How To Use a Wood Lathe

63938_WTL95SIL_largeWood lathes may be used to create-functional furniture components and beautiful decorative wood-projects like candlesticks, bowls, or toys such as yo yos or tops. These machines vary in size from the hobby models which fit on the work bench to the large industrial sized machines which weigh hundreds of pounds, however, they all basically share some-basic elements. Below are some instructions-for using these machines:

-Select a lathe that's suitable for your specific project. The bench top lathes may be ideal for turning-small projects such as ink pens & yo yos, the larger machines might be used for making-spindles that are used in furniture & handrail styles.

-Choose the lathe-operation you're going to start with.

-Select the right cutting tools. Lathe-tools are known as chisels. They basically feature long, round, curved-handles which give a solid grip & sufficient leverage so as to enable the turner-to control the cutting edge-accurately with minimal fatigue.

-Learn all the components of the lathe. Basic wood lathe usually consists of a headstock, a bed, tailstock, and a tool rest.

-Make sure you read the owner's manual before you proceed with the actual lathe work-for specific instructions, the features and the detailed safety instructions.

-Select a suitable piece-of wood for the project.

-Square the stock. Say for instance, if you're going to start with a piece-of 2 by 4 lumber, you can rip it into a nominally square-shape, such as 2 by 2. You may then bevel or chamfer the square corners, effectively-creating an octagonal piece, that will reduce amount of wood which has to be removed so as to reach the desired cylindrical shape.

-Cut the stock-to the desired length.

-Mark the center-of each end of the stock, & position it between lathe centers. Assuming that the tailstock isn't locked into position, slide this til it pushes-the cup-center to the tail end-of your work-piece. Use the hand crank, to tighten the tailstock-spindle so it pushes your stock into the spur-center, that's mounted on headstock spindle. Ensure your work piece is well held, & all the clamps are properly tightened, else, the workpiece might fly-off the lathe while you're turning.

-Position the tool rest-parallel to length of your work-piece. Keep it far back enough so as to allow your work piece to easily rotate without hitting-it, but as-close-as possible. Good working distance can be about 3/4-of an inch. The closer your tool-rest is to the-turning work piece, the more-leverage and the better the control you'll have with the knife (or chisel).

-Free spin, or hand-turn the workpiece so as to ensure it does not hit your tool rest.

-Choose the chisel you'll use for your turning operation. Practice holding your tool on the tool-rest, using the left hand on the metal-blade behind your tool rest, & your right hand near the end-of the handle. Remember to keep your elbows-in, and braced against the body, and you'll have better control-of the tool.

-Turn the lathe-on, ensure it's at the lowest-speed setting and place the cutting edge-of the tool on-the rest, while keeping clear of-the rotating workpiece, remember to check the grip, & slowly start easing it towards the workpiece. Move in towards it perpendicular-to the workpiece, til the cutting-edge only touches the wood.

-Feel the resistance-of the cutting edge & watch the size-of the chips that are being cut-from the workpiece.

-Start moving the cutting-edge parallel to rotation of your work-piece, while continuing to make a-light cut along its' length.You can twist your tool slightly & observe the flight path-of the chips to adjust-it so they simply fly away from you-to your left or right.

-Continue pushing your tool into the stock-gradually, in passes, so you can remove a roughly-equal amount of wood with-each pass.

-Stop the lathe-frequently when you're just beginning, so as to check the progress, you can look for any stress cracks in-the wood, & you can clear the debris that may start to accumulate on-the lathe bed.

-Smooth your finished round workpiece by increasing the lathe speed, & holding the cutting tool so that it barely contacts-the wood, and then move it slowly along-the workpiece’s length.

-Sand the workpiece when you're finished cutting, if you desire.

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