Wood turning is a unique part of woodworking that involves spinning a block of wood on a lathe. Workers use tools to cut the wood as it spins, creating whatever shapes they want. Wood turners should remember the following when working with a lathe.
Before turning can be done, turners must make sure that their tools are sharpened. Tools that are properly sharpened will have an easier time cutting through wood stock and reduce the chances of gouging and grabbing happening. A wet sharpener at a low speed can perfectly sharpen the tools, but if that is not available, a bench grinder will work as well. Sharpening wheels will help the tools keep their specific edges and bevels that give them a certain cut against a piece of wood.
Proper turning speeds create a significant impact in wood turning. Lathes that can spin at variable speeds can spin at speeds ranging from 500 RPM to 4000 RPM. Wider wood stocks generally need lower speeds for the best results. On the other hand, narrow stocks that are at most 2.5 inches thick will work best at the 1500 RPM to 2000 RPM range, with longer wood pieces offering the best cut at 1500 RPM. Pieces thicker than 2.5 inches can spin with half as many RPMs.
Proper hand positioning creates the safest turning environment. The hands need to be in an area where they can cut with the tools, while also avoiding the spinning lathe. Right handed users should keep their left hands on the tool rest and the right hand on the tool handle. The left forefinger will be positioned under the tool in a way that it rests against the area of the tool rest across from the wood. The left thumb sits on the tool’s top to keep it steady. For left handed users, the positions are reversed.
Keeping the tool on the tool rest at all times is mandatory. One fourth of an inch from the wood should be the tool rest, and the tool must be on that rest before it even touches the wood. The contact points of the tool and tool rest and the tool and the wood should be limited as well. When these two contact points have a large distance between them, the tool doesn’t get the proper support it needs, and there is a greater chance that something will go wrong while working with the wood.
The bevel of a tool should rest of the wood when turning. This bevel positioning lets the worker have more control with how much wood they want to take off with each pass, and keep the tool from flying out of their hands. The back edge should touch the wood, creating a contact point behind the bevel or right at it. The right hand will then slide the tool to the body while cutting happens, keeping the bevel touching the wood.
Cutting should be done with the grain and not against it. Easier cut can be made with the grain without control difficulties, and the tool won’t be grabbed by the wood. These tips will make turning easier and reduce the risk of making mistakes and injuries.