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The Dancing lathe

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Raif Harik, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

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    Hi, I have a laguna 24/36. It's pretty darn heavy ~500 or 600lbs. I have it standing on a cement slab. I don';t have a bandsaw so I put some pretty unbalanced pieces on there. I run good and slow till it come more round. I understand and adhere to the principle that you turn the speed up till you start to shake then dial it back a bit. The thing is sometimes when it starts to shake and I turn it town, well it take a bit to slow down, and the lathe ends up doing the river dance a good 6 inches. ( all this is to say, I"m not to blame. )
    So out of round pieces make my lathe move. Possible solutions, add a bunch of sand bags, attach the lathe the to the slab, maybe just add like a block or something blocking the feet from moving in that direction.
    I'm thinking attach to slab is best, but the feet on this thing, they do have a hole in them but it's a threaded hole for leveler feet. What would the plan be? drill these out and then sink the cement bolts and tighten down? Also, I wonder, if I attach to the slab is that just going to rip the whole lathe apart when it starts to want to dance? Energy doesn't just disappear, and when you gotta dance no one can tell you to stop!
    Thoughts and experiences are welcome and as always greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Kevin Jesequel

    Kevin Jesequel

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    Do you have the leveler feet installed? Concrete is never perfectly flat and there is a good chance 1 leg is slightly off the surface. You don't need to actually level the lathe, just make sure all 4 of the leveling feet are making solid contact. Other than that, maybe ramp up slower so you can back off just when you cross the point that makes it vibrate.
     
  3. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Check the level of the lathe. Also put a small unbalanced piece on and adjust the leveling feet until you get the least vibration.



    a few tips to consider if you aren’t doin them already
    Slow belt position put the belt on the slow pulleys- give finer adjustment of the speed
    Weight balance I start blanks between centers I first shift the tail center for weight balance do some roughing then move the center for grain balance.
    Blanks close to round When chain sawing bigger blanks I put two circles on the sawn face of the log. One for the blank size and one 2 inches larger. I saw off all the larger circle and leave all of the blank sized circle.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  4. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    One of the golden rules in all woodworking is to sneak up on it and ease into it. I know on my lathe I sneak up on the speed and then back off quickly when I sense it's getting unsteady. If I get in a hurry and hit the "unbalanced" tipping point too quickly it takes too long to slow down and can make for some serious lathe vibrations.
     
  5. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I did 2 things on my Powermatic. I added 250lbs of pea gravel in a box under the lathe. When I adjusted the lathe to level.in both directions i went back and loosened and tightened each leg individually and felt how hard it was to tighten. I tried to get them all tensioner the same. My lathe still.vibrates but doesnt walk.
    As far as bolting it down. There have been a lot of discussions on various forums and so far the consensus seems to be that it's fine and wont hurt the lathe.
     
  6. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker

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    Having such a big and nice lathe and no band saw seems...."out of balance"...:D...sorry,,,,couldn't help that:).

    Bur - seriously, there are some things you can do to help balance the piece once it is on the lathe. But I will state that they are potentially dangerous if you are not paying close attention, or you are given to accidents.

    1. you can buy a chainsaw bar attachment for a small angle grinder. After determining the side that needs to be trimmed to get the piece closer to balanced, you can gently "shave" the piece on the heavy side whilst the piece is held steady via the locked spindle. I have done this many times, and I always mark the area to remove by outlining it with a lumber crayon, and lock that area to be removed in the 12 o'clock position. This and moving the banjo and any other nearby appurtenances lessens any chance of "modifying" them with the chainsaw.

    2.less wieldy, but you can use a power plane to trim wood in a similar fashion as above.

    3.The best answer yet... - buy a bandsaw. safer and easier.:)
     
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  7. Chris Lawrence

    Chris Lawrence

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    You could balance it with a chainsaw off the lathe. Sometimes i mount the blank on the lathe then with the tool rest at the tailstock end i mark the max diameter on the end. Remove the it from the lathe and use a chainsaw to trim it up. I have a cheap electric saw that i use most of the time unless i have to remove a lot of wood.
     
  8. Glenn Lefley

    Glenn Lefley

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    You can also use a Cheap sawzall. A lot less dangerous than a chainsaw, and you can cut bits and pieces off the blank while you have the spindle lock on the lathe engaged.
     
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  9. Larry Copas

    Larry Copas

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    My 20" General is close to the same weight. I added about 150 pounds of sand on the tailstock end, 200 pounds on the headstock, and had 50 pounds in between. I still had lots of vibration but never got close to it dancing. Still, I didn't like it so I bolted the lathe to the slab a couple of years ago and removed most of the sand. I love having it bolted down and would never again depend on just weight.

    In my avatar to the left the bottom ball probably weighed 80 pounds. Pretty hard to trim something that big on a bandsaw. Some of the natural edge stuff is always out of balance even when its complete.
     
