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Thread: should I start turning???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    should I start turning???

    I have been looking for a hobby of some sort as a "release" and to just get rid of everyday stress. I am currently a cabinet shop supervisor, married, and father of 3 kids that keep me busy. Recently in reading and internet exploring I have seen many things about turning. This has caught my eye as something that would be interesting. Turning small items such as pens seems right up what I have been looking for. I have never done any turning in my life so that would be new to me. Currently I have very limited space to work in so I need something that would be easy to move around. Also, I have a limited budget so that is something to consider. Like I said, I know nothing about turning but would like to learn. Is this something that would take years to do or can it be picked up fairly easy? I would have to get the tools to do it all so I really don't know where to start. I found this small lathe in a catalog I recieved....
    but don't know how great it would be. I figured my best bet would be to come here and ask the experts their point of view on the matter. Any suggetions, ideas, comments, that you have would be greatly appreciated. If I am totally nuts with this idea please let me know. thanks for looking.

    "It's hard to soar with eagles when you fly with buzzards"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    I was in the same boat as you were 3 1/2 yrs. ago. I needed a outlet and also something to do when I retire next year. My first suggestion is to find a woodcraft store or turning club and join. I wish I would have had that but the closest I had was 3 hr drive one way. There are a number of DVD's, video's, books, etc. out there that will help with the learning process. That is how I learned. I watched and then did what I watched until I had it down. Took me about a year. Like I said with a turning club or classes at woodcraft would have cut the learning time down by half. As far as a lathe the one you showed I would not even look twice at it. My friend got one and after taking it back and exchanging it 3 times he finally got his money back and bought a Rikon. My suggestion and all these are pretty good lathes to start with are Jet mini, Delta LA 200, Rikon, Steel City and Penn State Industries Turncrafter Pro. I have the Rikon and love it for a midi lathe because of the 4 it has a 12" swing so you can also do bowls if you so choose. Penn State Industries has a decent set of turning tools that are around $60 for the set. I bought one and still use most all of them even though I have purchased several high dollar tools. Of course you will need a sharpening jig to sharpen your tools, a chuck if you want to do bowls and pen turning supplies to turn pens.

    No you are not nuts. Seriously turning I have found is a excellent outlet and besides when you sell a few pens, bowls, etc. it can keep feeding the habit. Also I make about 90% of our christmas gifts turning so it is a good thing. Hope this will give you some idea's to think about and I know other will be on here to give you more idea's.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria, Virginia
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Eckstein View Post
    ...and to just get rid of everyday stress...
    Excellent choice Michael. When you are turning on a lathe, there is only one thing that you can keep your mind on and that is the turning, it focuses the mind and helps reduce stress and improve concentration. It is a great stress reliever. Also turning can bring gratification quickly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Michael, short answer is YES! Start Turning, and no you are not nuts.

    As to the lathe you linked to....I would stay away from it. The speeds on it are really fast and only 4" swing (faceplate capacity) and 12" in length is really limiting. Bernie gave you some great examples as to great starter lathes and tools. Harbor Frieght also has a good starter set of tools, although it does not include a bowl gouge.

    I'd look for a local turning club to get startd and maybe a member is looking to unload or lend a starter lathe to someone just starting to go nuts, I mean starting to turn.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Yes! Yes! You should start turning, it is amazing the satisfaction you get out of it when you see the finished project.
    I would suggest looking on Craig's List for the lathe and sometimes you can find a combo deal that includes the tools or for the tools you can look for them at harbor freight tools the have an eight piece turning set for $60. Wood craft is always a good place to go the people that work at ours are always willing to give us demos and pointers.
    I hope this helps.
    well behaved women rarely make history

