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Dealing with shakes in timber

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RichardG

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I'm making a simple lathe stand and trying to use up some new oak sleepers left over from a garden project. The stand is basically a big saw horse with some additional bracing between the legs.

I've dimensioned the oak but some of it has some very bad shakes, I've attached photos to give some idea, these bits are to form the legs. I can squeeze the shakes together using a clamp so have glued and clamped them to see how it turns out. I'm also thinking of gluing several dowels through them, I'm not worried how it looks as long as its strong. However, my gut is telling me this is really firewood.

Any thoughts?

Richard
 

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MikeG.

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Utilitarian workshop kit..........those bits will be fine, glued up (so long as you keep the joints away from the shakes). Be aware that sleepers are unseasoned, and you are using it as if it is seasoned, so you can expect more of this sort of issue. Don't, whatever you do, approach timber for a piece of furniture for the house in the same way.

Isn't that a bit slim for legs for a lathe? I'd have thought you would want something substantially chunkier.
 

RichardG

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Thanks Mike.

The sleepers are probably 3 years old so I was hoping they wouldn’t move too much more....perhaps I should measure the moisture content now I’ve cut them.

The plan was to have the larger section running lengthways but have a near full height plywood gusset joining the legs at each end, like a saw horse, so legs can’t spread in that direction. Bad idea?
 

Oddbod70

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As per Mike. I've seen, and used, worse. It's Oak.

It depends on the size of the lathe. I’d suggest making sure that shakes are not too serious (they don't look it from the photos). You really don’t want it giving way with a 10kg bit of wood doing 3000rpm! And secondly they do look a bit thin!

TBH I’d probably not go for it personally.
 

marcros

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what lathe is it? assuming it isnt something huge, I would knock something simple together and try it, particularly for height. Plan to make a more refined version if necessary.

I bought some joinery timber, and used 2 6x2 lengths on edge with piece in between to make it about 6" wide. I fitted 4 splayed legs from 4 x 2 or more 6x2, I forget. For what I turn it was a bit low. I added a scaffold board to raise the height a bit.

I did a bowl turning day a few months back, and I hadn't realised that the ideal height for this was much lower than for the pens, tool handles and the small diameter stuff I normally turn. If you are new to turning, work out what is best for you, which may involve standing on a board or raising the stand to experiment.
 

RichardG

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what lathe is it? assuming it isnt something huge, I would knock something simple together and try it, particularly for height. Plan to make a more refined version if necessary.
I’ve been given a Record Power CL3, old blue version plus some turning tools. I’ve never done wood turning before so the plan was to knock up a stand using the timber I have, hence the oak sleepers, and then see how I get on with some small bowls. I’ve based the design on the metal version that RP supplies.
 

marcros

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that isnt a huge lathe so I would say go for it. you will soon learn the limitations of the stand. it may need some additional weight, so I would add a shelf that you can pile with bags of sand or concrete blocks.

plenty of designs around online, you should be able to design around the timber that you have.
 

Jackbequick

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I'm making a simple lathe stand and trying to use up some new oak sleepers left over from a garden project. The stand is basically a big saw horse with some additional bracing between the legs.

I've dimensioned the oak but some of it has some very bad shakes, I've attached photos to give some idea, these bits are to form the legs. I can squeeze the shakes together using a clamp so have glued and clamped them to see how it turns out. I'm also thinking of gluing several dowels through them, I'm not worried how it looks as long as its strong. However, my gut is telling me this is really firewood.

Any thoughts?

Richard
Hi..You haven't mentioned the Lathe details..(timber turning? or steel?..weight... length) which Mike and others thought about. Ideally the bed for a lathe will be quarter-sawn seasoned hardwood wood. The legs of course have to provide stability and not get in the way. One looks for perfect horizontal, no twist no stress and ideally a tray, say 1/8th inch for the lathe.

The timber you have isn't too bad even for a bed however when cramping and gluing my (i.e. personal) approach would be to 'only just' cramp the wood so the timber doesn't want to spring when you release the cramps. Sure you could fill the gaps with say horse-hoof glue and maybe even similar timber sawdust or even resin but I'd be looking for stability in my local seasons.

Another approach with the gluing, if for a bed, would be to recess and pin (say 5/16th set bolts, not set screws to bind the the crack with just enough tension to 'bite' after filling the crack with glue but not close the gap. The recess on either side would be enough to hide the hex head (I wouldn't use a coach bolt) and the nut and thread...no protrusions.

If the crack/s is/are in the legs some good 'wrigglers' which are not so deep as to bind and end up being really belted-in might be an ideal stabiliser.

If your timber is for legs I'd also be looking how I was going to truss it all together so as to have it work itself in a stable way as the timber expands and contracts.

I personally prefer steel for lathe benches but topped-with as said quarter-sawn (say 4-6 inches thick) reliable hardwood (not cedar..too expensive) such as spotted gum, good oak, beech or even chestnut if close grained (Maybe Maple of Cherry?...never used Cherry but...??)...You need of course a sawmill or provider where 'seasoned quarter sawn hardwood ' is clearly understood and that's with what you end-up. Some older wood blokes will understand very quickly if you describe the end use...

Others of course may disagree...what do you think of my suggestions Mike?
 

MikeG.

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........what do you think of my suggestions Mike?
I'd definitely avoid fixings through the cracked areas. These only introduce another point of weakness, and can result in another shake starting. The fundamental point, though, is that a lathe stand needs to be heavy, stable and sturdy, and so a big lump of steel is likely a better idea than a rather lightweight timber construction.
 

Jackbequick

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Mike...let me follow that through with you to get more of the thoughts....We can glue or leave cracks. Longitudial cracks (say like our friend's) may stay stable depending on seasoning and season...My concept there was to fill the crack with say horse glue (melted) and not squeeze but just 'bind' using fixings across the crack, perhaps 2 pertinent places...the idea being to neither compress the crack nor allow it to spring any more than perhaps a microcosm owing to the 'just binding' of the fixings....is that how you viewed my suggestion or were you thinking something differently. I don't know whether your comment was also with 'wrigglers' (I haven't seen one for years other than in my 'odd bits'...They were used in boxes even sometimes in binding for gluing but also to stem cracks...or of course by belting one into tight hardwood (not just genus such as the softer cedar and the like)perhaps weakening the area. If you feel like it you might delve a little deeper for me into your thinking where you see weakness in my suggestion. I'm interested.... (the man who has to know everything my son maintains).
 
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