HackSpace magazine


By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

My wood-turning lathe has been gathering dust for too many years. It is one of those things that I am completely present in – for it’s not wise to daydream with sharp tools and a lump of wood spinning fast next to you.
However, I haven’t used it in a long time. It hadn’t even been set up properly from my last move – nearly three years ago. And it was hardly used in the workshop it was in before that.

So I decided this year it was either use it – or sell it on. The lathe is large. I had great plans to make candlestick holders, about 1 m tall and 0.15 m in diameter. So, 15 years ago, I bought a lathe that would be able to cope with long and chunky lumps of wood. It also has lots of paraphernalia – from chisels to finishes, sandpaper of many grits, to a buffing mop. Plus, the numerous blanks and bits of tree that I’ve accumulated over time.

To keep myself on track, and for a bit of accountability, I decided to tweet my daily progress:

Day one: Find the actual lathe – buried under garden furniture, boxes, and random pieces of wood.

Day two: Remove surface rust and mould from tools and lathe.

Day three: Discover broken plug and replace.

Day four: Find and attach to faceplate a wood blank. Sharpen tools – grinder dead. Whetstone and diamond files tried. More practice required. Pause while awaiting delivery of switch for grinder.

Day five: Fix the grinder.

Day six: Set up the grinder/sharpening system jig and baseplate. Need to raise the grinder 35 mm. I have 40 mm wood …

Day seven: Cut wood for packing and for securing onto the stand. Need to remove the bracket on the grinder. Tools elsewhere.

Day eight: Progress being made on the grinder jig. Took ages to rummage through the random bolt box to find ones that would work.

Day nine: Grinding jig complete – plus new guards fitted.

Day ten: Chisels now shorter, and sharper – and some are slightly blue on the corners.

Day eleven: After ten days of faff (spread over about 2.5 weeks), which is approximately ten hours in the workshop, I finally made wood shavings!

No wonder I’d been putting it off. But now it’s all ready, and I am taking Andy Coates’s advice (@AndyWoodturner): “Take ten identical bowl blanks. Turn the same bowl ten times. The last three will be almost identical – and right. The others you can burn – you’ll want to. Do 20? Even better, 30? Now you’re talking.”

I’m starting with the bowl blanks I already have. The wood is a sunk cost – I didn’t need to justify it with a final product, which gives me the freedom to play and try things. Even if I do end up burning the first seven, it still means I have practised my skills. And that stack of wood is no longer burning into my consciousness and taking up mental and physical space.


From HackSpace magazine store