This woodturning website is being posted as an informational website for those who are looking for resources to build their turning skill level.
This website is being built as I find time to research useful information and woodturning resources. If you would like to contribute information, resources, your website or Gallery link, use the webmaster link at the bottom of the page to submit it. The domain name conventionalwoodturners.org was purchased by me so I could build the website for a new group. It turns out, it wasn’t needed, so not wanting to waste the domain, I’m using it to hopefully help those who are thinking of getting into woodturning and want to know more about it and what it takes to get started. If you are looking for the CWA, click this link.
Information found here has been gathered from the internet, turners and other resources. All due acknowledgment will be given .
Woodturning is a form of woodworking that is used to create wooden objects on a lathe. Woodturning differs from most other forms of woodworking in that the wood is moving while a (relatively) stationary tool is used to cut and shape it. Many intricate shapes and designs can be made by turning wood. ( Wikipedia)
If you have the desire to start turning or might have in school but don’t quite know what equipment you’ll need to get you going for your own shop, I’ll post a list of tools and approximate cost in a moment. The first step and the most important IMHO is to find a local turning club. The American Association of Woodturners is the place to find the club that is closest to you. Click her for that link: AAW Most if not all turning clubs will allow you to sit in on a meeting without charge on your first visit. The information gained from membership in a turning club is most important to develop your skills as a wood turner. They hold demonstrations to show you how to turn and have libraries with books and videos you can check out to take back home with you to study.
To get started, you’ll need a lathe, chuck, bowl gouge, scraper, face shield and parting tool. These are the very basic tools needed to get you going. You will need a drive center and live center but these will come with your lathe. A mini lathe is a great purchase for the new turner. It’s size is not intimidating and is safer for those with little to no turning experience. A lot of turners keep their mini lathes after upgrading at a later time. A second lathe comes in real handy down the road. The approximate cost for the set mentioned as new would be around $700.00 give or take a few dollars.
That sounds like a lot of money for a hobby and is to most but this is where a turning club comes in handy. Networking with the members may help you find a used lathe at a greatly reduced price from new. What brand of tools should you get? Turning club members to the rescue again. They can explain the difference between brands and tool sizes, where to get the best prices and how to sharpen and take care of your tools. Speaking of sharpening, you will need some sort of grinder setup and a 8″ slow speed (1700-1800 RPM) grinder is most recommended. Grinders are not that expensive to buy new and come with a half way decent set of grinding wheels already in place.
Another great resource for the new turner are on-line wood working forums. They don’t replace real hands on experience you’ll find at a club meeting but come a close second as an important resource none the less. I’ll list those on the resource page.
Safety should be your first and most important concern. Learn the safety rules and live by them. This can’t be stressed enough ! Ask any turner who has been injured while turning and they’ll tell you right out, they were not following the safety rules.
The origin of woodworking dates to around 1300BC when the Egyptians first developed a two-person lathe. One person would turn the wood with a rope while the other used a sharp tool to cut shapes in the wood. The Romans improved the Egyptian design with the addition of a turning bow. Early bow lathes were also developed and used in Germany, France and Britain. In the Middle Ages a pedal replaced hand-operated turning, freeing both the craftsman’s hands to hold the woodturning tools. The pedal was usually connected to a pole, often a straight-grained sapling. The system today is called the “spring pole” lathe (see Polelathe). Spring pole lathes were in common use into the early 20th Century. A two-person lathe, called a “great lathe”, allowed a piece to turn continuously (like today’s power lathes). A master would cut the wood while an apprentice turned the crank.
The term “bodger” stems from pole lathe turners who used to make the chair legs and spindles. A bodger would typically purchase all the trees on a plot of land, set up camp on the plot, and then fell the trees and turn the wood. The spindles and legs that were produced were sold in bulk, for pence per dozen. The bodger’s job was considered unfinished because he only made component parts. The term now describes a person who leaves a job unfinished, or does it badly.
During the industrial revolution the lathe was motorized, allowing turned items to be created in less time. The motor also produced a greater rotational speed for the wood, making it easier to quickly produce high quality work. Today most commercial woodturning is done by computer-operated machinery allowing for mass-production that can be created with accurate precision and without the cost of employing craftsmen. Despite this, there is still a demand for hand-turned products. Woodturning is also a hobby enjoyed by many people.
Modern professional woodturners are typically either “production” turners producing large quantities of functional pieces, or artistic turners producing smaller numbers of pieces, often enhanced after turning by carving, piercing, coloring, applying pyography, gilding, or a number of other techniques to produce objects for the art market. (Wikipedia)
Learning to turn correctly as you first learn will help you from developing bad habits that will be hard to break later. It will also help your skill level develop much quicker. This is one hobby you will never stop learning so don’t get discouraged when mistakes happen. Take time and walk away from the project for a little while if needed. The best turners in the world make mistakes once in a while. They have learned to deal with, accept and sometimes use it to their advantage such as a wonderful design change.
This is one of the many brands of scroll chucks on the market today. These have become a standard tool in a wood turners arsenal. This type of chuck is key operated and much easier to use than those of just a few years ago which need two tightening bars to operate the chuck. Several different sizes are used depending on the size of the wood your turning.
This is one of the many types of drive centers on the market today. This is called a four prong drive center and is best used with wood that has a mostly flat surface. These are used on the head stock side of the lathe.
A two prong drive center works better on uneven wood surfaces.
These are called Revolving centers or better known as live centers. They are inserted in the tail stock of your lathe. They come in many different variations for different situations.
This is called a Face plate. This is used to attach wood to the lathe for turning. Most often used for hollow forms. Face plates are a very strong way to hold your work in place. Face plates come in several different sizes.
Bowl gouges come in several different sizes and the turner choses the one best suited for the particular job. 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4 are the most popular sizes. Most gouges come with wooden handles but many woodturners prefer making their own out of other materials for a more custom fit. There are as many brands of bowl gouges as there are turners it seems some times. Gouges should be purchased one at a time as opposed to sets. You’ll get a better fit to your personal needs that way.
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