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Fun with a Clarke lathe, sort of

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just can't decide
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John Mess,
it's never easy to recomend a wood lathe, there's just to many options including you....
I'd say buy the biggest you think you'll need or slightly bigger, make sure if poss it's heavy and made of cast iron.....
the cast iron content has ruled a few out already.....
bench top models are OK, if the bench is sound, ridgid and heavy....but I prefer a free-standing jobby.....
Probably, not many will agree but the VB lathe at around £4,000 used could be said one of the best there is....
so there you go, second hand from a few hundred squids up to thousands....
I'd say for 500 -800 you would get something a bit better than the Machine Mart Chinese specials out there....
AND there is nothing wrong with Chinese machines, it's just the likes of sellers getting them made DOWN to a price....
the likes of Axminster etc must make a profit to offer their services, nothing wrong with that but they will be buying them it at around 1/2 the sale cost....so I must say used is the way to go...unless your flush......
most lathes at the few/several hundred pound mark will have never been used in production, so hardley worn out.....
and things like bearings and motor's are cheap and easy enough to fix.....provided the cost of the machine reflects the problems......
My Wadkin RS must be over 40 years old and will have certainly been a production machine,
was I bothered not in the least.....pretty much everything is fixable except badly broken castings and then thats not the end of the world.....
join your local turning club, even 2 of them if you can....
you will prob find your next lathe there and be able to try it out first....
Plus the hands on experience that comes with like minded lads...
and being a club member there will be help to move this heavy lump of Iron your going to buy......
take your time to look.....
make it fun.....
 

Ron Tock

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fascinated, by the replies on here, a lathe spins a piece of wood and a chisel carves it, apart from varying the speed what difference does the brand name make? why would you advise anyone to change make of lathe? everyone has a preferred manufacturer and lets be honest most of the machines they put out are just badged from China, save your money learn how to use the lathe you've got otherwise you are going to be one disappointed wood turner.
It's not just a matter of preferred brands. I've never attempted to use a Clarke CWL1000 Lathe but, just looking at it, it strikes me as a rather flimsy and possibly unsafe piece of equipment. Yes it spins wood but a spinning log is a potential hazard as soon as you switch the thing on. The moment your tool makes contact, the potential hazard is multiplied. At the very least, you need a stable structure that will not flex and distort under pressure... and the Clarke CWL1000 clearly does not meet that criteria.
Additional properties such as variable speed, swivel drive head, chuck compatability and so on are a matter of preferance depending on the type of work indended (and, of course, budget). I noticed one reply here declaring that you HAVE to have variable speed. No you don't. It's certainly convenient but hardly a necessity. Variable or manual speed is a trade off between ease of use and cost of maintenance. If problems such as 'idling' or loss of torque occur with a manual speed control machine, it can be one of two causes: (a) the grub screw in one or both of the pulley sets has become loose (remedy: tighten it) or (b) the belt has become worn (remedy: replace it). Simple to diagnose and fix. Variable speed machines can also experience idling or loss of torque and may well be as simple as loose pulley sets or worn belt... or it could be a fault in the electronic circuitry. This latter issue is not uncommon and, unless you know your way around a circuit board, is not something that can be fixed by the user. When the electronics of a variable speed control go wrong, it may result in idling or stopping altogether, which is annoying but not dangerous. But it can also result in 'racing', which you definitely don't want to happen when you're turning a heavy out-of-balance log.
 

Bob Chapman

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luckily for me I had just turned off the lathe when the chuck unwound, still spining it hit the lathe bed and shot off to the floor. I am thinking it was my own fault maybe I did not tighten it up properly
The answer is in your post: You had just turned off the lathe. The spindle stopped rotating but the weight of the chuck and whatever was in it caused it to continue rotating and this is what unscrewed it. Possibly tightening it more onto the spindle may have helped but the real problem is that the lathe stopped too quickly. Overtightening the chuck onto the spindle can result in later problems removing it. As someone has already said, try to slow the speed before stopping. If you can't do that you have a serious problem.

Your problems with a bowl gouge are very likely caused by using it at the wrong angle. Beginners always want to hold a bowl gouge with the flute (the 'groove') pointing vertically upwards (12 o'clock). A bowl gouge is not (never?) used this way. Rotate the tool around it's axis until the flute is at about 1.30 - 2.00 o'clock, or 10.30 - 10.00 o'clock, pointing in the direction you are intending to move it. Cut with the lower edge of the tip. Keep the cuts small until you get the hang of it.

As far as getting another lathe, always think second-hand before new. Lathes are very simple machines and there is not a great deal that can go wrong provided it's not been dropped from a great height (well, any height). Look on eBay. A spindle thread of 3/4 by 16 tpi or 1inch by 8tpi is pretty standard and you get things to fit these threads almost anywhere.

