got the bug, got a lathe. now what?

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Forum topic by grampafred posted 04-03-2021 04:19 AM 783 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 51 days

04-03-2021 04:19 AM

i was looking through the fb marketplace when i saw an old craftsman lathe for $150. after finding out the model was from 1946 i decided parts may be hard to find. but i got the bug. i ended up buying a jet jml 1014. the woman i bought it from won it from a radio station and only used it a handful of times. it came with 2 sorby tools, a 1/8” parting tool and a 3/8” spindle gouge, also included was a nova midi chuck. well after playing for awhile my tools need to be sharpened. i’m looking at either a wen 4286 or the rikon 80-805 for the grinder, also a wolverine jig and vari- grind jig. are there any recommendations any of you would have? the next question is what brand tools would you recommend? what style, type? there are so many choices, it does get confusing. i know that i am limited with the size of my lathe. but i am interested in bowls, twig pots and possibly toying with resins in the future. thanks for any and all advise, fred

24 replies so far

View ibewjon's profile


2413 posts in 3874 days

#1 posted 04-03-2021 10:29 AM

You could try a couple carbide insert tools. You just rotate or replace the cutters. Easy wood tools is the brand I have. I would get round, and square. Don’t buy the short handle version, longer makes for better leverage to keep control of the tool. I also have standard tools, and am learning how to sharpen them correctly. Some don’t like carbide because they are scrapers, not shear cutters. But the carbide holds up against resins. Negative take cutters are best for resins.

View Wildwood's profile


2956 posts in 3216 days

#2 posted 04-03-2021 10:49 AM

Recommend picking up a catalog from both Packard Woodworks and Craft Supplies USA. They also have online web sites:


They used to give quantity discounts if bought more than one tool at a time. Should ask if for one when placing an order. No longer see that info in new catalogs or on line.

Only tool recommendation have is buy individual tool as needed and best can afford. Starting out don’t need really expensive tools learning to turn and re-sharpen those tools. Just buy full size tools, and avoid mini tool sets.

I am a big fan of conventional turning tools over carbide tip starting out. Nothing against carbide tipped tools they do have a place in a turners tool rack. Just believe get cleaner cuts conventional tools versus scrapers. Besides can really save money making your own carbide tools.

-- Bill

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1168 posts in 4426 days

#3 posted 04-03-2021 03:27 PM

I recommend a CBN wheel for the grinder. I love having a 2nd chuck. I leave small jaws on one and 2” jaws on the other or it’s handy if you need to take one project off the lathe and start something else. Calipers and finish supplies. You can make your own ‘shine juice’ inexpensively. Just google it. A comfortable face shield. The list is endless, just like any other hobby. I really like having a Multi Tooth Drive Center over the spur center that typically comes with the machine, it’s more forgiving. I agree about the tip on carbide tools. They are rather pricey and once you learn to turn a bit you can make them yourself for much less.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

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2413 posts in 3874 days

#4 posted 04-03-2021 03:50 PM

You can make a lot of things yourself. I would rather be turning a bowl or platter than a tool handle. My family doesn’t care how many handles I turn. They want show pieces to display. To each his own.

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1168 posts in 4426 days

#5 posted 04-03-2021 04:03 PM

You’re right, 2 sides to every story. Some of us like the challenge of making our own things and some of us have a tight budget. I’m guilty of both. ;o)

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

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6989 posts in 2469 days

#6 posted 04-03-2021 04:29 PM

Benjamin's Best and Hurricane are both good brands for HSS bowl and spindle tools. Good quality steel but won’t break the bank. The BB are probably cheapest in a set (about $10 per tool). Even if you don’t use all of the tools in the set frequently, it is a pretty good value and the set has the basic spindle tools and one bowl gouge needed to try a bunch of different turning techniques. I have added a few other tools over the last few years but have never found a reason to replace any of my BB or Hurricane tools.

Carbide tools are a quick way to jump in quickly because the learning curve is minimal but my recommendation is to try to learn to use the HHS tools before you get reliant on the carbide. Once you get good with the traditional HSS tools, you typically get much better results that require less sanding. I like the Harrison Specialties Carbide tools but there are others that are very good too. I mostly use them for hollowing vessels or cleaning up a spot that is hard to reach with HHS tools. BTW, AZ Carbide is an inexpensive source for replacement carbide cutters.

Personally, I prefer sharpening on a belt sander instead of a bench grinder. I just don’t like hollow grinds on any of my tools. When I first started, I wanted a Sorby Proedge sharpener but didn’t want to spend that much so I made my own belt sander and some sharpening jigs that are based upon the Proedge design. You could do something similar by modifying a bench top belt sander. If you do go the bench grinder route, make sure that is slow speed or at least variable speed.

Welcome to the club.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View bighammer's profile


1 post in 39 days

#7 posted 04-03-2021 06:15 PM

I bought a Benjamins Best bowl gouge, just to compare to my others. (Crown, Robert Sorby, Henry Taylor, etc.) It looks very similar, but it does not sharpen as sharp or keep its edge as long. I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of money, but a quality steel gouge is tough to beat.

