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Thread: Initial//Complimentary Tools for my NEW lathe

  1. #1

    Initial//Complimentary Tools for my NEW lathe

    Greetings from Michigan
    Over the past 6 months Iíve been getting a lot of chances to turn pens at my budsí houses when we have our weekly shop-days. One friend has the Excelsior mini lathe from Rockler the other a penpal. Apparently, I come back in a zen-like state because my wife is always commenting how much calmer and happy, I seem with newly turned pens in tow. So, this past weekend she surprised me with Jetís JWL-1221VS, which is awesome of herÖexcept thatís all she got.
    Hoping everyone here can point me in the right direction of what tools Iíll need. The initial goal is just pens, and other small projects, I would love to do bowls but really want to get the basics down and learn the has a different feel to the penal .
    Not looking to break the bank but always try to buy quality tools that are great for day 1 to the day I can't turn anymore lol.

    This list Iíve put together so far:

    The Necessities
    HSS Chisel set
    PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 - PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set - Lathe Turning Tools -
    Uvex S8510 - Uvex Bionic Face Shield with Clear Polycarbonate Visor and Anti-Fog/Hard Coat (S8510) - Eye Protection Equipment -
    Pen Turning starter set Ė was looking at the Rockler kit, but is it better to buy the glue, mandrels, barrel trimmers, etc. separately?

    Workshop Constraint
    Pen Blank Drilling Chuck (Note: I donít have a drill press so was thinking this combo would be a quality substitute)
    PSI Woodworking CSCPENCHK2 - PSI Woodworking CSCPENCHK2 Large Dedicated Pen Blank Drilling Chuck : Everything Else
    PSI Woodworking TM32 - PSI Woodworking Products TM32 1/2-Inch Drill Chuck with #2 Morse Taper Arbor (1/2" 2MT) - Lathe Turning Tools -

    From your guysí experience and love of the hobby does sound like a good starting point anything over/underkill? Also if I missed anything glaring
    Thanks for all the suggestions in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    I think you will find that buying a chisel set will provide you a couple of chisels that will go into a drawer and never come out. The face shield you are looking at is very good, but will not protect your face from a flying 10" bowl blank. A famous turner had a turning fly from the lathe and strike her face, destroying her eye socket. She says if your face shield allows you the confidence of someone coming up to you and hitting you in the face with a ball peen hammer, it's acceptable. Go to and read and read and read about pen turning. You'll find that a bunch of serious penturners no longer use a mandrel. Learning on your own can be expensive and long. Finding a class or mentor will eliminate you from buying useless tools and equipment, and cut your learning curve in half. Find an AAW chapter and go to meetings. Many clubs have mentoring programs.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Silicon Valley, CA
    My standard suggesting when buying your initial tools is to get copies of what you use in your classes. That'd be the 2-4 most common tools you use, the sharpening setup, etc. Since you're not really taking classes and you are (for now! ) are talking about pens, maybe there is more flexibility in choices.

    I don't see any sharpening equipment, which you'd need with HSS tools. There are many ways to sharpen, but around here 100% of the classes use the One-Way Wolverine jigs. Life is easier for a beginner if you don't have to do a translation. How does your buddy sharpen?

    For acrylic pens I see a lot of buzz about carbide insert tools, especially negative rake inserts. (E.g. Easy Wood Tools.) They wouldn't require sharpening, but I don't have any experience and for other pieces they can be limiting.

    I like that Uvex face shield, but it's rated for use over safety glasses, so add some of those too. (Also for the one pen class I took, we didn't wear anything but safety glasses. The speed & size was little enough I was entirely comfortable without more.)

    Richard addressed why not tool sets. I agree.

    His warning about safety is well founded, but was written about turning large pieces and I'd argue pens are well captured on the mandrel and very low mass, so a different matter entirely. But as you broaden your horizons, the author was Lynne Yamaguchi and she hosts two articles she wrote about her accident and subsequent research: Safety Matters: From the Eye of a Survivor and Assess Your Risk.

    Oh, no one has commented on your idea for drilling. I have drilled many things that way and think it is an excellent method. There is one potential problem and that is the chuck and drill chuck add length to your setup and you can run out of bed length on your lathe. I think your jet is big enough you wouldn't have that problem with pens, but keep that limit in mind for other projects. I can't comment on your specific product choices, but given how many different setups I've used (on different lathes in different shops) I suspect most options are fine.

