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Wood that can't be turned?

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Forum topic by Oldtool posted 09-21-2020 11:24 PM 741 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Oldtool

3062 posts in 3077 days


09-21-2020 11:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple lathe

I’m a novice woodturner, and I’m in the middle of a country table project that requires turned legs, and I’m having a very difficult time turning the wood I have for the project, without catches and tearout, and chip out. I’m asking, am I barking up the wrong tree here with this hard maple, never to be successful?

The table is soft maple, but the saw mill only had hard maple in stock in twelve quarter, so I took it.

As I try to turn the leg, this hard maple, which has continuously reversing grain, looses big chips, is difficult to get my tools to cut it smoothly, and catches happen regardless of how slow & careful I apply the tools to the work.

I’ve sharpened and re-sharpened the lathe tools. My skew is sharpened as well as I sharpen my plane irons, which cut the same wood pretty well. Continuous honing of the tools with diamond hone blocks does no good, even as I sharpen I manage to create a burr.

The only way I can get this maple to cut fairly well is by using a very slender spindle gouge, which would take me three years to use on these 4 legs.

Following are some photos of the events I’ve encountered, along a good sections completed via spindle gouge, and a successful cherry pommel I turned with skew to see if this was all me causing the problematic results.

Please let me know if I need to scrap this hard maple & move on to secure some better wood, maybe soft maple. Any comments are welcome & appreciated.

Thanks

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln


22 replies so far

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

4794 posts in 2508 days


#1 posted 09-21-2020 11:29 PM

kinda takes the fun outta turnin doesn’t it ?
I have to tell you that I haven’t made it up to novice on the lathe yet so anything I say would not be right but I know there’s a lot of guys here that do know. They’ll chime in – -

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1982 posts in 3074 days


#2 posted 09-21-2020 11:43 PM

I’m barely a novice woodturner, so I also don’t know a solution. Hoping someone chimes in with the silver bullet.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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Woodknack

13503 posts in 3266 days


#3 posted 09-21-2020 11:54 PM

Assuming the tools are sharp and presentation angle is right… Speed too slow or excessive vibration, the first can cause the last.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Eeyore's profile

Eeyore

62 posts in 102 days


#4 posted 09-22-2020 12:06 AM

I’m no expert, but the way I was taught turning, you only use the gouge until the stock is round. Then, you switch to scrapers. If your square stock isn’t balanced, that could be causing the vibration Rick mentions.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

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Aj2

3422 posts in 2684 days


#5 posted 09-22-2020 12:27 AM

My guess from a thousand miles away is your using spur centers. After you rough it out round did you tighten up your center.
Another possibility is your using a low quality lathe from Horrible freight.
If not there’s still hope.

Good Luck

-- Aj

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2735 posts in 1049 days


#6 posted 09-22-2020 01:04 AM



My guess from a thousand miles away is your using spur centers. After you rough it out round did you tighten up your center.
Another possibility is your using a low quality lathe from Horrible freight.
If not there’s still hope.

Good Luck

- Aj2

I agree that the tension between the centers could have loosened up a bit.
it could also be a combination of other factors: speed, sharpness of tools,
tools sharpened at the wrong angles, tools held at the wrong angle, yada yada yada.
and believe you me, I have had more than my fare share of snags, catches and tear routs !!!!!

I am on my 2nd HF lathe in 30 years and I have turned some pretty fancy things on it.
I would not blame the machine just because of its brand.

a video of the table leg being turned may shed some light on the issues and concerns.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

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TheDane

5868 posts in 4549 days


#7 posted 09-22-2020 01:10 AM

Don’t blame the wood … hard maple is (IMHO) a very good wood to turn.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

3062 posts in 3077 days


#8 posted 09-22-2020 01:14 AM

In the event anyone who commented returns for follow up, thank you. As for the lathe being a Horrible Freight, yep, right on the money.
I appreciate all suggestions and will attempt to check all conditions for possible solution, except of course getting another lathe.

Thanks all for the responses.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3734 posts in 2380 days


#9 posted 09-22-2020 01:37 AM

+1 from a 2000 KM away it is very hard to do more than guess?

+10 Total novice in wood turning. So don’t feel bad.

+1 Could be related to using slow speed, lathe issues, stock vibration due poor balance, or wrong tool.

Looking at cuts, I see a couple signs that cutting angle is wrong and cut depth is too aggressive for shaping?
Adjust the tool rest and try different angles?
Have you tried higher speed? Spindle shaping is done at higher speeds than roughing out square.

+1 Try a scraper.
Deep gouge cuts are fine for roughing out material, but best to switch to scraping action for shaping (regardless of tool). With right rake angle and cutter relief angle should be able to just touch wood and remove shavings not heavy strips. Plus, hardest wood requires sharpest tools and more patience.

Now for some turning Blasphemy:
Personally, I don’t like wood turning as it requires a lot of time/patience/skill if you are following a plan.
Trying to make copies of table legs drove me nuts. Would have to make 7-8 to get 4 good ones.
IMHO – Free hand wood turning is for artists, just like wood carving.
And #IAMAKLUTZ tool abusing wood worker, not an ar-TIST.
BUT Give me a metal lathe where tool location is controlled with hand wheel and I can make anything. :-)

If/When you decide to give up, can buy spindles from Osborne or Adams. That is what I do these days, when I can’t convince someone else to make them for me.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1551 posts in 2921 days


#10 posted 09-22-2020 02:40 AM

Contrary to what you might think, a nicely sharpened 3/8 spindle gouge with a fingernail grind is exactly what I’d use on this. Well. At least on the finishing cuts.
I’d use a 3/4 or 1” spindle roughing gouge for the rough out.

