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Never used a lathe, have a couple of questions

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Ryandotdee

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Hi Guys

I am going to be purchasing a lathe in the next week or two, most likely the entry level Axminster one. I would like to start by turning pens and rings, but I am a bit confused as to what I need to get. So far, the equipment I know I need to pick up is :

A lathe (duh)
A pen mandrel
Barrel trimmer
Some turning tools ( probably start with a roughing gouge and a skew )

I cannot work out whether I need to buy a chuck? And I also am not sure whether I need some kind of mandrel for rings to be mounted on the lathe?

Axminster have 3 packages going for the lathe, 1 includes a set of HSS tools, 1 has a chuck, and the other has a grinder. I was going to buy one of the packages, but as budget is a bit tight at the moment, I wanted to make sure I am buying the right bits. Would be grateful for any advice for someone starting out!
 

Dalboy

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Personally, I would go with the chuck offer as you can get a cheap grinder and buy tools as you need them.

Whichever deal you go for you will still need one of the others at some stage. The chuck is a very useful piece of equipment allowing you to turn bowls and other items, I am sure you will want to have a go at them sometime in the future
 

Ryandotdee

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phil.p":ylf21iro said:
You might get away without a chuck, but you will need a grinder of some kind, no matter what.
Buy a copy of https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Book ... 1-_-image1 before you go much further. A newer edition is better.
Hi Phil, thanks for the response.I guess I am of the youtube generation and do not own much in the way of actual literature! That being said, I will certainly take your advice and pick up a book. I have a pretty well stocked workshop (sans turning equipment) so the grinder situation is already covered, I should have stated that the grinder + lathe option was not being considered due to already owning one.

Could you give me a brief outline on situations / tasks in which a chuck would not be needed vs when it is?

Many thanks again for the input.
 

Ryandotdee

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That would work":2c4bddsw said:
I would start with some other work first? things that are a bit less exacting.
Thanks for the response, could you elaborate a bit? Do you mean bowls, goblets etc? I am a complete novice when it comes to turning so from my standpoint most of the different types of items you can make look just as hard as eachother lol
 

Ryandotdee

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Dalboy":3fpv6pxn said:
Personally, I would go with the chuck offer as you can get a cheap grinder and buy tools as you need them.

Whichever deal you go for you will still need one of the others at some stage. The chuck is a very useful piece of equipment allowing you to turn bowls and other items, I am sure you will want to have a go at them sometime in the future
Thanks Dalboy

I get what you are saying, whilst at the current point in time I do not fancy getting into bowls etc, I have not turned a single thing in my life so who knows which direction I might end up going once I start, I guess I had just not realized that there are a load of other bits that go into wood turning, In my naivety I thought I just needed to pick up a lathe and a chisel.

Food for thought indeed
 

RickG

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Hi Ryan,
I too am new to turning. I've been doing it for about 6 months and turned about 20-30 items, some are on the sideboard, others went in the scrap box for "further processing".

If turning a piece of wood was totally predictable it would get boring, but wood has grain which will affect how the cutting tools will cut or bounce off and not cut. Wood will also split and "move" as it dries out. So, as you start working on a nice, "interesting" lump of tree you'll find things happen that cause pieces to fly-off or cut in ways you weren't expecting. If this is a bowl, you can react to these events of excitement and change the design and keep going and a tall vase can become a shorter item, or a pot or bowl. If you're turning a pen, it has to be pen shaped; slim, straight and comfortable to hold. There's less tolerance for change in design.

As you get better at the craft, the "excitement" can be managed to be more predictable and you will begin to end up with items looking more like what you had in mind when you first cut the log into something to mount on the lathe.

At the risk of preaching: This practice will be fun and like learning all skills; it's a journey with no destination. There is no "destination", you will always be learning. Enjoy the ride.

You'll probably need a few tools; Roughing gouge, spindle gouge, parting tool, bowl gouge and scrapers. Yes a Skew is good, but some find them challenging. Be gentle and get to know it.

Join a wood turning club if you can. You'll then see demos and get to talk with others who've been doing it for years.

On the grinder - you'll need fine grit wheels; if you don't already have them. The standard grit ones on a normal bench grinder will eat your gouges in no time.
 

Dalboy

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Just to point out something with a chuck this will allow drilling pen blanks on the lathe with the correct set of jaws. This is a better way of drilling the blanks rather than using a drill press
 

Ttrees

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If the deal is either a chuck, or a box of chisels, then its definitely
the chuck, as you could use just about any old chisel in the end of the day
and get a gouge for heavy cuts later.
Not uncommon to see starter boxes come up for cheap.

