How to Use a Lathe

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A wood lathe is used by lining up the head stock and tail stock, bringing the tool rest close to the stock and starting off with a pace before speeding up. See how wood lathes are used with helpful information from an experienced woodworker in this free video on home repair tools.

Part of the Video Series: Home Repair Tools & Equipment
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Dave Trull at the Trull Gallery custom furniture shop in St. Petersburg, Florida and today we are going to talk about how to use the wood lathe. What I've done here is I have taken a blank, cut it to an octagon. I have also marked the centers on both ends so that I know where to put the centers of my stock on to the centers of my lathe. What I do is start with lining up the centers on the head stock and then bringing the tail stock and line that center up as well, tighten it up, so it is driven right into the head stock. The next thing I want to do is set up my tool rest and what you want to do is bring your tool rest so it is close to the stock you are working with and right about the center point of the turning. Now I like to get it close by eye and then rotate the stock. You want to make sure you are close but not actually touching the stock and here I have got about an eighth of an inch between my rest and the stock. I am going to start with my gouge. It is a good tool for roughing out your stock and when I start the lathe I am going to make sure it is at its slowest speed because if you go too fast you are going to get really rough cuts by going slow initially it will help you clean up with nice clean cuts. Now I am going to work in holding the tool to my hip supporting the tool itself, the blade in my left hand and I am going to come in high and slowly work my way down until I get a chip and then it is just a matter of working back and forth with very little pressure initially. You can hear that stuttering sound, that's because we're not round. As you can see I am working left to right and rotating the chisel as I work not using the center portion of the chisel but actually using the edge. At this point we can go ahead and lay out our marks with our turning so I am just going to come in with my pencil on those marks and darken them up. The next thing I am going to use is my parting tool and this allows me to set the depth of my cuts. Now a good way to measure the depth of our cut is by using calipers. You can still use a gouge if you want to remove some of this stock, come in and just rough it out with a gouge and I like to work downhill from the high spot to the middle. We have got a pretty finished shape but it is still rough and we can begin our sanding. I usually start with a 220 and work my way up from there. So those are the basics of how to use a wood lathe. I am Dave Trull with The Trull Gallery, the fine art of furniture making.


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