Learn Why Catches Occur and How to Prevent Them

This is some of the most important information related to learning and improving turning skills.  Richard Raffan walks you through why tools catch.  Your confidence and skill will improve immensely and rapidly once you stop to consider the why.  Watch this excellent video and get a better understanding of those most irritating and often startling events.

Understanding Woodturning Catches

Best regards,

Matt

How to Turn a Basic Bowl

Basic Bowl

I don’t see how you can get a better introduction to the basic bowl turning process than this recent video by Richard Raffan.  The shots in this video are great because you get clear and close-up views of each technique.  To make it even more appealing, he shows that the turning can be done easily on a mini/midi lathe which is what many folks have or started on.  If you haven’t seen this two part video then you should take a look regardless of your skill level – it reminds me of being in a live workshop with Richard.  I’d also recommend paying close attention to the quality chucks he uses and perhaps investigate them even further at the Vicmarc site.  It seems to me that you can turn just about anything you’d like with the three  that he uses in this video.

Best regards,

Matt

A Woodturner’s Guide to Chucks and Jaws

If you haven’t discovered this short video by Richard Raffan then you should take a look.  I found this to be a great summary of the important points about chuck selection and use.  Here are the take-aways I pulled from the video:

  • Maximize the surface area for backing a piece on a screw chuck to get the most stabilized platform
  • Grip on the true circle for the safest, least invasive hold, and most efficient tenon size/length
  • Use a compression grip and turn the tenon off when/if needed
  • Select smooth/uninterrupted jaws with crisp edges for the best hold
  • Get multiple chuck bodies with jaws to maximize your turning time at the lathe
  • Have faith in your chuck(s)

Richard Raffan discussing chucks

Best regards,

Matt

Tool Table

I recently built this table to give me a space to set the tools I am using when turning.  I made a couple of small carriers previously that fit on the lathe with a cleat sized to fit between the ways.  However, I found this a little inconvenient because I would often need to move the tailstock.  It did not matter if I placed the carrier in the front or back it would always be in the way.  I would then have to remove all the tools to move the carrier which always slowed me down.  So, I came up with this table based on a couple of requirements: small enough to fit in my limited floor space,  sufficient top space, and cost little to make.

tool_table_side                                       tool_table_back

The table is made from scraps (little cost), with only one leg (minimal foot print), and the top is rectangular (mounted with a tenon and mortise turned on the lathe).  I was also able to try out a method for making feet on the lathe that I recently read about in Woodturning Design magazine.  A couple of other features include rubberized shelving material for a non-skid surface and narrow cleats on each end of the table to prevent the tools from rolling off.  I hope this sparks some ideas for your own shop.  Enjoy!

Best regards,

Matt

Shopmade Thigh Switch

Yesterday I finally got to build a safety/hands-free switch for my Woodfast lathe.  I used a footswitch on my mini for a long time, but was unable to find the same type for the DC motor on this lathe.  I find the thigh switch is far superior and a much needed safety feature as well as an ideal aid when I need both hands free – such as when I am parting off a spindle project.  The switch is made from scrap wood with a few additional hardware purchases.  The hardware includes the continuous hinge, rare earth magnets, 1/4” x 20 tpi tap bolts (with washers and nuts) and #9 springs.  The springs provide some resistance when pushing against the switch and ensure it returns to its starting position after doing its job.  The springs are mounted behind the large “flipper/paddle” board and are secured/aligned using the tap bolts.  The paddle that is making contact with the off (red) button is cut for easy access when using a hand and for seeing and reaching the speed control knob.  There is no particular reason for the shape of the “flipper” board other than there was a split at one end that I had to work around to make use of its full length.

Thigh_switch_Woodfast

The video is a short demonstration showing how the switch works from any position along the bed.  Enjoy!

 

(12/3/2017) I rebuilt the switch with plywood and epoxied magnets.  I had originally used hot glue on the magnets while I tested the design–they lasted four or so years, but eventually broke out of their holes when the glue became brittle.  I also adjusted the sensitivity of the switch by closing the gap between the off button and the switch paddle.

Best regards,

Matt

Recycle a Part from a Bed

A neighbor modified a headboard and gave me the cutoffs from the top and bottom.  I believe the wood is mahogany and I didn’t want to see it go to waste.  Its color and turning properties (very smooth) remind me of  African Mahogany .  This little project gave me some  more skew and end grain hollowing practice.  The finish is mineral oil and beeswax.  My neighbors now have a nice little sugar scoop as a keepsake of their bed!

Best regards,

Matt

Scoop_bedpost_finial_resize

The Tri-color Turning Laboratory

Here are some current pictures of our turning space.  I call it a laboratory because much of what I do in there is experimental at present.  I don’t have the time for production right now so I spend the little time I have training and testing different ideas.  Anyway, it is often in a messy state, but does get a good cleaning from time-to-time.  In this case, it is caught a little on the untidy side.  I took these photos and video using a Nokia Windows phone in response to a query for pictures of shops in use by some folks from the “The Patriot Woodworker.”

Enjoy,

Matt

(republished after blog crash, original April 2013), (Updated with direct video link, April 2014)

Turning Laboratory