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Lathe advice needed

1306 Views 16 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Phil32
So I finally found a lathe for a decent price so I bought it. It seems fine. No bearing noise or anything like that. Everything moves and operates smoothly. So as far as I know (which is very little) the lathe is in good operating condition. I turned my first piece on it. It was/is a hobo reel. It was a pain in the rear. Pieces of wood were flying off, I couldn't get it to be nearly as smooth as I thought I would be able too. It's pine that I cut several years ago so that might be the issue. The chisels could probably be sharpened a bit but really they don't seem dull to me so they probably need honed more than anything. Does anything I'm doing stick out as wrong? Is pine not a good turning wood? Or is it where it's old pine? I've got some maple, cherry, oak and probably a few more choices I could turn but I'm not realy excited to have pieces of hardwood fly around
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Relax… it's your first piece… it will get better ;)

Pine is a PITA to turn, but it will teach you some good lessons. If you can get good results on pine, then you can turn just about anything with ease. I'd suggest you first make sure your tools are sharp. The chip out you seem to be getting can be caused by dull tools, as well as insufficient speed. Find a construction site dumpster near you and stock up on scrap wood to practice on. It's free and plentiful. Watch some videos, keep practicing - you will in no time get a feel for things and start figuring out what needs to be done to correct issues like the ones you are having.

Some pine is coarse grain that is prone to chipping. Try some cherry and maple.
Ditto what the others say. The best free wood to learn with, IMO, is Bradford pear if you have them in your area. They frequently break due to ice or storms so I can almost always find some in my neighborhood. What you find will be green and wet so could be a little messy at first but it is a dream to turn. If you cannot turn it, then the tools sharpness is likely your problem. For some good videos, I recommend Brain Havens on Youtube. His explanations on technique just make sense to me. Doc Green's website has good descriptive write ups too.

One other thing to check is that the tails stock is pretty well lined up with the headstock. A little off is usually not a problem but if it is way off, that can cause problems.
I have a craftsman lathe a earlier version of your. One thing that happens when using spur and center if you get a catch Even small one you will need to add a bit more pressure on the tail stock.
Once the spur center gets loose the wood will wobble from loose hold.
It's a good lathe for small stuff. The bearings in the head are very small so don't expect too much more then what a harbor fraud offers.
Good Luck
First off that particular piece of pine appears to be in a mid-stage of decay so that didn't help your problem and I agree Pine can be problematic to turn. You need really sharp tools and the faster you can make it rotate the better.

I seldom "hone" any lathe tool but the skew. Scrapers cut on the burr created then resharpening on the grinder of belt sander. I'm going to catch some contrary flack on that statement…..

Many new turners like and some even prefer the carbide tipped scrapers because they don't need to sharpen them….although you can touch them up with a diamond stone. A lot can be done with scrapers but they do have some limits and I find HSS scrapers do a better job. I use carbide for roughing cuts.

You may be headed down the rabbit hole of wood turning. Most of us never get out of it….

Hard woods like fruit tree wood, maple, walnut, birch, and others are usually easier to work with because there is less chance of "tear out". Soft woods like pine, fir, western cedar, can be more difficult. Wet or undried wood is easy to turn (good to practice on) but you always have to deal with the chance it will crack as it dries. There are ways to deal with that but no guarantees.

It won
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Congrats on the cool lathe find!

When I first started turning my wife bought me a class at a local Woodcraft store. That was a tremendous help. We were fortunate enough to have Scott Phillips as our instructor for the day. If you can, I would recommend taking a turning class. It helped me understand the machine, the tools, and the various techniques for spindle turning, faceplate turning, and how to use things like a Nova chuck.

May it go well with you my friend.
Tools need to be sharp, but turning tools are different vs hand tools, ie chisels and plane irons. As mentioned all but the skew and a couple other use the sharpening burr left on the edge. Figure out how you will sharpen and get good at it.

Turn a wood bowl, Mike Piece, Robo Hippy, and Capn Eddie Castilin have utube vids to help turners (there are many others). Turning is not as simple as it may seem, at least to be good at it. There are many ways to get to the same end, and it can be confusing.

That type of lathe is limiting in many ways, but good enough to figure out if you like to turn. Just dont spend much $ on accessories etc for it. If you find you like turning get a better lathe. You can see a few of my turnings on my LJ's projects.
...Find a construction site dumpster near you and stock up on scrap wood to practice on…
- MrUnix
That may not be good advice. Depending on where it's located, you may be committing trespass, particularly if the construction site is posted. Removing material from a construction site, particularly after hours may be construed by police as theft. It may get sorted out eventually, but it won't be pleasant.
That may not be good advice. Depending on where it s located,
- mawilsonWCR
Been doing it for decades, never had a problem. Use common sense of course. YMMV.

And these days, with the price of lumber, I see less scrap going into dumpsters. In the past, companies were glad to give scrap away, saving dumpster space. But now, the insurance risks make dumpster diving a rare privilege.
Thanks for the advice guys. Between my property and another couple places I have access to roughly 150 acres so I'll avoid a trespassing charge and use what I have permission to.

I've tinkered with it a few more times. The wet maple definitely turns better. I am having another issue though. On the tail stock of the lathe the pin (not sure that's what it's called) is very fine and when turning I either have to constantly crank it tighter (and it'll bottom out and burn in the stationary piece) or it will spin loose and throw the piece of wood off. I'm guessing I need to find another piece for the tail stock that is more of a wider angle? Here is some pictures of what I'm saying doesn't make sense
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The red lines show where that piece came off twice. The dark spot was where it was starting to burn


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That is a dead center (does not spin), which is what was used for millennia and still is. Yes, you need to keep it locked tight and constantly checking to make sure it is. Put some wax on it to lubricate and prevent burning, and apply as needed as you progress. But you will most likely want to get a live center that spins with the work piece. They are cheap and available wherever turning supplies are sold. Not sure exact model, but yours appears to be a 113.23881 or very similar and should have an MT1 taper in the tailstock.

As mentioned, Dead Center (tailstock center that doesn't spin) is probably what came with the lathe. You most use wax or oil to help from burning from the friction. What many have done is to replace it with a Live Center (tailstock center that spins freely). Something similar to these.

You most use the Morse Taper that fits into tailstock. MT1 and MT2 size Morse Taper are available. As MrUnix stated, it's most likely MT1.

Sometimes I'll drill a small hole in the wood blank center, before I mount it. Small enough hole so the center-point fits tight but I'm able to mount it flush to the live center when I tighten the tailstock. That outer circle on the tailstock center helps to keep center when it contacts the wood. You will still need to check that the tailstock is keeping snug or tight on the blank. Keep tightening as necessary.
I didn't read through all the posts in their entirety but another thing to consider when turning "wet" wood is the moisture from the shavings. Make sure you clean up your work area well and clean off and oil/wax your lathe and tools often to prevent rust.
In some of your photos it appears you may be using tree limbs as turning stock. This may cause you problems. The compression & extension forces are different on the upper & lower sides of tree limbs, so the wood may respond differently on opposite sides of your turning. If possible, use stock from the tree trunks only.
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