Lathe book for the utterly clueless


I want to buy a tiny lathe and some tools to set my kid up in an eBay business. My product goal is quite modest at this time: pool cue joint protectors. Example:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&itemr26384243
Need to be able turn round thingies about two inches long and 5/8 to 3/4" diameter; bore a hole for the screw pin dead center; and tap a hole in another JP that matches the cue's screw pin. Common sized holes will be 5/16 and 3/8".
I've no idea what "Swing over bed" means, and I am uncertain which end is the headstock.
With all that in mind, what book do I need before I go shopping?
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"Libraries for Dummies"
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

Which one do you frequent, Dave?
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<http://www.publib.saskatoon.sk.ca/
My point is, if you're really clueless about a lathe (and not simply trolling here) then you'd be well off to go to your local library (the main branch is likely to have the best collection) and spend some time around 684 (Dewey Decimal System). That will give you enough familiarity with basic terminology to be able to evaluate the recommendations you'll get.
That's a lot to read into a three word reply, I admint...
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

OK, I found the right book, I think. It's called, "The Lathe of Heaven," by some guy named Ursula K. LeGuin.
No, I'm not *that* clueless! :-)
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Every Urssula that I have met was a woman and so is this one.

Well, may be you are. :~)
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Leon wrote:

It's also ontopic, as she wrote "The Word for World is Forest". :)
er
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wrote:

She wrote horror stories too. In "The Dispossessed" there's a desert world so short on timber that they recycle chipboard by filling the screw holes in it over with filler!
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Gee, I've done that.
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Ok, now that I have stopped laughing....
Why bother with the library?.. when you have one of the greatest tools at your fingertips... GOOGLE and the INTERNET.
Thanks for the laughs! I'm sure LeGuin would have loved that!

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Swing over the bed is radius in Britain, diameter in USA of the largest piece which will clear the bed. Often you will see "swing over toolrest," which might be important if you had a piece of such length and diameter that it's necessary to keep the rest under the piece to be turned.
For pool cues the critical number will be the last in the lathe name ( e.g. JET 1236 will swing 12 diameter 36 between centers.
You'll want steadies for long thin work, and perhaps a home-made long toolrest.
You power the head, spin 'round the tailstock.
Out of print, but worth the effort - The Practical Woodturner by Frank Pain.
There's a group called rec.crafts.woodturning, and a plethora of on-line places and forums.
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wrote:

Don't be too set on this idea of a "tiny lathe". A bigger lathe will make small stuff too. Get something you can house, but don't go for tiny unless you really need too.

And what's your goal next week? Something that won't fit in a tiny lathe ?
As to variable speed, then I'd be lost without it when turning big stuff. For small diameter stuff, it's still nice, but you can manage by swapping belts on a pulley.

"Spindle turning" Turning wood held so that the grain runs lengthwise along the bed.
"Bowl turning" Wood held with the grain crosswise to the bed. This is harder because the grain "goes up and down" as you rotate. You can make "bowl shaped objects" by either way, but this grain orientation problem makes finishing harder.
"Turning between centres" A spike at each end of the lathe, with the wood spit-roasted between them. This is the simplest setup, but you can't get access to turn the ends.
"Headstock" The powered end that rotates.
"Tailstock" The non-powered end.
"Faceplate" Flat metal plate that mounts on the headstock. Has screw holes in it so you can bolt your timber to it. Cheap and good for bowls, but probably too big for your pool cues.
"Chuck" Rotating vice that holds wood in the headstock, so you can turn all around the far end. Convenient, but not cheap. Standard on metal turning lathes, still not always used for woodturning.
"Screw chuck" Jumbo sized corkscrew that mounts on the headstock. Cheap and lets you mount any sized piece of wood on the headstock, just by drilling a hole in it. However it wastes a couple of inches length, where you had the screw.
"Headstock nose" A threaded shaft on the end of the headstock. Comes in a number of standard threads, so that the accessories (faceplates and chucks) can be swapped around. Important to know what thread your lathe uses.
"Distance between centres" Max distance of timber you can fit between centres. One of the three basic dimensions of a lathe. Sometimes inaccurately over-stated by a couple of inches (they measure the distance between headstock and tailstock, not allowing for the centres themselves).
"Swing over bed" Biggest diameter your lathe can spin. You might not be able to use this, because there's also a carriage for the toolpost in the way. Useful swing (swing over carriage) could be a couple of inches smaller. The basic dimension of any lathe, along with distance between centres and the headstoock thread.
"Centre height" This is similar to the swing over bed, but the radius rather than the diameter. Swing is twice centre height.
Bowl turning lathes may have double-ended headstocks, or headstocks that rotate, so that you can turn big bowls too big to fit over the bed.

