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I haven't purchased a tool as yet, but from what I have read and seen on videos (Youtube) woodturning and making bandsaw boxes looks relaxing and like a lot of fun. I am really concerned about safety though. My work schedule is such that I have to take time to turn when I can, so I'd like the thoughts of others on woodturning without the benefit of classes or a tutor.

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Do yourself a favor and take a class or go to a club meeting and find a mentor, you won't regret it.
 

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Classes don't take much time, and they are extremely helpful. I tried to learn turning on my own and shattered some teeth from a pen barrel nailing me in the face. Took a class (and got a face shield) and haven't done damage to my person in the 13 years since. Well worth it.
 

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A face shield is a must for safety. There are a number of good books out there that can teach you proper tool angle and technique. Also search for John Lucas on youtube and watch his instructional videos, he does a great job explaining how the tools work and how to use them correctly. A woodturning class or club that does demos is very helpful as well if nothing else to make contact with someone who can work with your schedule to show you how a lathe works.
 
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