Starting with wood turning

You are considering starting with wood turning ...

An excellent idea, you will no doubt notice for yourself soon. Wood is, after all, a very beautiful and rewarding material. While you are processing it on a lathe, there are no limits to your creativity.

Wood turning, an attractive hobby.

The attractive thing about wood turning is that it is accessible to everyone. It can yield surprisingly beautiful results very quickly. For some, wood turning is part of a larger woodworking project. For others wood turning means making nice little things, for example for the (grand) children. Still others see it as a way to escape from the daily grind.

Whatever your motive may be, you will undoubtedly enjoy it.

Before you actually commit to starting wood turning, it is good to consider a number of things.

Wood turning requires a suitable space.

You need some space for turning wood, because a lot of wood shavings and dust are produced during turning. This is usually done in enclosed spaces such as garages, garden sheds, storage areas, etc. You must take the necessary measures to dispose of the wood dust.

What type of investment do you need?

As with any hobby, turning wood also implies a certain investment. To begin with, you need a lathe and some woodturning tools.

Those chisels must be sharpened sooner or later, so you need "something" to sharpen with. When you start turning boxes, bowls and saucers, a claw plate is very handy. The safety equipment should also not be forgotten: a dust mask and head protection. Maybe a dust extraction machine or a band saw will someday be on your wish list.

Which wood lathe do you need?

The choice of a first lathe is of course important. Precision, stability, user-friendliness and weight are decisive factors that determine the quality of a lathe, and therefore also determine to a large extent whether or not you enjoy the new hobby.

Which chisels do you need for wood turning?

We advise you not to save on tools. Good HSS chisels can last a lifetime, while poor or badly sharpened chisels are guaranteed to cause frustration and disillusionment, with the inevitable consequence of giving up the new hobby.

A basic set of woodturning chisels can, for example, consist of a roughing gouge, a profiling gouge, an oblique chisel (or “spindle master”), a chipping chisel, possibly supplemented with an ice-turning chisel. You will probably supplement these basic chisels at a later stage with other, more specific wood turning tools.

Keep it safe during wood turning.

Wood turning also has implications for your health and safety. After all, you produce wood shavings and wood dust. Wood dust is harmful to your health; it is therefore necessary to ensure that this dust does not enter your lungs. It is advisable to always wear a dust mask, and to ensure that as little dust as possible floats in the air.

Finally, we would like to point out that a piece of wood that rotates at a relatively high speed always represents a potential danger. It is therefore very important to adjust the rotation speed to the size and shape of the wood, that is, the larger the piece, the smaller the speed.

Basic safety tips for wood turning:

- never start your lathe before putting on your safety glasses or main screen, and your dust mask.

- do not wear loose-fitting clothes while turning.

- choose a low speed to start a new piece.

- use the right tool for every job. For example, never use a roughing cap or an oblique chisel to hollow out a workpiece.

- make sure that the workpiece is correctly attached before you start the machine.

- do not touch the workpiece until it is completely in rest.

- keep the floor around the lathe free of wood shavings; they make the floor slippery and are also flammable.

Wood turning can be learned fast.

Wood turning is a hobby that can be learned easily and quickly. You can do that on your own with the help of a book or a video, or you can opt for some kind of entry course. The advantage of such a course is that everything goes faster, and that you avoid a number of problems instead of experiencing them. After all, you learn from the experience of others.

In any case, you will soon notice that wood turning is a fascinating and creative activity that you can have a lot of fun with, but with which you will unfortunately not get rich, because: “the only way to make a small fortune with wood turning is to start with a big fortune! ”

The reason why most wood turners are addicted to their hobby is that they can express their creativity unbridled in this way. Seeing a rough piece of wood under your eyes turn into an artful object gives an incredible personal satisfaction. Turning wood is a pleasure, it should never be a chore.

Enjoy it.

What is the difference between wood chisels and other chisels?

Unlike chisels and sculpting chisels, for example, wood turning chisels are no longer made in carbon steel, but almost exclusively in HSS steel. Just like carbon steel, HSS steel contains carbon, but also various metalloids, so that certain properties such as elasticity, hardness, and temperature resistance are greatly improved.

HSS wood turning chisels are much harder, so they need to be sharpened less often and therefore last much longer. The service life of an HSS chisel is approximately six times as long as that of a carbon steel chisel, and thanks to its high temperature resistance, the risk of burning the chisel during "dry" grinding is greatly reduced.

The quality of the wood chisel depends on its production process.

By far most HSS wood turning chisels are made in SHEFFIELD, England: ROBERT SORBY, HAMLET, RECORD, CROWN, HENRY TAYLOR, etc. In principle, all these manufacturers use the same basic material, namely the famous M2 HSS steel, but the final result, in terms of quality, is determined by the way that base material is processed during the manufacture of the chisel.

The forging and hardening of HSS steel can indeed be done in different ways, one way being much more labour-intensive than the other. That also explains the relatively large price difference between the different brands.

Which wood chisel is the best?

A few manufacturers produce a limited number of basic chisels with an even longer tool life. ROBERT SORBY, for example, makes the famous “Gold” series, which are chisels in M2 steel but with a titanium-nitride coating, and HAMLET makes a number of chisels in ASP 2030 and in ASP 2060 steel (cobalt steel) with a service life of three to four times longer than HSS steel. Furthermore, there are also ‘cryogenic’ chisels. Cryogenic treatment changes the molecular structure of the steel and vastly improves its edge retention ability.

Two types of wood chisels: Cutting chisels and scrapers.

