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post #1 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy complete newbie issue...

I've been having a lot of luck turning large diameter, short pieces, but now I'm trying to turn very small diameter spindles up 1.5" at one end and tapering down to about 3/8" at 10-12" long. (They're going to be used for spinning yarn- think a 2 inch tall spinning top with a very long tapered stem.) Here's an example. The ends are not a problem, but I can't work down the middle like I want it without it vibrating and threatening to break. I've tried approaching it from different angles, but when I put enough pressure to cut, it vibrates so much that I can't even tell what I'm doing by looking at the profile. I've have my Craftsman 12" for only about 6 weeks, so I know I have a ton to learn. I wanted a mini-lathe, but found mine at too good of a price to pass up. Am I asking her to do something she just isn't going to be able to do, or am I missing something obvious and fundamental? I can always use the "60 grit gouge" but that just feels like cheating. Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flutterbys
I've been having a lot of luck turning large diameter, short pieces, but now I'm trying to turn very small diameter spindles up 1.5" at one end and tapering down to about 3/8" at 10-12" long. (They're going to be used for spinning yarn- think a 2 inch tall spinning top with a very long tapered stem.) Here's an example. The ends are not a problem, but I can't work down the middle like I want it without it vibrating and threatening to break. I've tried approaching it from different angles, but when I put enough pressure to cut, it vibrates so much that I can't even tell what I'm doing by looking at the profile. I've have my Craftsman 12" for only about 6 weeks, so I know I have a ton to learn. I wanted a mini-lathe, but found mine at too good of a price to pass up. Am I asking her to do something she just isn't going to be able to do, or am I missing something obvious and fundamental? I can always use the "60 grit gouge" but that just feels like cheating. Thanks in advance!
It sounds like it may be chattering. What tool are you using? I am also new, but have great luck with a skew for what you are trying to do.
You could also try holding the spindle you are turning lightly to help with vibration.

And I think stabilizers might work, I've never tried that, and holding it is kinda scary so be extra careful.

Try a slower speed too.

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post #3 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. I'm using a skew. I really only use the roughing gouge to true it up and then skew for everything else. I've tried out everything in my set, but those are the only ones that do what I tell them to

I haven't thought of holding it. It makes sense that a bit of counterpressure would help. I'll give that a try. What are stabilizers? I did a quick search and didn't come up with much.
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post #4 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 02:38 PM
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one of these days I need to write out a handout on this. I answer it too often. What is happening of course is flex in the wood. It is cause by 3 things. too much pressure on the tailstock, too much pressure on the bevel of the tool, and woods tendency to flex when it's long and skinny.
The first thing is to make sure your drive center is stuck in far enough to drive without a lot of pressure from the tailstock. for really long flexible spindles I use a chuck and grip one end if I can.
Back off the tailstock until the live center doesn't spin. Now crank it in until it just starts to spin without squawking. that's all you need.
How try your best to put almost no pressure on the bevel. your tool needs to be sharp enough to shave hair. The sharper it is the better so do the best you can.
Now you can wrap your fingers around the back side opposite where the pressure of the bevel is. this is to counteract what ever flex you get from the skew. If your burning your fingers then your putting too much pressure on the bevel which means you have to push on the opposite side with your fingers too hard and you get hot fingers. Slowing the lathe down helps.
That's what you do if you don't have chatter. If it's already there what you have to do is the same as above but change the angle of the skew so it just clips the top off the chatter. Be extremely light with the skew.
Sometimes no matter what you do you get chatter. could be the wood, the quality of the lathe or your skills. You can always do what my dad does. he just turns it as is and then goes back and uses his belt sander on the spindle with the lathe running to clean up the chatter.
I can usually get rid of most of the chatter on my long and skinny mirror handles but some woods just fight. Rather than go to extremes to correct it Ill just make a few light passes to get rid of it the best I can and then just start my sanding with a courser grit that usual. That takes it off.
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post #5 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 03:31 PM
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Is you Craftsman a tube type lathe? Dave Hout (in a video) brought it up in particular because the tube is not real stout. When a lot of pressure from the tail stock is used with a long item the tube can flex (bend), as the piece is thinned the tube returns to its original shape and the wood bows. Unless you back off the pressure the wood will continue to flex.
If using a spur drive cut diagonals with a saw rather than “driving” the spur in. One side of the spur should be flat so you can use a chisel to remove material from the wood only from the other side. This will leave the flat of your spur against the flat on the wood.
John’s suggestion of a chuck would help a lot also. Make the item longer than necessary so you have extra at both ends. Start at the tailstock and thin down only a couple of inches at the time (leave a ˝” or so at the tailstock to cut off later). Move in sections back towards the headstock, for example, when you get to the center you will still have full diameter from there to the headstock.

