Woodwork Tips

Cheap Woodturning

What would you rather have; a nice big shiny lathe, with new shiny tools? Or handing someone your turned object – as a gift say, and watch their jaw drop?

I strongly believe that superb woodturning can be done without all those expensive tools.

I have been woodturning for years and have produced many turned items using cheap alternatives.

Tip 1 – Source a second-hand lathe.

My lathe cost me £50 several years ago. It had hardly been used and the chap I bought it from was already buying a more expensive one – can you believe it! There are many people like him around.

Second-hand lathes are easy to source – eBay being the easiest. If you have seen a lathe you want in a magazine then, you have read the specifications on it.

Always contact the buyer beforehand – ideally ask if you can see it working.

Tip 2 – Make a bench for it from recycled wood.

The bench my lathe is on came from the wood out of a skip. Had I bought it new it would have cost £40 easily.

Tip 3 – Make your wood-turning hand tools.

Wood-turning hand tools can cost a fortune. Almost all my tools are chisels – I do not bother with skew chisels etc. as I can do just about anything I want, using an ordinary chisel and a parting tool.

Go to a boot sale and look for old rusty chisels covered in paint – ideally with a broken handle.

What you are looking for is a “Sheffield” steel ideally with a makers stamp as well (eg sorby and sons). Chances are this will be a “high carbon content” steel blade that you have bought cheaply. Buying new ones (if you can find them) will cost a fortune.

Remove the handle – if it’s broken it comes off easier – and turn a new handle to fit your hand.

Sand off all the rust and debris from the blade and glue it with a 2 part epoxy to the hole you have made in your new handle. Now you have a custom-made woodturning tool that would have cost a fortune to buy

If you do not have a sanding machine place some coarse wet and dry paper on a hard flat surface and rub it back and forth until clean – this is what I did before I could afford an electric sander.

Tip 4 – Keep your tools razor-sharp.

A sharp edge means that the wood is cut and not torn. Torn wood is almost impossible to finish to a superb standard as all the fibers are broken in effect.

A sharp tool enables you to turn for longer and if you only cut fine, your result will look superb and be very easy to finish. Big thick deep cuts will blunt the blade quickly. You also run the risk of ” dig – in ”

To sharpen tools you will need a grinder. These can be sourced easily on eBay. You must wear protective goggles, as a small hot piece of steel in your eye will mean a visit to the hospital. You only have one pair of eyes so look after them.

Tip 5 – Keep your wood-turning shavings.

Once your object is ready for a finish i.e. there are no sanding marks and you have used fine wire wool you can easily burnish using a handful of wood shavings.

Pick up a handful of shavings. Start the lathe. Press the shavings onto the work until you can feel it getting warm and then repeat with a new handful.

This heats the wood so that some of its natural oil starts to come out and the friction polishes it.

On many occasions, this is all I have done for the finish – you get the natural look plus the feeling of the wood.

Source by Chris Rick Parsons

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