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graduate_owner

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Back to the original post - I have seen that same lathe advertised as clarke, lumberjack, vevor, sip, and several other brands in a variety of colours - all the same basic machine and, unfortunately, all chaiwanese [email protected] I know that sounds harsh and i don't want to offend but I have read so many comments from disappointed users who have been lured into buying one because of the price. If you take up turning as a hobby then you will definitely want to upgrade so, as you mentioned, anything you buy for it needs to be 'upwardly transferable'. It's all very well for me to say things like this, I know, but I really don't think you will develop your skills greatly using that lathe - you will forever be working against it's limitations. If you are taking up a hobby then surely you want to enjoy it, not tolerate it. So where to go from here? Well certainly save up for a better lathe, and since obviously budget is a limiting issue (isn't it always?) then the way to go is second hand. Look for a well respected make (minefield). There are however some makes that you just know are going to be reliable and well built, such as the older UK made machines - Myford ML8, Union graduate or Jubilee, Denford Viceroy, Record, Coronet, Tyme and Arundel are all oldies but goodies. I started with a Black and Decker drill attachment which was ghastly, but I didn't realise just how bad until I managed to get a Myford ML8. What a differnce, and what an eye opener. Limited in capacity, no frills such as variable speed, rotating headstock etc, but solid quality that will run all day, and will probably still be running when some of these chaiwanese things with whistles and bells have long since been assigned to the scrap heap. Just make sure, as has been said already, that whatever you buy is complete because people charge silly money for parts, and all those I mentioned are no longer made. Other makes are Jet or some form the Axminster range, but watch out for hobby / perform / craft range because these are not intended for continuous use (they used to suggest 100 hours max per year - that's only 2 hours per week, and no, or very few, periods of continuous or heavy use. So an indication of build quality there, although I know many people love them.
I managed to get a union graduate bowl lathe with a few missing parts off ebay for £150 - couldn't believe it. It is now a complete unit and cost overall about £300 so bargains are to be had. ALso, if you see a lathe for sale with accessories, bear in mind that chisels, chucks, jaws etc could well be worth as much as the lathe.

Finally, regarding the family - you could say you will be foreever grateful to them for enabling you to get started, but now it is time to upgrade - as an experienced turner.

Welcome to the money pit.

K
 

Jameshow

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Back to the original post - I have seen that same lathe advertised as clarke, lumberjack, vevor, sip, and several other brands in a variety of colours - all the same basic machine and, unfortunately, all chaiwanese [email protected] I know that sounds harsh and i don't want to offend but I have read so many comments from disappointed users who have been lured into buying one because of the price. If you take up turning as a hobby then you will definitely want to upgrade so, as you mentioned, anything you buy for it needs to be 'upwardly transferable'. It's all very well for me to say things like this, I know, but I really don't think you will develop your skills greatly using that lathe - you will forever be working against it's limitations. If you are taking up a hobby then surely you want to enjoy it, not tolerate it. So where to go from here? Well certainly save up for a better lathe, and since obviously budget is a limiting issue (isn't it always?) then the way to go is second hand. Look for a well respected make (minefield). There are however some makes that you just know are going to be reliable and well built, such as the older UK made machines - Myford ML8, Union graduate or Jubilee, Denford Viceroy, Record, Coronet, Tyme and Arundel are all oldies but goodies. I started with a Black and Decker drill attachment which was ghastly, but I didn't realise just how bad until I managed to get a Myford ML8. What a differnce, and what an eye opener. Limited in capacity, no frills such as variable speed, rotating headstock etc, but solid quality that will run all day, and will probably still be running when some of these chaiwanese things with whistles and bells have long since been assigned to the scrap heap. Just make sure, as has been said already, that whatever you buy is complete because people charge silly money for parts, and all those I mentioned are no longer made. Other makes are Jet or some form the Axminster range, but watch out for hobby / perform / craft range because these are not intended for continuous use (they used to suggest 100 hours max per year - that's only 2 hours per week, and no, or very few, periods of continuous or heavy use. So an indication of build quality there, although I know many people love them.
I managed to get a union graduate bowl lathe with a few missing parts off ebay for £150 - couldn't believe it. It is now a complete unit and cost overall about £300 so bargains are to be had. ALso, if you see a lathe for sale with accessories, bear in mind that chisels, chucks, jaws etc could well be worth as much as the lathe.

