start up advice

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I'm looking to get into turning and have been doing some research on the subject but I'm looking for a little more advice.  What's really driving me to consider this is my wife's hobby is spinning wool into yarn and a couple of her antique spinning wheels need to have some spindles remade.  There's also some other items that would be nice to make instead of buy for her hobby.  I also think it would be really cool to turn the occasional bowl and maybe some furniture legs.  These are the tools that I think I've decided on to get me started, I realize that it's not a one way lathe, nor are they Sorby tools but I don't foresee these being in my budget within the predictable future.   Are there any more essentials that I should add?  Thanks for any inut.






I am also considering

this, which includes the 2 speed grinder


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Dont go penn state for the lathe, be patient and you can find an awesome midi lathe on craigslist for about the same coin. I used one (still have it too)when i was getting into turning, the headstock and tailstock were wayyyy out of alignment, alot of cheaply made parts broke and some other stuff. I would go used, i just picked up a 1960 powermatic lathe thats 600+ lbs 12" swing and 46" bed length for $750, for such a rock solid machine thats pocket change.

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the advise i was given was to buy your last tool first.  the way you sound you not going to turn huge platters and bowls or colums for houses so you dont need a giant lathe.  i would love to have a powermatic lathe but i went the midi rout.  i put my lathe on top of a dressor and then i can use the drawers for storage the lathe sits on the front half and you could mount the grinders on the back half then you can pull it out in the garage turn on one side and when its time to touch up walk around to the back.  to store your tools for easy use there are all kinds of idea's and gadgets but just go buy a 1.5 or 2 inch pvc pip cut it into a bunch of sections and glue it together now you have storage that you can put your tools upright and see what tool you need. or put upa  shallow shelf on the wall behind you lathe and drill end caps all along the shelf and then put your pvc in the end caps again you can see all your tools easily and you know where they are at all times.


i bought myself the delt 46-460 somewhere between 500-600 dollers and had no problems with it going on for 2 years of heavy use. this has the 12" swing its only like 16" between centers but that is about all you need for most turnings, i bought the extension so i could make a walking stick,  it has a 1hp motor and spins between 250 rpm-4000rpm so you can turn small iteams or large iteams with ease. that way you can make small spindles knobs, project feet ect... or take a log and turn a bowl out on it or a box.  with 12 inch swing you can make some large plates. 


  as for the grinder you dont need a slow speed grinder  most turners that i know just use a regular grinder you can find a 6" on craigslist easily for 20-40 bucks.  i would sugest that you put a white wheel on it.  in fact if you want to do it right get two grinders. one with regular stone for reshaping, white stone for cool sharpening and a paper or felt wheel to use as a hone and a felt wheel to nock the burr off.  thats the way i prefer to sharpen my tools. as you can use each of these wheel for metal work, sharping lathe tool, sharpening carving tools, sharpening planes and chisles. notice that the paper/ felt grinder is mounted backwards so you can see your edge and the blade wont catch on your wheels. this is only for the honeing wheels.  grinding toward you honing away.



cool grinder wheel,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41524429,d.aWc&biw=1280&bih=802&wrapid=tlif135929673738810&sa=X&ei=7jgFUZ2pKsGgyAGWhoGQDg&ved=0CGoQ8wIwAw


paper wheel for honing


lose buffing wheel


as for tools i bought my basic set from sorby and they stay sharp longer the tools i have goten from penn state work but they need to be sharpening sooner as they are not as well made as the sorby.  i sugest that if you going to turn alot get a better set of tools if its going to be  passing fad or something you do for just turning a odd knob for a project then go with penn state. you might also like to work with e-z tools prity handy and you wont need to sharpen just throw away the blade when you done.  but you can make your own super cheap like 10-20 bucks then you just buy blades here is where i get my balades if you have any questions on how to do this let me know.


as for the guide well i would not buy eather of those both expensive and while its nice not needed because you can make everything there. this shows how to build the jig and even the gouge guide but i ended up buying to save myself some work and having multiple grinding guides floating around my sharpening station.  for sharpening skews (dont buy this) just build a wood version and attach it to you jig. i would sugest you get a chuck its almost indespensable for bowl turning and it is very usefull for lathe work.  imagine building a shelf and not using a clamp the chuck is the clamp. but this a realy heavy chuck for large turnings can handle up to 12" of turning blanks only down side it has no extra jaws so you have to buy extra jaws and swamp them out between projects. or buy a second chuck. (thats what i did to save time now i can just unscrew and screw in second chuck.  also try and find chuck jaws that are dovetailed or at and angle that way they hold the wood more securly. 






