New Lathe and First Turn

spartyon8

Peter
User
I used some money that I made from previous sales to buy a lathe. It isn’t anything special, just a harbor freight lathe and their cheap $20 tools. However, I was playing around with some scraps from other projects and it turned into a honey dipper. I did have a question though, 2 out of the 3 gouges in the cheap kit wouldn’t cut for crap. Is that normal or am I holding them wrong? I have the rest set at the halfway point of the piece and the gouge is a bit more than 90* to the top of the piece (butt of tool is down slightly from 90* to the rest). I tried raising and lowering the angle which is why I think its just crap tools that are probably not even sharp but figured I would ask the veterans.
 

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Liam Crickard

New User
Bill
Welcome to the world of lathe tool sharpening. The tools you have will work fine if you sharpen them. However the sharpening equipment for lathe tools is not really useful for much of anything else. You can easily spend way more on sharpening than what the tools have cost you. You can learn to sharpen by hand using an inexpensive grinder but you won't be happy with just that for long. Carbide tools cost more up front but sharpening them is much easier and less expensive. You can buy knock off carbide tools for way less than the really nice name brand items and a credit card size diamond plate will sharpen them when then get dull. I will say that sharp traditional gouges even cheap high carbon steel ones are more fun to turn with.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
You got the hang of the turning, like Liam said, sharpening is one part, making sure you have better tools is another, and figuring out which type and length of tools work best for you. Another thing, experiment with tool rests and learn how the position helps and which are risky.
I have watched some of my friends do things with set up that really do not work for me. So, experiment.

Also on tool sharpening google home made jigs and watch how others have done this. Then once you find what is best for you, then if so inclined buy the real commercial jig. This way you do not waste money on "things"
 

spartyon8

Peter
User
Rabbit hole indeed. Just made a wand for my son as he is immersed in the Harry Potter marathon today. I was shocked at how simple it was from the first flip of the switch. I think these tools were a bad idea. I bought them hoping to beat on them while I learn the machine. Learning the machine and getting a feel for it was quicker than I imagined. I started with just wanting to play with the different tools to turning a decent project as my first try. I lubed it up and made a second while the oil/beeswax dried. Then I thought I would try some super glue as a finish for his wand, I am quite impressed. I even had the wife out there trying to make herself a wand. She pushed in a little too hard and it snapped but she loved it. I think I have a approval for better tools now! It looks like carbide tips would be a better option for me as sharpening chisels and plane irons drive me nuts and I lose patience quick. If I could get 2 first without a huge blow to the budget, what type tips would you recommend? I see squares, rounded squares, a diamond shape, multiple sized circle cutters....I also need a better parting tool. The HF one has done nothing but burn the wood trying to cut.
 

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Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Peter, there's a guy near Winston Salem (If memory serves me) that makes and sells carbide tools. They're every bit as good as the name brand tools you can buy from all the tool mfg. Maybe he'll chime in here and tell you what he has or what he can make for you. I've purchased a couple from him. They're very good quality.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Peter, if you are going to buy carbide tipped tools, start with the square (roughing gouge) and the round (finishing gouge). Those two will take quite a distance in learning the basics. Eventually, you will want to have some HSS gouges for better turning and control.

And that is when turning really turns in the slippery slope as we call it. Welcome to the dark side (cash sucking black hole).:D
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
heh, heh... got another one.

Peter you are off to a good start!

+1 on the dull tools - if your making sawdust instead of shavings, you need to sharpen.

one thing I learned here at a similar point in my journey is this-
The cutting edge of the tool, rather than the tool rest, should be at the mid-line of the work piece. For most tools that means the tool rest will be slightly lower.
Another ( I believe it was Fred taught me)- start with the handle low when you bring the tool to the work. Raise the handle until it starts to cut and stop there. That's your angle. Any more and you just invite trouble.

You may have figured all this out by now if you're having these kinds of results.

Great to have your family involved as well.
 

spartyon8

Peter
User
heh, heh... got another one.

Peter you are off to a good start!

+1 on the dull tools - if your making sawdust instead of shavings, you need to sharpen.

one thing I learned here at a similar point in my journey is this-
The cutting edge of the tool, rather than the tool rest, should be at the mid-line of the work piece. For most tools that means the tool rest will be slightly lower.
Another ( I believe it was Fred taught me)- start with the handle low when you bring the tool to the work. Raise the handle until it starts to cut and stop there. That's your angle. Any more and you just invite trouble.

You may have figured all this out by now if you're having these kinds of results.

Great to have your family involved as well.
You are right, I figured the tool angles while learning how to make this parting tool operate correctly.
 

