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Lathe Placement in Shop

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Larry Steinmetz, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Location:
    Alvin, TX
    Hello. I have mentioned in a few previous posts that I am currently in the process of running wiring, lights, etc. in a 1500 sq. ft. building that I am turning into a wood shop. Attached is a sectioned-off area of my shop that I want to put my lathe in. The lathe rectangle is to scale representing the overall footprint (as well as the bench on the right side wall). The headstock is on the open side of the room.

    I am wondering what experienced wood turners would consider the minimum space needed around a full size lathe? All blocks on the picture are 1 foot so right now I have approximately 3’ planned for each side of the lathe. I have already built the left wall and the workbench on the right wall is in place. I have not built the workbench on the left and am starting to wonder if I should build that or just make storage shelves and not have a bench so that I can move the lathe over and have a little more room.

    One other note--the right side wall has a window in it and my current thought is to have my back to the window when turning. My son thinks I should turn the lathe around, forego building a bench and use the left side wall for tool hanging with some higher shelves for blank and other storage. The window does not ever get direct sunshine coming in due to a 10' lean-to outside of the window and another building 20' away.

    A third option would be to turn the lathe around but still put the bench in. I would appreciate any thoughts you all may have on this. Thank you.

    Lathe Area.jpg
     
  2. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    You have 8 feet allowed for lathe length. What lathe is it? My PM 3520B is at 73 inches with extension. I would leave off the proposed bench but put in 12 inch deep cabinets or drawers or shelving. You will want grinder on the side of the lathe you will stand. If you do not plan to have anything more than dust collection on the back side then 3 feet is fine but I like 4 feet behind me. I may be a little tight getting around the ends but might want to turn the lathe 90 degrees and use some of that window light. Also that large bench is not needed that close to the lathe if you need more space.
    You will also want to think about tool placement for frequently used tools. There are many ways to setup tools for everyday use from wall racks to ceiling mount to racks on wheels. This will need to be allowed for in your plan also or you will be moving lathe to make that space. So better to decide now. I prefer drawers for storage of non everyday use items because of dust and my units are 12 to 18 inches deep.

    Use the grid you have and make cut outs to scale of what tools and place them to see what different layouts will do. Remember whatever you decide today will be changed at some future time down the road so it is best to not put all this down in concrete. Make the design you put in place flexible and easy to redo.
     
  3. Curtis Fuller

    Curtis Fuller

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    I'm envious of a 1500 sqft shop. With most tools the mess is relatively easy to contain. But a lathe is different. Unless you're Glenn Lucas who can aim his shavings into a garbage can the main consideration of lathe placement is where the shavings are going to land. If I had a chance to design a shop I would place my lathe in an area with as much open space around it as possible. No benches, shelves, etc. to collect shavings. Somewhere that you can just sweep up. I'd put my sharpening station and tool holders directly behind where I stand so that I can easily just turn around to sharpen and because my body would block most of the shavings from hitting it. Drop dust collection from overhead. Cleaning up is the worst part of turning so the easier you can make it by design the better.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    all good advice above. What is important to you.
    I would move the grinder to the other side of the partician. the lathe I would move closer to the sidewalk an angle the headstock closer to the wall.
    Put the bandsaw where the grinder is.

    main thing is be flexible. As you see where the shavings pile up and where the spray line from wet wood looks best you can shift the lathe.

    other things to think about - present or future.
    Use a vacuum pump? turn outboard? Sliding headstock?
    869C97AF-CA8F-49C2-987D-59B95A38504D.jpeg
     

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  5. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    My lathe is a Robust American Beauty...the total length also includes the bed extension I ordered with it. Excellent point you make about things changing in the future. The one thing that is pretty fixed at this point is the bench on the right side wall...it is a 30 drawer cabinet/bench that weighs more than 1200# and was a bear to get in there.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  6. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    I really wanted to have the lathe area a lot more open but, other things taken into consideration, the walled-off section ended up being the solution to my overall situation.
     
  7. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    As far as shavings, I have seen a few people on various forums mention putting up shower curtains--especially when turning green wood--that may be something I might do as well.

    Several of you mentioned dust collection and I plan to have it come down from the overhead. I'm glad you mentioned it though because I realize now that I wasn't really factoring that in as I got too fixated on where to put the lathe and whether I needed the proposed bench. I'm 99% certain the bench is now gone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
    Mike Adams likes this.
  8. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    I have curtains up and that did stop the chip dispersion thorough the shop
     
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  9. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Gerald...do you have them surrounding your lathe? I've seen full surround, three sides, and just on to the turner's back.
     
