Just How Hard is Turning??? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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Just How Hard is Turning???

I'm just wondering how hard woodturning really is? I've been lurking in the shadows reading posts in this thread and find myself to be overwhelmed at times! For example???

What the heck is run out???

How hard is it to reshape and sharpen your tools??

Cutting Techniques???

Lathe Speed for different objects and pieces???

I am fascinated by woodturning!!!! I think I would enjoy it....but I am worried to invest a lot of money into equipment and supplies to learn that this is one big EPIC FAILURE

So if someone might point me in the right direction maybe name some good books or some good down home advice I would appreciate it.

Maybe I just need to Cowboy Up and DO IT!
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post #2 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 10:39 AM
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Cowboy up and just do it. If you can find a club near you there is plenty of help to get you started. And there's plenty of help here.

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post #3 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 11:09 AM
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turning is so much fun that it's pretty unlikely that you would want to give it up once you start. I agree that meeting w/ folks in a club can be helpful, but basically, turning is just like riding a bike. You can read about it and hear about it and study about it all you want but the only way to learn to ride a bike is by getting on the bike. Yeah, you'll fall down a couple of times, and scrape an elbow and a knee, but once you get steady and feel the wind in your hair, you'll never want to give it up.

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post #4 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 11:56 AM
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I completely agree with the other previous posts

After doing normal woodworking as a hobby for about 6 years I decided to begin turning. It has not been the same since.

I find myself finishing my day at work only to come home and go straight to the shop. The day doesn't end until after 9pm each night out there and that's only because I have to get up for work the next morning.

Once you start you will understand. I don't know what it is but it has a tight grip on me right now. In fact, I think about all the neat things I can make when I get home at night while at work.... shhhhh, don't tell anyone that.....

Jump in!!

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post #5 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 12:16 PM
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Jump in. It's incredibly addicting. REsharpening tools is not hard (although my 83 year old dad has trouble). There are many ways of sharpening and even regrinding tools if necessary. We will help you and of course if you can find a club they will help you a lot.
Runout is loosely described as a shaft that doesn't spin dead on center. In a perfect world a shaft in a bearing would run absolutely true. In a real world they are all off a hair. How much it's off and what kind of work you are trying to do determines whether the real runout of the machine will actually hurt it's performance.
As far as lathe speeds go, just start out slow and increase the speeds according to how safe you feel. As your skills increase so will the speed of the lathe. There isn't really a speed we can recommend for any particular project. There are ranges that are safe but I can't really say I turn this candlestick at 1800 rpm and so should you. You might slower much more comfortable.
My best recommendation is to buy a quality lathe. Many of the lathes sold by the discount houses are junk and hurt your enjoyment of this hobby. Get back with us about which ones people think will fit your budget and we'll try to recommend good quality equipment.
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post #6 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 04:16 PM
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I also agree with all of the above. If you really want to see some turning techniques before you invest, go to youtube and search woodturning. You could spend a couple hours watching all the different videos of people turning all sorts of things. A lot of the videos are instructional and some are just demos for products; these demos are valuable for seeing techniques in action. When I was a lurker thinking about checking out turning, I wore google out. I read web sites, articles, watched videos. I learned about terms, tools, and techniques. By the time I was ready to buy a lathe, I knew what I was asking for and how to ask for it.

One of the biggest things that I've learned in the month and a half or so that I've been turning is that how your work piece is secured to the lathe is of paramount importance. Not only for safety, but for ease of turning. If it's not held securely, you are more likely to encounter all sorts of problems that can really become frustrating. Avoid the frustration and learn about chucks, mandrel, centers, etc.

Welcome and have fun!
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post #7 of 20 Old 04-17-2009, 05:31 PM
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The golden rule: Before buying expensive tools and machinery (dont buy the cheap chinese pressed-steel lathes- you will only be disappointed and give up) - get in touch with a local turner or woodcraft club and learn from a real person. Then, if you like it invest in some one-to-one lessons with a pro, then buy the equipment that suits the type of turning you want to get into. Books and videos are OK but they dont shout STOP IT just before the log you started at too high a spindle speed flies off and does some damage.