My last bit of advice (you'll be glad to hear) is JOIN A CLUB. They are a wonderful source of information and expertise. Join the club before buying another lathe and start asking around. Good luck
 

Democritus

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I agree that the choice of lathe very much depends on what you want to do in turning, and, importantly, how much you have to spend. If you have a limited budget but want higher end specs, then the used market is the place to go.
I was a bit perturbed by the comments saying that chucks can fly off the lathe. I have three chucks, two Record power SC4’s, and an EasyWood chuck that my generous wife got me after seeing me drool over one at an exhibition.. All three have grub screws that need to be tightened once the chuck is wound fully on to the headstock spindle. This prevents the chuck coming loose. In any case, the thread direction on the spindle is opposite to the direction the spindle turns. If anything, I would expect sudden stopping of the spindle would result in a tightening of the chuck on it, rather than it becoming loose enough to fly off.
I’m sure we have all had the experience of struggling to unscrew a chuck, perhaps with the need to use a knocking bar as a lever in the jaws. Because of this jamming, I now routinely use a cork or plastic washer between the chuck and spindle.
D.
 

Robbo3

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In any case, the thread direction on the spindle is opposite to the direction the spindle turns. If anything, I would expect sudden stopping of the spindle would result in a tightening of the chuck on it, rather than it becoming loose enough to fly off.
I’m sure we have all had the experience of struggling to unscrew a chuck, perhaps with the need to use a knocking bar as a lever in the jaws. Because of this jamming, I now routinely use a cork or plastic washer between the chuck and spindle.
D.
The wood is rotating downwards towards you. If the lathe stops abruptly the wood tries to keep going. If it succeeds then the chuck starts unscrewing.:)
Lathes are made to different tolerances. My old Draper WTL90 had to have the chuck tightened with a piece of batten across the jaws. A washer cut from a milk bottle helped. My AT1628VS only requires the last inch of travel to be fast to lock any chuck in place - no tools required.
 

Democritus

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Thanks for that Robbo. I think I now understand the issue , although I have difficulty in imagining a situation where a lathe stopped dead producing sufficient torque for the chuck to unscrew completely, but I suppose it is possible. All the more reason to ensure that chuck grub screws are tightened down before switching the lathe on. I have the Axminster 1628VS and am always careful to tighten the chuck grub screws. When I first got the machine, on one or two occasions I forgot to unscrew them and remembered only when I’d struggled for a time to get the chuck off. Fortunately I did minimal damage to the spindle threads. After that, I wrote ‘ Tighten/unscrew grub screws!!!’ on the headstock. I’ve not done it since.
Best wishes
D.
 

crossg7mwh

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It's not just a matter of preferred brands. I've never attempted to use a Clarke CWL1000 Lathe but, just looking at it, it strikes me as a rather flimsy and possibly unsafe piece of equipment. Yes it spins wood but a spinning log is a potential hazard as soon as you switch the thing on. The moment your tool makes contact, the potential hazard is multiplied. At the very least, you need a stable structure that will not flex and distort under pressure... and the Clarke CWL1000 clearly does not meet that criteria.
Additional properties such as variable speed, swivel drive head, chuck compatability and so on are a matter of preferance depending on the type of work indended (and, of course, budget). I noticed one reply here declaring that you HAVE to have variable speed. No you don't. It's certainly convenient but hardly a necessity. Variable or manual speed is a trade off between ease of use and cost of maintenance. If problems such as 'idling' or loss of torque occur with a manual speed control machine, it can be one of two causes: (a) the grub screw in one or both of the pulley sets has become loose (remedy: tighten it) or (b) the belt has become worn (remedy: replace it). Simple to diagnose and fix. Variable speed machines can also experience idling or loss of torque and may well be as simple as loose pulley sets or worn belt... or it could be a fault in the electronic circuitry. This latter issue is not uncommon and, unless you know your way around a circuit board, is not something that can be fixed by the user. When the electronics of a variable speed control go wrong, it may result in idling or stopping altogether, which is annoying but not dangerous. But it can also result in 'racing', which you definitely don't want to happen when you're turning a heavy out-of-balance log.
The fact that you stated you have not used the Clarke machine is fair, but then you go on to state its flimsy, let me tell you it takes two blokes to lift that machine and its heavy enough not to move when being used, and where did the assumption come from that the moment the tools come in to play it will go wrong, that applies on any machine if one is inexperienced and does not know how to use the machine. I believe the same was said of the radial arm saw, how dangerous it was / is, but its no more dangerous than a table saw or a sizer / planer if in the wrong hands. sorry guys but I think a little more thought needs to go into some of these answers.
 

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