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Saturday, January 26, 2013

An Adventure In Wood Turning

If you seen the bowl in my last marble machine, I had a lot of fun turning that. I've messed around here and there with wood turning as I can, but my lathe has always been the least used tool in my shop. After doing that little bowl for that project, I have been determined to change that.
This is my old lathe. It has always done what I wanted it to do, but then again, I've never really done much with it.
So I started messing around and turned my wife a bowl made out of cedar. It turned out alright, but there were problems I noticed while turning this bowl that I couldn't quite figure out.
Next I put a pecan log into the lathe. It was all I could find around the shop to start another bowl with. The further I went with this little project, the more I noticed that something was definitely not right. I'm no expert wood turner, but I've never been able to get rid of the vibration in this lathe. Then, once I started trying to remove material inside this deeper bowl, everything just seemed to be working against me.
With the bowl removed, I started doing some careful checking of everything. There was a noticeable wobble to the four jaw chuck. While you could see it, it was only slight. By the time you moved outwards to the end of a deeper bowl though, it was more than noticeable, it was getting on the verge of downright dangerous.
I am not trying to overstate it. In my opinion, anytime you have something consistently out of balance and spinning at high speed, that cannot be a good thing.
So, I tore the lathe down to find the problem. I figured it was probably some bearing issues. If so, I knew I could measure and order some bearings and fix the lathe with ease. As it turned out though, the bearings were fine. The main shaft that the spindle uses was bent.
I bought this lathe second hand. I have no idea what brand it is. Most of the writing on it is in Chinese. So I had no idea how to find parts for it. Besides, considering it is a cheaply made lathe from China with a bent shaft, I'm not sure I would have ever felt comfortable using it again anyway. I've already had a piece of wood fly off this thing and hit me in the head. It is not a lot of fun.
So I talked with some good friends in one of my wood working forums about it. A fellow woodworker, and friend, happened to have a lathe that he said I could have. All I had to do was go get it. It was a longer drive to his house than I usually enjoy making, but seeing as I'd wanted to meet this guy besides just on the internet anyway, I decided that meeting a fellow woodworker, and getting a lathe, was just more than I could pass up.
So now, thanks to my friend Eddie, I have a Ridgid lathe. After getting it set up in my shop, I don't know how I ever done anything on that Chinese made one I'd been using. This thing is a dream to use. It runs true. It runs smooth. I can't believe the difference a god lathe makes.
So, with a good lathe to use now, and some other helpful advice from another friend that is a wood turner, on sharpening, I was back in business. I was standing ankle deep in wood shavings and chips in no time.
My first turning on my new (to me) lathe will be going to another woodworking friend. I promised to send him something I turned. That is what kept this whole adventure going past the first day anyway, a promise I made to a friend.
Next I hope to get on a project I was planning on starting a week ago, before I got sidetracked with this little wood turning adventure. This has been so much fun though. You all can surely look to see more wood turning in the future. I need more practice, but I really want to get good enough to turn a lot more bowls.


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