  10. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    Anchor bolts into concrete can make a big (positive) difference and are much less cumbersome and intrusive than adding enough weight to make a difference. I think you want to avoid torquing the lathe bed though; on my lathe you can loosten the bolts that hold the bed to the legs and then shake it a bit so that it settles into a relaxed position.
     
  11. William Rogers

    William Rogers

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    I never have used the principal of turning up the speed until it starts to shake with the initial rounding up the blank. I start out around 150 until I get it somewhat rounded up before increasing the speed. Then depending on blank size I’ll gradually increase the speed until there is some vibration and then back off.
     
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  12. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    First step is to level the lathe. Do not add weight to the lathe yet. Maybe not as critical going long ways on the bed as most garage floors are sloped, but very critical going across the bed. I think the lathe will still want to walk on a sloped slab either way, level front to back or parallel to the slope of the slab. This helps make sure your tailstock and headstock centers line up. If you have a twisted bed, they won't line up, and that causes lots of problems. Then, with an unbalanced bowl blank on the lathe, first back off of one foot so that it is not contacting the floor. Turn on the lathe, at slow speed, and ramp up the speed slowly till the lathe starts to rock a bit. Do not go to high speed! Then, ease that one foot back onto the ground till the rocking stops. Maybe go past that point maybe 5 minutes max because when you tighten up the top nut. Most leveling feet are on screw threads with a nut on the top side of the foot to secure/lock the foot and make sure it doesn't self adjust with vibration. When you tighten up the top nut, that seems to move the foot just a tiny bit, so the perfect set without going about 5 minutes past, will then be off slightly. You may want to turn the speed up a bit to confirm that all 4 feet are sitting under even pressure. This should have you pretty close to perfect. You may have to repeat this set up a couple of times to fine tune it. Then it is time to add weight. I also mark the location where the feet are supposed to go on the concrete floor because the lathe will still want to walk around with an unbalanced piece is spinning, and no concrete slab is perfect, even the ones I poured, and I did concrete work for 30 years....

    robo hippy
     
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  13. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

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    Hi folks, thanks for all the replies. Let me address/clear up some things.
    1) I don't have a band saw because my shop spaces is about the size of a lathe. It's brutal. But I do have a chainsaw and I attempt to make things round.
    2) I don't mind going slow till I get in round. My lathe is not being unreasonable, but sometimes you hit that threshold and then it just takes a walk. Especially for larger pieces where the speed up and then slow down is latent.
    3) My slab is 6" thick and poured specifically to hold my lathe and is very level. At least for now. Which is good because when assembling the lathe I could not get the god forsaken feat on. You know a leveler foot is like a pad with a bolt coming out of it. Well the damn pad would turn on the bolt! So I could not use the pad to screw the thing on and it was wicked tight. I was using vice grips to hold the thread and try and screw it in and was tearing up the thread and really pissing me off! One of my very few complaints about this laguna. But that said the lathe is sitting dead on level.
    4) Let me reiterate, it is in no way non functioning or unreasonable. I never feel like man I should be able to go faster than that. It's just that the thing ways a ton and it hurts my back trying to drag it's butt back.
    5) I'm leaning ( and always have actually ) towards anchoring it in, but am not sure how to do that given that the feel holes are threaded. I can't sink bolts and hope the line up with the threads. But if I drill them out how would I level it if or when it comes out of level.
    Thanks again!
    R
     
  14. Larry Copas

    Larry Copas

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    Drill the holes out in the feet. Two ways to anchor and get it level. First is to put shim washers under the feet until the bed is level at both the headstock and tailstock. Second way is two nuts on the anchor as in my picture.

    IMG_3558[1].JPG
    The picture is of my metal lathe. For my wood lathe I just used shims.
     
  15. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    For really out of balance pieces that the lathe can't initially handle, I saw one Youtube video in which the guy mounted a router in his out board tool rest and turned the piece at about 2 rpms with the router milling light strokes off the high spots as the piece rotated so slowly. . Looked like it took forever, but it worked. The last bowl I made, I had to start out board, but my old Delta only goes down to 300 rpms. I had already knocked off the corners with a shain saw as best I could and then with the lathe off, used a surfoam tool on each high spot, turning it by hand. The lathe still danced slightly when I flipped it on, but with much less vigor than at the first try..
     
  16. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    My lathe used to move a good bit PM3520B . First I tried A piece of truck bed mat , made like tires with cord in it. That helped a lot and almost stopped the whole thing. Recently I got some floor tiles , heavy stuff that links together. Rather than just place it under feet I did all under the lathe to cover the whole area. Now it will vibrate a little but does not move.
     