View OSU55's profile


2794 posts in 3071 days

#8 posted 04-04-2021 12:57 PM

Benjamins Best or Hurricane tools to start. These hold an edge compared to to more expensive m2 hss brands. Other steels do hold an edge longer but are a lot more expensive. The advantage of the value tools is you can afford to try more tools of different sizes and try different grinds. I still use some of the more lightly used value tools vs hi $ tools.

IMO you are going in the right direction with sharpening, 8” slow speed grinder with AL oxide wheels. You can always get cbn wheels if you turn a hell of a lot. I have a wen grinder might be the same #, the wheels were not very good. It works well with Norton wheels. For this reason the Rikon may be the better choice – better wheels that dont need replaced immediately. Belt sanders work if you want to mess with setting it up or spend $ for the pro edge. I use a 46 grit wheel for shaping and 80 grit for sharpening. Glad I dont have to change belts for grit change. Flat bevels dont have any advantage, some just like them.

The wolverine and vari grind are the choice of most turners for the jig setup. I use a flat platform to sharpen all tools “free hand” except gouges, use a jig for them.

As for tool types and sizes, here is what I use:

Spindle work:
Diamond parting tool 3/16
1/16 parting tool
1/2, 3/8, 1/4 (fine detail only) spindle gouges
1/2 and 1” skews – dont use much
3/4 or 1” and 2” roughing gouge

Faceplate (bowls and such):
5/8 shaft 1/2” flute (euro method) bowl gouge 90% of the time, ellsworth grind on one, 40/40 grind on another
3/8 shaft BG, minimal use

Assorted scrapers, 1/4-5/16 thick, 1/2” to 1-1/2” wide, some flat, most negative rake – I buy the cheapest tool and grind the shape I want, including neg rake scrapers.

View Underdog's profile


1659 posts in 3117 days

#9 posted 04-04-2021 01:02 PM

Join a local woodturning club.
I learned a LOT from the guys at our club..

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View PCDub's profile


262 posts in 1325 days

#10 posted 04-04-2021 01:32 PM

Check “Cap'n Eddie on utoob” for plenty of instructions on making your own jigs for sharpening if money is a concern.

View Keithbrad80's profile


31 posts in 36 days

#11 posted 04-07-2021 12:39 AM

I have the exact WEN bench grinder you mentioned and really like it. I put two CBN wheels on it and it works perfectly with the wolverine sharpening jigs. The bench grinder is really cheap and is almost silent with no vibration is mounted properly.


View charlestheoldturner's profile


4 posts in 22 days

#12 posted 04-21-2021 08:31 AM

@PCDub, captain is my fav youtube mentor after Mike Piece as a budget turner myself. And I personally like this person for being funny as well..

-- charles, Danville-

View tvrgeek's profile


1865 posts in 2730 days

#13 posted 04-21-2021 10:17 AM

I too am a beginner. Picked up a HF cheap. Picked up a cheap 8- tool set.
I already had the Rikon low speed grinder, so adding a Wolverine was a no-brainer. I do want a finer CBN wheel eventually.

Waiting for COVID to die down so I can take some classes. Only done a couple projects so far, and guess what? Handles. Handles for my grandfathers socket chisels. Handle knobs for my end vise. It will be a while until I have time for the projects I have in mind. In the mean time, I fitted the 3 buffing wheel jig so I can put the wire wheel back on my old 5 inch grinder. Makes the lathe super handy when not doing turning.

View drsurfrat's profile


598 posts in 268 days

#14 posted 04-21-2021 01:25 PM

More opinion, for what it’s worth.
I’m not a beginner, but definitely NOT professional. I mostly make bowls (stopped counting after 200), but often enough turn handles (e.g., for lathe tools).

Lately, I find I only use four, in this order.
3/8” bowl gouge, thumbnail grind (for inside bowls, spindles and even roughing blanks)
1+1/4”skew chisel, oval, by Sorby (when used correctly, leaves fantastic finish on spindles, but rather frightening when it catches)
diamond shaped parting tool (no name, too thick but haven’t invested in a new one)
carbide scraper (I made my own rod, extra long, to reach into vessels)

For sharpening, I use my grinder free-hand. I put the skew to a fine waterstone. I have yet to even rotate the carbide scraper bit for sharpness, but I do move it to change from side scraping to point scraping.

All the handles are hickory with a copper or brass ferrule sized to the tool.
The massive hooked scraper is for inside hollow vessels. It is 3/4” x 1/2” cross section and I bent it with a 4’ breaker bar while a friend held a torch…

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

View PBWilson1970's profile


205 posts in 475 days

#15 posted 04-21-2021 02:05 PM

Lots of good perspectives in this thread. You really can’t go wrong with any approach. Over time you’ll figure out where to go next.

I started buying carbide insert tools from a youtube personality (mainly due to the low cost) and quickly found out that they weren’t cutting it (pun intended) for me and the woods I used. I bit the bullet and got a slow speed grinder and a few Thompson and Oneway tools. I figured that they are expensive but quality and it would be worth it in the long haul. You can obviously do well with less expensive tools but may have to do a bit more sharpening. No big deal once you get a setup that works for you.

Just dig in and make some cool stuff. I love how the turning process can be so satisfying in a relatively short period of time. Going from a half log to a smooth bowl shape is rewarding and fun. Good luck!

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

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