I found a decent deal at the local RONA today, picked up the Delta Midi
lathe for CDN $245.. the only tool I really didn't have, but thought it was
a good deal.. and the idea of making pens intrigues me.. went to Lee Valley
and bought the kits, the reams, CA glue, all that fun stuff.
So I got home, and I set it up today, (after cleaning alot of grease off
of it) and it seems to run fine. Put a piece of walnut in it, and gave er a
After the chips settled, I found I ran into a few questions.
When I mount the wood in the lathe, how much 'pressure' do you put on the
tailstock.. how hard do I screw it in?
After getting it rounded off, I noticed that:
1: the tailstock head spins slowly with the piece, but not at the same
speed.. is that normal?
2: the piece oscillates ever so little.. If I back off the tailstock head a
bit, the tailstock pin stops turning, & the oscillating stops. Is that
3: If I line up the point of the headstock, and the point on the tailstock,
the don't line up perfectly.. (less than 1 mm diff). Does this really
thanks for any and all advice.
I may have some advice you don't want to hear...
You clearly do not have much in the way of book-learning on the subject
of turning and no experience. Did it occur to you that while you are
experimenting with this and that, the blank could become a projectile
and leave the lathe in an unpredictable angle at a rather high rate of
You need to get a few books or somebody who has a clue to give you a
little help before you hurt yourself.
I suspect that your message is addressed to me although it is difficult
to know. If that is the case...
I believe that if you knew me, on balance, you would find out you were
wrong about me. But, there are some situations which seem to me to be
so critical that there is no time for tact. My intent was to bring to
the original poster the seriousness of the situation and if I offended
some (or offended him), so be it.
When using a live center in the tailstock, it should rotate at the same
speed as your work piece.
The headstock and tailstock should be in alignment. If you have trouble
adjusting the alignment by eye, you can buy a morse taper alignment tool (a
straight shaft with #2 morse taper on each end) for about $17 US or have an
experienced turner make one for you out of wood.
Your workpiece should not oscillate unless you are intentionally doing
Tailstock pressure should be enough to solidly hold the workpiece without
deforming the workpiece. For pens and smaller pieces, it doesn't take a lot
of pressure. If you put too much pressure on your pen mandrel you will get
No. Tighten it just until they turn at the same speed.
Note: Don't use tailstock pressure to embed the drive center into the
wood. Examples of how to do it right:
1. Remove the drive center and hammer it into the wood with a mallet,
then replace it in the lathe.
2. Use a bandsaw to cut an X or + in the end of the wood, perhaps
pre-drilling a small center hole, so that the center catches without
3. pre-drill a hole narrow enough that the center's wings *almost*
touch the wood. Install the wood with the tail center lightly
touching. Hold the wood and turn on the lathe; the drive center
spins and the wood just sits there. Gradually tighten the tail
center until the drive center starts cutting (yes, cutting) the end
of the wood. This gives you a perfectly flat surface, which
requires less pressure to grab. Now, let go of the wood and
tighten the tail center a little more.
In all cases, pre-drilling a small hole is useful for smaller blanks,
where the splitting action of the center might split the blank. Or,
get a center with a spring-loaded point.
No. If you press *too* hard with the tailstock, you could bow the
wood, which is bad.
Yes. They should be so close you can't see any deviation.
"MikeMac" wrote: (clip) 3: If I line up the point of the headstock, and the
point on the tailstock, the don't line up perfectly.. (less than 1 mm
diff). Does this really matter?
The standard answer is that it does matter. It does not always matter all
that much. For example, if you are turning a long spindle between centers,
a little error in tailstock alignment produces a slight angle to the work
axis. On a metal lathe, this would produce a taper. On a wood lathe, since
the tools are hand-held, the turner simply turns to the correct diameter for
the full length using eyes and calipers. The spur drive acts as a little
U-joint, and you probably would never notice the difference'
On the other hand, suppose you are holding a bowl blank on a faceplate, or
in a chuck, and you bring up the tailstock for extra support (and safety.)
It the tailstock is off center, something will have to give. In a chuck,
the wood will probably start slipping. On a faceplate, the screws could
work loose. Or the tailstock will flex. None of this is good.
Since you are turning pens, you must be using one of those mandrels that
plugs into the Morse taper of the spindle. Running with the tailstock end 1
mm off will probably cause the mandrel to bow. This could result in a
little whipping action, which will make bad pens. Then again, if you don't
use too much tailstock pressure, you may be able to get it to run smoothly,
and you're on your way.
Oh, yes--just because you find a 1 mm misalignment at close contact spindle
to tailstock, it could be different at other places on the ways. I would
try it and see what happens.
Good luck, and keep asking questions.
Since you mentioned Lee valley, I expect you are in Canada. What
area? It is often very helpful to get some one-on-one advice from
someone who already turns. We might be able to help you connect to
someone, or a turning club in your area.
[top posted for your convenience]
At the risk of being ostracized from the community, I'll take
exception with some of the responses given. Turning is not like flying
an airplane--you are not almost certainly doomed if you take one off
without any instruction. Yes, there are some risks, just as there are
with any machinery. But, in my opinion, the lathe is nowhere near as
risky as a table saw, for example, or any of a number of tools that
many people have taken up safely with little or no instruction.
