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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.

wood lathe 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.

wood lathe 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

2. Jet

3. Grizzly

4. Delta

5. Craftsman

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.

To Conclude

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.

Whether it’s one of those unfinished wooden rocking chairs you order online just for this project, or a l shaped desk you bought at a garage sale and you want to refinish it to get rid of the previous owner’s kids scratches, woodworking projects can be a lot of fun.  When you have a piece of work that has already been finished once and you want to refinish it, there are a few options you have for getting rid of the previous finish.

One is sanding.  For anything bigger than a small box, it can be worth it to use a power sander so your hands don’t get sore trying to grip the paper for hours at a time.  If the object you’re sanding has a lot of flat areas, you also may want to look into using a small block of 2 by 4 that is cut to be about the size of your hand, and either gluing or nailing sandpaper to the bottom of it.  That way, you’re gripping the block of wood instead of the sandpaper itself, which makes it easier to do sanding projects.

Another thing you can do is paint thinner.  This will sometimes get rid of paint without you having to go through the effort of sanding things down.  This can work well when you have a carving you don’t want to ruin through sanding.  Be sure to test the thinner on another area of the woodwork to see if it will actually dissolve the paint.

You can also try various varnish removal options to get rid of the varnish covering.  Wood stain is very difficult to remove, and often will ruin the wood to try to sand out deep stain.

Once you’ve removed the layer of color you don’t like, if you’ve used sandpaper, brush off the wood to where there’s no wood dust that will mess up your new color.  If you’ve used paint thinner, wait for it to dry before doing anything.  If you’re going to use paint, it is usually a good idea to use a primer first so the paint doesn’t peel off as easily down the road.