Tom
 

Lons

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+1 on the chuick option, has all sorts of uses. There's a huge selection of turning chisels both new and secondhand, fewer options for chucks.
Which chuck do they offer btw?

EDIT:
Just checked and it's an SK80 which is a decent chuck imo and accepts a range of available jaws so future expandable.
 

Chris152

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Ryandotdee":2wlznlkh said:
So far, the equipment I know I need to pick up is :
A lathe (duh)
A pen mandrel
Barrel trimmer
Some turning tools ( probably start with a roughing gouge and a skew )
Don't forget a face mask and, if you might be making much dust in future (I guess rings and pens won't make much?), an extractor.
 

nev

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A chuck definitely gives you a far greater scope of things to make as skills progress and will be used almost constantly. However if you are using a pen mandrel to make ..er pens, you do not require the chuck, the morse taper of the mandrel fits directly into the headstock and the other end is held by the tailstock. You will need a 'live' centre on the tailstock (live = it spins around) so if the lathe doesn't have a live centre you'll need one ( I would guess most new ones do but worth checking).

You can also make a simple pen from start to finish just using a roughing gouge or just using a skew chisel - a roughing gouge is a lot simpler to master.

Just remember all chucks/ live centres and mandrels need to be the same size / fitment to your specific lathe, thread size for chuck and morse taper (MT) for the rest.
 

Ttrees

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Is the mandrel used after you've drilled a hole in a block?
Never thought of doing it that way, then again I'm no turner.
Thanks Nev

Tom
 

nev

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Yep.
Cut blocks to approx size (20x20x length of brass tube +2mm)
drill hole through for tube.
glue tube in block (epoxy) (push each end of brass tube into a slice of potato to block the tube, stops the glue going in ;) )
when glue has dried push out potato and use barrel trimmer or sanding block to clean and square ends
slide tubes over mandrel, order being usually End bush/(top)tube/centre bush/(bottom)tube/end bush, and carefully tighten thumbwheel/ nut.
place mandrels in headstock, bring up tailstock.
Turn wood down to bushes, sand and polish.
remove, assemble, write :)
 

Simon_M

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Ryandotdee":2696bg2n said:
I cannot work out whether I need to buy a chuck? ... would be grateful for any advice for someone starting out!
For pen turning you don’t need a chuck and most pens are turned with a mandrel that fits in the headstock e.g. an MT2 fitting. For bigger workpieces you don’t “need” a chuck, but you may find one “useful” later on, when some methods which avoid the need for a chuck become tiresome, when you’ve done them time and time again... in woodturning (and woodwork) there is usually more than one way to do something.

One thing to realise are that lathe “sellers” are not lathe “makers” and you will quickly realise that many of the products are (but for the colour) and a few minor differences all starting life in only a handful of factories in China...

If you live near Tiverton then you have the opportunity to go and “look at” some the smaller lathes that are available. The products e.g. the “red” route (ones) takes you to the Axminster store and the “blue” or “green” route (ones) takes you to Yandles shop - there may be others too. That’s to say there’s Axminster, Record Power and Charnwood and others.

There is mostly a “degree” of compatibility between the lathe and the accessories used. Across the Axminster range of lathes, they mostly all use MT2 in the headstock and tailstock, so the same pen mandrel can be fitted to any of their lathes and the same Jacobs chuck used for drilling holes and for holding small items. Many of the other manufacturers are the same (MT1 is not very common except for really cheap stuff).

Someone starting out might think it’s a “safe bet” to buy “new” but even quite “old” lathes (if well looked after) still work. Three pieces of advice often given are always to buy “up to what you (just) can’t afford” and also always “just a bit bigger than your (immediate) needs” and “never assume you made the perfect choice and won’t upgrade anytime soon”. The woodturning “journey” has many routes and it’s not uncommon to start with one intention and find that your interests change (requiring new tools). New woodturners are keen to make a start, but you absolutely don’t need to buy everything new, or all at once. You also are not beholden to the same manufacturer e.g. a Record Power Chuck will fit on an Axminster lathe.

Look at the For Sale section of the forum (or ask at a Woodturning club) and you will find nearly new or very well looked after products to make your initial spend go further. If nothing else it will show that what’s bought new today has a reduced value to someone else tomorrow! Like cars, you can buy new, nearly new and get almost the same and buy petrol/diesel/electricity elsewhere - (perhaps) not a good analogy.