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post #6 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 03:46 PM
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Yea I forgot to tell you that I usually start from the middle and work my way out of I can. Leaving the ends thick helps with the vibrations.
when I do Christmas ornament finials I put one end in the chuck and start the other end. I will turn an inch at a time to final dimensions sanding and everything. This leaves the thickest wood in the chuck.
I meant to post a video that shows a type of skew practice. I guess I need to do one that purely about spindle chatter. Anyway, here it is, if nothing else it shows how light you need to be on the bevel and how good a sharp tool is at cutting with this light pressure.
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post #7 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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I went out to the garage to play for a few minutes and came back to so much great information. Thanks! I've been jamming the tailstock into the end of my piece about as hard as I can, so this really does make perfect sense. I've been so afraid I wasn't going to get it in tight enough I also have sharpening questions, but I don't want to wear out my welcome, so I'll just save them for another day. It's probably already been said if I could just find it...

It looks like a decent chuck is going to have to be in my near future. Any suggestions on the best of the cheapest that'll work for me?

I think it probably is a tube type lathe, if that means the tailstock slides along a tube. It's mounted to a really sturdy table, so maybe that will help keep the tube itself from flexing. I don't know.
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post #8 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 05:05 PM
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Something else to watch for with the tube lathes is that the metal rail running along the bottom of the tube hasn't started to loosen. The tailstock and tool rest both rely on that rail to keep everything in line and vibration free, or at least as much as it can be with a tube lathe. Have you checked to make sure your headstock spur lines up with the tailstock center? They should be point to point when the tailstock is tightened down. While your checking that and after tightening the tailstock, grab the tailstock and try to move it toward and away from you. If it moves, most likely you have a problem with the rail, and if you do your toolrest will move also no matter how tight you get it. Hope this helps, I also have a tube lathe and have been able to turn some pieces to 3/16" or less easily. Very sharp tools, very light cuts and patience.

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post #9 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
I just checked it and the centers don't line up. The tailstock center sits about 1/8" to the inside. I can't move the tailstock at all once it is tightened down, though. What do I need to do about it not lining up?
Edited:
Ok, so I went out to see if I could figure out how to fix it and gave the tailstock more of a pull and the bar slipped (front to back). Now the centers are lining up, but how do I tighten it down?

Last edited by flutterbys; 09-01-2011 at 07:32 PM. Reason: clarification
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post #10 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 07:33 PM
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On the back of the tailstock near the bottom there should be an adjustment screw with a locknut on it. Loosen the tailstock lock enough to take pressure off the tailstock base. Then loosen the nut on the adjustment screw and turn the screw counterclockwise until the points line up perfectly. When you have it aligned, hold the screw in place and tighten the locknut. Tighten down the tailstock lock and recheck alignment. It may take a couple tries to get it right, but it will make a world of difference in your turning.

Let me know how it works out for you.

Ah, we cross posted. LOL

If the bar on the bottom of the tube is moving it will require a complete disassembly of the tube from the head of the lathe. I don't know how mechanically inclined you are, but this will entail tightening and/or replacing the screws that hold the bar on. In older lathes they were rivets, and if that is your case they will need to be drilled out and replaced with screws and nuts or new rivets. The nuts will go inside the tube, I fashioned a three foot handle extension for my 1/4 inch drive ratchet to accomplish this. It does take two people to do.