    Good luck & have fun.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Providence, RI
    In Lynne Yamaguchi's account of her accident, she noted, "I had removed my faceshield, so only my half-mask respirator and glasses (with polycarbonate lenses) were between me and the wood." What happened to her was most unfortunate; really no need to further sensationalize it.
    -- Jim

    Use the right tool for the job.

  5. #5
    Look for "impact rated" face shields.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Houston, TX
    The Uvex S8510 works well, I know from experience, buy a couple of extra shields :-)
    I now use this facesheild/
    There really is no way to catch all the dust and chips when turning so you really should use some kind of respirator or at least good dust mask.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Quote Originally Posted by James Morgan View Post
    In Lynne Yamaguchi's account of her accident, she noted, "I had removed my faceshield, so only my half-mask respirator and glasses (with polycarbonate lenses) were between me and the wood." What happened to her was most unfortunate; really no need to further sensationalize it.
    Explaining to new woodturners that standing by a spinning block of wood is extremely dangerous is far from sensationalizing. It's a concern for their lives. I choose not to mention the incidents where a loved one hasn't heard from their spouse for a bit of time and go to the shop and find them dead with the lathe still spinning. Both men and women have lost their lives at the lathe.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    I highly recommend a tailstock mandrel saver if you are going to use a pen mandrel.

    I don't see a chuck, my $0.02 would be buy a chuck and the jaw set for pen blank drilling instead of a dedicated drilling chuck, which you would not be able to use for bowls I assume. I don't have one of those.....

    Good luck and have fun. Yes, be safe.

  9. #9
    I was thinking a Nova G3 and their pen jaw for that reason

  10. #10
    Thanks to e everyone so far for teh 2 cents
    Learning a lot, sounds like I have to look up that face mask story seems mentioned a lot of the forum

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Northern MN
    Buying a lathe is like buying a horse, the initial purchase price has little to do with the cost of ownership (JKJ has horses too, he can vouch).

    Safety gear is essential and already discussed. Not just face/eye protection, but respiratory too (that can be as simple as some 3M N95 masks).

    Unless you start with carbide tools, getting your sharpening setup is an important initial step, as turning with dull tools just sucks the joy out of it, and sentences you to endless sanding. For starting out, I'd recommend the 1/2 hp Rikon grinder that comes with the friable white wheels (the grey wheels that come with most grinders are not suitable for sharpening lathe tools). Shop around a little for a good price. Full disclosure, I have and prefer the 1 hp Rikon not the 1/2 hp, and you may go there in the long run, but you've got a lot of stuff to buy and I'd recommend starting with "adequate" while you tool up. CBN wheels are wonderful and I wouldn't part with mine, but IMHO they're in the same category of "really nice but not essential". The 1/2 hp Rikon comes with serviceable "white wheels" that will do the job. But everyone (and their budget) is different, some go all in right away under the "only cry once" philosophy.

    Unless you opt for carbide tools, pair your grinder with a wolverine setup. If your budget will allow, I'd go ahead and get the vari-grind jig with it at the start. The vari-grind will be helpful for learning to get consistent grinds on spindle and bowl gouges. If the budget is really tight there are shop-built substitutes you can opt for.

    Agree with the guidance that most chisel sets are a false value because they contain tools you'll use rarely if ever. If you're going to follow a "buy serviceable first, better quality later" approach, the Benjamin's best tools you mention are available as individual tools at low prices, and I think you'll pay less overall if you just buy the individual tools you need as you go, based on what you're turning. I started with a Delta starter spindle turning set supplemented with some Benjamin's Best tools. My primary tools are now mostly Thompson tools, but the originals still see some use, most reground to more specialized purpose tools. I use my old 1/2" BB bowl gouge to try out new grinds before committing to reshaping a Thompson gouge. I've heard people tell horror stories about getting Benjamin's Best tools that weren't of appropriate hardness, but it's never happened to me. They're not great, but they are serviceable, and their value serves a purpose as you figure out if you're going to stay with the hobby, and what type of turning you end up enjoying. I bought my first lathe when I was doing a lot of blacksmithing and was making my own woodworking tools -- I bought it to make handles for chisels, drawknives, etc. I remember distinctly sitting at a brewpub with my wife, telling her I "just wasn't interested in turning bowls." Let's just say it turned out that reflected a remarkable lack of self-awareness.

