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Outboard turning

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Larry Copas, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. Larry Copas

    Larry Copas

    Oct 23, 2015
    Location (City & State):
    Springdale, Arkansas
    Home Page:
    I'm going to try outboard turning on my General 260-20". I've never turned outboard. Presently making a tool rest similar to what Robust and Vicmarc make.

    Question is about the actual turning. I suppose I could turn with the lathe in reverse. Same counter clockwise rotation as when I'm turning on the inboard side. I see two problems. The power switch is on the front of the lathe and the outboard spindle is a left hand thread. I can see a solution to both problems.

    I could also turn with the lathe in forward with the work turning clockwise but this would be something new to me.

    Which method is preferred? It will make a difference as to how I make my tool rest.
  2. Don Bunce

    Don Bunce

    Jan 11, 2014
    Location (City & State):
    Turn clockwise. Might be a good idea to turn a few small things to get used to turning from the opposite side before attempting a large piece.
  3. Doug Freeman

    Doug Freeman

    Feb 26, 2019
    Location (City & State):
    Lebanon, Missouri
    CCW continues to use everything you are used to - body/hand motions for tools, mental familiarity, etc. CW requires some “reprogramming”, mental and physical. The learning would come pretty quick, 2-3 practice pieces and you are probably 80-90% there. Its the last bit that can take a while.

    Think through required body/feet positions and movements, and tool movements, for each to see if one has a distinct advantage.

    I’ve turned outboard for many years. Always CCW. Only about 1-1/2 yr I’ve had a reversing lathe. I use reverse some hollowing with the headstock over the ways. I do switch hands - some cuts are easier left handed. I didnt see an advantage to CW for outboard for my setup, but there might be one in yours.
  4. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

    Jun 6, 2018
    Location (City & State):
    La Grange, IL
    If it's a left hand thread then the manufacturer intends that the (primary) rotation to be clockwise, so that the threads tend to tighten on a faceplate/chuck. Note you will also need a left hand thread on your faceplate/chuck.

    You can put the lathe motor in reverse and get counter clockwise rotation, but that will leave you depending on a set screw to hold the chuck on. My experience with set screws is that they will hold a chuck for sanding and limited turning in reverse, but a big catch can overwhelm the hold and "embelish" your spindle threads.
  5. Leo Van Der Loo

    Leo Van Der Loo

    Oct 13, 2016
    Location (City & State):
    Rainy River District Ontario Canada
    As Mark points out, you should turn in the regular rotation of the spindle, CW as you face the spindle from the outside, if you turn CCW you will be relying on the hold of a small setscrew.

    It does damage your spindle thread and if you have the workpiece stall while turning, then there will be a lot of damage to the spindle threads, I would not recommend you do that.

    I happen to have build my outboard on my large metal lathe, and I use a large MT4 to hold my chuck and faceplates, so the unthreading you have to deal with, I do not have.

    So I can and do turn in either direction, don’t be afraid of doing that, it will be very much alike either way, you just move your body so that you can keep the tool cutting.

    I will put a couple pictures here that show me rough turning a larger Black Cherry blank, you will like not having the ways obstructing your tool, and you are ab;e to stand up straight in a relaxt position.

    CCW turning.jpg CW turning.jpg CCW inside.jpg CW inside.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020

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