Playing around with a wood lathe trying to get a chip.

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Iroko loco!
18 Nov 2012
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In me workshop
Hello folks
Going to have another go at this, as just arsing around at the moment making incremental
changes as I go along.
Will be turning another dowel, and attempting to get it aligned I suppose,
so that might be a bit of a rabbit hole itself.
This design lathe needs work, but am going to try putting that off for a while.

Just wondering what you think might be that I'm doing wrong.
Made a cutter out of an old drill bit, the cheapest titanium nitride coated bits from the pound shop.
Surprised I was actually able to cut it with a hacksaw, so that's likely the first thing folks will be saying.
These bits did however drill this material that I found on the road.
Haven't used fancy bits drilling it at any stage.
Guessing it's some part of a bushing from a truck, as there was rubber bonded to it.

Making a spacer to replace the orange one.

Dressed the end of the file (ala, Bill Carter) to prepare a flat bottom which wouldn't rock about when drilling.
Should have had my calipers out and not just the square.

Traming the table to make sure it was square

Thought I'd got the bottom square, but hard to know with the stock being out of round.
The tram found something was a skew,
Could have found this out with my calipers, just having fun with the big calipers instead

Another wee lick on the base of the vise needed doing too.

Some sort of a center line was created with this wooden tool, not a great job but enough to get an idea.

Me auld drill is still needing some attention, belts and bearings, but got the job done eventually.

Only bit of solid square stock I had for the tool holder, was my bench grinder rest.
Just fumbling around for a half hour adjusting heights angles and whatnot with no joy.

Thinking of making a cutter from a file, but I was expecting to get some sort of a cut,
if even for only 5 seconds.
Is it a case of not being sharpened correctly, I actually filed it after very rough grinding,
(another tool which needs attention)

Just wondering if you folks would say making cutters for the lathe is like sharpening drill bits,
i.e nothing happening until its perfect, and then all of a sudden the chips are flying?


Sorry don't have a good shot of the cutter, but there's relief near all over, and a wee chamfer honed on the tip.
Messed around with the tool in the holder to see if there was not enough or too much relief.
The drill bit end clamps very solid so can rotate it.

Changed angle to try and get clearance for the top with no success either.
Guessing the tool needs to be dead on center all of the time for this outer dimensioning process?

Just for laughs I stuck the lathe tool rest back on, and had a bash with the end of a few files with no success of any scraping or anything.
I've watched some folks freehand curves on youtube, and IIRC this guy suggests the tool should be high, but that's for another day, I was just expecting something...
No free lunch as the the man says!

Love to know what ye think
Likely will attempt to give this cutter another lick with the hones, maybe check for clearance
like with sharpening drills .
Going to make a new dowel, and possibly improve the shenanigans which possibly just obliterated the edge instantly with the ham fisted antics I was doing earlier.

Attempting to use this lathe instead of grinding to dimension, as its very messy.



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The back end of a drill bit is too soft. Have you got an old TCT saw blade? Try cutting a tooth off that, leaving a wedge of blade to hold in the vice.
Ttrees, Sorry but I find it painful to read why don't you PM me your sizes and contact details and I will cut a bush for you and you just stand the cost of postage
That's extremely kind of you Phil, but keen to get some use outta this lathe,
might as well be a new tool to me, as it was in an inaccessible location for as long as I've had it.
Kinda making one end of the shed more suitable for metalworking, and got plenty of space now.
With the lathe at hand now, seems a shame not to use it.
i particularly had my eye on this cheape lathe, as it's a good basis of one with it's flat bed, and I can likely weld up some system from plates, maybe even buy or make a cross slide vice for the job in future.
Have quite a good supply of mild steel at the folks.
Not a good idea to try and do all at once.JPG


Could grind this well enough for the task, but I'll likely be wanting to turn metal again if I can get a chip.
The vice up is not even a lash up, and I can see why it would irk some folk, not to mention precision engineers!
Not going to figure out something regarding a cross slide yet, unless I have to.

Will be attempting this with some more steels, files is whats likely to be on hand, don't think have carbide in them cheap stone cutting discs... worth seeing if its any good.

Just expecting something, will be interesting to see if that will solve things.

Once again Phill05, that is very nice gesture to offer, what a great community there is here.
Pondering a bit more about this, and I was surprised that the end of a pointy half round file wouldn't make much of an indentation.
What I didn't mention earlier was that I ground off the faces/ends on the bench grinder,
and wondering if this lump of steel could have a hardened skin, for whatever reason.

Might try filing or grinding the surface first, as it would be nice if I could use drill bits.
There is two folks on youtube who demonstrate this, although it's highly likely that the steel is quite a bit better than the cheapie bits.
I keep my expensive bits for hardened steel, and not keen on sacrificing one, maybe if I had a cross slide knocked up, I might be less frugal.
A good chance I have a few broken bits at the folks too.

