A newby's tip for other newbies


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Established Member
21 Feb 2015
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County Durham
Don't underestimate the significance of the positioning of the toolrest. I'd been positioning it at what I thought was just below the centreline for spindle turning with a Robert Sorby Turnmaster and found I wasn't getting it to work anything like the guy in the youtube videos. So, in addition to marking out centrepoints on the ends of the blanks, I marked centre lines on all four faces too. With the machine switched off I presented the tool to the blankand found the cutting edge to be a good few mm above the centreline. Occurs to me now that I should perhaps have thought to factor in the thickness of the tool when determing height of toolrest. Anyway, dropping the rest down so the cutting edge was at or just below the centreline on the blank made one helluva difference to the ease of cutting and the sense of safety. I've now cut a block to act as a collar on the toolpost so I know it is always at the right height. I then tried it with traditional roughing and spindle gouges and results - particularly with the former - was much smoother and easier. Hope that helps.
I don't disagree with what you are saying, it shows how difficult it is to try to teach yourself. Anyone who has been turning for some time will adjust the tool rest automatically without thinking about it.
This is why it's often recommended to purchase Keith Rowley's - Woodturning A Foundation Course, join a local club &/or take lessons.
Don't forget that your height setter is only good for that particular tool, or if you're lucky, several tools. The body will compensate for minor discrepancies.
Lazy turners like me don't adjust the tool rest until we are forced to.
Well done & keep going, but best of all, enjoy. It's supposed to be a fun hobby not a chore.
Bought the book. Maybe his previous life coming through so at times it was bit like reading transcript of a beat bobby giving evidence in court. I was in the process of joining a local woodworking club, got one hands-on evening under my belt days before the lockdown so it's been largely a case of watching loads of videos on youtube and some trial but mostly error on the lathe. Can be exasperating but extremely rewarding when something goes right.
As good as guidance and shown examples by other turners is at getting you underway to turning relatively safely and efficiently, don't underestimate your own ability to develop a style and turning methods that suit you, its your workspace and the satisfaction with the completed project that matters.

We are all different in stature and dexterity, if you find a niche process that gets you what you want with the tools you are comfortable with then go for it and evolve your turning from there.

Concentrate on the quality of finish, how you got there is irrelevant other than to a turning purist.
In time you will develop your own style preferences and cotton on to a twist in tool use or control that slides the turning process into a new comfort zone.

Unless you intend to be a slave to a commercial market where others reap a high percentage of the benefit of you turning efforts it is only your pleasure and self satisfaction that matters.

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