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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My new lathe

The first woodworking mentor I ever had is a former luthier who now works as a manager for a woodworking consumer products company.  He still gives me tips on techniques, joinery, and how to use the wide range of products available to furniture makers today.

He was also kind enough to give me a lathe he had lying around.  The lathe is, of course, a unique tool that does things no other tool can do.  Namely, a lathe spins a workpiece, allowing you to shape the work by holding a sturdy knife up to the spinning piece.  It's a lot like how you would cut a decorative groove into a clay pot, spinning on the throwing wheel.

But a decent lathe
is expensive, and the people who do a lot of "turning" are strange.  I didn't really see a lathe in my future.  But there have been plenty of times I've had to forgo designing round legs or wooden cabinet handles, though I wished I could.  Then a client asked for an ice bucket.  I started wishing I did have a lathe.  The next time I saw my friend, he told me he had one I might like.

My new lathe is awesome!  It's a Delta bench-top model with a metal stand.  It has a 14" swing, and the headstock swivels out 90 degrees for turning wider things.  The bed is cast iron, pretty heavy, and I am sure it's good enough for my work ;-)  There is a nice tool rest, and it has an extension for using the rest in "outboard" mode, with the headstock turned away from the bed.  This extension is by no means adequate, but the addition of a simple leg of wood or metal, with an adjustable foot, would make the extension stable and safe enough for outboard use.

The locking handles and adjustment wheels are all well located, out of the way of each other, and easy to access and work.  Unfortunately, the variable pitch pulleys are a little rough (as all of these Delta variable -pitch pulleys get), but hopefully some use and some lubrication will loosen them up and I'll be able to turn the lathe slowly.   

My friend was also nice enough to give me a steb center for the head stock.  I had to buy my own live center for the tail stock. 

Down the rabbit hole we go!

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