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    I second everything Bernie and Frank said... I started turning about 6 or 7 years ago in Houston after I saw some turnings in a gallery in Fredericksburg. Haven't regretted one minute of the time I spend at the lathe. I've been retired about 3 years now and have more time, but less money, to turn. My first lathe was a gift from my son, second is a cast-off or hand-me-down from same son. The first was a full sized lathe from Home Depot, a good enough lathe to learn on, but light for any really serious turning. The hand-me-down was a Jet 1014 Mini... great little lathe and I've had loads of enjoyment from it. Current lathe is now a Jet 1442 that I bought in March from the proceeds of a major sale to a local gallery. I still use the original set of tools I got with the Ridgid plus a second set I got with the 1014. I've bought a set of bowl gouges from PSI that were under $40.
    Turning is a great stress relief and I highly recommend it.
    Tellico Plains, TN
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I'll second or third the suggestion to stay away from the Sears mini lathe. I started out with this one. It is a much better lathe IMO than the little Sears model, but I soon outgrew it and bought a full-sized lathe I found locally on Craigslist. I outgrew that one too, so now I have a big boy Powermatic 3520B, but I still have the little Wilton mini lathe. I would suggest any of the mini lathes Bernie mentioned. Also, if you can find something used for sale, you'll stand a better chance of recovering your investment when you sell it to move up to a bigger machine. (Or in the unlikely event that you decide turning is not for you.)

    Like the others here, I find lathe time to be a nice way to relieve stress. However it can introduce its own brand of stress, too. You'll find yourself worrying about things like "I wonder when the neighbors are going to be away, so I can check out their firewood pile."
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Eckstein View Post
    Any suggestions, ideas, comments, that you have would be greatly appreciated. If I am totally nuts with this idea please let me know. thanks for looking.
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I know we all mean well, but are we sure we're giving good advice when we encourage this gracious soul to start turning? Micheal, this project can only lead to error! It will make you susceptible to all seven of the deadly sins!

    Wrath: You will curse, horribly, when your bowl blank goes flying across the room!

    Lust: You will browse many a turning catalog, and you will desire everything in each one!

    Envy: This is the worst! Have you seen Bill Grumbine's lathe? Or Vaughn's? Best not to look. You will think bad thoughts about them!

    Gluttony: You will gorge on tools! You won't be able to stop yourself!

    Sloth: Turning makes you lazy. Ask Ken how long it took him to finish his shop once he got his lathe set up. He didn't get anything else done for two years! See also: Ned's shop!

    Greed: You'll grab every piece of spare wood you can find! They'll be stacked all over the place. Your wife will look at you, and then look at all those piles of unturned wood, and then look back at you! Things will get difficult. Don't ask me how I know!

    Pride: So, you turn something. After, like, forty tries, you'll get something you really like. You'll get a finish on it. You'll put it on the shelf. Then, you'll find that everyone who comes in the house has to look at it, pick it up, say "wow, you did that?" The first time you nod, you'll know you're undone!

    In short: it's expensive. It's frustrating. It takes all your time! You'll never be as good as you want to be! Normal people will cross the street when they see you coming!

    Other than that, yep, it's a great idea!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Krum Texas
    Michael, YES start turning as soon as you can!!!!

    Bernie gave you some really good advise on taking a class. It will save you lots of time. Woodcraft is right around the corner from you. Marsh at Spring Valley in Addison. Woodworld is right by you also on TI Blvd right off 635. Both offer classes but woodworld is always doing free demos. Another thing in your favor is the fact that Craigslist is loaded with lathes in this area.

    It would be about a 35 mile drive for you but if ya want some lathe time to see how the shavings feel shoot me an email or PM. I'm not the best turner in the world but I can hold my own and I sure wouldn't mind giving you a free lesson to get you started. One of the members of my club made me the same offer a few years ago, I took him up on it and have not had a clean floor in the shop since.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    Be Afraid, Michael. Be very afraid.

    maybe you should just take up jogging or cycling instead...

    ps: For me, flatwork woodworking is my release. I'm not "allowed" to look at a lathe until the kids are out of the house...
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

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