This will get you started but if you get adicted you going to need more tools before long


if you make bowls you will need bowl blanks i like to make my own from fire wood and logs so you need chain saw


this is prity damn handy and i plan on buying myself one sooner or later


you will also need a air compressor for the sander a small 6gal 3/4 hp unit will work easily for this


these are a must for acurate measureing if you are making table legs they all have to match i use these all the time when i make boxes to match the lid to the box this is very usefull for holding odd shaped projects or doing the bottom of your bowls i use this tool all the time for acurate hole right in the center.  the drill press will only do so much and its only as acurate as you are. use regular drill bits and forstner bits i was told not to use spade bits as they tend to catch and throw you wood. bought a second chuck so i can hold small stuff in pin chuck  jaws like tiny spindles but i have also found uses for the step jaws, and the the wide jaws since they are biger then the nova jaws. this will help you find the center of your turning blanks  because if its not center its like trying to drive a car with a wobbly tire and can be hard on you machine. 


here is companies to get you started get good sandpaper you wont use it up as much or as fast this is probably a lifetime supply foryou but its a good deal and good paper



here is good information on wood turning ideas, and training he is currently make a crochet hook your wife might like that.  this guy has lots of videos on making tools by hand or on the cheap. this guy has a ton of videos on projects he has made that you can watch and learn from or get idea's for he even did one of my idea on there and said hi to my mom for me its the jump rope video.


couple of tricks i have learned

you can use laminate samples from the big box stores for counter tops and press those on the wood and they will burn a line on any face of your wood while on the lathe. the tradition way is to use a wire but that will only work on edges like edge of bowl the laminate will work on the edge or face so you can put a black line on the bottom of a bowl.


inlace is a great way to add color to your projects you cut a turn a grove and then fill it with small material i use decrative sand, brass cliping from key cuting machines, copper wire, steel dust from grinder, , , talcum powerder, bone dust, glitter, basicly anything small i have found the glass unless it has lots of color to it does not work.  plus you can buy all kinds of stone's and crush it up yourself or buy inlace material, resin with a dye added to the resin but then you spending money all the others are free till you get want to move on to more and better inlay.   i have a couple carving buddies who send me the left overs of there work, budy sent me small jade chips and anther sends me mammath dust and another is going to send me some horse bone wich will add to my inlay material. 

is inlay work on the lathe.


here is the bulk of my knowledge and experies over the last two years of prity folcusting wood turning. i know its can be overwealming but i ended up paying for every tool and accessory for my lathe in the two years at craft sales.  i have probably spent $1500 but i bought and paid off the tools one piece at a time and now i can prity much turn anything i want with a little creative thinking.  if your not sure if you want to turn find a turning club or a wood worker and have him show you a couple things and try there lathe.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have just started out too.  I learned that shopping for a lathe is very important and looking on Craigs list is a very good idea. I just got a 1950's Delta/Milwaukee 12" with a 42" bed for $400. Make sure you look at what you buy and don't feel you have to buy the first one.  Looking at your wish list above. I found those chisels at a garage sale for about the same price and I think they will work good for now. You may find later as you get better you may want to buy as needed. The 8" grinder is the size preferred, all I can say is look for a good brand name and shop around. There are a lot of people out there that need money and are selling their tools (Sadly). For sharping stuff (this is were I'm at) the first one is good, but that is too much money. go see Capt Eddie' site, he makes his own and he will talk to you over the phone plus he is a good turner with films on line to see, including a live one weekly were you can talk to him and ask questions. ( I will put links to him below..... plus some others you my want to see....... watch out this stuff will replace your TV ) The last sharper set-up you have listed above is no good at all. If your chisel handle is not square to your chisel, then your chisel will not have a square grind. If you want to try it, make one.


Hope you can read what I write and was helpful. Write again and I have no problem telling you what I have found out. I have been in wood working for over 30 years, but the lathe is new to me and I have a long way to go.




PS look at stuff on U-Tube and follow by subscribeding

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If all you are going to do is a couple of spindles, you can get away with doing them by hand.  The first dozen wands I made were done using dowel stock and a small drum sanding head on the Harbor Freight version of a Dremel.  Simply place the end of the dowel stock into a square corner of something to keep it from getting away from you, and turn it lightly with your fingers.  I'd recommend keeping the rest of the dowel under your armpit, so you don't lose it.  You could even get away (as I did on the larger lengths) sanding by hand.


By the way, oak takes forever this way.  (That's the first reason I upgraded to a lathe.)

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  • 8 years later...

It might be a little bit less obvious, but Id also think about sourcing your own material.  What it would take to do that.  Especially if you get sucked into turning.  I think the money is better spent into the tools to gather material rather than purchasing blanks.

Here's a resource for that...

Edited by wtnhighlander
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