Q- Can I attend a club meeting to check things out without joining?

A- Yes, everyone is welcome to join us for a meeting or two to see what we are all about. You are more than welcome to just show up on meeting night or if you would like to contact us for information just click on the Contact Us button.

Q- What sources are available to acquire wood to start turning?

A- There are several retail woodworking stores and online stores, like ebay, where you can purchase wood. However, most wood turners prefer to turn fresh cut green wood that is pretty easy to come by just for asking. I have found wood piled on the curb with a “free” sign on it; I have also stopped at houses where trees are being cut down and asked for a few pieces. I have never had someone tell me no. Other sources for free wood for include city tree trimming crews, tree dump sites, neighbors, your local tree trimming companies, www.craigslist.com, and fellow turning club members. Most are willing to share when they acquire a bunch of wood by posting a wood alert notice to fellow members. A good chain saw will become a must have tool. Our club also has a quarterly raffle to earn money for the club. We each bring something for the raffle and most of it is wood. Free wood is always great; however, always get the owner’s permission first, be courteous, and clean up after yourself.

Q- How do I know where to begin?

A- If you are completely new to turning I suggest you begin with a good book about the basics. There are several books available from your local library, book store, and many more resources available online, like YouTube. If you search the web for, “Learn How to Turn Wood,” you will find many resources. An excellent beginner’s book is titled, “Wood Turning A Foundation Course,” by Keith Rowley; and, “Learn To Turn,” by Barry Gross. Keith Rowley’s book is referred to by many as the most complete and best overall basic instruction for beginners. My next suggestion is to join your local wood turning club. Here you will find many people willing to answer your questions and help you get started. I suggest you read the book first and watch some basic woodturning videos, it helps to have some basic knowledge so you know what questions you want to ask. To find the location of a local woodturning club, do a web search for “American Association of Woodturners.” They provide a list of woodturning clubs across the USA.

Q- How do I know what lathe to buy?

A- There is no simple answer to this question. Before you purchase a lathe do your homework. Pickup a woodturning book, read articles on the web, watch woodturning videos, search out a local woodturning club and attend a meeting, or two, and ask questions, visit a woodturner’s shop. You don’t need to own a lathe to attend a meeting. Woodturning can be an expensive hobby; therefore, a little due diligence from the start may possibly save you some frustration in the end.

Start by asking yourself several questions.

What is my budget? Woodturning is an expensive hobby. A good lathe will range from $500 to $12,000 not including lathe tools, chucks, tool sharpening equipment, chainsaw, and other miscellaneous equipment. Buy the best lathe you can afford. The web is a good resource for equipment reviews and price comparisons. Spend some time doing your homework before you buy. Another excellent resource is the members of a turning club. They are very willing to talk about their lathes and the equipment they would recommend or not recommend. If you choose to start with a small inexpensive lathe to make sure you enjoy woodturning, that’s fine. Just be aware that you will likely be lathe shopping again in the not to distant future. The good thing is that your inexpensive first lathe will make a great dedicated polishing station in the future. Neal Addy has a very good lathe specifications chart on his web site www.nealaddy.org/pub/lathe_list.html. While he does not make recommendations, he gives you a lot of information; if you click on the name of the lathe manufacture it takes you to their website for more details.

What do I want to make? If you plan to turn pens and smaller things then your needs are far different from the person who wants to turn large bowls and hollow forms. Think ahead, plan for what you might want to make in the future.

How much room do I have for my lathe and turning supplies? Unless you are planning to turn long spindles you do not need a long bed lathe. Among the most important things to consider are motor size , speed adjustment and the swing of the lathe. The swing is the the distance from the center of the headstock spindle to the bed of the lathe, doubled. A lathe measuring 6 inches from the center of the headstock spindle to the bed of the lathe has a 12 inch swing. The maximum diameter of wood you can turn is 12 inches in theory. The maximum diameter will be reduced by the thickness of the banjo if the length of the wood is longer than your tool rest can reach. The banjo holds the tool rest in place and slides along the bed of the lathe.

What type of electrical power do you have available, 110v or 220v? Smaller lathes operate on a 110v outlet. Lathes with a 2 hp motor, or larger, will require a 22ov outlet. Check to see if your electrical panel has any available space and contact a licensed electrician for the installation.

Q- What is the difference between a bowl gouge, a spindle gouge, and a spindle roughing gouge?

A- The major difference between a bowl gouge and a spindle gouge is the shape and depth of the flute. The flute of a spindle gouge is circular and shallow, while the flute of a bowl gouge is a modified open U-shape or V-shape. Both gouge types are made from a round shaft piece of steel and come in a variety of sizes.  A spindle roughing gouge is also U-shaped however, it is forged from a flat piece of steel or extruded into shape. A roughing gouge attaches to the handle with a tang similar to a wood or steel file. NEVER use a roughing gouge when turning a bowl or platter; the tang can break causing serious injury. A spindle roughing gouge is used for spindle turning only, primarily for knocking the corners off a square piece of wood with the wood grain running parallel with the bed ways.

Q- What is a chuck and do I need to buy one?

