General Information

Turning Tips

Tool Handle

When I mentioned to Pleas McKee that I was going to make a tool handle he suggested that I drill the hole in the handle before I start turning. Find the correct size drill bit; make the hole, then leave the drill in the hole. Take to the lathe and using a Jacobs chuck, mount the drill bit and using a live center tail stock, turn the handle. By leaving the bit in the wood, the entire handle is kept in alignment throughout the process. When done the handle is perfectly aligned. Works great! - Marvel Gates

Graphite / Mainenance

My chuck slowly gets clogged up with fine wood dust and the key operation becomes quite sticky. So I will occasionally blow out all the dust with the shopvac, and lubricate the mechanism with graphite lubricant. This is a fine graphite dust and is sold in hardware stores for lubricating door locks, amongst other things. After I turn the jaws in and out a few times, they become noticeably easier to operate. And when I put it back on the lathe I get a much better feel for the amount of gripping pressure I apply. I have been turning a lot of bottle stoppers lately, and before cleaning I was finding the dowel had a tendency to come out of the jaws at the slightest provocation. After cleaning the mechanism I get a much better grip. I assume that more of the key torque is transferred to the jaws when the gears are operating smoothly. The investment of few minutes of maintenance time has paid off well by reducing frustration. - Tip from past newsletter

Getting a Blank to Run True on a Chuck

Have you ever started a blank between centers, getting a real nice surface on the outside and forming a nice tenon or recess for the chuck to grab, but then discover that it no longer runs true when you mount it on the chuck? Or, have you ever been part way through a piece, find out you temporarily need the chuck for something else and then when you try to rechuck the piece, it won’t run true? Here’s a possible solution. When chucking up a blank, most times turners will put the chuck on the spindle and then hold the blank up to the chuck with the right hand and tailstock while tightening the jaws with the left. Frequently, this will work fine and the piece will run true, but sometimes there’s some wobble that wasn’t there before. Now you’ll have to re-turn what you’ve done so far. Try this. Put the chuck on a flat surface with the jaws open wide enough to accommodate the tenon or recess. Now lower the piece onto the jaws and tighten enough to hold it while you move to the headstock. You’ve just used gravity to level the wood with the jaws and should get a true running piece. One last thought. Nothing will help if the tenon or recess is deeper than the jaws. The wood should always contact the jaws at the top of the jaws, not rest on the bottom surface of the jaws. Also, a wet blank may warp if it’s not cared for properly. - Bob Matern

Increasing the Shelf Life of Oil/Varnish Finish

I often use a commercial Tung oil/varnish mixture as finish on wood projects. Unfortunately, this product’s shelf life after the initial opening is limited. I usually end up throwing a good portion of the product away because it thickens and becomes difficult to apply when stored in the original container after opening.I’ve tried many reseal able containers without success. Lately I have begun pouring the unused oil/varnish into an empty wine bottle after the initial opening. I then use a manual vacuum pump and rubber cork designed specifically for wines bottles. A few pumps to evacuate the air remaining in the bottle is all it takes. The next time I need to use the finish I pour the required amount into an appropriate container for application, usually a small tin bowl.When no longer needed, I pour the unused portion back into the wine bottle and once again evacuate the air with the pump. So far this process has more than doubled the shelf life of my oil/varnish finish and the clock is still ticking. I obtained my pump and stoppers at Bed Bath & Beyond. The pump and one stopper cost around $12. Additional stoppers are about $4 a pair. - Mike DeLong – East Texas Woodturners Association

Beginner's tip:  making chips!

I was told a long time ago, when I first started turning that the easiest way to learn turning is to make nothing but chips. No bowls, no candlesticks, nothing but chips, mainly to get the feel of the tool and handling. Most of us crawled before we walked, woodturning is no different. Learn and listen to what the lathe does at the different speeds. Watch how you present the tool to the wood; get a feel of how different angles of tool presentation make the chips fly differently. So go out to the old wood pile, grab a chunk and put it on the lathe and have fun. Use common sense when mounting a log on the lathe. Get it as close to center as possible. I still do this if I have not turned for a time, just to keep from messing up the good stuff (which still happens). It seems to make the mind and hands get back in the groove. -Fred Uphoff

Nomenclature of Woodturning

General Definitions

Woodturning The craft of using the lathe to produce objects from wood between centers. Green Wood Freshly cut logs or timber. Usually used to rough out forms to allow them to dry and then re-turn later. Many times used to a final form and allowed to warp artistically. The term refers to wet logs.

Definitions of Forms Produced on the Lathe

Bowl An open form. Open Form A vessel in which the lip of the form is continuously increasing in diameter. Closed Form A vessel in which the lip of the form increases from the bottom then decreases at some point toward the top. Hollow Form A closed form with a small opening at the top. Spindle A linear turned piece with the grain running from end to end.

Definitions and Descriptions of Equipment

Lathe A device that holds and turns wood while a tool is used to shape the wood. Headstock The assembly on the lathe that contains the driving mechanism for the lathe. It is attached to the lathe bed and usual has a spindle for mounting faceplates and inserting spurs or centers. Tailstock It is an assembly that moves along the bed of the lathe and can be clamped at any desired position on the bed. It contains a spindle that will hold dead centers or live centers and is generally, but not exclusively, used in spindle turning. Faceplate A metal or wood disk that mounts on the headstock spindle and the wood stock is mounted to it with screws through holes in the faceplate. Chuck Any device that holds wood in either jaws, or the wood is fitted into a cylinder of the chuck. The chuck is mounted on the headstock spindle for working the wood. Gouge A tool that has a flute and produces a cutting rather than scraping action. Roughing Gouge A gouge with fairly thick walls that is used to rough out and round stock to cylindrical shape very fast. The edges are not ground back and the angle around the whole edge is about 40 degrees. By rolling the gouge you can use the whole edge. Bowl Gouge A gouge that has a medium to deep flute and is used to rough out and finish the insides of bowls. Side-Ground Gouge A gouge that has one or both of the sides ground back and can be used in a variety of positions to rough, smooth, shear scrape, etc. Spindle Gouge A gouge that has a very shallow flute and is used to produce beads and coves primarily in spindle work (I.e. between centers). Skew Chisel Given the name because the cutting edge is at an angle to the side of the tool. The cutting edge is usually ground to an angle of 70 degrees. The length of the bevel is approximately twice the thickness of the steel. Skews are use to make V cuts, beads, tapers and to smooth corners and cylindrical stock Parting Tool Are used to make narrow recesses or grooves to a desired depth or to part a piece from the lathe. A common type would be the diamond shape with the center being thicker than the outside edges to give the tool clearance and prevent friction. Breading Tool Usually made out of 3/8th inch square stock and having angles between 30 degrees and 45 degrees which is used to make beads and also can be used as a parting tool. Scraper Any tool that scrapes the wood off rather than cutting or shearing the wood. A scraper will usually have a very blunt angle and a burr on the edge that does the actual scraping of the wood. Can be compared somewhat to a cabinet scraper.

Definitions of Methods and Techniques in Woodturning

Shear Scraping A method of using a side-ground gouge or large scraper to smooth a form. Usually a green form. Parting Using a parting tool to remove a section of wood down to a certain diameter. A rough cut. Reverse Chuckin The method of reversing a form on the lathe to turn away the waste at the bottom and finish off the piece.