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Serious help for a rookie.. (Read 2,972 times)
 
junior
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Serious help for a rookie..
Sep 8th, 2005 at 3:54am
 
Hello everyone. My name is junior, and i have recently become fascinated by turning wood.


I have never used a lathe, and have limited experience with wood. I have been in construction my whole life, so i do have a base knowledge of how things work.


I will soon buy my first wood lathe, and accessories.
I have read a few of the threads here about people wanting to know what to get. I must say, i am on a VERY fixed income currently, and hope the lathe will eventually earn its way to becoming an investment.

I also cannot justify to my wife buying the top of the line machine for a hobby i dont know if i am going to enjoy. If it turns out i like turning wood, i can always get a better lathe later, when my wife starts enjoying the hand made gifts!!

I am pretty much forced at this point (if i want to turn wood anyway) to buy an "ebay special" wood lathe.


I am interested in starting with a few simple projects, tops for my children, and things of that nature. My true passion for a wood lathe lies in chess pieces, and pool cues, so i would guess it wise for me to get a lathe big enough to handle these tasks.


The best lathe i can afford right now is this:

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or that link doesnt work, it is ebay item number: 5997130315

i guess i could always save up my money and go without getting started turning for a while longer, but i REALLY want to get this thing going. i owe a family member a chess set!





and what about faceplates, and such. would that machine at least get me started? I really want to get into turning as cheap as possible for now. if all goes well, i will upgrade later, when i can make more than just a pile of wood shavings.
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Negeltu
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #1 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 5:04am
 
I understand your situation.  That lathe you are thinking of getting looks very very much like the cummins wood lathe and the crappy harbor freight lathe.  From what I seen the centers do not line up very well at all.  Might I suggest you spend the money on this lathe...

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It is the only harbor freight lathe that is worth buying.  You can get it on sale for $199 usually.  If it's not on sale ask the store manager if he would cut you a deal.  All this is assuming you have a harbor freight store near you.  This lathe has a swiveling headstock, stand, face plate, drive spur and live cup center and wrenches.  You just have to make sure you maintain it regularly.
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Rick in Lincoln
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #2 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 5:27am
 
Welcome to the forum junior! 

There are pitfalls when you buy a 'starter' lathe like the one you mention.  These include being underpowered, having the centers not line up (which makes for wobbly or out of round pieces), poor quality banjos, tool rests, etc.  These will often frustrate the beginner to the point where they will either give up (heaven forbid!), or buy their second lathe.  I know many who have been down this road.

You don't mention where you're from, but I would investigate any and all local turning clubs in your area.  I'm sure they would be more than happy to let you see/touch/work on their lathes, in their shops, to see what different models are available and what a quality lathe feels like.

Check around before you take the plunge.  Don't underbuy.



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Glenn
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #3 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 5:43am
 
I agree with Negeltu.  The lathe you are targeting on eBay is not a good one at all.  Using a bad lathe is probably the quickest way to turn off your interest in turning. 

Wood turning is highly addictive.  Unless you are using a cheap lathe, you will probably enjoy it.

Most lathes come with the basics (face plae, drive center and live center).  These should be adequate until you can justify a scroll chuck.  There is a thread somewhere around here regarding an inexpensive chuck from PSI (Penn State Industries).  PSI also sells 'Benjamin's Best' tools.  Benjamin's Best are good quality turning tools that are very affordable.  You may want to look into them.

Local turning clubs are great.  I can't measure how much I have learned  through my local club.  (Although I have learned a lot here also...)

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Glenn
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #4 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 5:44am
 
Ooops!  Forgot to welcome you to the board.  Sorry 'bout my manners Junior!  Wink
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Chris Wright
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #5 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 7:57am
 
Howdy junior, welcome to WR!

Well, I have a conflict with this thread, here's why...I will be the first one to say, get the best you can afford because starting with a good lathe will make a world of difference.  On the other hand, many of you may not know that I started with the harbor frieght version of this exact lathe and turned on it for the first 6 months of my hobbist career and I didn't turn out so bad at this.

I do have to say though junior, with this lathe you will have more moments of frustration than joy.  The centers do not line up very well, the spindle has an amazing amount of runout and there isn't a chuck made that fits it.  The bed is 12 gauge sheet metal and can be flexed, bent and tweeked easily and to the point that the centers, which already don't line up get worse very quickly.  Oh, and don't ever drop a pulley, they shatter like glass.

The lathe that Neg mentions is light years better and even this one: Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register is a step up to less frustration.

As for starter tools, there's a guy on ebay that sells Benjamin's Best tools very inexpensively.  Here's his store link: Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register
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Gil Jones
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #6 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 8:18am
 
Welcome onboard Junior.
If that EBay lathe is the only one that you can afford at this time, I would suggest saving your money up for better quality. Find all the woodturning clubs near your area and visit each one (there are probably only one or two anyway). Then join the one you like best, and they will be a great help to you. You may even find a decent used or new lathe for sale thru the club or its members. If you were in construction, you already know that buying cheap tools is usually either dangerous, or expensive after they have to be prematurely replaced (or both). Try to resist rushing into lathe and tool purchases, ask many questions, do your homework, and buy the best that you can afford or save until you are able to afford them. There will still be one or two trees left to turn when you are ready.
Enjoy turning.