  17. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    As others have said, bolt it down to the slab!! You could add bags of sand or pea gravel, but think of bolting it to the slab as being equal to adding the weight of the entire planet to your lathe. Regarding your concern about dissipating energy if you bolt it to the slab the energy will be dissipated by shaking the earth, but it probably won't be picked up on any seismograph. I think that it is a lot worse to let your lathe gallop around your shop and beat itself to pieces than to connect it to Mother Earth where it can hum along in harmony with the world. :)

    Most people say to level the bed of the lathe, but that isn't nearly important as having all four solid on the floor each carrying about the same weight. Your slab might be very nearly flat (which isn't the same thing as level), but it isn't perfectly flat. The four feet of your lathe might all be nearly in the same plane, but yet they aren't exactly in the same plane. So the bottom line is that you ought to use some sort of leg levelers to fine tune things. Otherwise, you could put a bit of twist in the bed of your lathe. Lathes are much happier if the bed is nice and flat.

    As Al said, start by turning between centers. By balancing the piece before you start turning the whole turning process will go much smoother.
     
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  18. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Bill, last winter when you had health issues, did they give you a transfusion from a Buddhist?
     
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  19. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I think that I heard the word "Zen" mentioned as I was waking up from the anesthesia.
     
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  20. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

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    Yea, that was some most pleasant prose!
     
  21. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    The narrow footprint on most large lathes requires stabilizing - if you're doing big work, even more so. Why not put the lathe on beams?
    Take a look at the pic (ignore the outboard side). Mine is six layers of "2-by" making it 9" above the floor - ideal for my style of hollowing but too high for most.
    The advantages of beams are:
    - The footprint is wider which big work requires
    - Yellow pine is much more absorbent
    - Your back will appreciate standing on wood planks
    - I still do not "hard fasten" the lathe - I leave a bit over 1/8" on the lag screws - if a piece is off balance enough to shake a 800-lb lathe, time to slow down
    I got rid of my bandsaw years ago - I knock the high points off with a chainsaw before mounting - the rounding process allows you to get familiar with the log and reposition between centers as needed.
    Also, I could easily do with one less 2x8 plank - you don't need that large a platform
    The below is an old pic - the first three planks now extend about 18" past the end.
    Good luck.


    Platform.JPG
     
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  22. Russell Nugent

    Russell Nugent

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    That's profound. When my daughter was coming out of anesthesia she thought her name was "cheese".
     
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  23. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    The most stable lathe ive.seen was a.Powermatic 3520 with 8 foot 3" angle iron bolted under the legs. These where1/2" THICK. He cut the upright portion off on the inboard tailstock end to.reduce the trip.hazard. the pieces he turned were off center hollow vessels and he needed the speed to make turning past the off center hole easier. After seeing his lathe I increased the footprint on a homemade.stand for my Nova 3000 and it reduced the lathe walking tremendously. I keep.thinking I will.try that someday on my Powermatic.
     
  24. Brent@TurnRobust

    Brent@TurnRobust

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    Something is being ignored in all of this discussion, and that is wood failure. A piece out of balance enough to move the lathe is also severely stressing the wood where it is held to the lathe, be it lag bolts, screws or chuck jaws. The chance of the wood failing and leaving the lathe are increasing exponentially. A shaking lathe is nature's way to tell you to slow down and get things balanced. There is more at stake than the lathe, your safety is at risk. Yes, of course, have your tailstock in place to mitigate wood failure.
     
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  25. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    John Tisdale, after seeing the size of some of the pieces you turn, I think you would need a bandsaw with about a 4 foot throat.....

    I have wondered about some sort of chainsaw or arbortech type chainsaw bit mounted on the lathe and hand spinning a piece to round it out more. It would save a lot of wear and tear on our bodies...

    robo hippy
     
  26. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    I had a big Laguna saw and got rid of it - I've found that just chainsawing the highpoints is enough. Besides, lifting a big log onto a bandsaw, not to mention sliding it into the blade, is problematic. I had a sliding table on my Laguna but was never comfortable with it. I guess if I did bowls, I'd rethink.
    A big gouge with a shot-filled handle + a massive James Johnson toolrest seems to work. I'm rarely more than 1" over the rest and the lathe is never over 200-rpm - the mesquite in the pic never got over 125-rpm. If I go slow and refrain from stupidity its not that hard. I did learn the hard way to pay attention.

    09-05 Day-1-1.jpg
     
  27. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    John a question on setup. I know you have shown your lathe but I am looking at the tailstock with the live center. Do you find that one point mount to be enough for pieces the size you have up?
     