As for keeping tools sharp, turning tools can have complex profiles so buy a good quality sharpening jig rather than attempt to do it by eye (that takes years of practice). They arent that expensive and are incredibly easy to use, makes you feel that much more confident when sharpening top quality expensive gouges. Many jigs on the market at varying prices.

I agree with all above posts in that once you have produced your first "thing" on a lathe you will be hooked. It really isnt that hard so long as you take safety seriously (check out my post on punk turning for a lesson in how not to do it) Treat the lathe and the madly whirring lump of timber with respect but show it who is boss.

Go on, have a go - you will love it once you start. And you will never stop learning how to do new things.
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post #8 of 20 Old 04-18-2009, 08:42 AM
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You'll need a lathe of some sort and a couple turning tools.....keep them sharp as possible.....start with smaller cylinders 2" in diameter or less......to get the hang of it......practice making smooth cylinders, then beads, coves and other shapes.....a chunk of 2x4 ripped to 1 1/2 square will get the fun started......there is a lot of instruction stuff in the internet to help get you going.....If you run into a snag ask some of these guys here for help....they are great to beginners as we all were once.......Jump in the water is fine......you'll get hooked like the rest of us.......
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post #9 of 20 Old 04-18-2009, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Guys
Thanks for all the advice and encouragement!!! So I guess my next question will be what lathe and tools should I get?

I'm single and 27yrs old and have few expenses, other than the basic life expenses, so I would like to get a lathe that will last me about 30yrs Along with the tools. Is this a reasonable expectation??? Are there any out there?

I'm very particular when caring for equipment, but I'm not great at repairing equipment. So I would like recommendations from you all about lathes and tools you would trust with your life.

Thanks and Good Day
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post #10 of 20 Old 04-18-2009, 05:35 PM
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PowerMatic, Nova, and Oneway are at the top of the class in my opinion for Lathes. Then Jet, then Rikon. I've heard lots of bad things about Laguna but have never used one.

As far as tools go, I have heard nothing but great things about Doug Thompson's tools. There are the latest and greatest, and I am looking forward to getting myself some soon! Hope that give you a starting point.

Here are just about all the lathe specs thats are available today (no reviews though-just the numbers):

I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.
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post #11 of 20 Old 04-18-2009, 05:50 PM
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Just How Hard is Turning

You can go to www.woodturner.org which is the website for the American Association of Woodturners and find a woodturning club near where you live. Contact them and make arrangements to go to a meeting. Buy the best lathe you can afford. Jet, Oneway, Powermatic all are good choices. The best class I ever took was a one day sharpening class - if you turn you will need to sharpen your tools. Take the class or spend time with someone who knows how to sharpen tools and learn. I like the tools that Doug Thompson sells. Get a good basic turning set and work from there.
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post #12 of 20 Old 04-19-2009, 05:41 PM
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Just how hard is wood turning?

Just how hard is woodturning,you ask? It's a piece of cake ! I can screw up with the "best of 'em". Just like the Nike ad. says "Just Do It". You'll have a fun time learning and doing.
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post #13 of 20 Old 08-05-2010, 04:06 PM
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Ok, so I saw a lathe at work at a craft fair, and i thought to my self... I want to try that........ 3 years later, I'd read the books, watched the you tube clips but not touched a lathe yet.....

A year later I moved house and what do you know my new neighbour was a turner. After many conversations and pawing over things he'd turned with wide eyes... he presents me with a mini bench lathe he no longer uses coz he has a big one now..... I was so excited i nearly burst!

It sat in the spare room for around 3 weeks because I was too scared to use it..... Finally, very red faced, and shakey... i played!
I had no clue what I was doing, or whether i wa doing it right..... but I was doing it. I produced a tiny what I would call a fairy stair spindle... Basically it looks like a stair spindal, but it was made from a pen blank..... I snapped it in half by nudging it with the tool rest but........

