The lathe is a machine tool used to turn wood, metal, plastic ,and anything else you could possibly want.
You can also drill, bore, polish, grind and make threads for projects.
The lathe has simple parts, the headstock, which provides power to your work, the bed, which is connects everything together and is under your work, the tailstock, which provides extra support for your project ,and last the tool rest, it is what you must have to keep your tool supported so you can use them to their potential.
The First Step
The first step to creating a masterpiece on the lathe is to select your type of material. I primarily only turn wood on the lathe so that will be what I use. For turning on the lathe I would recommend a somewhat hardwood, that way it’s not horribly hard to shave it, but it’s also not like your cutting through butter.
No name given, “Wood Turning on the lathe”, May 2nd, 2009 via flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
The next step in making your very own creation is to choose how you want to turn it. There are many ways to spin wood but I use three basic ones. Spindle turning, also known as turning between centers. Is when you mount your work in between a spur center (on the headstock) and a live center or a dead center (on the tailstock). Spindle turning is best for small projects because it doesn’t really have a lot of support.
More of the second step
The next type of turning is known as Faceplate Turning. Faceplate turning has lots of support and has been the greatest way to mount a project until recently when a screw came loose and ruined my project. But all you do in Faceplate Turning is find the center of your work, screw the faceplate in the center of your work, and than put it on the lathe. Yes it’s that easy.
No name given “The Woodwork Lathe”, Taken on November 17, 2009 Via flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
The last type of basic turning is known as chuck turning. It is my favorite type of turning due to the stability of your work and the simplicity of getting it to work. All you need to do is find an appropriate sized forestner bit and drill a half inch hole in the center of the bottom of the stock. After that you will attach a chuck to the lathe by spinning it on there, than you will attach the work to the chuck by using a chuck key and bam; it’s ready to go.
Looks like it is time to learn about the infinite wonders of lathe tools. Lathe tools can do literally anything on the lathe, they can make cut off marks, bit designs, concave and convex shapes, can hollow bowls out, and so much more! All you need to know is how to identify them and how to use them to their full potential.
How to use lathe tools
When working on the lathe make sure the tool rest is on securely. When you are using a lathe tool do not use to much pressure, using the lathe is more of an angles game than a who has more strength. If you push to hard on a lathe tool than it will stick on the wood and the project could possibly stop or fly off of the lathe injuring you or your fellow workers. You also want to make sure your tool is not pointed to far down, you want your tool to be pointed up to maximize your cut accuracy.
Rough turning your project
Rough turning is the operation in which you get the wood completely centered and ready to start taking shape. Okay so you got your project mounted on the lathe and are getting ready to dive right into your project, but first you must be sure you actually know what you’re doing! When you first turn the lathe on make sure you put the speed at the lowest it can go because rough turning gets very bumpy. My tools of choice for roughing wood out are the gouge and the roundnose, they leave an unsmooth finish but they make roughing the wood out go relatively fast.
No name given, “Preparing a wood blank” , taken on November 17th ,2009, Via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
After you are finished roughing your project out into the desired shape you are going to add more detail by using more complex tools. When shaping your project you are most likely going to use; Skew, Spear point, Parting tool, and the round nose. They all make different cuts and grooves in the wood and all serve a purpose in the basic wood workers arsenal of tools.
Sanding your project
When you are finally done shaping your project to the desired shape you are going to sand it to a smooth finish. Sanding is the easiest and most safe part of the whole operation. All you need to know is the lower the number the more coarse the paper is and than you must make sure the tool rest is off to sand because you could catch your fingers in between the work and the rest which could result in serious injury.
Remove Toolrest! Taken by: Andy, “Sanding the mallet head”, taken on June 26th 2009, Via Flikr, Creative Commons Attribution
Finishing your project Okay, you’re at the final step and when I say “finishing” I don’t mean when you’re done sanding. When you finish your project it means you apply a stain or wax to give it a glossy, shiny surface making the project look 10 times better. When you are applying them you are going to put your lathe to near full speed and apply a wax or stain with a brush or rag. Thank you for reading!