Thinking about buying a lathe? Or maybe you're new to woodturning. These ten accessories will help you get the most out of this great craft.
By Carl Duguay
Photo by Rikon
Most lathes come with a fixed drive center (which inserts into the headstock spindle) that has two or four flat spurs and a fixed center point. You’ll get better holding power while turning with a toothed drive center that has a spring-loaded center point. A good choice is the Sorby Stebcentre.
Place a simple plastic washer over the head stock spindle up against the housing. It prevents the chuck or faceplate from getting stuck in place. Get it from your local supplier or make one yourself.
Calipers and dividers are extremely useful and reasonably inexpensive. Use them as a reliable and straightforward way of comparing and transferring dimensions, especially when turning duplicate pieces. Look for tools with quick-adjust mechanisms that hold settings reliably yet enable precise adjustments, and carbon steel tips for long life.
A drill chuck, which is inserted into the headstock or tailstock spindle by means of a Morse Taper adapter, is used for drilling applications. It can also be used to hold very small work pieces (by turning a spigot on one end of the work piece and then inserting spigot into the chuck).
Small lathes typically come with narrow tool rests that work well for bowl turning but are too narrow for spindle turning. With a longer tool rest you have more sliding surface, so you won’t be adjusting the tool rest as often.
While you can sharpen turning tools without one, a grinding jig speeds up the process, gives you sharper tools at more consistent bevel angles, and prolongs tool life. A good choice is the Wolverine Grinding Jig.
If you do much face-plate turning, particularly with smaller-diameter stock, use double-sided tape instead of screws to hold the turning blank in place. It’s quick, easy, and holds incredibly well – but make sure you use a tape designed for lathe work.
These flexible foam-backed sanding pads are ideal for smoothing and polishing. The foam backing cushions surface irregularities, making it easier to remove scratches. They’re available in grits up to about 12,000x.
Dust, splinters, stock coming loose and flying off the lathe – it all gets directed in the vicinity of your noggin. Even if the probability of a bowl or spindle taking flight is remote, but when it does happen the results can be catastrophic. Wear a faceshield. If you don’t like wearing a face shield, at least wear impact-resistant goggles.
You won’t regret getting a good reference book, and this guide by Richard Raffan is one of the very best. It covers every aspect of turning for the novice and hobbyist turner.
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