  28. Christian Radcliff

    Christian Radcliff

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    :eek:
    I'm over here paranoid about a 1 foot by 9 inch log on my mini lathe. I followed my vibrating lathe around the garage until I smoothed out what I was working on. Cant wait for the bandsaw to more efficiently do some initial cuts to avoid the vibration. What you have there looks like spinning death to me. Glad I am starting small.
    o_O

    I put a few bags of all purpose tube bag sand across the bottom of my 1015 Jet lathe, now it stays put. Honestly I think I need to get a bigger lathe soon if I want to make bigger stuff. I am pushing it and should focus on skills. Making notes for when I do order something like a robust long bed, or something. That lathe on beams is really interesting concept, I had not considered that before.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  29. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Gerald: In a word, "yes". I use a 1.5" spur drive (the Oneway outboard end does not have a morris taper) and the standard live center - my live center is 12-years old and has seen maybe a hundred 200-lbs+ logs.
    The trick is to get them perfectly aligned - made a gizmo that holds a 30/06 cartridge laser on the inboard side. I then hand turn the spindle and watch the laser on a wall 15' away - when it doesn't move, it's "dead nuts".
    I then put the tailstock on the 17" extension which is mount on two plates Kevin at Oneway made - if the laser point is on the live center point, I'm golden.
    I always drill a shallow mortise for both the drive and the live center - never had a problem.
    There is a reason Oneway over-engineers everything - someday some nit-wit is going to hang a grossly out-of-balance 1000-lb log on the lathe and expect to live.

    Christian,
    Mounting your lathe on a couple of glued 2x4 and securing with less than tight lag bolts will make a big difference - you standing on the platform stabilizes that much more. Big difference in metal on concrete vs metal on wood.
    And learn to turn slow and take your time while you're rounding - Brent is spot-on with his comments above.
     
  30. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

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    Thank you all for such great ideas and posts. I'm feeling pretty convinced by John T. The question is if I can work the effort. My shop is wicked small. it is barely 6' in depth and ~20 long. Uh.. and... outside. It's brutal. I'm scared if I raise the lathe and basically that entire 6' section up a good 8 inches, it will feel even smaller. IDK, I'm sure I'd get used to it.
    In any case I think I have a number of great ideas varying in efficacy by effort. Thanks for all the help!
    R
    Oh, and John, that picture. Truly worth 1000 words. I mean I'm sure the end result was spectacular, but for me, the one posted says it all :)
     
  31. Kevin Weir

    Kevin Weir

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    I’m not sure I could do without a bandsaw to help reduce vibrations. I recently cored and turned some 5 inch thick walnut. Having the blank almost round to begin with allows it to be slowly ramped up to a decent turning speed with almost no vibration. The only off-balance issue is when one side of the blank has denser wood or a higher moisture content. Plus, I don’t have to deal with cutting wood-air with a chainsaw blank (not to suggest I don’t turn those occasionally). FFC351A0-87B7-4F24-BE13-0F08E83898BD.jpeg
     
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  32. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Back to the original issue: Stabilizing the lathe and making safer with a wider footprint. And, with a small shop-space in mind.
    - Get two 6' 2x4
    - Get some 1x8 the width of the lathe plus any overhang you think you need
    - Position the 2x6 under the lathe legs - one under the front, one under the back legs
    - Insert a 1x8 under the back
    - insert a 1x8 under the front and then plank out for a platform to stand on
    - the reason I say 1x8 is that wider lumber will hopefully be yellow pine instead of "white wood"
    - put a stiffner (or two) under the slats you stand on.
    - Screw the lathe down with short lag screws - I would leave a teense loose (a bit less than a little)
    My guess is you'll find it smoother and better on your back.
    Plus standing on the connected platform makes you one with the lathe - kinda makes me misty-eyed.
     
  33. GRJensen

    GRJensen

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    A wise man once told me: "Never fall in love with something that can't love you back".
     
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  34. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

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    John, couple questions,
    One, I presume were talking about the 2x4s flat rather than on edge. I.e. 1.5" high.
    Two, would a wider board say 2x6 be an improvement?
    Three, would one need to worry about leveling given a relatively level slab?
    Four, would I attach the wood to the slab or let it "float".
    Five, 1.5" (2.25" with cross) is nice because it's a shorter fall, but would more wood, e.g one more 2x4.
    Thanks for the help
    R
     
  35. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Raif,
    • Yes - flat
    • while 2x4 or 2x6 would work, they are usually "white wood" - 2x8 is generally yellow pine which if far superior when holding screws
    • I would not level the platform unless the slab is grossly off. If leveling means the four feet touching equally, yes.
    • I would absolutely attach each leg to the beams, but with at least 1/16 or 1/8 slop - if the piece is off balance you need to back off.
    • As to "Five", that would work - I think you'll find a huge improvement. Then, if you can, you might add anothe 2x? - not a big deal.
    You should also put maybe a 1/4" piece of a soft wood or Trex between the beam and the concrete under each leg and at the end of the platform.
    And you're more than welcome to come by the shop here in Dallas - you might get some ideas or you might sell you lathe and take up dominoes.
     

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