I was hooked! I'm still a total beginner but am loving the learning processes

Get in there and do it... you'll never look back!
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post #14 of 20 Old 08-06-2010, 09:14 AM
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It's really a very tough to cut a wood and also very tough to give a shape and here a tips and you get a tutorial for that and then you get a idea for that because a wood is a very hard and you safely cut and turn it or shape it,if you want to turning then contact to a terner this a best for you.

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post #15 of 20 Old 08-06-2010, 10:24 AM
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From the perspective of someone who is brand new to turning...just jump in there and go for it. There is a plethora of info. online in regard to technique, tools, etc. You can even build your own lathe if you are so inclined. I was scared to death of those ominous looking tools fearing they would jump back and bite me. LOL. You will find out through experience what you can do and not do very quickly.

Proper use of the tools and lathe are key for your safety...as it is when working with any kind of woodworking equipment/tools. But the act of turning is relatively easy, to answer your question. Beware... it is very addicting. Once you get started, you want to do anything else!

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post #16 of 20 Old 08-09-2010, 06:05 AM
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Ack, reading all the post above it seems you have a lot of great advise. joining your local woodturning club has a lot of benefits, mentors to help teach you, club library for checking out dvd's and book's form the pros, demos like the pepper mill demo Mike did for his club. all for about $20.00 to $40.00 a year. utube videos are ok but some out there are "how not to turn" and with you just starting out, you may be able to tell whats good technique from beware technique. also local PBS channels are running Tim Yoder's turning workshop so check them out also. Welcome to the vortex once you start there is no way out.....


"Just because your not bleeding, don't mean your turning safely"..
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post #17 of 20 Old 08-11-2010, 02:17 PM
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The best thing I did was take a beginners wood turning class. If there is a club nearby - attend the next meeting. You might also check with any woodworking supply stores for classes or clubs.

Youtube, books, classes, clubs - whatever it takes to get started - just do it!

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post #18 of 20 Old 08-12-2010, 02:06 AM
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Back to that question about what tools and lathe to buy. There is some good advice in threads above about manufacturers. However, my feelings on this is that you first need to have a go on someone else's lathe and invest in a few lessons with a pro turning tutor to decide on what type of turning you want to do.

It would be no good going out and buying the best long-bed lathe in the world if you then find out you want to concentrate on pens for instance or the opposite of buying a miniature bench-top lathe and wondering how to fit a blank to produce a 10inch bowl some table legs.

Whatever size and shape you go for (and there are good all-rounders out there) always go for the best you can afford. A heavy lathe made with quality castings will absorb vibrations whereas a cheap lightweight will not. Those vibrations can transfer to your work-piece and you will be disappointed with the result.

Heavy quality well made lathes and good quality tools are the order of the day. To some extent, at this stage, the name on the label doesn't really matter. You are buying quality and enjoyment, not a name.
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post #19 of 20 Old 09-08-2010, 01:20 AM
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Learning to turn reminds me of a bugs bunny cartoon I saw as a kid. They had a machine that took in whole logs and turned each down into a single toothpick. Actually, there is a lot of value when learning to turn in making large pieces of scrap wood into small pieces. Besides, it's fun removing tons of material with a big gouge.
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post #20 of 20 Old 09-08-2010, 05:22 AM
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I agree, joining your local club is the best thing you can do to get started. I did just that a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, a wet day coincided with an afternoon when the club's workshop was available to use, so I spent the afternoon reducing a couple of 8x2 jobsite offcuts to shavings (and a couple of bowls).
Now I had use of a borrowed lathe about 10 or 12 years ago, between then and yesterday I hadn't even picked up a bowl gouge! (except when I retrieved mine from my dad's shed a week or so ago). But I was surprised, its just like riding a bike - you never forget how to do it!
Even the pros in the club were impressed with my work! Especially because our pine, which grows on steroids, is VERY hard to turn to a nice finish.
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