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View mathguy1981's profile

Opinion - using a metal lathe for wood turning?

by mathguy1981
posted 12-06-2018 04:07 PM


18 replies so far

View BHZ's profile

BHZ

22 posts in 1518 days


#1 posted 12-06-2018 04:17 PM

Dad did with his, I still amazed at how he was able to control the in-out, left-right hand wheels to form smooth curves.

I just welded this tool rest to use.

View mathguy1981's profile

mathguy1981

94 posts in 444 days


#2 posted 12-06-2018 04:18 PM

Yes, exactly, you’d just need to add a standard wook workers tool rest. That’s what I’m thinking….Looking for someone to explain why it’s a really bad idea, because the ability to do both is intriguing….

-- Two thumbs and counting

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

11394 posts in 1678 days


#3 posted 12-06-2018 04:32 PM

The biggest downside is getting wood dust in the all the nooks and crannies. Bearings probably aren’t sealed, lots of gears in the headstock and carriage apron that are oiled and exposed. Oil+sawdust=sticky film.

The biggest problem is that metal-working lathes don’t spin fast enough. For instance, my South Bend metal lathe has a high speed of 1200 rpm. My Delta woodworking lathe has a high speed of 4000 rpm.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7502 posts in 2738 days


#4 posted 12-06-2018 04:43 PM

Sure you can do it… as long as you can get the lathe to run at the speeds needed. Metal lathes use super slow speeds compared to wood lathes, and usually won’t turn fast enough unless modified to do so… for example, my South Bend 9” lathe has a top spindle speed of 630 RPM.

Also… oil, sawdust, swarf and wood chips don’t mix well.

As sort of a side-observation – just about everyone I know who has a wood/metal band saw uses it for a single material (ie: wood or metal), and rarely switch between the two. Those that do so frequently have two saws… one dedicated to each :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

11394 posts in 1678 days


#5 posted 12-06-2018 04:48 PM

And, just to add on to what Brad and I said about the speed, it’s not just a matter of putting a faster motor or changing the drive pulley to speed it up. The bearings on a metal lathe most likely aren’t going to be up to handling those kinds of speeds.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

1962 posts in 1947 days


#6 posted 12-06-2018 05:06 PM

^ditto what Brad & Kenny said
I have used my metal lathe to center drill a piece of wood because it’s accurate for that sort of thing but actual wood turning, no way. It’s a precision machine with lots of exposed oily parts to collect sawdust

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mathguy1981

94 posts in 444 days


#7 posted 12-06-2018 05:09 PM

Okay, that makes sense. I hadn’t considered the spindle speed differences.
Thanks guys! Guess I’ll have to pick my poison and get one or the other.

-- Two thumbs and counting

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

11394 posts in 1678 days


#8 posted 12-06-2018 05:12 PM

I don’t know what you had in mind as far as turning metal but, you can turn soft metals like brass and aluminum using wood turning tools on a wood turning lathe. Of course you don’t have the precision of a metal turning lathe but just food for thought.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

1962 posts in 1947 days


#9 posted 12-06-2018 05:15 PM

Also, a bit of advice. Be prepared to invest at least a couple if not several hundred in tooling for a metal lathe, that’s assuming you get some sort of tool post with it. If you want to turn wood primarily pickup a wood lathe and have fun – the investment in money and time will be much lower. Then decide if you want to devote the space and money to a metal lathe.
With that said my metal lathe isn’t going anywhere, and I plan to upgrade to a better wood lathe than the old HF one I have now but it does work just fine

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1453 posts in 3300 days


#10 posted 12-06-2018 05:58 PM

As was said earlier, expect a problem of wood dust working its way into the sliding/rotating parts of the machine. This can reach a point where the sliding/rotating parts become jammed and won’t move! I can testify to this as I had to partially dismantle a metal lathe to clean it out. The carriage was locked up tight! Metal lathes have very close fitting parts with an oil film on them that adhere the wood dust and jam the workings.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View mathguy1981's profile

mathguy1981

94 posts in 444 days


#11 posted 12-06-2018 05:59 PM

Thanks everyone, you certainly gave me the points I was looking for to look before I leaped. I need a bigger shop, I’ve decided, LOL.

-- Two thumbs and counting

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

11394 posts in 1678 days


#12 posted 12-06-2018 06:01 PM



Thanks everyone, you certainly gave me the points I was looking for to look before I leaped. I need a bigger shop, I ve decided, LOL.

- mathguy1981

Hey, whaddaya know, me too!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2758 posts in 2674 days


#13 posted 12-07-2018 11:30 AM

Could spend lot of time on CL looking for a wood lathe that is any good. Not sure what you want to turn but Harbor Freight’s 12” x 33” wood lathe not that expensive. Can see reviews at their site & on this one.

-- Bill

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

11394 posts in 1678 days


#14 posted 12-07-2018 01:57 PM

I’ll recommend their midi lathe for a beginning lathe as well if you’re interested in smaller stuff like pens and tool handles and smaller bowls.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

690 posts in 443 days


#15 posted 12-08-2018 12:05 AM

We have found that our local woodturning club often announces (by email) lathes that are being sold by members. If that fails they may resort to CL.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View doubleG469's profile

doubleG469

855 posts in 984 days


#16 posted 06-25-2019 04:58 PM



I ll recommend their midi lathe for a beginning lathe as well if you re interested in smaller stuff like pens and tool handles and smaller bowls.

- HokieKen

Sent you a message on the Nova Comet II I have for sale. Great lathe to start your addiction on.

-- I refuse to edit the photo orientation for this website any longer. It’s an issue they should address and correct. Gary, Texas

View Randy86314's profile

Randy86314

1 post in 132 days


#17 posted 07-08-2019 04:23 AM

My Jet 1340 GHB is about 25 years old. Even before I took my first woodturning class eight years ago, I was trying to figure how to “adapt’ it to woodturning. I like to make bowls, and I don’t do much spindle work, except for homemade tool handles. I bought a 5MT arbor blanks which I installed in the spindle and threaded 1-1/4—8 tpi to hold my Nova chuck. The toolrest puzzled me. How could I make a banjo style tool rest fit on the ways of the metal lathe? I finally decided to make a special holder to fit on the carriage, replacing the standard tool post.
I worry about dust in the bearings, but not too much. The top spindle speed is 2000 rpm, faster than I need for turning 12 inch bowls. It would be nice to have a variable speed dial, but I don’t have space in my studio/shop/garage for two lathes. The major obstacle to bowl turning is that the tool handle hits the chip pan on the back side of the lathe; I now have a short handled bowl gouge for initial cuts from the top of the bowl. I suppose I could turn in reverse and work from the near side. Yes, I know. It’s dusty.
I attached a few pics.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5770 posts in 3783 days


#18 posted 07-08-2019 04:23 PM

Metal dust build-up is just as much of a problem as wood dust is; it may be worse. Metal is much more abrasive than wood dust. I see no reason for not using a metal lathe for wood as long as you clean it up well afterwards. You can put some cardboard down on the ways to help keep them clean. The usual procedure for turning on a metal lathe is to first wipe clean any oil and grease before turning and re-lubing after done turning. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but if you want a lathe to provide long service, it needs to be done. Aside from a metal lathe not having a high enough speed, I find that really hard woods turn well; not so on soft woods. Using razor sharp HSS tool bits can cut wood as well as the wood turning chisel.

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