. I really don’t see myself turning bowls, so i have been looking at a midi lathe rikon mostly as i would like to buy from them local. 

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Advice folks gave you is pretty good. I would add that turning is a deceptively expensive hobby. It looks relatively cheap to get into but your lathe will likely be the cheapest thing you will buy to do the hobby. As others have indicated you will need to either use carbide tools, or use steel tools and buy a sharpener. You will also need various centers/Mandel to make calls or pens. If you make bowels you will need a Chuck.

If you already have a bandsaw or table saw you can use that to cut down blanks, but if you don't have that you will want to buy a bandsaw. A bandsaw being better at this because you can cut curves and also work easier with small pieces.

First step is to go do the class (possibly other classes as well??) And then decide what you want to make. If it remains small things it will change what lathe you buy and what tooling you need.

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In addition to the lathe and tools, there are a lot of small things you will need to pick up along the way.  I've only been turning for about a year and the small things just creep up on you.  For pens, you are going to need a mandrel and I recommend the mandrel saver over the knurled knob and live center in the tailstock- it makes setting up between different pen styles easier.  I have a small bench top drill press and its 2 1/2 spindle stoke has proven to be problematic for pen making, so I finally broke down and bought a chuck and drill chuck- it has made life so much better.  My tubes are perfectly centered in the blanks now and I can drill them out while they are still a single blank.  Then there are the bushings and different sized bits, epoxy, ca glue...  It all adds up.

Here's the cool thing, though.  I've made my initial investment and have recouped everything I've spent to do so inside of a year selling my pens. Once I had the basics, each project has a minimal cost.  Bushings run about $5 each and last a good long while, there are only so many bit sizes you will need, and the kits for my best sellers run $2-6 apiece.  I'm at a point where I can make a pen for $4 and sell it for $40.

Welcome to the addiction, sir!  It's a grand ride!

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Thank you. I understand it’s not the cheapest. I’m coming from shooting custom long range rifles and reloading my own ammo so i understand the cost. I’ve been doing a lot of research and almost settled on a rikon 70-220vsr. Then I will need a collet chuck and four jaw chuck. Planning on a Laguna 1412 bandsaw. 

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You'll probably need a drill/jacobs chuck too. Drilling on the lathe is great. The Rikon is a nice little machine, variable speed is so good.

Carbide vs. Traditional is mostly up to you. Carbide costs more up front for the tools, but very low sharpening costs. Traditional can mean cheaper tools, but you'll definitely need a sharpening solution. I ended up going carbide because I got a good deal and I mostly turn pens. When I was researching traditional tools I saw the Benjamin's Best set recommended a bunch as a slightly higher quality set than the HF one.

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8 hours ago, WBurke said:

I really don’t see myself turning bowls,

I said the same thing.....

 

The PSI lathe combination penturning starter sets are a great way to get into pen turning and turning in general, pretty much have everything you need if you get the right package.  

And Riley linked to Penturners.org, they are THE place to go for pen turning info.   I actually attend the quarterly meetings when I can. 

2 hours ago, SirNot said:

I use a friction polish topped with wax for finishing, but a lot of guys swear by CA glue finish. 

I've used wax under CA before for appearances.  I've used a lot of oils under CA too.   I polish to 12000 grit, and then use a friction polish on the CA.  (Continuing our discussion over multiple threads :) )

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Thanks for all the info guys. I have just about decided that I am going to jump right into making duck calls first. I was planning on starting with Pens but think I will just start out with duck calls since that is what I really want to make. 

My list so far of stuff to buy is 

rikon lathe listed above 

Vicmarc vm100 chuck

beall collet chuck with collets

expanding mandrel from duck supplier

And I think easy wood turners carbide tools 

Jacobs chuck for boring the blanks

 

i think that is my first shopping list to start

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Before you buy the EZ Woods carbide tools take a look at the Axe carbide tools from Carter.  I think they are just as good, but significantly cheaper.  The Axe tools come in the three basic carbide shapes.  The EZ Woods line has a bit more variety, but you can buy the basic Axe tools then add EZ Woods as needed. 

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10 hours ago, WBurke said:

Well me and my buddy had a great time at the class Monday. I brought home the rikon lathe and set it up. We also ordered 100 pen kits and 100 blanks to split. I picked up a psi drill chuck. Psi pen mandrel the better one. And decided on the super nova 2 chuck I got off amazon for $129. Now to make a list for woodcraft and get the rest of what I need. Wife said I have to wait till after Christmas, I’m thinking I got a gift card. 

Welcome to the fold (officially)!! :) Sounds like y'all had fun. 

Did you buy the chuck adapter when you purchased your chuck? If not, you'll want to order it now so you aren't waiting too long for it. You can look at the Nova site (Tektools?)  for the correct one. 

Did you buy a pen press? I like the Penn state one: https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PENPRESS5.html  It looks like they recently went up on prices or I bought mine on sale because I thought they were cheaper. I like this model better then the screw type of press because it's easier to work with. 

What kind of finish did they teach you in class? Did y'all do a CA finish or some other type?

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Awesome!  Welcome to your new addiction!  I second Charlie's call out on the pen press, but I went with the Milescraft.  It has swing down stops making changing the length a breeze for the different pen components: https://www.amazon.com/Milescraft-4700-Turners-Joining-Projects/dp/B005QU98G6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513958177&sr=8-1&keywords=milescraft+pen+press

Do yourself a favor and get a good HSS skew and roughing gouge, though, and learn to sharpen them.  I learned the lesson of using cutting tools as opposed to scraping tools on woods like spalted maple and burls.  The resident turner at my local Rockler (Also named Tony) has been an invaluable resource!

And be sure to share pics!!

One last thing- in addition to https://www.pennstateind.com/http://www.woodturningz.com/ is a great place to get kits from too.

 

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100 kits?  O.O   Hope you got a variety pack of 20 different styles!  :)  Doing the same type over and over gets old real quick!  I probably have 2 dozen different styles of kits on hand, so I can make the right pen for the recipient on demand, and quickly order the 'starter packs' for any new style i want.  

I get the starter packs cause they have a variety of colors, but more importantly, the bushings.   If you don't get the right bushings for the pen kit, then it won't turn out right.   I have those divider boxes for keeping the pen kits in, and the bushings occupy 2 of the slots, each type in a little baggy clearly labeled.   If you want, check the guys over at IAP, they have charts that list bushing compatibility between pen kits.

A mandrel saver live end is a huge boon to pen turning!  I bent my first mandrel by over tightening, and got the saver with the new one.

Also, you may want to get some HDPE bushings for the finishing process.  If you finish with the metal bushings still in place, you'll build up a layer of schmutz on them, and then they won't be the correct diameter, leaving the blank a little proud of the pen hardware when assembled.   Finish won't stick to the HDPE, and if you have conical ones, you can get the finish in the endgrain of the blank.  You can buy them premade, but for the same price I got a 2' rod of 3/4" hdpe, and I just made my own.   It's come in handy for other jigs and such for the lathe at times too. 

Oh, and welcome to the "I can't throw that away, I could make that into a pen one day!" club. 

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1 hour ago, thatCharlieDude said:

And HDPE turns like a dream

Until all the strings that have stuck to the chuck or drive center become sentient and try to yank the tool from your hands for killing off their kin.

Other than that, I love HDPE on the lathe!

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11 hours ago, Marmotjr said:

Until all the strings that have stuck to the chuck or drive center become sentient and try to yank the tool from your hands for killing off their kin.

Other than that, I love HDPE on the lathe!

LOL It's like you're spying on me Marmotjr. I had that happen last night. You gotta keep those suckers clear. 

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