Finally, regarding the family - you could say you will be foreever grateful to them for enabling you to get started, but now it is time to upgrade - as an experienced turner.

Welcome to the money pit.

K
Use the old lathe as a sanding machine. Cut off the "bed"🤣🤣🤣 and mount a disc and a small table in front of it.
 

Lazurus

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@Dusty Ears whereabouts in Norfolk? There are many clubs depending where you are (Not a member myself) also if you have a local mens shed they may well have a lathe and someone who can advise you. I would recommend Lyle Jamieson on You tube, he has a simple practical approach to turning and is a very competent instructor. Even a cheap bench grinder can produce fast repeatable grinds if installed with a white or pink wheel, the main thing is just enjoy what you are doing and stay within the limits of the lathe and your experience - final tip, don't make the inside larger than the outside ;)
 

Fergie 307

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I was going to say practice in some small projects and show the family the results, and your pleasure in them. Then you can approach the difficult subject of wanting to upgrade the lathe. Looking at what you've achieved so far you are well on the way. There are some great used machines out there, and if you enjoy the idea of refurbishing and giving some TLC to an old machine then you are having fun before you even put a piece of wood in it.
 

kinverkid

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knowing that soon when all the stars align with Uranus o_O you will have your nice shiny new lathe within your reach (y):).
Good advice from Mark. Especially getting the timing right or it won't just be the stars aligned with Uranus.


My third attempt some tearing but overall I'm quite pleased with it.
You should be proud of your first attempt too. It's too long ago to remember what my first turning was let alone what the quality was like. But it was on a really cheap nu-tool badged lathe. I had it for a few years before I could afford another lathe but it did help me work better with what I had so getting to grips with the new lathe was a doddle.
 

joethedrummer

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I could be wrong but would bet a weeks wages ( at present retired so you may have to wait a bit ;) ) that your dilemma at the moment is not what lathe you would like to have :unsure: but just how are you going to broach the subject of wanting a new one to the good lady and loving children that took such pleasure at the look of delight on your face as you excitedly ripped the wrapping paper of what they believed the perfect present for you . Imagine the look of pain in the eyes of those you care most about in this world when you shun their gift :eek: . Bide your time my friend, at least for a little while , the time will come when the subject might be raised in casual conversation should you feel brave enough. While waiting for the opportune moment to strike, save your pennies for the best that you can afford and get some enjoyment / practice out of what you have ,knowing that soon when all the stars align with Uranus o_O you will have your nice shiny new lathe within your reach (y):).
,,very sensitive and very true,,,,
 

M_Chavez

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When it comes to machinery, then bigger and more powerful is always better. Every step that you take down the size/power ladder severely limits what you can do with the wood. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life.
Another unfortunate thing is that many of us have minor unnecessary non-woodworking budgetary distractions, like a new kitchen for the Mrs or food for the kids.

On the bright side, you never know what side of wood turning would turn you on (pun intended). I'm really getting into turning chessmen - vintage sets, going by old photos. Dubrovnik patterns, old Soviet sets, upright patterns - you can spend several years doing just that, never making the same design twice. My underpowered Record is well up to the job and I currently have no interest in turning large bowls, etc.
If you start off with finer work (small jewellery boxes, pens, jewellery, etc) then you probably won't be limited by your 400W motor or by the flexing bed & tailstock.
 

Dusty Ears

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Thank you to those that posted helpful encouraging and "food for thought" replies. It is very much appreciated.

I need to focus on sharpening, the tip about using a sharpie or similar makes a lot of sense. If I can get this right then not only will I have gained a skill for the future, but will perhaps make things easier in the present,

The sharpening is a little more complex than bench chisels which seemed quite straightforward especially after watching many Paul Sellers videos.

I am based in west Norfolk, does anyone know of any clubs/other turners who are in this vicinity?

@M_Chavez I have been interested in learning to turn chess pieces, I have a brother in-law who plays and I have often thought of that as a gift. Do you have any sources of info on doing this? I had made an attempt at some pieces in soap stone with reasonable success.

