Woodturning for Dummies (that would be me)

Dan Noren

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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!:thumb:
 
Messages
133
Location
Victoria, TX
I bought a 5/8 and a 1/2 bowl gouge. So far I've only shredded an elm bowl blank with it...

I'll try it on a few other things soon but I have some other projects to catch up on before I can get back in the shop.

We had a little wind the other day and all the limbs that had just been hanging on dropped in the yard. As I was hauling the third trailer load of them to the brush pile I decided to get a bit ahead of the game. So, I've been making preparations (mental, see how that works) to do some major tree trimming WHEN the weather clears up. It was clear today but too cold (high of 58. Yes, that is TOO cold for me!)

So, I'll wait a bit more.

Alan
 
Messages
133
Location
Victoria, TX
All good advice Dan. As with other hobbies, getting over confident leaves a big gaping hole where negligence and inattention can slip in. I still have a lot to learn about the lathe AND the table saw. For most of my I had a radial arm saw as my big saw for crosscut, mitering and ripping (and anything else). I did get a chop saw about ten years ago. Both of them will get you too. One of my nephews got hung up in his chop saw. While he regained full use of his arm, he has refrained from doing it again. I asked him how he did it and he said ....... he didn't know. Happened real fast.

Alan
 

Chuck Ellis

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Tellico Plains, Tennessee
I did get a chop saw about ten years ago. Both of them will get you too. One of my nephews got hung up in his chop saw. While he regained full use of his arm, he has refrained from doing it again. I asked him how he did it and he said ....... he didn't know. Happened real fast.
Alan
I had a chop saw once (I actually have one now that is replacement for the one I had once)... my wife picked up a small log about 18-20 inches long and about 6" diameter from the Tellico River... it was very wet, so I let it lay in my shop (in Houston) for better part of a year... when we moved to Tennessee, I moved the little log... decided to chop it up for a pepper mill onc day.... pulled down on the handled too fast and when all the parts stopped flying about the shop, the blade was bent, the housing in pieces, the handle was in my hand and I needed clean underwear.... still don't know for sure what happened.

I pull down on the saw slowly and very deliberately now.
 

Chuck Ellis

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Location
Tellico Plains, Tennessee
BTW, I see comments all the time about not using a glove... I've watched a number of videos by professional turners that show them wearing a glove..
I have an old leather glove with all the finger cut off that I wear on my left hand... wood chips flying out of and off a bowl get hot or make my hand sore after a while.
I do concur you need a good face shield and put it on BEFORE you turn on the lathe... there are picture of my pretty face in several threads on this forum that shows the aftermath of not having on a shield and having a light catch... bowls can come out of a chuck and fly at you faster than you can duck.... DAMHIKT.
 

Ryan Mooney

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The Gorge Area, Oregon
One other trick that Dan's post reminded me of. I took some 1/2" EMT (metal electrical conduit) and hung it from the ceiling and then have some plastic sheets hanging from that on curtain hooks. That lets me put kind of an "shavings protection region" around the lathe. Once you get pealing shavings off at speed they'll travel a remarkably long ways in volumes higher than might seem possible and this helps keep them kind of localized.

Plus one on face shields. I use the Uvex Bionics although I've had some questions as to whether it's sufficient at times.. it's better than nothing by a long sight.

For respiratory protection I've settled on the 3M 7500 series masks (more comfortable than the 6xxx series as they have silicon face seal) with the P100 filters. They cost a smidge more up front but last real well and the filter packs are to bad replacement cost wise.
 
Messages
133
Location
Victoria, TX
The one I have now is a replacement for the one I had before as well. Same deal, I was cutting a piece of mesquite to make wood chips for the pit and nearly the same thing happened though not quite as dramatically. It just bound and bent the blade and broke the saw housing.

Alan
 

Vaughn McMillan

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ABQ NM
Like Ryan, I've hung shower curtains behind the lathe and also behind myself. They really help to contain things when the curlies start to fly.

In years past I used a Trend Airshield for facial and respiratory protection. The batteries have since died, and until I can replace or repair them I use a full face shield and a 3M cartridge respirator. (I have replacement battery cells for the Trend, but still need to figure out how to solder them together compactly enough to fit back in the cases the originals came in.)
 

Chuck Ellis

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Location
Tellico Plains, Tennessee
I also use a shower curtain between the lathe and the other end of my shop... helps with containment... not completely since I only hung it across one end of the lathe, but keeps ships out of my finish/work area.

I have a Trend Airshield that helps with the dust inhalation... (keeps it out), but after a long day of turning, my neck is pretty sore... I find the Trend to be a little heavy. And the batteries don't last as long as I would like... I actually have two sets of batteries, but my shield has to have them installed to charge, so can't charge the extra set while working with the other... I do like the positive air flow though. I do have two other shields hanging in the overhead that I use when the Trend needs charging.
 
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