If products are mostly the same, do you just buy on price and warranty differences? Not always, the new prices vary but not as much as the difference between new and S/H and the warranty lengths don’t always tell everything. Axminster have a 3 year warranty on all their machines and their Service is excellent. Record Power have a good reputation and offer a five year warranty but there may be differences. One advantage of buying S/H is that the seller may (invariably) have other “essentials” to sell on that are much more favourably priced e.g. chisels, grinding, sharpening jigs and other tools - the “essentials” list is unfortunately quite extensive. It’s easy to think the lathe is the thing - but it’s just the start!

Not relevant to the question, in the For Sale forum I recently sold my first bandsaw - you will see a section copied from the manual and also confirmation about transferring the warranty - so for “nearly new” that’s a good thing e.g. peace of mind. It applies to all their machines too. But other manufacturers are different e.g. they might as well say “we give the first owner (only) a XX year warranty (so sell it and all bets are off if you buy S/H)” - you get the idea? Axminster prices reflect their Service (so good, doesn’t come cheap) e.g. both are towards the top end and S/H prices may not hold up particularly well.

For the lathe you are interested in there is one or two “hidden truths” buried in the spec: “Both the headstock spindle and tailstock barrel are bored to take 2MT accessories, with the spindle having the common 1" x 8tpi thread”. For the uninformed, this “truth” also means a degree of “pain”when you (almost invariably) need to get a chuck later or upgrade the lathe later on, as a larger spindle size is almost invariably offered on your next lathe e.g. M33 x 3.5 and buying a 2nd chuck becomes a necessity.

That’s not (absolutely) a problem e.g. the Axminster lathe can be used with a Record Power Chuck, and an RP SC4 chuck can be bought with a kit (very good value too) and it’s mount can be exchanged for a new insert for (only) £15 so far cheaper than buying twice IMHO. Choosing a chuck becomes more of an issue after you buy different jaws for it and soon you are “locked in” to one system - so choose carefully. FWIW, I don’t own a Record Power Chuck and I like the range of Axminster jaws that are available. The “special offer” with Axminster is not quite the bargain it seems (and only one of three specials), because you may later regret the “lock-in” and it’s not “free”. Put simply, if the Record Power Chuck meets your needs, it’s best to look past the small initial price differential. RP also have a smaller SC3 chuck, but like Axminster chucks it has the “problem” of being a specific fit.
 

Simon_M

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Here’s a link to a pen turning mandrel - this one requires a spindle with MT2.

https://www.yandles.co.uk/planet-pm2-un ... -2mt/p4785

I have the “blue” Planet kit, so it has a collet type mandrel. Because of a mix up, I received the mandrel (as shown). Later it was replaced with the “correct” one. I actually prefer the one I don’t have because the collet can be hard to release and this one uses a grub screw which works well and has no issues - also cheaper. The firm that makes it is near me and they couldn’t be more helpful.

Here’s a link to some fine finishing blocks. They can take a sanded wood (also acrylic) pen to a glass like finish and seem to last and last.

https://www.axminster.co.uk/micro-mesh- ... ves-211364

There are “smaller sized” woodturning tools specifically for pen turners but “normal” size ones work fine (for me) so no need to buy twice IMHO.

The drill bits for pens are matched to the available tube diameters. I have a set of three “long” drills but I have only ever used one and even a “medium” length one will work e.g. drill both parts separately. I made a jig (no vice available) for my pillar drill to get the holes right. Could be used with a Jacobs Chuck in a lathe - PM for details.
 

MusicMan

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It may help a bit to point out that there are two basic types of turning: spindle turning and bowl turning. In the former. the wood grain runs along the axis of the lathe and you make pen barrels, chair legs, table lamps, woodwind instruments etc, using gouges and skew chisels. You need a chuck OR a steb center (a spring loaded centre with notches to grab and turn the wood) and a tailstock with a centre. The steb centre is convenient for learning spindle turning and is fine for solid things like legs. Cheap and fast. But you can't easily mount small hollow things like pens. These are easy to mount in chucks, or on mandrels. The mandrel itself is often mounted in a chuck but this can also be a jam chuck: mount a scrap piece on the faceplate with screws, and drill a hole from the tailstock or freehand with a narrow gouge so that the mandrel jams in.

In bowl turning the wood grain is transverse to the axis of the chuck and you use gouges and scrapers. You usually start one side on a faceplate (screw into what will be the inside of the bowl), turn the outside and a dovetail recess for the chuck, then reverse and hold in a chuck for the inside. But lots of variants are possible.

Anyway, a chuck is a very useful thing to have, as is a drill chuck for the tailstock, though turners did manage for a few thousand years without them!
 

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