I think in my case "featured nooby" would be a better title than "featured turner". In November of last year, (6 months ago) I found a guy that could turn the front two legs for an artistic audio rack I was building (picture below) and when we were talking about what I wanted, I very casually and somewhat kiddingly asked if I could turn them. His face lit up and he said "well, heck yeah!". It turned out that Ray Frase is a AAW and DAW mentor. Ray is great guy and is so positive and motivating to work with. He made me feel I could do anything.
Thank you so much Ray for all you've done....You don't know how much I appreciate it!!!
I had so much fun working on Ray's big old Oneway, I just had to get a lathe of my own. I started out with a Ridgid tube lathe and a 12" Craftsman band saw. That was December. I've been a metal sculpture for years and my garage was set up to cut and weld metal. Other than a bench grinder and drill press, those were the only wood working tools I owned.
The little Ridgid tube lathe was a lot of fun, but I was intrigued by turning larger pieces and the Ridgid didn't have the swing for that. In my travels, I stumbled on a 1959 Oliver 20-D that was in great shape for 1/3 the price of a new Powermatic 3520B. I found it on a Monday and drove 300 miles the next day and had it in the garage that night. It weighs 4008lbs, has a 30" inboard swing and 84" outboard swing. It can turn 76" C-T-C. With the special bed extension Oliver made two of, it can turn 64' (yes feet!) It is a 3 hp and 3 phase. It has a 4 pulley flat belt drive and a Lima 4 speed transmission: so 16 speeds in total.
While I was picking the lathe up just outside of Cleveland, I noticed an industrial buffer stuck in the corner and they through that in for free. After a week or so, I started looking around my shop and decided to turn it into a real wood shop so the hunt was on!!! It is not that I don't like new stuff, I just really like old stuff so I started looking for old wood working tools. I found a 1948 26" Crescent band saw in a barn up in the farm country so that is now in the process of being refurbished. A friend of mine gave me a mid 60s Boise-Crane Oscillating Spindle sander from his factory. When I sold the Ridgid lathe, I took in a mid 50s Beaver 8" jointer in partial trade. That same day I happened upon a CL add for a Grizzly 2 hp dust collector for a 1/5 of its original price....I was all over that!!! Included the the deal was all his fittings and just over 100 feet of 4" pvc. I ended up taking the motor and blower off the stand and mounted it on the wall above a plastic 55 gallon drum with a cyclone head on it. I plumed the shop (it's a shop now, not a garage) with 4" pvc to every station. The dust and chips first go to the cyclone and the chips fall in the drum. The dust continues on and is blown outside. I read a number of papers and OSHA reports about how bag type dust collector allow the very small and very harmful dust to pass through them and back into the shop and that is why I exhaust through the wall.
I've learned that if a person is serious about turning they have to be equally serious about sharpening. I picked up the slow speed grinder and Wolverine combo from Woodcraft and just the other day I received the Robo Rest from Reed Gray (which by the way was worth more than every penny) I would like to pick up CBN wheels, but I can't see replacing perfectly good white grinding wheels until they need it. I think I picked that attitude from my Grandmother: she lived through WWI, the depression, and WWII. Her favorite saying was; Use it up, ware it out, make it do, or do without.
As far as what I like to turn, I've enjoyed all of it. When I started turning in my own shop, the first thing I did was smash all the handles off the set of Delta tools I got with the Ridgid and turned new handles for them. I turned a pen for my wife, a small snack bowl for myself, and the two legs I mentioned earlier. Those are all the "finished" pieces I have. Everything else is roughed turned and sitting in shavings.....Probably around 100 pieces. I try to add a handle full of rough pieces to the stock every week and am now experimenting with micro wave drying to speed the process up a bit.
My steel days have come in handy too. I have about a days work left to complete a captured hollowing system. I looked at all of them and pick out all the good stuff and designed my own. With an anvil, torch, and hammers, I am able to make my own curved tools as well. If I need a small one for a small hollow forum, I just make it. I also have handfuls of HSS tips from working on a metal lathe.
Thanks to all of you who have shared your knowledge and support. I don't think I would be as comfortable as I am on the lathe without good folks like you to bounce ideas off of and ask really stupid questions and get really good answers without snickers.



This small scrapper and the handle is a glue up of Teak I had left over from the refirb of my 36" wood sailboat and a piece of Oak I've been lugging around for 34 years now.


This handle is made from oak and then brushed with many coats of ebonizer (apple cider vinegar and a steel wool pad). It turns the oak dark dark gray then when I coated it with WOP, it come out black.


This handle is turned from the same oak as the others and stained Chinese blood red, then WOP.


This is the first handle I turned. It is white pine with three different colors of Rit dye mixed in DNA, then I took a rag soaked in DNA and blended the abutting colors. The pine is really soft and I messed up the drilling and ended up pounding the roughing gouge in the crooked hole, but the angle it ended up at, is perfect for me. I've roughed out some pretty gnarly wood and the tool is still tight.


This parting tool handle is the same oak then ebonized to make the grain pop, then sanded and lightly coated with green Rit dye in DNA. I then used the Chinese blood red for the grooves. Then WOP.


This is my spindle roughing gouge turned from the same oak then WOP. I was just turning away, minding my own business then realized I drilled the wrong end!!! So I went with that and capped the other end.


This is my bowl scrapper turn with the same oak then dyed green with Rit and DNA. I soaked the end in orange Rit dye and did repeated passes on the center groove with the same orange, the WOP.


This is my first and only pen. I made it for my wife out of a burl my brother in law gave me. It is coated with 3.3.3 friction finish.


This is my first bowl made from the same chunk of burl at the pen. Finished in the same 3.3.3 friction finish.


These are the first two pieces I turned. This is my audio rack and most of the components, including the speakers, I built as audio art.The first layer is held up by 3" black water pipe painted textured gray, then the second layer is held up by the two pieces I turned and two 4"x4"s all stained to match the horns on the speakers. The next layer is held up by randomly bent and welded 1/4" steel rod and and painted blue/red Chameleon. The last layer is held up by cutouts for a shop that laser cuts steel for the auto industry. All the boards are 2" laminated clear mahogany and cleared with Spar Varnish. It is 5.5' wide and the first two layers are 2' deep and the third layer is 18" deep and the lay one is 12" deep.


This is hickory and I turned it wet down to 1/4", sanded to 800 grit. The pith is in the middle and I didn't coat the bottom with anything and will chase the cracks with CA as they form. I gave it a coat of BLO-DNA-shlc then buffed it with soft stick wax then hard stick wax.


This is hickory and I turned it wet down to 1/4", sanded to 800 grit. The pith is in the middle and I didn't coat the bottom with anything and will chase the cracks with CA as they form. I gave it a coat of BLO-DNA-shlc then buffed it with soft stick wax then hard stick wax.