Mauser44

John
User
I started turning a couple of years ago.. started with cheap tools off amazon then slowly bought sorby tools..
The cheaper tools need sharpening a lot, but will be fine to learning techniques. YouTube was a great teacher.
you will need to invest in sharpenning jigs and wheels at some point. I cant recommend diamond wheels enough. Sharpenning by hand is almost a lost cause. I started with a set and never got anywhere near a clean sharp edge.

Carbide tools make easy work of pens (which is yet another rabbit hole) but you will learn very little to enhance your turning skills.

For the money, I would start with a sorby fingernail gouge.

Enjoy
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
...and another great tip, especially with cheap tools!!!! As you turn material off the project, STOP and move the tool rest closer to the wood. DO NOT let the gap between the tool rest and the wood get too big or you'll get a catch and snap your tool bar in half!
 

gator

George
Corporate Member
I think I have a approval for better tools now! It looks like carbide tips would be a better option for me as sharpening chisels and plane irons drive me nuts and I lose patience quick. If I could get 2 first without a huge blow to the budget, what type tips would you recommend? I see squares, rounded squares, a diamond shape, multiple sized circle cutters....I also need a better parting tool. The HF one has done nothing but burn the wood trying to cut.
Even if you go carbide, you will still have to sharpen. No tools come sharp or stays sharp. You will have to learn to sharpen them.

George
 

spartyon8

Peter
User
Even if you go carbide, you will still have to sharpen. No tools come sharp or stays sharp. You will have to learn to sharpen them.

George
I have diamond stones for my planes and chisels. My research leads me to believe that I can touch up the skews and carbide tips with those.
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Yes Peter, you're all set then. However, you don't have to resharpen carbide nearly as often as HSS lathe tools. I've used mine quite a while and I don't believe I've ever sharpened mine. Now I do mostly use my traditional tools, but I do find the carbide tools are easier to use for some tasks.
 

spartyon8

Peter
User
Alright...got another one for you guys. I bought a four jaw chuck and turned a tenon on my “bowl” blank. I made sure to create a small dovetail. I tighten the ever living snot out of the thing and the minute I put a gouge to the bowl, the lathe throws it off. Obviously the chuck wasn’t holding tight. I then took my chisel and went around to enlarge the dovetail on the tenon and the same thing happened. I tried to use the lag bolt that came with the chuck but the threads just pulled out. I used the correct size drill bit too! The wood is a chunk of red oak that I just cut this weekend, so it is green. Any thoughts?

I have searched and watched videos but must be missing something.
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
Peter, be sure that the tenon isn't just the right size that the jaws bottom out. That would cause your issue. Also, when you first start turning when gripped on the tenon, put the tail stock on the piece for extra support. Do as much work as you can with the tail stock in place. Only then remove it when you have to.

Regarding the correct size drill bit for the screw center...what size drill did you use? Typically a 3/8" is called for. Sometimes I'll use that on really hard wood that is DRY! Normally I'll go smaller down to the next smaller drill bit below 3/8". I'd prefer a tighter grip than a looser one. Also, always...ALWAYS when you can, put the tail stock in the piece as extra support. Especially if the piece is NOT yet round. You need the extra support and assurance the piece isn't going to come at you! I hate when that happens! :)

Any thing else? just fire away. Remember, this hole is deep...ask LOTS of questions. We're glad to help one another out!
 

Mauser44

John
User
I made sure to create a small dovetail. I tighten the ever living snot out of the thing and the minute I put a gouge to the bowl, the lathe throws it off.
My thoughts based on my experience. If tenon is the right size and depth, the only other issue variable is that you got a catch or the gouge was not sharp enough, causing enough drag to pull the piece off.
I have had bowls fly across the garage one too many times even with thick tenons , and I was able to fine tune lids and small items with the thinnest tenon.
One you tube I saw suggested always cutting towards the center on the inside of the bowl. That minimizes outward pressure on the piece. Centripetal force is already pushing the bowl away from center, so push against it.

As suggested leave the piece between centers until you have removed the bulk of the weight
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
Not sure how to describe this but I'll give it a shot. Maybe you've already tried it this way.

Starting close to the center make a scooping cut toward the center making a little divot.
Move outward toward the edge of the bowl making a series of concentric cuts.
this should minimize any sideways force from the tool- can't eliminate it.

This all reminds me of another important tip I learned from this group-
When you get to the edge of the bowl, establish the lip both inside and out before you hollow out the bulk of the bowl. Then try not to touch it again. It's much more stable and less prone to vibration when the bowl is mostly solid.
once you've got that you can go back to hollowing

Good luck- the possible questions are endless. sounds like you are comfortable with experimenting and finding what works. And when you get stuck you know where to go for answers. Sometimes the answers will even agree.
 

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