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
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?
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...
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!
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
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.
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
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.
Turning wood held so that the grain runs lengthwise along the bed.
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
"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
The powered end that rotates.
The non-powered end.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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