I'll stop here and wait for your reply as to whether this is within your capabilities. We are talking hillbilly engineering here.

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Last edited by Biscobob; 09-01-2011 at 07:47 PM.
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post #11 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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I am far from being mechanically inclined - in fact, my first inclination is towards J-B Weld. My husband just got home and promised me we'll try to get into it when he's off work on Monday, but if it involves drilling things out and fashioning extensions, I'm not very optimistic. We're going to take the housing off the head of the lathe and get a look at it on Monday, but I have a feeling it's going to be like when my car has problems and I open the hood to look at the motor...
Seriously, do you think I could use J-B Weld on the far end to hold it in place? I'm willing to settle on a "not-forever" kind of fix. Now that I've been screwing with it, it's so much looser than it was.
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post #12 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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OK, I think it's fixed. I got him to go out and take a look at it. The screw in very end was loose, so I held it centered while he tightened it. Thanks for helping me out! I have so much to learn...
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post #13 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 09:01 PM
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So the tube was loose on the foot at the end? You still need to line up the points though and you should probably have him go over every nut and bolt to make sure they are all tight. Glad you got that much straightened out. Have fun and be safe.

On second thought you really need to check the setscrew that holds the tube into the head of the lathe, just the foot being loose shouldn't have let the tube turn like that.

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post #14 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flutterbys View Post
What are stabilizers? I did a quick search and didn't come up with much.
I apologize, I called it the wrong name. It was a steady that I was thinking of.

check this out

and here's more

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post #15 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Biscobob View Post
So the tube was loose on the foot at the end? You still need to line up the points though and you should probably have him go over every nut and bolt to make sure they are all tight. Glad you got that much straightened out. Have fun and be safe.

On second thought you really need to check the setscrew that holds the tube into the head of the lathe, just the foot being loose shouldn't have let the tube turn like that.
He's going to get out there with me on Monday and give it a good check over. Thank you. Maybe getting it lined up, sharpening my tools, and easing up the pressure from the tailstock will fix my vibration issues. I'm about to go see!
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post #16 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by slicksqueegie View Post
I apologize, I called it the wrong name. It was a steady that I was thinking of.

check this out

and here's more
Those are really cool. If everything I'm trying doesn't fix me up, that may be where I turn next.
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post #17 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 09:57 PM
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If you didn't get a manual with it, containing the exploded parts diagram, you should be able to find it online. Good luck and we need pics of those turnings.

A wise man once told me, "Relax and enjoy life, cause you'll never get out of here alive." RIP Dad
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post #18 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 10:11 PM
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My prior lathe was a tube lathe and it really does not affect the turning much at all.
On my Jet, for alignment, there was a setscrew on the backside of the head where the tube slides in. The tailstock would be brought up to align the points, locked down, and the setscrew tightened. Then the screw in the end of the mounting bracket would be tightened fully.
You may not be able to find out very easily who manufactured the lathe for Sears but if you can there should be full info on line.

The runner underneath should last a long time but most of these lathes are made for spindle turning. Severe out of balance bowl turning can put quite a bit of stress on the bar.
We won’t talk about how I know that and why I had to buy a new lathe. On the plus side I wound up with maybe the first-ever Jet Tube Mini Lathe.

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post #19 of 20 Old 09-01-2011, 10:43 PM
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Thanks NC, you may have just solved my lack of space problem. Will be bringing a Grizzly Mini Lathe home saturday and have been trying to figure out where to put it. I really only need about 24" of bed, never turn spindles, so.......

A wise man once told me, "Relax and enjoy life, cause you'll never get out of here alive." RIP Dad
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post #20 of 20 Old 09-02-2011, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Biscobob View Post
If you didn't get a manual with it, containing the exploded parts diagram, you should be able to find it online. Good luck and we need pics of those turnings.
It's amazing how steady and smooth it's turning now! I may have even cleaned out my Paypal account on a little order from Rockler . I think I'm finally ready to move on to better materials now. Pictures coming soon
I just found the manual here
Thanks again for all the help, guys!
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