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junior
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #7 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 8:43am
 
Wow... thanks for all the info everyone. It seems that my fears were correct. I am more than aware of the aggravation of a cheap tool.


i am checking out the AAW site right now. seems i have a couple of choices here in Oklahoma!!

I am in it to win it now!!! I think i will take everyone's advice and wait till i can get a decent tool to start with.

in the mean time, maybe i will try to be a pest to my local clubs!!! and you guys!!!


again, thanks for all the info! you guys very well could have just saved me from getting mad, and giving up before i even got a fair shake at turning!
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Chris Wright
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #8 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 9:16am
 
Hey junior,  when you find a club, let them know at the first meeting you attend that you are eager to start but don't have a lathe yet.  Someone in the club may be willing to mentor you on their machine or may have a used one for sale.  You may even be able to talk someone into letting you come by and try theirs out to make sure turning is for you and get a feel for it.  If you have access to green wood, it usually works as a good bribe for an intro lesson or two!  Wink
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« Last Edit: Sep 8th, 2005 at 9:16am by Chris Wright »  

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junior
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #9 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 9:58am
 
lol... my winter time source of heat is a wood burning stove. I usually cut my own fire wood, green wood is not a problem.

As a matter of fact, i got a little excited when i saw instructions on how to turn a decorative mushroom, and in the photos, the man started with a limb that still had bark on it even...

it was however also confusing. I read somewhere on the net, that the material had to be centered in the lathe, and the weight of the material had to be fairly uniform.  And another site had something about not turning wood with bark on it, for fear of loose pieces flying off.
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #10 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 10:55am
 
Hey Junior
 Welcome aboard.  I will only echo what everyone else said and You may want to consider a Midi lathe.  Jet and Delta both make one that is real good and can be had for less than $300.00.  I have a Delta that I used for 4 years until I ws able to get me something a little bigger.
 You said your in Oklahoma,  where at in Oklahoma?  I have a  couple of friends in Oklahoma City and I travel out to Norman every so often.  

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« Last Edit: Sep 8th, 2005 at 10:55am by Philip Peak »  

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junior
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #11 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 2:30pm
 
I live about an hour southwest of OKC. so i am only about 40 minutes from norman. i was looking at the club in the city, but it is pretty big. there is another club about the same distance away that is alot smaller. which would be better? the big club, or the small one? i guess the big one for networking!


As far as the midi, and mini lathes, i dont think they are long enough to turn what i am going to want to attempt. The more research on wood turning i do, the more things i realize can be turned, and i must choose wisely, for i am a meager family man, and this lathe has to last.
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #12 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 3:11pm
 
Welcome Junior.  As you mentioned you need a lathe to last so that is a good reason not to waste you hard earned money on a lathe that will give you nothing but trouble.  Everyone gave you good advice and when you get with a club that can help even more.  You can check with both clubs and see what they have to offer.  The club near me even gives lessons to beginners about 3 times a year and have a mentor program to help you along.  But I warn you that woodturning is very addicting and you might have to get a second job to just buy all the new things you will need or think you will need.  Good luck and happy turning.
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #13 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 3:23pm
 
  The midi's (both Jet and Delta) have bed extensions that can be bought and added to the original lathe if needed at a later date.  Not to scare you away but you can sink a lot of moola into this hobby, and that is just for the basic stuff.  It is a lot of fun though.

As for the clubs in OKC, I only am familiar with one and tha is the Central Oklahoma Wood turners and the place they meet at used to be called Paxton's but they got bought out and are called something else now and for the life of me I cannot think of it.  They are on Agnew St just south of the I-40
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Re: Serious help for a rookie..
Reply #14 - Sep 8th, 2005 at 4:21pm
 
I got into turning on the "cheap" several month age.  I bought a Delta Midi $250, (came with free set of small tools), the extension $50, an inexpensive set of chisels $100, Grinder $75, and built a heavy bench for it $80 for lumber and hardware.  That's $555.  Plus calipers and other small stuff for another $50

Since then I have added a chuck with extra jaws & wormwood screw $150, a Wolverine grinding jig, Veri-jig, & Skew jig $150, and several good Crown chisels $200.  That's another $500.

That is  over a  Grand, and I think I got away light.  The lathe turned out to take about 25% of what I spent.  I think you will be very unhappy of you scrimp on the initial lathe purchase.  You can buy inexpensive without getting cheap products.

I wanted to stay on the light side because I didn't know if it was really something I wanted to get "into."  I think I am hooked for good, but I have no burning desire to upgrade to a larger or fancier lathe because the "small" one I bought is well built and can do a lot, for a lot longer.  Might change my mind in a couple of years, but I will have to get rid of some of my flatwood tools to make room.

JimQ
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