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Thank you Tom!

Tom Murphy was the mad eejit who got me to try woodturning first, when I was perfectly happy making stuff like boxes and tables. He’s been into it for quite a while now, and was always telling me I should try it. Though he also did the Jackie Chan end credits thing of pointing out the times it went sideways on him, and constantly scaring me into always wearing a faceshield…

First up today, I had to sharpen the lathe tools. I was lucky enough to get a cheap wolverine jig clone (which is well made to be fair) before we locked down and I found my original 80 grit gray wheel for the grinder as well, so today I put that back on where the wire wheel had been. Had to elevate the grinder as well with some oak offcuts, and then fitted the new jig.

From this:

To this:

Still hangs on the wall, which is nice.

For the record, yes, I know this is horrible for turning tools. Gray wheels just rip off way too much material, these should be 100 grit white aluminium oxide wheels at least, and preferably this should be a Sorby Pro-Edge, or a Tormek T4, or (and this is what I’m planning on because it’ll fit the shed better) a low-speed grinder with CBN wheels. But we’re in lockdown, so for now we’re in Teddy Roosevelt territory (“Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are”), okay? Cool.

So with that done, I reground (“sharpening” seems too fancy a word for what I did to them) the lathe tools.

On the upside, they’re now sharp and my bowl and spindle gouges are now midway between a factory grind and an Irish grind. Of course the spindle gouge got clamped in at an angle in the holder so that’s going to take a few sharpenings to sort out. Oh well. I also need to knock up a quick setting jig for these. The lines on the board and the scrap of wood I used to record the settings for the gouges are just temporary…

So then I cut off another chunk from that log (total yield: four pieces) and put it between centers. I tried to put it just a bit off-center to try to get a nice natural-looking mushroom this time.

Doesn’t look like much I know, but it’s enough to convince the lathe to vibrate a lot initally. Slow speed cutting to start.

Mostly I just wanted to get some mass off the piece and rough part of it down to balance things so I could speed the lathe up here. Doing this in green wood’s hard enough, this must be a fair chunk of work in dry wood…

Nice shavings at least. Thing with the offcenter turning is it feels like you’re cutting something that’s invisible – I’m constantly stopping to see where the most off-center bit is, remembering that spot on the rest and in space, then spinning up and feeling for the surface with the heel of the bevel on the gouge, then rubbing the bevel and trying to cut smoothly. And it went well enough for a while and then something blurred past my face and bounced off the far wall…

Well, poop. But maybe I can salvage what’s left, it seems in reasonable shape…

This time, there was a loud bang and some things hit me in the chest, shoulder and rattled right off the faceshield. I managed to find some of those parts…

Sharp enough to cut yourself on. I’m rather glad I had the faceshield on now. So thanks Tom, the paranoia about faceshields saved me a trip to the dentist 😀

Looks like the live center acted like a wedge and the piece just couldn’t hold. I guess that’s why you should turn these with a tenon. Well, I have two more pieces sawn up and sitting on the bench for tomorrow, so I guess I’ll do that with them. I must also see if I have anything that can record video and which I can mount up by the lathe, I’m irked I didn’t get video of today’s kablooie, it would have been fun to watch 😀


  1. I remember a girl from a class below us at school in woodshop who was sporting a sling. When the teacher was asked about it he responded with “She didn’t listen” He ran through what needed to be done initially with roughing down, stressed it needs to be done gently, forces etc, she nodded. Then she proceeded to slam the gouge straight into the blank and it exploded. Punched a hole in the ceiling, broke a window and knocked her on her arse due to a piece hitting her shoulder so hard. He reached over, shut down the lathe and simply said ” Go to the nurse” She listened that time.

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