Seems to be worth another shot getting this cutter to work, if even just for one chip, it would be encouraging.

Here is one video about making tooling from drills

And possibly a more interesting watch, which doesn't seem to be as popular as it should be?

Why is the Turnado interesting, well it proves that the tool doesn't need to be clamped rigid to actually cut, so it suggests to me something is very wrong, and might only be some minute issue which I'm overlooking.

Very optimistic speculation on my part as of yet, I know,
but interesting to note that either the fella in the video above, or the other dude which made a similar video mentioned that this took him the guts of a year to have success grinding these tools.
Even if that's just a month to get that prefect grind down for the basic work I wish to do,
it suggests that there is more than meets the eye to getting the knack to it.

(it's not like there isn't a bunch of folks on youtube who have great videos on the subject of grinding tooling)

Keen to find out more in a bit

Hello again
Been watching a good few videos on the subject, trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.
Tried using a few other things, the edge just getting obliterated on near everything (bar a concrete drill bit) in a few seconds.

Thought I'd look into case hardening, and seen one fella has a warning about the tiny chips being highly prone to wearing a lathe bed...
Moreover he mentioned that case hardening can be up to about 5mm, so for most bits of scrap makes it a non starter.

This could very much be the case, as I went back to the bench grinder thinking I hadn't ground it enough.
I "spun" the spacer on the dowel and was surprised by the mess, seemingly a lot harsher on the wheels compared to doing this with stainless.
No noticeable hard spots, and I ground this slowly hand turning beforehand, seemingly
without as much wear on the wheel.


One would think that a file wouldn't touch it, but no skating on any part of the piece, (went over everything twice)

The only thing which touches this is a hacksaw blade
Must try a new one out, considered somehow stacking a load of short lengths onto some sort of holder, but seems a bit of a faff, might seem worth it but its my last Bahco blade, and I don't want to mangle it.

Whilst mooching about, (not wanting to sacrifice a cobalt bit)
I remembered some mentioning concrete drills having carbide bonded to them.
Seems the smallest works the best, I tired a few, but nothing really resembling a chip yet.

Some more shots of the work, if you can make out that half the finish differs from the other half.
This could be due to the bore being oversized on one end,

(was going to cut this shorter, whether end result component is good enough or not doesn't matter, as the turning is a project in itself which interests me)

Can't be sure why the hole ended up oversized as the machine needs new belts, maxed out, so took ages to drill due to having no torque.

Nonetheless, the dowel is tapered, so that shouldn't be a problem.
It's still out of round from the grinding, obviously things are not going right, as that shouldn't take long to get done.

Wondering what you guys think?
These two photos below are either side of the work, taken two seconds apart
i.e, not worked again.


Don't have a working angle grinder to attempt cutting an old TS blade to source some carbide from.

Seems the uber cheapie Kinzo masonry bits might be the hardest sacrificial thing I have at hand,
I haven't a clue whether its carbide on the tips or not, that's why I've attempted a large one pictured, (was broken beforehand)

Might it be an idea to attempt to grind a better profile into it?
Seems like I still have some sort of an edge left on it, saying that, all of the cutters I tired seemed sharp, albeit a bit shorter.

Might phone my local engineering to see how much an insert might be,
although I'm not sure how well those might fair with my cowboy antics.
I likely have some very suitable plastic like derlin to make a spacer from, so doesn't make much sense to go out buying tooling.

If anyone has any other ideas on where to acquire some carbide, I'd be interested.
Guessing you can't cut that plate all too easily with an old hacksaw blade.

magic 5.jpg

Maybe I should make another test with some known mild steel pipe, and see how I get on.
Would like to be able to turn some metal in the workshop.

Tom, I've read this twice and can't work out what you're actually trying to do. Turning metal on a wood lathe is always going to go badly as they aren't rigid enough, the ways aren't tight, they spin too fast and don't have enough torque. If you send me your address and cover the postage I'll send you some hss and brazed carbide tool steel, you're really just going to hurt yourself grinding files.
@TFrench Thanks for the very very kind offer, what a great bunch of folks here!

I might have a bash with some pipe to see if it's this lump which is the issue.

I would have thought that rigidity isn't much of a concern (regarding just getting a chip)
as the turnado isn't a locked tool, i.e
it's up to the user to provide the pressure to the tool.

Not using the bed, much like the turnado, have some derlin like slab on the lathe bed,
and this is only a mess around, if it works, I will make it a heck of a lot more rigid.

Same goes for the rest of the lathe, i.e headstock could do with a revamp, as its a
real pathetic excuse of design.

