1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

    Guest, if you have not yet updated your forum bookmark to a secure log in connection, please delete your unsecure book and add the following secure bookmark: https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php

    You can dismiss this notice by clicking the X in the upper right of the notice box.

    Dismiss Notice

Absolute newbie question

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Jim Lee, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Jim Lee

    Jim Lee

    Aug 4, 2009
    Hi all, Excellent site. I am just starting to turn and am using a white oak tree that is lying in my yard. I am using a venerable Shopsmith 10ER circa 1953 that has a 1750 rpm 1/2 hp motor with three pairs of ....... So I think I have the three speeds 1750/2, 1750, 2 x 1750. I use the lowest speed with a run of the mill set of Shopsmith knives. So I know that I am starting with a some disadvantages. I have also heard that white oak is not the easiest wood to work with which I am proving with a series of tear outs. I have a Worksharp 2000 that I think I am using pretty well so that at least I think I have sharp tools. I also frequently spray the wood with water which seems to help alot. I am trying to turn bowls and goblets. I really do want to work with the wood I have. I am in the Raleigh North Carolina area so much of the hardwood I am going to come across is red and white oak.

    My plan for right now is to get a termite hollowing tool as below:

    I am looking for any other recommendations for working with white oak under the relatively difficult conditions provided by my Shopsmith 10ER. What I am most curious about is if having a lower rpm than 800+ would be helpful in turning this, or any other hardwood.

    Thanks very much,
    Jim Lee
  2. captjim


    Feb 15, 2007
    Location (City & State):
    Kona, Hawaii
    The first suggestion I can make is to contact a local AAW chapter and meet some of the folks. You will find a huge willingness to share their expertise and talent. There is a chapter in Chapel Hill. 919-967-1566.

    RE the speed. You will actually find a better cut at higher speeds but the work piece has to be running true and without any vibration. I use the lower speeds to balance the work and then run it up to about 1000 or a little higher. That is my comfort zone but some guys turn well above that speed. The size and density of the timber will dictate a safe speed. If it vibrates, you are going too fast.

    Turning is much like driving a stick shift. After a while, the muscle memory takes over and you are no longer focused on the mechanics. Practice, practice, practice.

    Since we do a lot of end grain turning on our Hawaiian woods and our forms tend to be narrow and deep, I find the termite to be especially helpful on the inside at the bottom of the work and “around the cornerâ€. For the walls, my tool of choice is a 3/8 bowl gouge with a conventional grind. Just be sure to rub the bevels on both. My personal technique with the termite is to place the bevel against the work, slightly lower than centerline, and then SLOWLY rotate counter clockwise until the cut begins. Then make very slight adjustments until you are getting the desired cut for that piece of timber. After a while, you will find subsequent cuts on that piece will be stored in the muscle memory bank and the work will go much faster. Although you can use the tool in a push cut, my personal experience is to draw the tool from the center out to minimize catches. Work in small sections from the rim towards the base so the work is supported by mass. As you get close to finished thickness, make finish cuts to blend the sections together and thin continue the process towards the base. Keep in mind, if you ask 10 turners for the right way to do something, the odds are you will get 10 different answers. Ultimately, you will find what works for you.

    Glad to have you aboard.
  3. MichaelMouse


    May 16, 2005
    For goblets and boxes I prefer a "pointy gouge." http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d160/GoodOnesGone/a63b77ab.jpg It's a better choice for the rough work, and with a final hone, all but the bottom in most turnings. Hook and ring tools like the termite (a gouge at 90 degrees to the handle) work great at cleaning up the bottom, the most difficult part to sand.

    Your oak is likely to catch on you if you narrow your tool, because there's a great difference in hardness between early and late wood, and those big rays in white oak. More points to the pointy gouge there, as you can see from the form of the shavings here. http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d160/GoodOnesGone/5fa71f2e.jpg The gouge is laid in on its bevel, rotated carefully until it engages wood, then drawn/pushed from lesser to greater diameter. The clean edge of the shaving is made as the tool begins the cut, the feather end as it eases out. Shavings tumble down the flute if you're working on "hollow forms" rather than remaining inside to clog and grab the tool.

    Takes some learning, but the point won't skate as you plunge it, and the sides bridge a lot of hard/soft changes.

    Use the lowest speed. Increased speed increases energy, danger and the number of times the same spot comes past your tool in a given amount of time, it does not make a better cut. A better edge makes a better cut.

    Make a steady and things will go a lot easier. Search and you'll find all kinds of elaborate types. I use simple, but I don't do a lot of hollowing, except ornaments, which don't need a steady.
  4. Martin Hasemann

    Martin Hasemann

    Aug 13, 2009
    Location (City & State):
    Home Page:
    Nothing beats experience and getting with some fellows in your area is probably the best thing you can go. Asking someone from the local chapter or turning club to come over will help (and make new friends!) as they may be able to show you have to make the best of what you have or what other tools you should probably have.

    Don't discount the old lathe as I still use a circa 1969 Craftsman (albeit with many changes) for turning small boxes and ornaments.

    As for oak. You won't get those nice thin turnings from green oak. It's difficult for experienced turners to do anything thin in oak. As stated below, all those pretty rays in the wood tend to make it vibrate at almost any speed, wet or dry. Keeping green wood wet helps, higher speeds help, sharp tools help, but it will still go out of round unless you work fairly quickly.

    My guess is since you have the 'standard' set of shopsmith chisels, you don't have a proper bowl gouge. Again, get with the local chapter or turning club and you may be able to try some different tools before you purchase anything. I wouldn't recommend a termite to a beginner, nice tool that it is it can be very frustrating to a new turner. My personal recommendation would be to invest in a side grind or 'fingernail' grind bowl gouge and get used to using it in different woods/situations.

Share This Page