ok, all seriousness aside, i will throw my 7 cents (adjusted for inflation) into the ring, based upon my experience. as this thread is called woodturning for dummies, this is how i would explain things to my brother, he's not a dummy, just a garden variety idjit. ok, first and foremost, the lathe is just this side of the table saw, of being the most dangerous tool in your shop, and can do some serious, and lasting damage that will hurt quite a bit. with that warning out of the way, first of all, invest in a good, solid face shield, if it can slow down an uncontained jet engine fan blade, it will be good enough for turning. also, in addition to keeping your nose unbroken and your eyes safe, make sure it has good cover for the top of your head too, british ww2 helmets will work, but only after cutting off the flat sides (to be explained later). another bit of safety, keep your hair pulled back, if your lathe grabs it, you will not go round and round like in the cartoons. if you like your fingers, no gloves either (same goes for wrapping said finger, when polishing, it only keeps the finger clean, when they reattach it). make sure your work, whatever it is, is firmly secured to the lathe. you don't want that lil devil coming off the lathe at high speed, hitting your face shield, going up and coming back down on your head (don't ask me how i know that one). once you have it secure and spinning, do not push your tool of choice directly into the spinning blank, your tools hate that, and they will tell you in some rather interesting, sudden, and violent ways. once you have done this, and running out of profanities, go back to your lathe, and take shallower cuts. each tool has it's own special, individual use, and you should use them this way. a weed whip can do quite the job along the edges, but you wouldn't want to do the whole yard with one. dust is another thing, get something lighter than a czech army gas mask to filter out the dust, but not too light or you'll be blowing walnut dust out of your nose for a while. a good shop apron works pretty good too, for keeping your clothes clean (sort of), and keeping you from tramping shavings all over the house (sort of), i would suggest for more coverage, get a lab coat, and take off the sleeves (safety measure), for complete coverage. after all of this serious talk (note, not one bit of how to use tools, i leave that for them that know better), don't be afraid of the lathe, but keep a healthy respect for the damage it can do, a good dose of caution when approaching the task at hand, and even more attention to what you are doing (make your table saw jealous), and start small, easy projects, work up your skills to more complicated projects. above all get a good grinder, to keep your tools sharp, as a sharp tool cuts better than a dull one. catches will, not might, happen, they can be very slight, or some real humdingers leaving you looking for your tool, the blank you were cutting (another bit of advice, stay out of the line of fire), and leaving your hands numb for about a week or so. on that happy note, remember, be cautious, but not timid, and if you have doubts, step back, and rethink what you are about to do (saves wood, fingers, and you won't get blood all over the shop), and keep a handy supply of band-aids nearby, just in case. happy turning!