Interesting comment about the speed, I seem to recall turning things a bit faster on a large car sized Colchester lathe which I used for a fortnight.

Agreed with the torque comment, but at the same time it isn't an issue which has come up yet, as I can't get a chip in the first place to bog the motor down.

I don't epect this to be anything comparable to a metalworking lathe,
and would be happy if I could get it to work in a cowboy sort of way,
i.e having to do a wee bit of filing to clean things up.

Don't know when I'd need to turn metals, but likely as frequently as I'd need to make
a handle for a file or chisel, which isn't often.
(I've only reorganized the workshop to use this lathe, so that might tell you how often the machine was used)

I have some Derlin or similar super plastic/composite material which I hope will have enough meat to make the bandsaw wheel bearing spacer from,
so all this is for the craic.

Not having much (real) experience with carbide, bar a machine course few years back
on a Bridgeport mill and Colchester lathe, drool! :)
Didn't learn of the all important details, which arguably would have been apparent on a hobby machine.

I'd be interested to see if the carbide would be the answer.
I suppose the only way of knowing is by turning some pipe instead, so can see if its the tool hardness issue, or if it's something else.

If I had a chuck for this lathe, then I would have been experimenting a long time ago,
but the opportunity has never came up until now.

Once again thanks for the offer, but I value the input and criticism more than the tooling,
as I could visit some places to get this done if it were important.

The idea still might have merit though, should this uber dense composite not be so kind to a wood turning chisel anyways.
Might be tomorrow before I can get to that stuff though.

Might add a video for fun later, didn't see point in uploading it, but just to see what ye think might be going on.
Seems everyone who likes fancy machine nick nacks but also on a budget should have some knowledge of the turnado, or some other easy method of making specialist wee parts.

Thanks again

It looks like this job is more about the means than the end, but this would certainly give you a helping hand, especially if you plan to do this more than once:
I would say the setup in the penultimate photo of post #7 has too much flex. You can’t do much about the flex in the wooden mandrel, but the drill bit should be clamped right up close to the vice. If it’s ground sharp properly (such that it will score your thumbnail), and nicely on centre height it should be cutting. Use the tailstock point or the steel rule method to get on centre height.
Thanks for the linkey!

That's one variable which I hadn't given much thought.
Your comment about the flexing of the bit, which I guess TFrench was getting at
also, might have hit the nail on the head.

In one sense one could call an out of round workpiece, and vibrating cutter
a doubly interrupted cut, or just a pile of:poop:

I wonder does both these issues together make duffing the tool happen 50 times quicker
than it might do otherwise.
I am going to have a mess around to see if I can improve things, and report back.
I feel I might be wasting your time speculating rather than trying something else.

Gonna take you folks suggestions on board and try with some scrap pipe.

What other use do I have for a half a bed post, but to make anther mandrel ?

Wait a minute, don't answer that ! :ROFLMAO:

Thanks again folks


To be fair Tom, this thread is becoming more & more interesting as
it proceeds.
My money's on that you won't get a chip out of it with your present
panapoly of tooling material, but I would love to be proved wrong.
:D :D
I would second the above advice regarding rigidity. After a hard, sharp
tool, rigidity is crucial, otherwise it will just flex the tool and workpiece
apart causing rubbing instead of cutting.
Watching with interest, good luck and keep at it. (y)
The turnado works because it has the foot of the tool holder protruding forward underneath the cutting tip which takes the load.

I struggle to get pipe to turn nicely, its gummy soft steel - I assume to help with flexibility with expansion/contraction in steam lines.

I've a friend who just uses a battery grinder when he wants to make metal parts on the wood lathe - "agricultural" fit, but it gets him out of trouble when he needs it.
Hello again
Not tried to turn some pipe yet as I'm doing other stuff yet.
That piece was case hardened and nothing would touch it,
eat my 8" wheel for breakfest ☹
On the bright side I've figured out the ultimate wheel dressing tool.😅

the most success I had was
with a carbide tipped tile and glass bit, but I was getting nowhere with it.

Just posting again as I was chuffed working some plastic, very nice smooth and easy to use.
I can't imagine it not working with some softer metals, and have some other bits to mess around with in future, as I think I'll be keeping this plate on the lathe.


We taps of the mallet advancing the cut by a just a tiny amount, looking at the finish rather than needing a depth stop, very pleased with how easy this is.
.....say's I without having even inspected it.
Everything is a bit higgildy piggildy on this lathe to presume anything,
but looks like its well worth making into a proper fixture which would slot down into the bed rather than being clamped.


Hopefully this isn't too far into the realms of inferior materials for ye,
or indeed my bandsaw.
Perhaps I should have warned ye beforehand! 🤮