I think sometimes, we who have been "tooling around" for a while and
have seen most of the bad scrapes one can get into tend to think worst
case scenario for every newcomer the first time on a tool. But of all
the tools in my shop, I'd probably be most comfortable starting a
newcomer out on a lathe than the rest.
I, for one, have never had a lick of instruction on a single power
tool. I have, however, read a LOT of books, watched a lot of DIY TV,
and have seen Norm Abram's show perhaps more than anyone. And I have a
gift for self teaching. So, I may not be a good example of the
"if-I-can-do-it, anyone-can" school of thought.
Actually, I have to mention I did go to a woodworking class at a local
high school once. I was having trouble with the skew chisel on my
(homemade) lathe, so I thought I would get some larnin' from a real
teacher. I had to suffer through two weeks (one night a week) of
safety instructions and guidance to less experienced wooddorkers
planning on building Philadelphia highboys and such, before the
instructor got around to me.
I told him I was interested in learning about the lathe. So he took me
over to the big Powermatic, chucked up a piece of wood, and started to
scrape. I thought, "what a load of crap--I already know how to
scrape." I realized I knew more than he did and never went back.
Get a book to learn some fundamentals. Even I can't do stuff without
fundamentals. But if you have any ability to self teach at all, you
can certainly learn to do good work on the lathe.
By the way, with regard to all the dire warnings you've been given,
remember, good decisions come from experience, and a lot of experience
comes from bad decisions. There's not one of those guys that hasn't
had a piece of wood thrown at them--exactly what they're trying to
help you avoid. You can't, completely, so go ahead with your
Nomex suit on.
No flaming here.
Many woodturners think of their craft as some sort of rocket science,
with the same risks.
I think a table saw or handheld router is much more dangerous than a
typical lathe. That is, unless you turn while wearing a loose necktie
and have long hair that's not tied back! If the OP is really nervous
(especially after this thread) he or she might want to look into one
of those "clutch" chucks that stops driving the work if it catches
I am by no means an accomplished turner. I'm only interested in
turning enough to make the odd tool handle or furniture replacement
part, so I don't practice near enough to approach what a real turner
can do. I taught myself from the Raffan book on a Jet Mini with bed
extension. As in most woodworking, half the battle is sharpening the
tools correctly. A Wolverine Jig and some good wheels solved that for
Even "Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking" covers the very basics of
Turning safely is easy, even if learning destroys a bunch of poplar.
Getting really good, especially at duplicate parts is where lots of
practice and serious, hands-on instruction become necessary.
There's one big difference between lathes and saws.
With my saw, I avoid doing dangerous stuff. A "competent" sawyer is one
who can (pretty much) simply not have bad things happen to them.
With a lathe I march straight into the worst case accidents and I keep
doing them -- I turn poorly balanced green wood, poorly supported and
likely to split or burst. I just don't know any way to avoid this (If
I'm going to keep using rough logs).
So my primary safety measure for the table saw is knowledge, but my
primary safety measure for the lathe is about _expecting_ the accident
and being sufficiently well armoured to survive it (and standing to one
side whenever possible).
As Conover said, "don't hold anything in a jam chuck that you're afraid
to be hit on the head with".
Not very well though. You're much better off with some of the other
basic turning texts (I'd suggest Rowley's "Woodturning: A Foundation
Course" or even Conover's "The Lathe Book" in preference). Frid's
description is accurate, but it's terse and he doesn't emphasise a few
things that really need emphasis for beginners. Rub that bevel before
lifting the gouge up to cut! -- Although he does stress the evils of
over-reliance on scrapers, the usefulness of the skew, and the vital
importance of learning a planing cut from the start.
How is top posting convenient?!?!? I had to scroll all the way down to the
bottom of your message to see what you were replying to, then scroll back up
to read your post. While it didn't kill me, it certainly wasn't convenient.
As long as there are people who refuse to trim each of the gazillion
previous poster's replies from their their own you will never be able
to present an argument defending bottom posting as preferable to top
posting. Not saying you're one of them, but bottom posters seem
blindly adamant when it comes condemning top posting while failing to
This reply, however, is a perfect example of how bottom posting is
acceptable. Compare it to thousands of daily egregious examples to the
Okay, so maybe it was for my convenience. I don't have a problem with
Your answer implies your unable to follow accepted procedures.
The reason I didn't snip part of the quotes was to show you how
confusing your posts will become as the post continues.
I'm having trouble believing you know about anything you post with this
There is a reason for bottom posting.
After a while your posts will be ignored because others will find your
posts too hard to follow.
Please read the following. It will help you with usenet.
HTH [Hope This/That Helps]
You can do something wrong for a hundred years and it will still be wrong.
Bottom posting made sense years ago on slow connections little traffic.
Anybody with normal recollection does not need to be reminded of what was
Things change, deal with it.
You must have an amazing memory if you can remember what was said previously
in every post.
It has nothing to do with slow internet or little traffic. It has to do with
how conversations should flow. Do you read a newspaper from bottom to top?
I had to read your reply from the bottom up in order to figure out what you
were talking about.
Thanks for proving my point.
Of couse now everyone will have to read THIS post from the middle to the top
and then to the bottom.
This really isn't that complicated to understand.
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.