Thought I'd start something on woodturning. I've been woodworking for about
7 years now and have recently bought a lathe. The thing is great for legs
and small pen turnings. I'd like to start making bowls. I bought a average
chuck collet and tried to do a few tunings but don't seem to be able to get
the finished product like I see on the Web.
Basically, if I actually get to the point where I can finish sand, (if it
hasn't flown off the lathe by then) I'm never am able to get all of the
tearout removed... I think my tools are sharp... maybe it's the wood..
Anyway, it's a pretty satisfying hobby where the results come fairly quickly
as opposed to building a cabinet over the course of a couple of weeks.
Any thoughts on technique, tools, woods, burls (actually I have a great
source for burls)
How long should it take to turn an average plain old bowl? Maybe I'm trying
to turn too fast?
On Sun, 11 Jan 2004 10:52:07 -0500, "Pierre Boucher"
For some reason it takes me a lot longer than what is printed or what
people say. Took me three hours to turn a cherry rolling pin, and
about the same for a small bowl. Maybe things will speed up when I
gain some skills. My 5-drawer Shaker style dresser took a few months
to complete, but I used hand tools and did not have a shop back then.
Time is not an issue, unless you are in a production shop trying to
Cut down slope and down grain to the greatest extent possible. The wood
tears when you try to cut up grain, because you're cutting it with no
support behind it.
Rattle through rec.crafts.woodturning for lots of good stuff.
Great advice from here is to go to the woodturning forum. Nice guys,
some nationally recognized turners, and a really helpful group. They
have a tendency to stay on topic, too...
The best advice is to join a woodturning club, and get to see the
tools used by someone that knows how to use them. Books are great,
but with woodturning the variables are so many for individual tools,
sharpening angles, turning speeds, and of course, all relevent to the
type of wood you are turning.
Then there are specific sanding and finishing techniques for different
woods and projects... homemade finishes... homemade tools... design
techniques...it goes on and on, but in the end it is a blast.
I have been doing professional carpentry work for the last 30 years or
so, and took up lathing on a lark about 6-7 years ago to make some
repair pieces for a home restoration. I have enjoyed this end of
sawdust making immensely as there is a real comraderie amongst our
club since the easiest way to learn proper turning techniques is to be
I'll second what some others have about joining a turners club. Also
(in the US anyway - sounds like you might be from the UK?) try the
woodworking shows that are making the rounds right now. I was at The
Woodworker's Show over the weekend and they had several free seminars
about turning. One was specifically about turning bowls and was very
good at covering the basics.
Two major things to get good results, and several minor things. The main
ones are technique and sharp tools. You must have both to minimize tearout
and cut cleanly. However, sharpening technique is critical too. I was
pretty discouraged after joining a woodturner's club, and seeing what
awesome stuff people were producing, and mine all looked like shit. After
taking a beginner class (who, me? I've been turning for fifteen years -
maybe I can teach them something - that was my attitude), I found out that
not only did I know far less than I thought, I didn't have a clue how to
sharpen my tools. That made all the difference. I was able to turn a chunk
of dry pine 2x4 down to a dowel 6" long by 3/16" dia. before it broke.
If you have good technique and the right means to sharpen, the tools you use
and the lathe you use won't make much of a difference. I have some really
good tools that I paid dearly for, and some old carbon steel that holds a
razor edge. My old lathe is in mothballs, and I just got a foot-powered
"bungee lathe" in a raffle. If I can't turn on that, with a few old files
ground down to profile, than it's not the tools, it's me. Most of the
turning experts I know make a lot of their own tools.
As for the bowl. Lets say you have a 6" diameter bowl blank, 3" thick, dry
wood, pick your species - let's say cherry or soft maple. You should be
able to rough out the bowl to 3/4" wall thickness in less than 20 minutes.
Say another 20-40 minutes to get it to a reasonable wall thickness and
finish it. Sanding should be minimal if your sharpening technique is good,
and finishing shouldn't take more than a minute or two at speed. Your
mileage may vary.
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