GOING small

I earlier asked about why some people want to Go BIG
and questioned the need for a lathe in the Stubby
range, capable of turning 600 pound chunks of wood
into enormous objects. I understand better now.
Tonight I saw a demonstration of the other extreme,
GOING small - I mean REALLY small. I watched as
a bowl, maybe 3/8" in diameter by 3/16th deep
was turned on a little metal lathe with a shop made
tool rest and an odd combination of turning tools
made by adapting a few small carving tools, a
dental tool ground for parting, etc.. In fifteen minutes
it was turned AND finished. Could've been done in
even less time, but when you do a demonstration
you have interruptions to answer questions and
you need to slow down and describe what you're
Now I can imagine making doll furniture at 1/12th
scale or maybe even 1/24th scale though working
at 1/48th scale remains unimagineable. But to
do vases and bowls and cups and goblets at that
Though it seems crazy, I think I may break out the
little Unimat, make some little tools and have a
try at GOING small.
That's the great thing about turning - so many
ways to go and so many ways to get there.
Fun this wood working thing.
charlie b
Reply to
Charlie I have not made doll house size plates and bowls and such for a while but when I did all I had for a lathe was my Canadian Tire single tube, 12" x 36". I made a lot of bowls and vases under an inch on that as I recall.
Reply to
Darrell Feltmate
Why on earth would you want a little UNIMAT to make small things when the Vickmark or the Stubby can do it even better? Does the Unimat have the versatile chucks of the larger animals; does it have the speedcontrol; does it have the stability and the precision that the larger lathes do?
Any way there is to hold a workpiece can be used on the biggie. Not the other way around.
I have made several small things on my 800-pound Vickmark, and I have tried it on a small Rexxon-lathe weighing in at about 5 pounds - and give me the sturdy versatility of the biggie every time!
So true:-)
Reply to
Bjarte Runderheim
Joe Ruminski, a club member, made a 6' long finial with probably a maximum diameter of 1/4". The "small" being its diameter considering its length.
He fed it thru the headstock and out thru the tailstock and a piece of PVC to make it happen.
Reply to
Tom Nie
Some years ago I bought a little variable speed Carbatec lathe from a wood turner that was so frustrated with his failed pen making business that he put an ad in the paper to sell it.
I felt bad for the old couple and since I was running flush at the time paid a little more than I would have normally for a new tool. However, when I got it home I felt like it was worth every penny.
It is smooth, quiet, portable, and really fun to turn on. It is like having turning on a very precise machine, and with the variable speed, you can burn off pens, finials, Christmas ornaments, etc, really quickly. Since it is so small it seems to give a better sense of precision (maybe my imagination) when turning. I like the fact that mine goes down to about 350 rpms, all the way up to 4500 for finishing and polishing.
And since it is so small, you can finish up and put it on the shelf at the end of the day.
Reply to
Why on earth would you want a Vickmark or Stubby when a 6-axis, 12 tool CNC machine would do it even better - and quicker, and more precisely - in quantities of 5000?
No - but changing pulleys is a two second operation. Move what is bascially an "O" ring from one set of pulleys to another.
We humans are pretty good at problem solving (until we get elected -then all bets are off). For a lot of woodworkers, half the fun is coming up with a way to do something - with what you've got - or can make.
But can you use it on the kitchen table? Can you put it on a shelf when you're done? Can you use a Dust Buster for your dust collection? Can you fit ALL your turning tools - in a cigar box - and actually lift it? charlie b
Reply to
Ah - Trembleurs! Haven't done any six footers but my short attempts of a section of one were fun. Got down to 1/8th inch diameter and think I could go smaller - but with only 12" between centers - without a chuck, I guess I'll have to wait for a Stubby to do any "real ones"
GOING small is fun.
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charlie b
Reply to
There are very small chucks tool rest and other pieces for the micro lathes. These lathes are used for precision building watches and instruments, you can turn either wood or metal, and the parts and pieces are available, as are some tools.
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,330&p=50260 I also turned small bowls, boxes, vases and goblets etc., you'd be able to place 3 or 4 on a dime, I do have pic's in my albums, like to see them ??
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Have fun and take care Leo Van Der Loo
Reply to
On Wed, 07 Mar 2007 22:51:43 -0800, charlieb wrote:
My main wood lathe is a Woodfast Cobra and I do most things on that, however I also have a small Taiwan cast bed lathe weighing about 20 kg which I bought specifically to cart around in my caravan so I can turn when travelling. Usually make pens ( my el cheapos cost about 30c to make and I can afford to give them away. Very good as a "friend maker" when stopping overnight in a van park, although I much prefer stopping in the bush.
I also do more metalwork than woodturning and have a Hafco 12x36 (in imperial) geared head lathe. At least 90% of the work I do on it is 1/2" or less in diameter, much of that being between 1/8 & 1/4 for model locomotives. I am planning to go on a trip east for a few months so I have recently splurged on a mini metal lathe, a 6x10, which will be fine for brass & aluminium.
Alan, in Gosnells, Western Oz. VK6 YAB VKS 737 - W 6174
Reply to
Charlie, You just made me think of something! My Oneway live center has an adapter for mounting a chuck on the tailstock. That would take care of the compression problem when trying to do some of that really thin work.
Reply to
Tom Nie
FMM the coolest thing about a mini lathe is 120 volts instead of 240 volts. Second - can put it in the travel trailer and travel:) Third - REALLY small work feels better on it - along with small tools.
Having said that I'll say that the first lathe I grab is my Powermatic 3520B - sweet!
Reply to
Tom Nie

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