Thursday, April 19, 2012

...In Which I Start Woodturning

As my reward for ten weeks of toil on the (soon to be) baby's room, I ordered myself a Delta 46-460 Midi Lathe last week.  It came in a few days ago, I picked it up yesterday, hauled it down to the basement last night, and gave it a test drive.  The last time I touched a lathe was in about 1985, and I don't think I did anything constructive with it.  I intend to use it for tool handles, cabinet pull knobs, and stuff like that.  I really didn't want to spend as much as I did, I just wanted a little tiny lathe, but the small ones are all fairly crappy products, made in China, and I couldn't do it.

I did a lot of research and still spent quite a while staring at the tools at Woodcraft trying to decide what I needed to get started.  I settled on an Easy Wood Tools carbide-tipped rougher (the mid-size Ci-2), which was expensive but looks like it has an extremely short learning curve, and should last a long time.  I also picked up a Sorby 1/8" parting tool and a Sorby 3/8" spindle gouge - without a handle.  The gouge was a lot cheaper without the handle, and I figure that will give me something to do right off the bat.

So I made a 7" x 1" blank from a piece of old fir framing scrap.  I started with the lathe on it's very slowest setting (like for a 12" log) and took a few hesitant chips with the parting tool.  That didn't really work well on the square corners, so I got out the carbide rougher and started making a mess.  I attached the dust collector hose to the tool rest post to keep things clean, and slowly turned up the speed as I gained confidence.  I managed to make a passable handle for the spindle gouge, using calipers and the parting tool to make a tight fit for a ferrule (a threaded piece of 1/2" brass pipe) and I even got out a 1" bench chisel and used it bevel down and at an angle to give a shearing cut like a skew, which definitely cut very smoothly.

Fir Handle for 3/8" Gouge
I still need to remove the threads from the brass ferrule and glue in the cutter with some epoxy.  Not terrible for a very first effort, I guess.  Now I just need to make about 500 more handles and other parts to justify the cost of the tools!

Update:  A few days later, and I've made several items.  A couple of oak file handles, a much nicer beech handle for the 3/8" spindle gouge, and a handle and knob for a bowsaw that I made.  The Easy Wood Tools rougher is quite capable, and I'm glad I bought it, as a total beginner.
I tried to replicate the Sorby handle shape as an exercise, but I need some calipers.  My very first sad attempt is at the bottom.