  10. brian horais

    brian horais

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    Larry, It looks like your woodturning room will be a subset of your overall 1500 square foot wood shop. I have a 15 ft by 25 ft woodworking shop, with the lathe centered in the room. Right behind me is a workbench with my bench grinder within easy reach for frequent sharpening touchups. This workbench also includes my drill press and a circular sander. Keeping the bench grinder readily available will make you much more prone to keep your tools sharp. Across from my lathe I have a table saw with router extension and a 14 inch bandsaw. The ends of my workshop include additional workbenches and storage. I agree with Hockenberry that the bench grinder needs to be moved right behind you where you are standing when turning. Also, I have about 3 ft. of separation between my lathe and the adjacent equipment behind me with about 5 feet separation to the tablesaw. Be sure to include plenty of LED lighting - fixed overhead lamps and pointable lamps on the lathe. Hope this helps.
     
  11. Timothy White

    Timothy White

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    Instead of a built in bench I bought a wood top tool box. I placed it behind my lathe I can keep my turning tools in easy reach. My grinder is placed to my right. Turn right 90 degrees take one step and sharpen. Turn 180 degrees take one step and the tools are on top of or in the toolbox. The grinder and tool box are on wheels which makes clean up a snap
     
    Larry Steinmetz likes this.
  12. JeffSmith

    JeffSmith

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    I’ve got the same lathe - just a smaller shop. The space for my lathe looks just a little larger though. I did design it to have the lathe facing a set of bifold doors to the outside so I can enjoy the view and get plenty of air. The grinder is on a rolling cabinet that can be moved for best access and also stores the small stuff and the vacuum pump. All electrical, dc and compressor fittings are run in the crawlspace and up through the floor. I do appreciate a high ceiling over the lathe.
    Having space on the tailstock end is most important to me - more than half my turning takes place with the headstock slid well past halfway. Space for me is most critical at the tailstock end, grinder cabinet winds up near the headstock for good access.
    I think in your space I’d angle (in the opposite direction from Al’s diagram) the lathe and skip the proposed bench altogether.
    Whatever you decide allow plenty of room around the beast for good access and collecting shavings.
     
  13. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    Larry,

    I would consider rotating your lathe 180 degrees. With it in that position you cannot use a deep hollowing rig (e.g., a captured D like the Carter Tools Hollow Roller XL. And, if you want to do turning off the end, it is easier with more room.

    As for the benches, as others have noted, do consider keeping your sharpening tools nearby.

    Also, consider movable structures for holding your tools. I’ve attached pictures of what I use and where they are placed. The tall one holds the tools with the cutting edges up. I prefer that as it doesn’t dull the tool by hitting the bottom, but others disagree saying the cutting edge up can lead to cuts (and I find it does if I am not paying attention).

    Good luck, and do post pictures when you get it “completed”.

    93186E90-5D93-41EC-9409-DDA3B3447FB6.jpeg 2D037645-73C4-4FB3-962E-C5C10ACD47D3.jpeg 029D2C04-C203-430D-AD75-892288DF6136.jpeg 5AC96F4F-B32E-4D7F-95D1-F82E922C55FD.jpeg 6965E97C-1254-472F-BC0F-4F110858D1E9.jpeg

    Rich
     
  14. Dave Landers

    Dave Landers

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    Some thoughts....

    When I'm standing at the lathe bed, my grinder is to my left (headstock side) and slightly behind me because I want it close, and the headstock side seems to get less debris from chips. When I had it on the tail side, it'd get mucked up with chips.

    I have curtains to keep the big chips from main parts of the shop, but it seems they don't work unless you "unfurl" them before you start roughing. I only have them on 2 sides (behind the lathe and behind the tailstock-end). I have a wall behind me with tools racked there - I don't try to curtain that off because it'd block my access to tools.

    I like to have a bench or table somewhere nearby to set down gouges. I used to have an old chest-of-drawers behind me, but moved it to get the grinders closer. My gouge rack is close (on the wall directly behind me) but I miss being able to just set a tool down. Working on fixing that....

    I have a window off the headstock side of my lathe. Windows are nice. I probably wouldn't rotate my lathe so the window is in the line-of-fire for something flying off the lathe. If I had your setup, I'd rotate the lathe (45 degrees or 90) to avoid having to stop turning to call the glass guy.

    If you do bowls or hollow-forms, you are (probably) going to end up standing at the tailstock-end of the lathe. Leave yourself some room to work there.
     
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  15. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Basically all the way but to the back of the lathe I have some plastic Corrugated sheet. On two sides I used galvanized wire strung tight across the shop and the back (behind me ) is a pipe screwed to a 2x6 attached to ceiling.
     
