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Thread: Wood lathe questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Wood lathe questions

    Looking for general information about choosing a wood lathe. At present the need is mostly to reproduce spindles of various designs and sizes. Length doesn't usually exceed 36 to 40 inches. Definitely need the attachment that lets you attach a template to follow. As usual, cost is an issue.

    Any specific recommendations? Thanks in advance.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Jim Mackell
    Arundel, ME

  2. #2
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    Craigslist, Benton Maine, $300 https://maine.craigslist.org/tls/d/1...584916219.html

    The lathe isn't worth that much not even with the duplicator. But a new system would set you back at least 3 or 5 times as much. The length might be a problem, 36" is about maximum on that lathe. I am pretty sure 40" long will be out of the question.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mackell View Post
    ... Definitely need the attachment that lets you attach a template to follow...
    By "template" do you actually want a duplicator lathe, a machine that guides a tool to create a specific shape? If you can't find one that suits, with a basic lathe you can still duplicate any spindle (and with higher quality) with a few steps:

    - create a "story stick" (look at the bottom of this page: http://www.startwoodworking.com/post...uild-furniture)
    - turn a cylinder
    - mark the key positions on the cylinder
    - use a parting tool with dividers/calipers to cut the key positions down to the proper diameters
    - support the spindle to be copied just behind the lathe so you can refer to it
    - turn the cylinder to match

    You can probably find a useful used lathe to fit your budget. You don't need a lot of power in the motor and you can turn spindles nicely with an older, less expensive lathe without a electronic speed control. Finding one with a long enough bed for a 40" spindle might be challenging, but the bed can be extended. I have a cast-iron extension for mine but some people have made an extension from wood.

    JKJ

  4. #4
    Here's what you need: http://vegawoodworking.com/product/p...he-duplicator/
    You can put it on one of their lathes or adapt it to another.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Edwards View Post
    Here's what you need: http://vegawoodworking.com/product/p...he-duplicator/
    You can put it on one of their lathes or adapt it to another.
    Yikes, did you see their price for just the duplicator?
    8” Duplicator $1095.00

    Maybe there is a used one available somewhere.

    I am wary of the surface quality from a duplicator. Perhaps some are better than others.

    JKJ

  6. #6
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    Feb 2018
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    Yea duplicators are expensive. You can sometimes find the old Craftsman lathes with a duplicator attached for a reasonable price. It's fairly simple to duplicate turnings if you just take your time measuring and sneaking up on the final shape. I've done hundreds over the years. I do have a Vega duplicator and used to use it a fair amount but now I just turn them by eye. Mine are exact but close enough that people can't tell the difference if I really take my time. What I like about the duplicator is the parts are exact. I turned 50 small spindles with tenons on both ends. I got the tenons to within .010" every time using the duplicator. Would not have gotten them that close by hand.
    It is possible to make your own duplicator. I don't know if there are any youtube videos but it's basically just a platform that a jig with the cutter rides on. This jig traces a template that you make. It's not as accurate or a easy to use as the Vega but could be done for $30 or $40 dollars.

  7. #7
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    OK this is really jury rigged but you can follow some of the other links and get a better idea. He is using one of the old Craftsman lathes however.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNsboC0AJZ4

  8. #8
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    Grizzly sells a copying attachment for some of their lathes for a little over $300 + shipping. I've never used it but it probably could be adapted to work with most lathes. I've never used one so I can say how good it is but if you aren't wanting to make your own and $1100 for the Vega is out of the question it could be an option. It's in stock, something that can't be said about most of Grizzly's tools lately.

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/Copy...d-G5979/T27313

  9. #9
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    I am going a different route, using a router on a homemade router lather. You will want this book to build it.
    “Router Magic,” written by Bill Hylton, I suggest you Google images of "homemade rputer lathe" and then look at the picture and read articles associated with the pictures.

  10. #10
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    Feb 2018
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    the problem with all copy attachments and router copiers is they can't do all shapes. You still need to touch up certain shapes by hand. Square sided beads is one example. It's also touch to go from square to round without chipping the corners. If you have to do a large number of duplicate turnings then duplicators area good way to go. If your only doing a small number the it's more efficient and certainly far less expensive to just turn them. Yes at first you will have difficulty doing duplicate pieces but if you take it slow and practice you can get pretty good.

  11. I would strongly recommend against getting a duplicator - for two reasons:
    first, the finish will require considerable sanding because they're scraping and not cutting
    second, because it will discourage you from developing proper lathe tool technique

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