The purpose of a lathe is to rotate a part against a tool whose position it controls. Because there is almost nothing to go wrong with a wood lathe – only the spindle bearings and motor are likely to fail, buying one needing attention – perhaps change of motor from 3-phase to single phase (or running from a Phase Inverter), or replacement of the headstock bearings – can still be viable proposition. Fortunately that means we can take the best of many different designs, add in a little modern hardware and end up with a lathe suited for any size shop or style of wood turning.
Lathe tool bit shapes can be pointed, rounded, squared off, or irregular in shape and still cut quite well as long as the tool bit angles are properly ground for the type of material being machined. In the case of the lathe process, sharpness is known from scraps of the material or a processing surface. Also, especially for beginners, set your lathe to the slowest speed you can – this may be limited by your thread pitch. If no gearbox is fitted, and the lathe is capable of screw cutting, you should make sure that the seller is supplying a set of loose change gears with the lathe.
Unless a workpiece has a taper machined onto it which perfectly matches the internal taper in the spindle, or has threads which perfectly match the external threads on the spindle (two conditions which rarely exist), an accessory must be used to mount a workpiece to the spindle. The spindle on the lathe is mounted in bearings in the headstock and is caused to rotate by the motor. There are numerous factors to take into consideration before purchasing a quality wood lathe. The threading dial may have singular marks or numbers, depending upon the lead screw in your lathe.
These chisels are made out of m2 high speed steel blades, and are known to outlast carbon steel 6 to 1. The set comes with a 3/16 inch parting tool, a 5/8 inch spear scraper, a 1 inch and 5/8 inch skew chisel, a 5/8 inch round nose scraper, a 1/2 inch bowl gouge, a 3/4 inch spindle gouge, and a 7/8 inch rouging gouge. Incorrectly drilled holes will subject the lathe centers to unnecessary wear and the workpiece will not run true because of poor bearing surfaces. Your bowl blank will be much more likely to fly out of the chuck when roughing out the inside.
Feed is measured in inches or millimeters per revolution, depending on the lathe used and the operator’s system of measurement. This will eventually cut away the angular corners, leaving your work piece round, and with practice, cylindrical in shape. If the bed is in real good shape, the carriage will make it all the way to the other end without binding.
The lathe is dirt simple and can be made from simple scraps and a sapling to more elegant 16th and 17th century forms. A great example of one chisel set is the Savannah HSS wood lathe chisel 8 piece set. Use care to avoid dropping the chuck on the ways, since this can greatly damage the lathe ways or crush the operator’s hands. We’ll use the compound to advance the cutter, so setting it at an angle slightly less than the angle of the thread causes most of the cut to be taken on one side of the cutter, reducing the force required if we were to just jam the cutter into the work.
Make sure the thread is clean when checking – a few chips could make it seem tighter than it is. Take a spring pass every other cut as you get close – a spring pass is a pass without advancing the compound in order to compensate for any spring in the workpiece. With the lathe off, wipe on the finish, wipe off the excess, turn on the lathe, and buff the piece to a high gloss. The reviews and comparison chart provided above will hopefully guide future lathe buyers in the right direction ahead of time. Check each lathe prior to operation for any missing parts or broken shear pins.