Archive for August, 2010
With little space and the original intent of limiting expense, I started with a simple midi- lathe, a Rikon bench-top model I got on sale for just $250. It can handle diameters up to 12 inches and about 20 inches in length. I have no intention of doing a hundred balusters or even matching table legs, so I don’t see myself ever buying the bed extenders for turning long stock.
Early on I invested about a $100 in a chuck, which is a kind of metal vice you can mount to hold the wood firmly while spinning, rather than drilling a hole in it. If you turn at all, you will want one pretty quickly, I feel.
Evryone has their own opinion on turning chisels, but I started with a cheap set from the local Harbor Freight and put money into three main items I use all the time: a roughing gouge, a bowl gouge and a spindle gouge. The cheap set gave me some low-end scrapers, parting tool and skews that I use a good bit, but I got by for quite a while with these and only gradually started upgrading from the set. I still use a couple of scrapers from than $45 set.
And oh yeah, I bought a cheap 6″ grinder but put some money into quality wheels and a jig for sharpening. Everyone says I should have gone for the 8″ but I think I’m doing fine with it.
No room or money for a real bandsaw, so I tried to get by with a Sears “Companion” model I picked up for less than $50 a while back and later added a $60 scroll saw I though would help me get by. Neither did, so I sold them on Craigslist last year and finally picked up a Rikon 9″ bandsaw that is still very small, but is a real saw at least. I use it all the time now and love it. Oh and I did get a sears companion drill press fur under $35 and its been doing the job just fine, especially since the lathe can also be used as a drill if the piece is too long for my tiny press.
Even before I got into turning I had a low-end but reliable table saw and chop saw that did yeoman’s work of basic cutting operations, like knocking off corners or shortening spindle blanks. I did upgrade the inherited chop saw to a sliding mitre that was accurate enough for me to do some detailed angle rips for making mugs out of staves.
Those are the basics. But over time i have acquired way more tools, I’m afraid, like some women buy shoes. I run the gamut of buying dirt-cheap Harbor-Freight gadgets to occasional high-end turning tools from places like Woodcraft. I’m always much happier with the quality of the high-end tools, but honestly the cheap stuff is great if it’s not something you’re going to be using constantly.