The wood lathe is a lathe machine that is used to create a wide range of wooden objects such as table legs, bowls, battens, and bed posts. The wood lathe spins a work piece, so the user can perform various tasks such as cutting, sanding, gouging and chiseling to create beautiful wooden objects. Each wood lathe comes in different sizes and categories. This article will give you an overview of the different aspects to finding the best wood lathe and provide crucial tips to help to choose the best wood lathe for your application.
The different aspects of a wood lathe
The wood lathe comes in many different sizes, from the hobby wood lathe to the large industrial sized wood lathe that can be found on the workshop floor of a large furniture manufacturing company. Here is a rundown on the different aspects of the wood lathe:
Stock -The piece of material going into the lathe
Swing -The term used to indicate the largest diameter stock that can be turned. This is usually measured in inches.
Bed Length -The term used to indicate the maximum length of stock that can be turned. This is the distance between the centers of the headstock to the center of the tail-stock.
RPM -The number of revolutions per minute the lathe can turn. Most wood lathes have a variable RPM for different applications.
Horsepower -This determines how much torque the lathe motor can develop.
Weight and size -Lathes that are heavier are sturdier, but may not be economical to move around all the time. Weight and size all comes down to your intended application.
photo credit: wwarby
Types of Lathes
There are three main types of wood lathe:
1. Floor lathe -Industrial type heavy duty lathe, used for larger turning jobs. These can be found on the floor of a school workshop or manufacturing floors. These types of lathes are very heavy and are not recommended to be moved around often. The up side to these kinds of lathes is that they are the best wood lathes for handling larger pieces of work and are more stable.
2. Mini wood lathe –This is a smaller lathe that has good mobility and fits into a limited space. Mini wood lathes are the best wood lathes for being able to be moved fairly easily. This is great when space is limited, but a strong and fairly stable machine is needed for your project.
3. Pen lathe -Small specialized, hobby type lathe. These normally range only up to a 2″ swing. These lathes have excellent mobility. You can pick up and store these lathes really fast, so they tend to take up less space in a workshop or garage.
Wood lathe tools
Here are the most common tools and wood lathe chisels types used with a wood lathe:
Gouges -A hollow wound nose chisel. These are suitable for roughing cuts or cutting grooves.
Spear Chisel -A chisel that is flat ground to a point.
Parting Chisel -A thin, vee tipped chisel, used for cutting off work pieces.
Skew Chisel -A double ground flat chisel, also with the end ground back at an angle. These are suitable for smoothing and cutting shoulders.
Check these out for more information on wood chisels and wood carving tools.
How to choose the correct woodlathe
This is often a tough choice. This comes down to two main considerations, application and cost. First of all, it is best to consider your application. What do you need the lathe for? Where will you store the wood lathe? Consider the scope of your projects and what you need to achieve these. Having a strong picture in your mind will help you choose which size and shape of lathe you need.
photo credit: wwarby
Cost is also important, but buying a wood lathe is an investment, so you need to consider getting the correct lathe over spending less and getting one that will not meet your needs further down the road. Do your research and talk to people who are both selling and have used the lathe before to find out which one best suit your goals, and one that suits the size of your wallet.
There are also many other considerations such as maintenance, reliability, and usability. Be sure to ask lots of questions targeting these areas. Find out exactly how the machine aims to work with these issues. This is crucial and will save valuable time and heartache later down the project timeline.
Best Wood Lathes
There are a handful of brands that produce a mass amount of wood lathes. The best wood lathe would always come down to your own project specifications and needs. But the following are some of the best lathe brands on the market. Remember that if you go with a top quality brand, in the long run, you will always get the best wood lathe for the money. Be sure to check out all these brands:
1. Shop Fox
Wood Lathe Projects for fun and profit
There are many different, creative wood lathe projects that can be done on both large and smaller, mini wood lathes. Here are some wood lathe projects ideas:
1. Furniture – You can make beautiful table legs as well as bed posts. Other things include making really good and unique looking bar stools.
2. For mini wood lathe projects, you could look at making custom pencils, pens, crafts, or even wooden cups.
3. For more wood lathe turning projects, be creative. Think about what could be cool to make. Brainstorm a few ideas and develop from there. Maybe you can make something for someone else, or you could turn your art into profit if you come up with something different.
There are many different types of wood lathes out there, but knowing the different parts and communicating what your needs are will help you go a long way. Try your best to do the research and if you are looking for a wood lathe, have a strong grasp on budget and what your goals are.