    If you decide to go with carbide tools, has some lower priced options compared to Easy Wood Tools or others. I bought one of their round cutter tools for hollowing boxes and it meets every expectation. I'm not necessarily recommending carbide tools over traditional turning tools and that topic will invoke some passionate debates. I'm just providing sourcing info, the choice of which way to go is yours.

    You'll probably want a chuck. Given the size of your lathe, I'd recommend the Nova G3 lite, probably in the pen turner's bundle if pen-turning is your initial focus. It comes with a set of 50 mm jaws you can use for other things (bowls) as you explore other types of projects. If you later turn bowls closer to the capacity of your lathe you'll probably want a heavier chuck, but the G3 is probably not a bad starting point. As you can gather from other threads, most people that get into turning end up owning multiple chucks and the G3 will be useful to have even if you later get into larger work and/or a larger lathe. I will not argue that Vicmarc chucks are more finely made, but unless you're "only top quality guy", I think the Nova line is a good balance point between quality and price. PSI and others have lower cost chucks, but I'd opt away from them and stick with the Nova line because all their jaws are interchangeable among their different chucks. I started with a chuck package from PSI they no longer sell, and it served me well (and continues to), but it is a white rhino in terms of interchangeability with anything.

    I'm assuming your lathe came with a faceplate. If not, that's on the shopping list too. Starting with one of the cheap ones PSI sells is fine. I have several of those that are permanently attached to various jigs and fixtures. They work just fine.

    Particularly if/as you branch out into other types of projects, finding some mentoring will pay great dividends. I learned to turn on my own (with input from books, Bill Grumbine's "Turn a Bowl" DVD, and web content) and I will assure you that learning hands on with an experienced turner will speed your development markedly, and help you avoid a lot of frustrating evenings trying to figure out how to cut wood cleanly without catches. I make time to teach people that ask because I realize how much impact that has compared to the path I traveled. Woodturning clubs are a good way to find people that can help you, and also a chance to try different tools, techniques, etc. If you post your location, there are a lot of people on this board willing to help also.

    Welcome to the vortex.


    Last edited by Dave Mount; 06-28-2022 at 12:02 PM. Reason: typo

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Mount View Post
    If your budget will allow, I'd go ahead and get the vari-grind jig with it at the start. The vari-grind will be helpful for learning to get consistent grinds on spindle and bowl gouges. If the budget is really tight there are shop-built substitutes you can opt for.
    Wise words from Dave...I would just mention that there is a Vari-grind and Vari-grind 2 jig and most turners prefer the original Vari-grind over the Vari-grind 2.

    I started out with 3 expensive carbide tools because I was afraid of sharpening, but the finish was so bad that I soon bought a single bowl gouge and skew from Thompson as well as a grinder/wolverine jig and liked it much better. And sharpening is really simple with the wolverine jig. I personally never use those carbide tools (but others love them and use them a lot).
    I am self taught and this forum has been extremely helpful for learning. Welcome and good luck!


  13. #13
    Funny after first mention of sharpening I've been diving head first into that, glad to see so many people mention in in other replies
    Quick question I have a nice variable speed 6 inch grinder I literally just recently bought for my plane irons
    Will 6 work for wood turning tools and the wolverine with CBN already installed?
    Or should I start looking for a 8 incher set up?
    I have seen conflicting reports...much like everything on the internet haha
    I've accepted I wont actually being lathing till Christmas lol but want to get all the tools set up first
    Like I said, so happy my wife bought what a lot of turners seem to say is a good lathe...she just did it backwards and bought that last piece first

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    sykesville, maryland
    I suggest an inexpensive set of carbide to start with. Just 3 tools. This way you can be sure it's something you love enough to dump the money into the hobby for HSS tools. I'm not a fan of carbide, but a good way to start.... for pens at least.
    Last edited by tom lucas; 06-28-2022 at 10:45 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Northern MN
    Alex, your 6" grinder will be fine, all you need are the fixtures. It is possible you'll need to put a booster under your grinder for the wolverine platform to hit the wheel in a favorable place, but that's easy to do if it is necessary (and it may not be).



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