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What to use for practice? (Read 2,071 times)
 
Michael Cole
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What to use for practice?
May 23rd, 2016 at 9:56am
 
My lathe is to be delivered today and some tools I ordered from D-Way have already arrived so I would like to start some learning practice.  What should I get to begin practicing.  4x4's for spindle or what?  What about bowls?  Unfortunately I live in prairie grass so no trees to cut up.
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Tom Hamilton
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #1 - May 23rd, 2016 at 10:34am
 
Hi Michael - When I took my first turning class from Woodcraft we used mostly 2x2's, (2x4's that where ripped in half), great for spindle turning practice.

You'll want to be cautious of using 4x4's, because most of them are treated wood, and you DO NOT want to turn treated wood.

A lot of times if you have any home construction in your area they'll have a scrap/burn pile on site.  If you approach them nicely they'll often give you all you want from that pile, which will be plenty of practicing stock.

Lumbar yards often have scrap piles you can pick from too, just make sure and ask first.

If that doesn't help, go buy some 2x2's and have some fun making chips.

Happy Turning - Tom
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« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2016 at 10:37am by Tom Hamilton »  

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John Cepko
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #2 - May 23rd, 2016 at 5:53pm
 
Poplar 2 X2s or 4 X4s are good and cheap.
Buy an 8 footer, or two, cut into 6" inch pieces or so, and make them into shavings.
I like Poplar better than Pine for practice. The grain is more consistent.
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Bill Rockwood
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #3 - May 23rd, 2016 at 6:22pm
 
John Cepko wrote on May 23rd, 2016 at 5:53pm:
I like Poplar better than Pine for practice. The grain is more consistent.


+1.  When I started, I bought some twisted 8/4 poplar for cheap, cut into 2x2 blanks.  Didn't use it up before I moved up to white ash (lots of that here, urban.) Still have some poplar left, occasionally use for a quick tool handle or kitchen utensils.
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« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2016 at 6:23pm by Bill Rockwood »  
 
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Chris Gunsolley
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #4 - May 23rd, 2016 at 9:15pm
 
Michael Cole wrote on May 23rd, 2016 at 9:56am:
My lathe is to be delivered today and some tools I ordered from D-Way have already arrived so I would like to start some learning practice.  What should I get to begin practicing.  4x4's for spindle or what?  What about bowls?  Unfortunately I live in prairie grass so no trees to cut up.


Assuming you've studied everything you can about technique, try to turn a bowl. Really try. And being your very first bowl, imagine how special it's going to be for you for the rest of your life. Don't work on something meaningless just to learn technique, which is what most people will tell you to do. When you'll really learn is when you really care, and that's when you're actually trying to create something that you will treasure for life...like a real bowl--that really works!
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« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2016 at 9:15pm by Chris Gunsolley »  
 
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Michael Cole
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #5 - May 23rd, 2016 at 9:50pm
 
Thanks for all the help!  The lathe was delivered today and with the help of a former student, his brother and father I got it set up or almost so.
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Chris Gunsolley
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #6 - May 23rd, 2016 at 9:56pm
 
Michael Cole wrote on May 23rd, 2016 at 9:50pm:
Thanks for all the help!  The lathe was delivered today and with the help of a former student, his brother and father I got it set up or almost so.


You must be PSYCHED!!!
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« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2016 at 9:56pm by Chris Gunsolley »  
 
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Bob_Macgregor
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #7 - May 24th, 2016 at 8:18am
 
In addition to scraps of standard lumber, you can practice spindle turning on pieces of tree branches.   I turned a bunch of mushrooms, some eggs, magic wands and misc. other shapes from yard trimmings (apple, birch, maple, various softwoods, etc.) before trying to do anything more goal-directed, like a bowl.
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« Last Edit: May 24th, 2016 at 8:19am by Bob_Macgregor »  
 
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Andrew Abercrombie
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #8 - May 24th, 2016 at 11:37am
 
If you have a yard waste center near you they may be a constant source of wood.
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Don Stephan
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #9 - May 24th, 2016 at 7:15pm
 
My stating bowl suggestion will be very different.  I'd suggest getting a 8' x 2" x 6", cutting into 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 1 1/2 pieces and just experiment with cuts you see demonstrated in recommended dvd's without worrying about making a design mistake or an odd looking bowl.  And if at the end you're still not comfortable, get another 2 x 6.  If budget allows, buy poplar; if not framing lumber.  Poplar is more consistent grain, and won't have sticky pitch pockets, but costs more any depending on stores in your area may be harder to find than framing lumber.

