What can you with a lathe?

Page 1 of 4  
Way back in middle school the lathe was one of my favorite tools in shop class. I'd love to own one, but I'm having a difficult time convncing my wife that I need it. We just made candle holders in shop class, and while I'm sure it's great for things like table legs, lamps, and baseball bats I have to concede that I really can't think of any practical uses for it since I don't have any need to make any of those things. Actually making a homemade baseball bat would be kind of neat but it's tough to justify buying a lathe just for that. If you can help me convince my wife (and myself for that matter) of the usefulness of a lathe I'll be eternally grateful.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In typed:

Seems to me if you don't have a need to make things "round" (like lamps, table legs, bowls, pens, etc), then maybe you really don't need a lathe. If you're taking a class with access to a lathe, maybe that will have to satisfy your desire to turn.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't mean this to sound rude, but if you have to ask this question then why do you even want a lathe in the first place?
Table legs, chair legs, any cylindrical parts (spindles, dowels, furniture knobs and pulls), bowls, pens, etc. etc. etc. etc. Honestly, the lathe is one of those things where creativity is key - so having to ask what you would use it for sort of tells me you wouldn't really use it that much. I personally don't have much experience with the lathe, but I plan on using it in the future as I know it will enable me to be much more versatile in my woodworking.
Mike

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Mainly because I had fun using it many years ago in shop class. You mentioned making pens, which sounds intriguiging. I'm sure I could make some nice gifts through the course of the year that way. Can you make small things like that on a big lathe or would I need a smaller lathe? In other words, could I make a baseball bat and a pen on the same lathe? Making bowls might also be fun, and would have some potential for gift-making.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yes, you can use a big lathe to make pens. And, as you probably surmise, there is a limit to how big you can go with a smaller lathe. Right now I just have a mini lathe. Eventually I'll go bigger, but since I don't know crud about using the lathe I have, I don't see the need right now. If you think you'll want to make larger items, it probably makes sense to get a mid-sized lathe right off the bat.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.comAntiSpam (NoNameAtAll) wrote in message

Pens, christmas tree ornaments, yo-yo's, pepper mills, laser pointers, ...... just get a Woodcraft or Rockler catalog and look under lathe and get lots of ideas for small kit type lathe projects. Then consider bowls, plates, chess sets, turned boxes, and things of this nature that are stand alone lathe projects not needing kits. Lastly think knobs, legs, rails and other parts to go into bigger non-lathe projects. I guess some people make their own "Wonder Boy" baseball bats, but that will be about the last thing I will be making with my lathe (if I ever learn how to turn and sharpen well enough that I can honestly say that sandpaper is no longer my most important lathe tool;)
Dave Hall
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 14 Jan 2004 16:04:08 +0000, NoNameAtAll wrote:

In heaven there aint no beer (or toys), that's why we buy them here.
If she's a cook, tell her it's not a lathe but a device for making salad bowls and candlesticks. One can never have enough salad bowls or candlesticks.
If she's a gardener, tell her it's not a lathe but a device for making mulch. Plants love mulch.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Definitely not being sarcastic here, so bear with me. I can justify anything to my wife by telling her, "Honey, I'd like to buy XXX. I *could* be sitting on my ass in the recliner drinking beer and watching football, or smoking a pack a day, or playing golf, or (insert expensive hobby here), but since I don't do any of that stuff, I need something to occupy my time."
Find a local woodturner's group and attend their meetings. Get a cheap mini lathe (JET or Delta) and a decent set of lathe tools, and start by making some stuff for her. Lathe work doesn't have to be practical at all (just pick up a copy of American Woodturner magazine and see how much of that is practical), but it's sure relaxing and lots of fun.
Keep in mind that lathe work, also, doesn't have to cost you a dime in terms of wood supply. There's a lot of turners I know, and myself included, that basically grab chunks off the firewood pile or beg short chunks from local loggers or tree services. What will cost you is when you get into it and start buying expensive tools, accessories, exotic burls and turning blanks, and eventually a really big lathe. Obviously, you don't need all that, but I bet I could *easily* spend more on a high-end lathe, tooling, accessories and supplies than I could on an entire flatwork shop.
Jon E
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

darn thing... BUT I find that using the Lathe is extremely a FUN way to spend an afternoon, evening etc...
Honestly I have made my share of candle stick holders, plates, bowls, cups etc...even got into making nut crackers at one time... not too many of my "projects" require the use of a Lathe..... BUT I would never sell my machine...just offers way too much fun and relaxation...
Bob Griffiths
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
T. wrote:

Fun to play "how much can I peel." I got almost all the way to the center once before the shaving finally broke.

Turned mallets are *awesome*. I had been using a rubber mallet for chisel and other similar work. I had been meaning to buy a real mallet some day, but never got around to it. Now I have two really nice ones, with just the shape I wanted.
They sure are nice to use. I can also beat the living crap out of them, since I can always make more.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
T. wrote:

I got a lathe for Christmas. A JET mini. Fun, but a black hole for time. My shop smells like wet maple. Every surface in my shop is covered in wet maple. I have my turning tools laying on the table saw, which hasn't been turned on since Christmas. My workbench is covered with various bits of wet maple in various stages of being cut up or split.
(My neighbor pruned her maple tree. My practice stock is a couple hundred bf of maple in sizes ranging from 1" to 6" in diameter. More of the latter, of course. Not sure what I'll do with the really small stuff. Maybe have a nice bonfire at Beltane.)

