Mar. 04, 10 - 10:01AM
Welcome to a whole different world of woodworking. If you haven't started already, you're in for a treat... and some startup expense.
First, get yourself a general book on woodturning. there are many to choose from, but I like Taunton Presse's Woodturning guide. A searh on amazon will give you plenty of options. Woodcraft and Rockler stores also have a selection if you are close to a location.
The Lathe - Thousands can be spent on a lathe, but a good place to start is a Midi lathe. Delta, Jet, Rikon, General all make good ones. I started on the Rikon midi. I turn bowls, ornaments, spindles, and small hollow forms with it. Expect to pay between $250 and $400 for the lathe, more if you want a model with variable speed - a very nice addition but comes with a pricetag. The Jet is particularly popular, and is a solid performer. The only limiting factor for a lathe in this size is it's capacity. Most of them are around a 12" swing, meaning you can turn work that's up to 12 inches in diameter. Rough bowls made from green logs can really shake a lathe this size, so make sure to have a solid, heavy stand to mount it on. (I make a 2x4 box stand, and filled it with 4-5 bags of playsand - big wet pieces still make it shake.
The Tools, chucks and basic necessities: There's much more you'll need than just the lathe. Start with a basic variety set of turning tools. Lee Valley has a starter set of 8-10 Economny tools (gauges, scrapers, parting tool, skew) that will give you a decent set to learn on and to grow with (~$180). Next you'll need a good chuck to hold the work. I use the Tecknatool Supernova2. It comes with basic jaws that will get you started - buy additional jaws from there based upon where your turning interests take you.
More advice - Find and Join a local club - it was probably the best thing I did. You get to see great demonstrations, and talk to experienced turnings. Also, take a class. Woodcraft hosts them, as do some local trade colleges, and county rec classes. YouTube is also a good source for watching people work.
Wood: One of the best parts about turning is that your raw material is everywhere - no need to go and by an expensive piece of African Rosewood. You can turn pieces of firewood, or green logs from a freshly fallen tree. Over the weekend, I stopped on a roadside where some crews were cutting down trees to widen the road. I came home with Maple, Oak, Poplar, and somethign else I cannot identify yet - no charge, just take it off our hands, please! Hardwoods are preferred, but you can turn just about anything. just start the lathe on a slow speed until you've turned the work to a symetrical, balanced shape. Oh - a bandsaw helps to start the process - rought out logs to round before mounting on the lathe (again - troll YouTube for some examples - search "Bowl Turning" and see what you find).
Happy turninig, and let us know how it goes.
Turnings by Grant
Submitted by: Turningsbygrant