A few key things.
1) DON’T overtighten the tailstock. It’ll cause the spindle to bow up, and whip as it turns. I normally get it tight enough for the spur center to get a good bite, then back off until it’s loose, then just snug it up enough to drive it.
2) work from the tailstock towards the headstock. Or from the center out. The biggest problem areas are usually in the middle because that’s the greatest potential for the work flexing. So start there first.
3) A very sharp tool and a good presentation angle are key. You want to cut rather than scrape. There are lots of YouTube videos on the subject, if you can’t find a local turner who will help you. If you go to the AAW website you can find the contact information for a local club. Basics ABC: ANCHOR the tool on the tool rest with the cutting edge above the center line (handle down), and not quite touching. Run the BEVEL carefully up the to center line of the spindle. then raise the back of the handle up until the cutting edge just starts to CUT. You can get a peeling cut this way fairly easily. It takes more of an angle to get a planing cut.
4) DON’T press the tool in too hard. You want to have as light a tool pressure as possible, and cut. If you press hard, then the stock will flex out of the way, bounce back in, and VOILA! you have chatter that you can’t seem to get rid of.

It takes some time to become proficient, but it pays off.

I highly recommend contacting a local turner if possible. They’ll be only too glad to help.

PS. Oh, and Maple is an extremely good turning wood. (I actually don’t know any that I wouldn’t recommend actually… well maybe some soft woods like cypress or white pine- but even those can be turned with good sharp tools and a good technique… Or with a lot of sanding!)

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

3422 posts in 2684 days


#11 posted 09-22-2020 02:50 AM



In the event anyone who commented returns for follow up, thank you. As for the lathe being a Horrible Freight, yep, right on the money.
I appreciate all suggestions and will attempt to check all conditions for possible solution, except of course getting another lathe.

Thanks all for the responses.

- Oldtool

If your absolutely set on that lathe for now I recommend you replace the bearings with some newer sealed one.
They wouldn’t cost you much and most likely they will be a million times better then the ones that are in there.
I have a older craftsman lathe of the same style and it’s ok for Small stuff. Small bowls,knobs and such only.

Can you post some of your turnings Johns and make a believer out me. I have contempt for anything horrible freight.

Good Luck

-- Aj

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2735 posts in 1049 days


#12 posted 09-22-2020 03:05 AM

Tom – hard maple is 1450 on the Janka Hardness Scale.
I recently turned some Marblewood and it is 2532 on the hardness scale.
it is more fibrous than maple and splinters easily. but after a few minutes
of adjusting the speed and knowing the wood, it wasn’t that hard to turn
and came out rather nice.
I think that your issues just comes down to not having enough experience.
we all have traveled the learning curve. (I stay on it like a hamster on his stupid wheel).
even the most experienced bowl turners have catastrophic episodes now and then.
it is fun part of woodworking.
as mentioned above – purchase the legs that you like and spend your lathe time
making “one of a kind” pieces. I would rather take a beating than turn legs or spindles.
it just ain’t my cup of tea. and I have only turned one bowl since high school shop class.
(and that was around 1964 I think).
stick with it – you’ll get there. (some of my Harbor Freight turnings are on my projects page).

John

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2735 posts in 1049 days


#13 posted 09-22-2020 03:24 AM

AJ – sorry I never took many photos of my turnings but here are a few for now.
all done on my HF lathe that is about 15 years old (my second one – the first one
I put over 20 years on it – and never had any issues with either of them).

and yes, the brass, aluminum and stainless heads were also turned on the same HF lathe.

and when I was doing work for the military, I turned dozens of prototype and pattern
disks for award plaques. I turned the the 6” round disk out of mahogany then cut all the
graphic elements out by hand and glued them up in layers. I purchased the small plastic
letters and glued them on individually. then I made a silicone rubber mold and mass produced
the plaques by the hundreds for the military commands. (that was good money right there).
some plaques were 12, 18, 24 and 36” diameter. pretty big for an old HF lathe.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

3422 posts in 2684 days


#14 posted 09-22-2020 04:32 AM

Those look nice John. One year I made a bunch of coffee scoops on my craftsman lathe. I also bought a one way chuck that’s worth more then my lathe.
I really like turning but not on my crappy lathe so keep it small..
Small turning can still be very rewarding.

-- Aj

View John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2735 posts in 1049 days


#15 posted 09-22-2020 12:11 PM

OldTool ~ something I thought about last night; the length and diameter
of the wood you are turning may be at the point where it needs a Steady Rest.
if you are experiencing ANY wiggle or wobble in the wood while turning,
it can cause catches and other annoying things.
after you play around with the higher speed and tool associated adjustments,
you may find that to work better. if not, look at the Home Made Steady Rest
on YouTube to see how it works.
all the best,
John

TIP: keep the chips cleaned away from the work area as often as possible.
that way, “when” you have a big chip knocked out, you can find it easily
and glue it back in.

.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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