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Thread: chip cleanup

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Nanticoke, PA

    chip cleanup

    Hello all. Completely new to turning. Bought a Rikon 70-100 to try my hand at ornaments and such. My question is....before I get it set up, I'd like to know how you go about cleaning up the mess. Vacuum cleaner of course....but how many of you have one going while turning and how many wait till you're done and clean up afterwards? I may be a silly question, but I have a small shop, and space is at a premium. I'd rather do a set up properly the first time and not have to tear anything up later.....if you know what I mean. Thanks to all in advance for your replies and suggestions. Any pictures of your own set-ups would be greatly appreciated....and I'll be sure to post pictures of my turned work here. Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    A good friend is a prolific turner. He has set up curtains around his lathe area. Chips stay pretty well confined to that area and he cleans the floor after. He used sail cloth that needs brushing from time to time. Others use shower curtains. However, he does use a dust scoop when he is sanding on the lathe and an overhead air cleaner is on all the time. So I guess his (and my) answer would be both while turning and after turning..

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Also in the hang a curtain crowd (dollar store shower curtains hung from a hung of 1/2" pvc with some scrap wire bent to make curtain hangers).
    Subsequent cleanup is with a scoop shovel and a broom
    I do pull over the dust collector hose when sanding some (and could profitably spend some time improving that setup - something like the 5 gallon can "big gulp" style collector[1] would be a nice improvement over what I'm doing).

    I can say with fair bit of certainty that a shop vac will prove vastly inadequate for doing chip capture from the lathe and isn't worth attempting (dust collection when sanding is of course another story). The problem is both direction and volume. Before I hung the curtains I was finding chips that had levitated to 15+ feet behind me and everything within about 5' was fully covered after a good turning session. There is some directionality to the chip flow but not enough to capture it very well (there is one video of a fellow who can "aim" the shavings into a giant waste bin behind him - impressive and I ain't that guy ) and because a lot of it goes "over the shoulder" more or less it would be awkward to capture with suction anyway. The other problem is shear volume, after my last bowl making extravaganza (which was maybe a dozen or so medium sized bowls) I ended up with almost 6 wheelbarrow loads of shavings. Spindle work (pens, drop spindles, tops, etc..) generally produces somewhat smaller amounts of chips and are mostly turned from dry wood (I try to rough all my bowls from green) which produces smaller chips that compact better as well. You can still end up with a wheelbarrow load after a full days work if you're cooking along (don't expect that to happen right away but plan your layout as if it will - plan for success so to speak ). Trying to capture that much volume in a shop vac would be a giant pain. I usually just kick the pile aside until it gets to big to kick (couple of hours) and then take a load out. Provides a nice break from turning anyway

    [1] Thinking of something like Reed Grays you can see in his video here:

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Austin, Texas
    I don't know any turner (myself included) that has succeeded in capturing the chips as they are made. A shovel may be required for cleanup.

    However, sanding can kill you (chips will not, unless you trip), so I recommend running a dust collector during sanding.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Wapakoneta, OH
    Yeah, the DC while sanding is needed...but for chips I just have a floor sweep near the lathe, and sweep them into it. The curtain thing sounds good, and i have a set I use for my "spray booth", maybe I can put a rack around the lathe and use them for it as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    Snow shovel and an area enclosure work well...but if you aren't using breathing and impact protection...forget turning until you have both.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Burr View Post
    but if you aren't using breathing and impact protection...forget turning until you have both.
    Hold that thought! Things will harken in in that regards real soon now here. Personally I currently use a 3m 7500 mask with P100 filtersand an uvex bionics face shield. Big fan of both but others like other things.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Near Gassaway,West Virginia
    For your set up make sure that the lathe is level and it is nice to have some room on the back side, I have mine 90 to the wall. Dust is a problem but chips are a nuisance. You will need some place to sharpen your tools.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    I have a HF 1600cfm dust collect hose inches from the turning piece... most of the chips go everywhere except down that hose... it does catch a portion of the dust, but only a small portion. On most given days there is a 3' pile of wood chips between my lathe and the wall.... my wall is the second door of a 6' wide two door entry system and I keep a flat nosed shovel on the wall to scoop chips....

    Best system I've ever seen is Glenn Lucas's catch system... he has a dumpster over his left shoulder, turns bowls at high speed and left handed... 90% of his chips go into the dumpster.... haven't developed that particular skill yet.
    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    just south of the LA/MS border off of I-55
    As everyone seems to agree, expect to be dealing with shavings after turning. The picture isn't of me but I think it will give you some idea of the shavings to expect!

    There is a scoop with an upright handle on it and the scoop pivots. I bought one from Lowes that is fair sized, my friend with a machine shop has a still bigger one from one of the supply houses, I don't know if he will remember which one. Not bending over to scoop shavings is nice! If going the the old fashioned scoop method I use a grain scoop. Plastic is nice, aluminum great, but I have a handful of steel ones from the days this was a dairy farm so it is a case of not looking a gift horse in the mouth!

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails I_think_I_dropped_my_chuck_key.jpg  

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