Starting out on a lathe

This is a comment I made on the Australian Woodworking BB in reference to giving turning a try- thought it would be good recording it here as well.

You can still do some pretty acceptable work on a $99 GMC lathe. May not be the highest quality lathe, but for the occasional turning job for toymaking, it may be all that you need, and isn’t a large outlay.

If you find that the bug then really grabs, no real loss if you upgrade.

Grab a (small) lump of wood, jamb it on the lathe, grab a chisel and give it a try. (The U shaped one ) 5 minutes (literally), and you’ll start to see how it can aid your toy making ventures. Do a little more practice each time – even if it is just turning a block to round.

You will discover what not to do very quickly, but also find that there is success pretty quickly as well. (Then years to master it, but the rest of us can still get something useful out of it, even without really knowing what we are doing).

Borrow some books from the library, perhaps a DVD or two.

In the end, like all our tools – you don’t learn by having it sit in the corner gathering dust.

One Response

  1. Stu

    I agree with everything you said.

    Now that I have a much larger workshop, I regret not gettting a $99 GMC lathe and instead getting a $60 vertical lathe attachment from McJing. But at the time, space was at a premium and I already had the drill press, so the vertical lathe was a good entry point and has allowed me to turn some knobs and wheels and stuff.

    So all I would say is that if you don’t have space for a lathe yet, the vertical lathe attachment to a DP is also a fair entry point.



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