Sounds like you need a lathe with a chuck, so as to hold the piece for tapping. That costs money and is best found for the lathes a little bigger than the tiniest.
You can of course manage without. There are custom-fitted jam chucks etc. that you can make for one-off holding jobs. However tapping is a high-torque, slow-speed operation, so a factory-made scroll chuck will grip better. If timber is free, then you could start out by using a screw chuck.
You'll also want a mandrel (or pair of ?) made up, probably by a friend with a metal turning lathe. These fit directly onto the headstock nose and have a half-set of cue joiners mounted on the other end.
You could turn a simple cue joiner like this:
Rough out an over-size cylinder between centres.
Saw this into short lengths, about two joiners long.
Chuck each end in turn, face the end flat, drill it and tap it to take the cue joiner.
Saw these in half.
Mount the mandrel and put a cue joiner on it. Turn to shape.
Still in the lathe, apply the finishes and friction polish them..
Obviously this is more complex if you're making up composite joiners with horn ends or brass inlay.

Read rec.crafts.woodturning
Keith Rowley's "Woodturning, a Foundation Course" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)> is the usual recommendation
Ernie Conover's "Lathe Book" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)> is excellent, but more about lathes than about turning.
Holtzapffel's "Hand or Simple Turning" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)> is the classic Victorian text on turning. It also talks about working materials like ivory or horn, which don't get mentioned much these days, yet take different techniques to work them.
Probably the best though is the hard-to-find Bill Jones' "Notes from the Turning Shop" as this is _the_ book on miniature work.
You'll also need some turning chisels and a grinder to keep them sharp. There are sets of chisels and gouges out there that are worth having, and most sets that aren't. Search the usenet archives.
You'll probably also want some special scrapers or vee tools ground up. Decorative reeding at this scale is most easily done with a form tool ready to hand.
--
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.

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Andy Dingley wrote at great and helpful length.
Thank you, Andy! I knew someone here would save me a trip to the main library. :-)
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Hello Dhakala,
Sorry, no suggestions as far as books go- it 's not too difficult to learn without a book, though.
For what you're trying to do, a Midi or Mini lathe would work fine- I started out with a Delta Midi lathe, and it is a really nice little tool. I turned a lot of stuff with it, including bowls and vases- and it came with a free set of turning tools that, while not the "best", are pretty decent, and do the trick for me. From what I have heard, the Jet version is almost the same tool. I'd probably avoid the really cheap ones- you're spinning hunks of wood at a pretty good clip, and if they fly out on you, it can be a painful experience.
I started with the lathe, the turning tools that came with it (be advised that it takes Delta quite a while to get those promos to you, so you may want to get a cheap set right away) and a Grizzly 4-jaw scroll chuck (http://www.grizzly.com/products/G8784). With this setup and a drill chuck with a #2 morse taper, you can make those joint protectors fairly easily. You'll also need a bench grinder for sharpening the tools, and some other toys for getting your blanks to approximately the right size. If you don't have anything to start with, you could get going for a little over $500. ($300/lathe, $50/grinder, $50/chuck, $35/drill chuck/ and about $80-100 for a little bandsaw- be advised that a bandsaw that small is basically a toy, but it'll do the job to start) That'll get you going, and if the business works out for you, you can always upgrade later. To tap and thread the things, you're probably best off just drilling on the lathe, and making the threads with a hand tap.
But be advised that lathes are stickier than tar-babies. Once you get started, you're likely to end up with some kind of giant Oneway lathe with a bevy of $300 chucks and a million bucks in turning tools, sharpening jigs, chainsaws, a dump truck, and a bunch of other stuff you hadn't counted on. Be careful! :)
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Woodturning - A Foundation Course, Keith Rowley. Excellent book.

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