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post #1 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Shopsmith lathe

Do any of you turners use a Shopsmith?
I see them on CL all the time for cheap $ and was curious what you folks thought.

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post #2 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 08:32 AM
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It's been years since I used one but the SM was my introduction to wood turning as a teenager in my grandfather's basement. I recall it being decent once set up but not as easy to switch between functions as going to another dedicated machine. I now have separate tools for each of the functions of a SM and wouldn't go back however I'm fortunate enough to have the space.

If you're looking at the SM to use as an all-in-one because space is limited, then go for it. If you're looking for a lathe, you can find better for less by looking just at lathes. I got my 20-year old Craftsman for $100 including a very nice table.

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post #3 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 09:18 AM
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I had one for several years and still use my Dad's. The lathe is the worst part of that machine. The tailstock is simply to light weight. The tool rest is even worse. The Cantilever design and aluminum casting just add to the vibration. The minimum speed is too fast for out of balance bowls and the center line of the spindle is too low to form most people to be in a comfortable position to turn.
If you want a wood shop and don't have any space it's not a bad tool. My Grandfather made a huge amount of stuff on a 10ER. I made lots of stuff on my Mark V and did it all in a 10x12 foot area. My Dad does his work in the back of a garage. You can do good work with the tool.
However, now that I own stand alone tools I realize how much better they are. Especially the lathes. Buy a good quality Cast iron lathe . Even a good mini like the Jet 1014, will blow the socks off the Shopsmith. Granted it won't do the size but how much smoother it lets you cut will be amazing compared to the Shopsmith.
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john lucas View Post
Granted it won't do the size but how much smoother it lets you cut will be amazing compared to the Shopsmith.
Thanks for the review. That rules that idea out for sure.

Now you have my curiosity peaked.
You critiqued my 1st turnings and saw a lot of machine marks that I really tried hard not to have.
Would the caveman lathe that I currently use have something to do with that?



It's Rockwell/PorterCable/Homecraft given to me free.....

............and that's how it all started your Honor............

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post #5 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 12:15 PM
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That actually looks like a decent lathe. It could be the lathe but usually it the turner unless the lathe is really bad. Run it and if it doesn't have any vibration it's probably good. then put a piece of wood on there and round it out as best you can. If it still doesn't vibrate then your probably good to go.
Most of the time turners leave tool marks simply because they lack the skills to remove them all, or in some cases just don't know that the piece would look better smooth without tool marks. It's all fine, we each make pieces based on what we like and what makes us feel good making them so you can stop anywhere we want.
However if you want your pieces to go further then you need to learn the skills to remove these marks. Sanding with a course grit is what many people do. You sand until they are gone and then step up through the grits.
another good method is to use a round nose scraper on the inside or flat scraper on the outside. Take very gentle cuts until the tool marks are gone and then sand. Shear scraping is even better. Shear scraping is where you tilt the scraper up to about 45 degrees and then pull it across the surface using the lower 1/2 of the scraping edge. This gives a cleaner cut with less tearout than flat scraping. It is important to cut with the grain when doing this. It will simply give a cleaner cut.
A lathe that vibrates can cause what we call chatter. These are spiral lines that run down through a piece. That can be caused by the wood flexing but is also caused by a lathe with bad bearing or in the case of the shopsmith a tool rest that vibrates.
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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I'm glad to get favorable reviews of my caveman lathe, John.
I'm sure most of my tool marks are caused from my skill level.
I should have taken more time to use the tool properly and more time to sand accordingly.
I'll focus on slow & smooth on bowl #11.

Thank you

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post #7 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 09:09 PM
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I agree with John about the lathe, looks nice and solid. Take some time to do some practice exercises with each of your tools, there are plenty of videos on Youtube for this. Pay attention to tool rest position, as the piece changes diameter and shape, you will need to adjust your rest accordingly. Don't try to cut aggressively, this was a huge problem for me in the beginning. Remember the tool does the cutting not you. Learn how to sharpen the tools properly, once you do it will be easy to tell when they need resharpened and life at the tool rest will be much easier. These are some of the things that greatly accelerated the quality of my pieces.

Mostly have fun and when you screw up a piece, just make it into something else, some of my best stuff was made that way.

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 #8 of 8 Old 09-08-2011, 09:12 PM
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That's what we call a design opportunity. ;-)

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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