  16. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Lots of good advice. I would say that my preference would be to be able to look out the window. I have placed my main lathe, I have 3, so I can look up the mountain, I can see all the way to the top of Haleakala, a 10000 ft elevation dormant volcano. You will also benefit from the natural light coming in, instead of you blocking it.
     
    Dustin Cook likes this.
  17. Steve Nix

    Steve Nix

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    I’m guessing your woodturning work area is air condition.
     
  18. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    If you angle the lathe relative to the walls you can lower the chance of a ricochet coming directly back at you. I'd leave lots of open space at the tailstock end; I find increasingly with my AB that I slide the headstock down and use it as a short bed lathe, working from the end. Having a convenient and safe place to keep tools that you're actively using is somewhat challenging. Mine are in racks behind the lathe and the reach (across a spinning object, not good) is a little far to be comfortable and the rack fills with chips. I don't yet have a good solution for that.

    Immediate access to my grinder used to be a priority, I've started using a diamond hone that I keep in my pocket so trips to the grinder are much less frequent and having it a few steps away is now fine.

    I love having a window out onto our meadow. No mountain views, but I do have nesting bluebirds about 20 feet away and constant action at the bird feeder right outside the window.
     
  19. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Hi Brian...you are correct, the woodturning area is a sectioned-off area. If not for the roll up door on the other side of that pony wall, I would have kicked the wall out another 4-5 feet and then I would have all kinds of options for how to set up the area. Regarding lighting, I have thirty 2-bulb overhead LED fixtures throughout the shop and plan to have a lot of local lighting also.
     
  20. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Hi Jeff...it sure would be nice to bring power for mid-floor equipment from underneath. I am attaching Unistrut to the purlins and dropping it down towards the lathe. I am running conduit down the Unistrut and will be pulling a 240V and 120V circuit for the lathe. My ceiling height runs from approx. 12' at the eaves to 13' at the peak.
     
  21. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards

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    Me personally, I would never put my back to a door while doing any prolonged work with a power tool...the chances of someone walking in and startling you is real...I had my Laguna 12/16 set up on my workbench until the legs got here...it had my back to the door and my wife walked in and scared the bejeezus out of me...
     
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  22. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Thanks for posting the pictures...looks like you have a nice set-up! I have pretty much decided that I will rotate the lathe 180 like you suggest. I can use that wall behind me for easy access to tools, have some storage higher up the wall and probably a not-too-deep shelf to rest things on when I am turning.
     
  23. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    You make a good point about the curtains. If I flip the lathe 180 I would be using the wall behind me for hanging tools and a curtain behind me would not be that convenient. I had to laugh at your comment regarding the glass guy! Unfortunately, I don't really have a lot of room to angle the lathe and still have good space utilization. I need to replace my windows anyway...not certain if hurricane windows will stand up to a lathe missile!?!
     
  24. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Yes...the entire shop has HVAC for not only the heat but to slow down rusting of tools and equipment.
     
  25. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Hi Roger...interesting point you make about the diamond hone. I had started to do a little reading about this but got sidetracked. What I wanted to research was diamond hones vs. CBN hones. My grinder has CBN wheels and I know that Wood Turners Wonders sells CBN hones. As far as the window by the lathe, its not a bad view.

    IMG_0441.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  26. John Walls

    John Walls

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    Nice work bench!
     
  27. Larry Steinmetz

    Larry Steinmetz

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    Current view out my window...
    Thanks John...I really like it!
     
  28. Steven Forrest

    Steven Forrest

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    There's a good article by Kurt Hertzog in the Feb 2019 Woodturning Fundamentals about shop layout/lathe setup. I find that every year or so I can't stand it and undergo a new round of tinkering and reorganizing to address the problems that have become apparent. Basically, I keep solving old problems and developing new ones. Ultimately, it's a balancing act involving the parameters of the space itself (overall size, length/width ratios), windows, doors, power, lighting, dust control, chip control, work flow, tool access (frequent, medium, rarely used), storage...It's never really done. Hence, being able to move relocate things is useful. My walls are light colored plywood - I can put a nail or screw into the walls wherever I want, and relocate them whenever I want, and it just doesn't matter. All it costs is the time to do it.
     
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  29. Dean

    Dean

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    Larry Just some thoughts, I would forgo the bench on the left. You have plenty of storage already. Really nice bench. If you intend to turn off the end for bowls turning consider rotating the lathe 180. I like to keep my grinder in a place that the least amount of shaving end up. Then I am always concerned about how to clean up the most efficiently and dust collection.
     

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