Turner's Elbow - what is it?
If not mistaken, it's not the same as Tennis Elbow. I've heard it
mentioned, and a few websites have tools they claim will help or prevent.
I took a week long class, and developed a wicked pain in my elbow. It gets
better, and then worse, seemingly without reinjury. I wore an
unprescribed armband (Band-IT) but had to wear it in differently that
recommended for TE, and while it helped a bit, it made my upper arm
Yep, tendonitis. Relief from NSAIDs if you can take 'em, and
rest/compresses. Prevention by decreasing the load on the elbow and
forearm. My solution is to forego sage tool advice and cut everything with
my hand at a spot midway between my navel and my nipples, which is to say
with my elbow relaxed, and not to "make the shavings fly" which means having
to overcome the forces which would release them plus applying enough extra
to send them airborne.
Slow the lathe, cut the wood as it wishes to be cut, and tune your tools to
allow you to turn with a mild upward flex. I think you'll find, as I did,
that the tool and tool position which stresses your elbow least also
produces the smoothest surface.
I'm with George.Tendonitis or inflamation of the tendon comes from repeated
small shocks. turn gently, sweet Afton, or Patrick, or whoever :-) As Frank
Pain said, "cut the wood the way it wants to be cut." Let it flow, no need
to force it. Tools, lathes and nerves all last better, not to mention
God bless and safe turning
Truro, NS, Canada
Yes like George and Darrell say, but then there is the other turners
elbow, spindle turners or between center turners do get them the most
Only remedy for those is to take the sharp center out of the tail stock
before you jam your elbow into it.
Have fun and take care
Leo Van Der Loo
Here is how I solved this problem for me. It may or may not help you, but I
offer it in the hope that you will benefit from my experience...
Several years ago this was a big problem for me as well. As a production
bowl/platter/hollow form turner, I turn a significant amount of wood every
day and over time, I developed the dreaded "Turners Elbow". Like you, I
tried several of the armband type of devices, but they offered little relief
and were a pain to use.
Since I turn professionally, a bad elbow was not acceptable, so I began to
look at every phase of the turning process to see where I might improve. I
finally settled on sharpening as the culprit, the fact that I was not doing
it frequently enough. If you think about it, the only thing that moves the
gouge through the wood, is your movement of the tool. If the edge is dull,
or not as sharp as it can be, you have to push harder to make the tool cut.
Over time, (like your week long class for example) this can strain the
ligaments, muscles and tendons in your arm causing the problems you
mentioned. If you turn a lot, or for extended periods at a time
infrequently, you are causing repetitive motion stress to your body. The key
for me to eliminating my "Turners Elbow" problem was to simply sharpen more
often, about four to five times as much as I had done previously.
If you think about it, when the gouge is fresh off the stone, it really
glides through the wood... As the edge begins to wear, it requires more
effort to push/pull it through the wood to make the cut. This extra effort
can really do a number on your arm if it happens regularly. However, if you
are always using an edge that is really sharp and you keep it that way, your
body will appreciate your efforts.
Today, I turn during the production season up to 20 hours per day without
any problems. In fact, I've never had the problem again after I altered my
turning/sharpening protocols. Before I made these adjustments, I suffered
from "Turners Elbow" for about five years on and off. At times it was so bad
that I could not turn at all and other times, it was just a real pain. I've
been pain free for several years now and my studio's total output is several
times what it was when I started years ago. Give it a try. Good luck to you
and best wishes in all of your woodturning endeavours!
On 9/18/06 10:09 AM, in article
I'm not really sure if this would apply to the elbow, but I used to have quite a
bit of shoulder pain and stiffness when I was doing a lot of turning..
After some research here in the group, I tried a few slight changes in the
height of the lathe until the pain stopped...
This was with the mini on an adjustable table.... As the turning gods would
probably predict, when I got the Jet 1442, the spindle height within a 1/2" of
where I'd adjusted the mini too... whodathunkit?