There are two categories of woodturning chisels: the cutting chisels and the scrapers. Cutting chisels always have a sharp cutting angle, and therefore a long fold. The cutting angle can vary, depending on the type of chisel, between 25 ° and 45 °. Cutting chisels are designers.

Scrapers, on the other hand, are used almost exclusively for the finishing of end-timber. They have a relatively blunt cutting angle (around 80 °). Scraping is often an intermediate step between shaping (with a gouge) and sanding.

The scrapers family also includes chisels with orientable cutting plates. These chisels are used in places that are difficult to reach (or difficult to see), where the use of cutting chisels is no longer possible or dangerous.

How to choose the right wood lathe?

Wood lathes are made in different materials and dimensions, and are offered at very different prices. All this makes choosing a lathe, especially the first lathe, not so easy. Of course, the choice of a lathe depends first and foremost on the budget you want to spend on it, but it is also important to list your own specific requirements in advance.

Which pieces do you want to turn?

Which pieces do I want to make, how long, and which (maximum) diametre? Many people immediately think of a turning length of 1 metre, but actually 95% of the wood turning takes place within 60 cm.

Which motor do I need on my wood lathe?

A mono-phase motor (220 V) can be used anytime and anywhere; a three-phase motor, on the other hand, is much better. It runs more quietly, becomes less warm, in short, a three-phase motor is much better suited for intensive use.

Does the lathe have to be taken on the move? In that case, a three-phase motor is not a good solution (except in combination with a frequency inverter).

In addition, it is also important to know that a number of things really determine the quality and user comfort of the lathe.

Your wood lathe made from cast iron or steel?

Contrary to what is often heard, the discussion about the material that makes up the lathe (cast iron or steel) is not that important.

Of course, a sturdy construction is an absolute requirement, but it is mainly the weight of the lathe that determines the stability and the ability to absorb vibrations. These vibrations that are mainly caused by the workpiece itself - that is, low-frequency vibrations - are generally not better absorbed by a cast iron than by a steel structure.

In that regard, the frame of the lathe is also very important, its weight, its stability, and setting and adjustment possibilities.

Adjustment possibilities for your wood lathe.

The loose head, and especially the chisel support, must be able to be moved and clamped quickly. An eccentric clamping is recommended here.

Choose a lathe with a recording thread for which you will be able to purchase attachments later without any problems. Some lathes have their own specific thread, which usually requires an adapter to be able to use accessories. Such a thing is always at the expense of precision. Common threads are: M33 x 3.5mm, 1 "x 8 TPI, 3/4" x TPI.

A morse cone in the main axis and in the axis of the loose head is recommended.

A pierced shaft, especially from the loose head, is useful when drilling.

A rotatable fixed head is comfortable when slewing and increases the capacity of the lathe. Of course, that capacity (read: maximum diametre) also has everything to do with the power of the motor. A rotating fixed head that can be placed in the middle of the lathe bed at the same time makes the whole setup even more stable, especially when turning large pieces.

Choose the right speed of your wood lathe.

The speeds available to a lathe are of great importance. It doesn't really matter if there are 3, 4 or 5, but it is important that the lowest speed is low enough (400 rpm to max.) And the highest is high enough (2000 rpm.). The power of the motor is of course also important. It determines the capacity (max. diametre) of your lathe. When comparing powers it is important to know that powers are sometimes indicated with P1 (= the power absorbed) and sometimes with P2 (= the power actually delivered).

Choose the right speed regulation of your wood lathe.

The most common speed regulation is the multi-stage belt pulley with poly-V belt drive. The regular V-belt is hardly used anymore, because the belt itself generates quite a lot of vibrations. Some lathes are equipped with variable V-belt pulleys. In that case the speed of the machine with the motor running can (must) be changed. The speed change with this system is limited to approximately 1 in 4 (eg 500 to 2000 rpm).

With the larger machines, more and more people are opting for a combination of a multi-stage pulley with an electronic frequency inverter.

This combination guarantees a constant torque, even at very low speeds, and moreover ensures incomparable user comfort. This electronic frequency controller is also the (only) means to connect a three-phase motor to a 220 Volt socket.

Carriers, chucks and claws: attention points.

Most wood lathes come standard with a carrier (in the fixed head), and a rotating center point (in the loose head). This basic equipment allows turning between the centres: lamp bases, table legs, etc.

When turning bowls, saucers, boxes, etc., the workpiece is not fixed between the centres, but only on the side of the drive shaft. This can be done by means of a carrier plate (a normal round disc with holes), a screw driver (a small disc with a central screw), or with a claw plate or "chuck".

Claw plates for wood lathes are very similar to claw plates for metal lathes, they are derived from it. The essential and very important difference is in the claws. The claws of these claw plates are made to clamp WOOD: they have a much larger clamping surface and they have a totally different shape.

Sometimes they have a dovetail profile and a smooth finish. In that case it is important that the diametre of the workpiece corresponds as closely as possible to the diametre of the jaws in that position where the circumference of the jaws forms approximately a circle.

The better the surface of the wood connects to the surface of the claws, the greater the clamping force. In the case of claw plates with smooth claws, the adjustability of the claw plate serves solely to tension and relax; not to be able to clamp different diametres. That is the reason why manufacturers of such chucks usually offer a whole range of claws with different diametres.

The claws of ONEWAY are (at least on the inside) not round and not smooth. They have a special, patented profile, which makes it possible to clamp not only very different diametres, but also square pieces. The clamping force is excellent in all cases. Claw plates are always screwed onto the shaft; its internal thread must therefore be adapted to the axis of your wood lathe. The most common thread in Europe is M33 x 3.5 mm, Din 800. For some older lathes, the thread in the jaw plate must be adjusted or an adapter must be made.