I made one out of a 5x5 piece of red oak dunnage. It's whatever circle you can reduce a 5" square to, and pretty damn solid.
I have several different ones now, and beat the hell out of them with abandon. I can always make more. :)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
[...]

What a most unusual tree! Most trees that *I* know have more thin than thick branches...
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
What can you do with a lathe?
1. Cover yourself with wood chips 2. Make ugly candlesticks for everyone you've ever known 3. Make enough small bowls to serve peanuts to those poor people who have your candlesticks 4. Bend over for hours at that very awkward angle that kills your back - worse than making a bed 5. Get a lot of practice sharpening things that have strange shapes
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Cape Cod Bob wrote:

Maybe different with a lathe designed to sit on the floor... I have my JET mini on a stand made from two endtables stacked on top of each other and nailed together. It's a great height.

You can say that again. Sharpening these things is a large part of the battle.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 09:27:18 -0500, Cape Cod Bob

6. Cover your tools and equipment with wet wood and rust. 7. Spend an arm and a leg on gawdawfullyexpensive burl only to have the bowl blow up in your face on the very last cut. 8. Spend $159 per new tool for each style new bowl you wish to make. I could go on. I never felt the draw of the lathe, either, Bob.
Don't forget the 7 P's: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance ---------------------------------------------------- http://diversify.com Website Application Programming
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Juergen Hannappel wrote:

Funny you should catch that. I said something different originally, then discovered that I had accidentally deleted a big block of text when I read through the post prior to sending it. I hastily rewrote that bit to fill in the blank, and obviously got it wrong. :)
Very few 6" branches. Of course.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.comAntiSpam says...

Don't do it. Listen to your wife. Woodturning is an insidious hobby, no, strike that last- it's not a hobby, it's an addiction. Sure- you'll start with the inexpensive mono-tube crapsman lathe third-hand from ebay and a set of $49.96 tools from Harbor Fright. You'll learn to turn bowls, boxes, cups, pens, scoops, tops, toys, more bowls. Your firewood budget will go up and then you'll get a woodburning stove for the shop just to hide the errors. You soon start noticing other lathes calling to you- the Minis and Midis... so you get one of each, and a set of tools just for pens, and another set just for bowls, custom tools for mushroom cap insides or the lip on a box lid... then you want more power to make bigger bowls- and you begin looking at that Poole, or Vicmarc, or Oneway... or (insert ominous music) the Stubby!! And another new set of tools, because you just cannot possibly use a multi-thousand dollar lathe with a $19.95 gouge. Then as your skills get better and the wife actually notices on the rare occurrence that you step out of the shop.... she needs a bigger salad bowl so you get the Osolnik giant sit- on-it monster and turn a bowl the size of Rhode Island... and then she wants columns for the porch... so you get yet another lathe, so you can turn that 10-foot-long, 20" diameter post. Next thing you know you're building a new shed in the backyard for the collection of lathes, with it's own power and HVAC plant.
It all starts with one little pen...
Get yourself over to rec.crafts.woodturning and visit for a while- nice bunch of folks who will actually have excellent reasons for getting a lathe other than it's relaxing and a boat-load of fun (why I got mine in the first place).
vic who manages to avoid the addiction of new tools by being broke.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Victor Radin wrote:

It definitely is for sure. I haven't made any real stuff in my shop since Christmas. The list of things I really need and can't afford is endless.
The biggest thing about a lathe is the realization that lumber just isn't good turning stock. Especially not for newbies where one project in 30 is worth keeping out of the trash can. (My ratio has gone way up since I started turning mushrooms though. All of those have been keepers, except he one that came apart. Plus I can turn them on the round, which saves a lot of labor.)
You have to buy really thick, expensive lumber, or else spend a lot of time doing careful glue-ups. Or else use firewood.
Firewood is all but demanded, and working it into turning blanks without the proper tools is a tedious thing. I have an axe, a maul and a couple of bow saws. Making bowl blanks SUCKS. Especially when they come apart after all that freaking labor.
I need a chainsaw and a bandsaw bigtime. And a Jacobs chuck, and a four-jaw chuck of some sort, and a screw chuck, and some different drives and different centers, and better turning tools, and more turning tools, and more wood, always more wood...
More more more more more!
It's the most expensive $200 I ever spent. Too bad I'm broke. I'm limited so far to turning the pile of maple my neighbor cut out of her tree. So far. I already know where the woodpile is going to go though.

You can say that again. :(
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Silvan wrote:

I ain't gonna give up a chainsaw, but you've got a box of blanks headed you way. Try turning some of that pine you've got lying around, and any poplar that you can find.
Dave in Fairfax
--
reply-to doesn't work
use:
daveldr at att dot net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@fairfax.com wrote:

I wonder how much wood I could get into a backpack? I know a place with a lot of deadfall that isn't on National Forest land, so I could remove the wood without going to prison, but it can't be reached by any sort of vehicle.
Take a helluva long time to get a tree out one backpack at a time, wouldn't it? :)
I'll have to go see what the wood actually is, to decide if any of it is worth thinking about that kind of effort. It's a six mile hike to the wood and back.
It fell a few years ago, so it won't be green. It might be spalted though. Might be walnut or something for all I know.
Could be good for my assal fattalitis.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.