A- A scroll chuck is an adjustable set of jaws attached to the lathe spindle at the headstock. It holds and spins one end of the wood while you are turning without support at the tailstock. For your safety, always support the wood with the tailstock until it is time to hollow the piece. Scroll chucks come in many sizes. Select a chuck that matches the lathe swing. Several types of jaws are also available for a variety of woodturning projects.

While a chuck is something you will probably want to have, they are fairly expensive and it is not necessary to buy one immediately. You can turn wood between centers or by attaching it to the faceplate that came with your lathe using wood screws. NEVER use drywall screws. Another option is a glue block attached to a faceplate; attach to your wood with hot glue. When turning small projects this is an excellent option.

A jam chuck. It consists of a piece of wood secured to the lathe spindle using a scroll chuck, a faceplate or a threaded adapter. The piece of wood has a hole or groove turned into it that is the same size or slightly smaller than the piece you are turning. Your project piece is then literally jammed tight into the hole or groove. This method can be used to finish a bowl bottom or finish a finial.

A vacuum chuck. This chuck consists of a vacuum pump, pressure gauge, tubing and adapter. It is used to hold your work firmly for things like finishing the bottom without damaging the finished side of your work.

Q- Do you need to wear some type of face shield or are safety glasses adequate protection.

A- A good face shield not only protects your eyes but your face. I had this difference proven to me one day not long after I started turning. A bowl that I was working on exploded off the lathe and hit me squarely in the face with enough force to push me back. Had I not been wearing a full shield I would have had sever damage to my face not just a sudden wake up. Safety can never be over emphasized in wood turning. You are using razor sharp tools and spinning a piece of wood at hundreds or even thousands of revolutions per minute. Any unseen defect in the wood or turning at too high a speed could cause things to fly apart and that can cause serious injury or even death. We lost a member of the AAW family this year from just such an accident. Sometimes even those who have been turning a long time can get careless and bad things can happen in a split second.

There are several types of face shields available, I prefer the bubble type as I wear glasses and it gives you a little more room and a neck deflector to keep chips out of your shirt. Just make sure it has an impact resistant shield.

Q- Is dust from turning dangerous or harmful? Do I need some type of lung protection?

A- Absolutely is the answer to both questions? The dust from many types of wood is not only harmful but toxic. Even if you have a dust collection system in your shop it is not adequate to protect your lungs. You need to wear at the very minimum a good dust mask especially when you are sanding. You will find many turners recommend the Trend Arishield system. This system gives you a full face shield and head protection combined with an elastic face skirt attached to the shield to give you full protection from dust as well. It has a motorized air filtration system and blows cool air down the face to prevent your glasses or face shield from fogging up and helps to keep you cool. This is another somewhat expensive piece of equipment but then what price do you put on your health and your lungs.

Q- Where can you go to receive training from a professional instructor?

A- There are many possibilities here. You will find that many of the professional turners offer training classes at their shops. If you click on the Resources section of this site you will find a list of many of their websites. Another option is classes offered by retail vendors such as Craft Supply. A search of the web on woodturning schools will provide you with many options.

Q- I received my new turning tools but I must be doing something wrong as they do not seem to cut very well.

A- One of the things I found to be quite strange when I started turning was the fact that many of the new turning tools you buy are not sharp and must be sharpened and shaped before you use them. If you purchased a sharpening system it very likely came with a video showing you how to sharpen your tools using it. When it comes to sharpening tools the first time I feel that nothing is going to do you as much good as enlisting the help of a fellow club member. This is one of those things that a video is just not quite enough. Save yourself a lot of stress and get some help with this task the first time.

Q- I bought a Wolvering sharpening system with the Varigrind2 attachment and I am having a lot of trouble getting things to work.

A- I had the opportunity to talk to a factory rep from Oneway at the Symposium this year and was telling him about my frustration with this tool. He gave me some pointers that have resolved all my troubles. First set the leg of the Varigrind jig to a 22.5 degree angle to your gouge. The easiest way to do this is to fold a square piece of paper in half to get 180 degrees then in half again for 90 and again for 45 and again to get 22.5 degrees. Once you have the leg to gouge angle set to 22.5 degrees use a pliers to tighten it down so it won’t vibrate loose. Now set the distance from the front of the jig to the tip of the gouge to 2 inches and tighten the clamp. With the grinder turned off, set the ball end of the jig shaft into the cradle and adjust the length so that you have the tool resting on the wheel with the bevel in full contact. Using a sharpie to blacken the end of the gouge and turn the grinder on and off again and lightly touch the side grind of your gouge to the wheel. You should see a shinny line that covers the full length of the bevel. If not readjust your length and check it again. Turn the grinder on and let it come to speed before you set your tool on the grinder. Turn the gouge on its side to begin the grind on the side bevel and not the tip. You Do Not need to Press down on the tool. The weight of the tool and jig will provide enough pressure to sharpen the tool but not ware the tool out by over grinding. Hold the tool in the center of the jig and rotate it smoothly from one side to the other. One or two passes is enough to have a very sharp tool unless you are re-shaping the grind pattern. This will also prevent over heating and burning the tool tip. Note that the front of the jig will be between the ends of the U shaped front arm but not contacting the bottom of the U. You can sharpen all of your bowl and spindle gouges without changing your settings. Your swing and rotation will change with the different grinds but not the tool position in the jig. I told them they needed to do a better job with their training video.