Thanks again
Michael
 

M_Chavez

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As I've said, I'm no real wood turner at all - never turned anything apart from chisel handles (in fact, I bought the lathe mainly to turn bench chisel handles - I am very anal about their shape!) and small bowls before trying my first chess set.
I found the chessmen very easy to make, perhaps apart from carving the knight. Here's the one I'm making now - it's heavily inspired (may I say a "copy") by Bobby Fischer's "Dubrovnik" set that can be seen in all of his photos.

You need a 4-jaw chuck and a home-made wooden chuck to hold the piece. There's a detailed home-made chuck plan somewhere online (probably even on this forum) but the idea is that you turn a wooden base with a 20mm dowel sticking out of it to mount the pieces. The wooden chuck needs a through hole right through the middle where you stick a screw that holds the piece tight. So the idea is to drill a wooden blank first, then do a friction mount via the hole, so it's centered and then turn the 20mm profile. You can also turn various diameters on the wooden base to help you eyeball the chessmen bases to the right diameter.

I hope it makes some sense.

You can only mount the piece blank once to turn it with cutters. Once the blank if off the wooden base, it never quite goes back perfectly centered - good enough for polishing or doing minor corrections with sandpaper, but not good enough to use a cutter on it.

So you take the chuck (or both chucks, if the metal chuck is hollow inside and you can stick a screwdriver into it), screw a wooden blank onto it, mount it on a lathe, turn, sand, polish, take it off. Re-mount the piece for more sanding or polishing if necessary (it often is). Polish to a mirror finish, then put 2-3 light coats of 1-2lb shellac on them, for the classiest wood finish you'll ever see and feel.

Once the set is complete, you have these very handy holes in the bases, to fill them with lead shot (Since lead shot is mostly illegal these days, it's marketed as "RC Boat lead ballast", but it's just small lead shot really) and flood with epoxy to hold it all in place. You can play with weighting a bit - e.g. make the kings extra heavy, or add extra weight to the chunky rooks, etc. You probably want the entire set (with an extra queen of each colour for promotions) to be in the range of 1.6kg.
 

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M_Chavez

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I'd recommend doing a copy of some Soviet set first. They are quite easy to make, and the most comfortable to play - the smooth curves and minimalist designs just make the pieces an extension of your fingers.

Find some photos, stick them into something like inkscape (it's free), adjust to actual size, then you can take all the measurements.
Do some practice runs - don't start straight with snakewood blanks ;)
As a rule of thumb, use highly figured wood for minimalist designs, medium figure for medium decorations, and plain wood for highly ornate pieces.

You can find inspiration here:

You can choose from Soviet club sets, Soviet "Grossmeister" championship sets, Dubrovnik patterns, Northern Upright patterns (Edinburgh, Dublin, etc), Vienna patterns, dozens of Staunton designs (although, there's so many high end CNC Stauntons readily available that I think turning something more exotic is more fun), etc.

Have a good read about the right sizes for a chess board - you want to keep the king height and base diameters within a certain range for a standard 50x50mm square board. Sometimes it's better to scale the pieces down or up. In particular, Soviet sets tend to look very crowded if not scaled down (I think they used to play 60x60 squares but I might be wrong).

Just be wary of any of these websites claiming that they are selling accurate reproductions, as most of them just look at photos and make something that looks broadly like the picture - eg there's 3 different "Tal" sets, and only one of them is copied from a real Soviet set; There's about 4 actual Dubrovnik patterns all claiming to be "the" Bobby Fischer set, and about half a dozen reproductions that don't look anything like the original patterns anyway :ROFLMAO:
Don't go for an accurate copy - just turn something that looks nice.
 

M_Chavez

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Also, always make sure you have a wooden buffer between the blank and the metal chucks & centers. When working on something this small, it's inevitable that your cutter will slip, and it's a lot better if if slips into a wooden stop, than into steel.
 

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Wood&StuffLtd

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Cherry is very prone to splitting if you try and dry it in the round. If you want to make bowls, I would suggest rough turning it when wet, leaving the walls perhaps 1" thick, and painting with pva. Let them dry slowly, and when they stop loosing weight, you can turn them a second time. Some will split, but most won't if you are careful.

Wet turning is a really good way to practice too. It is a lot softer and more forgiving than seasoned. I also have a similarly underpowered lathe and turning in 2 stages means it can handle much bigger pieces than otherwise.
Not to every ones taste but you can turn split wood.
 

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