From there, get some green lumber from a tree service, electric utility trimmers, et cetera.  With a chain saw, make some flat cut rim in, flat cut rim out, and quarter cut bowl blanks and turn again for the experience.  Spend time when done with these looking at the grain patterns in the bottoms of the different bowls so you know what to expect in the future when cutting logs into bowl blanks.

For your practice bowls, you can use a wood screw, faceplate, glue blocks, or four jaw chuck depending on equipment available and again budget.

Then check out from your local library or buy Richard Raffan's bowl design book and use to take a second look at your practice bowls and continue the learning process.

My two cents.
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« Last Edit: May 25th, 2016 at 6:59pm by Don Stephan »  
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Bob_Macgregor
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #10 - May 25th, 2016 at 8:26am
 
My local library had a couple of Raffan videos which helped me get started.
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Don Stephan
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #11 - May 25th, 2016 at 7:00pm
 
Had to correct the reference to a 8' x 2" x 6".
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lloyd harner
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #12 - May 26th, 2016 at 9:07am
 
had a guy give me a walnut stump to cut up.  got 2 bowls out of it are they perfect no but i got 2 10"ish bowls out of it and practiced cuts all the way to the finish you can take alot of "finish" cuts ruffing out a bowl that size
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #13 - Sep 5th, 2016 at 5:32pm
 
What Chris Said! I'm a self taught woodworker/turner myself. I took up the lathe a couple years ago, & still have a lot to learn. You can watch you tube videos & suggested videos til your eyes cross, but ACTUALLY doing it is learning it. As suggested, find yourself a mentor at best. From the sounds of it, at this point, you don't have a face plate yet, so start with a spindle project.

Acquire yourself several species of wood. That way you can work with all of them, & see what you prefer to work with. 

You'll need a grinder for sharpening. You can learn to freehand sharpen, but getting repeatable results take A LOT of practice.

Create a project you can say "I did that" & be proud of. It took me a long time to get the hang of things. In the meantime, I keep reading, & learning. Good luck.
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #14 - Sep 5th, 2016 at 7:01pm
 
One possible source for turning wood is pallet wood and shipping crate wood. Check behind a local lawn and garden or motorcycle dealership.  You will need to do some disassembly and WATCH FOR NAILS.  I have gotten some really nice North American hardwoods out of some pallets.
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #15 - Sep 5th, 2016 at 9:02pm
 
I know where Big Arm is located

I lived in Missoula for several years.

You have cottonwood, alder, ponderosa pine and cherry orchard trimmings.  Those are not the best, but work.   Mike Mahoney calls cottonwood Mormon Maple.  Ponderosa pine responds similar to Norfolk Island Pine.  Alder is soft, but works just fine

Get turning.

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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #16 - Sep 7th, 2016 at 7:15am
 
I would be very careful in using pallet wood for turning.  Pallets destined for international shipping treated with chemicals to kill bugs and such.
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #17 - Sep 7th, 2016 at 7:23am
 
Glenn Matthies wrote on Sep 7th, 2016 at 7:15am:
I would be very careful in using pallet wood for turning.  Pallets destined for international shipping treated with chemicals to kill bugs and such.   



I was going to mention this, too.  Here's a great resource for identifying where the pallet originated and what was done to it to keep insects at  bay:  Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register If a pallet was heat treated instead of chemically treated it can be safely reused. 

For practice, I started with a cedar 4x4x8 from Home Depot.  Cost about $11 but was very forgiving.  Turned lots of spindles down to toothpicks, but LOML wanted to keep some of the things that looked like vases or candle holders.
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #18 - Sep 18th, 2016 at 2:05pm
 
Every time is say   ok this one is for practice only,,     half way thru  it turns into a keeper.
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #19 - Sep 19th, 2016 at 7:43am
 
Rick Caron wrote on Sep 18th, 2016 at 2:05pm:
Every time is say   ok this one is for practice only,,     half way thru  it turns into a keeper.



You're lucky; mine too often go the other way!
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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #20 - Oct 9th, 2016 at 7:08pm
 
I'm in the same boat kind of.  I just bought my first lathe Saturday and I've been practicing on pieces of poplar that I cut from my own trees.  They are 3-4" diameter trees.  Right now I've just been roughing them out and playing around making small baseball bats.  Not for use of course but I have more wood than I can possible do anything with.  I also have Maple and cherry but I'm saving that for when I get better.  I ordered a Nova G3 that will be here mid week and I'll get started playing around with bowls. 

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Re: What to use for practice?
Reply #21 - Oct 14th, 2016 at 11:09am
 
Rick Caron wrote on Sep 18th, 2016 at 2:05pm:
Every time is say   ok this one is for practice only,,     half way thru  it turns into a keeper.

Smiley

I practice on every piece I turn.  Wink
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