Woodturning with....stone?

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Forum topic by Thunderhorse posted 06-24-2017 02:10 PM 952 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 1198 days

06-24-2017 02:10 PM

A little off topic but this curiosity has gotten then better of my wife and I. I’m a mediocre wood turner but I enjoy it and my work occasionally turns out pretty good. I am in the market for and likely going to purchase a new lathe as early as this weekend. My Rikon midi is just old and tired and frankly, not big enough to do what I want. I have a bunch of big chunks of mesquite and pecan I want to turn but they are either too big or barely fit and weigh too much to work on the old girl.

Anyhow, my wife….actually had a bachelor’s degree in sculpture. Why she hasn’t sculpted more even for kicks and grins is a mystery….I guess partly we are parents and working stiff debt slaves and all that.

So. My family has land with a limestone quarry on it. I used to be in construction and for a whole host of sad, ridiculous reasons, we got run out but kept the quarry that we lease to an operation so the bottom line is unlimited materials.

I’ve seen several videos of people turning alabaster or soapstone and of course in an industrial sense they have specialized lathes to turn columns out of everything from granite to marble to whatever.

Wondering what others though of this – if it were feasible. I’m afraid it would be too brittle. I wouldn’t use good wood turning tools, maybe carbides for detail work but mostly files and such I think.

I’m going to give it a go on the old machine set up outside for kicks and grins but I was curious what others thought.

-- Fear is a Liar

6 replies so far

View BobAnderton's profile


311 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 06-24-2017 02:46 PM

You’ll find this interesting I think. I think it’s going to depend on how consistent your limestone is, in terms of cracks and hardness variation and such. If you’ve got really nice limestone maybe it’ll turn pretty easily. Clicking around on the pictures here will lead to more.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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311 posts in 3647 days

#2 posted 06-24-2017 07:43 PM

These are cool too.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View bigJohninvegas's profile


802 posts in 2318 days

#3 posted 06-24-2017 10:11 PM

I have a friend who turned alabaster. I don’t have photos of her work, but it came out really good.
Very messy, and I would advise turning it outdoors. Respirator and goggles are a must. She also used carbide all the way.
Looking at a new Lathe. I got an email from Craft Supplies that both powermatic and jet were on sale for the next couple days for 15% off, and a couple of the powermatics were 20%. Phone order only.
I went to the web site for a link and its not there, but here are the ad photos from the email. Good through 6/26.

-- John

View Redoak49's profile


4881 posts in 2845 days

#4 posted 06-24-2017 10:48 PM

Limestone…..NO. I think it is way too brittle and when it explodes I hope you are wearing head to toe padded armor.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1732 posts in 2586 days

#5 posted 06-25-2017 12:21 AM

If SATX, indicating your location, is San Antonio, you probably want to make sure there aren’t any chunks of flint in the limestone. I have some limestone I collected near SA, but just because it had flint nodules in it, and liked the look. Never thought of turning it, but why not. .............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Thunderhorse's profile


35 posts in 1198 days

#6 posted 06-25-2017 02:50 AM

Yes, San Antonio.

I will keep that all in mind and A.) definitely doing it outside and B.) My wife is alot more safety conscious than I am which is saying alot because I am usually very cautious. I grew up around rock crushers and what not and she’s not doing it without a respirator.

I too am worried about how brittle it is and yes, we get a fair amount of flint in it but I think that can be avoided. I worry most about calcite crystal inclusions making it impossible to turn.

As it is now, she has a pneumatic chisel and hand tools.

As for the new lathe….I ended up getting a Nova 1644 II today. What an immense pain in the rear to get it unloaded and into the shop but we did it, its up an running but more about that later. It runs fine and all but I am grouchy.

-- Fear is a Liar

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