Spindle Turning
by Nick Cook

Tuning-up your lathe:

A - Centers must lineup
B - Shim machine to reduce vibration
C - Check bearing - replace if necessary
D - Check belts - adjust or replace if necessary
E - Ways - clean & lubricate (wax)
F - Toolrest - use millfile to remove nick & dings, clean and lubricate locking device
G - Spindle tapers - clean with scotchbrite or green weenie
H - Tailstock - clean & lubricate ram & locking devise
I - Extras

1 - Unistrut for lights, dust extractor & templates
2 - Powerstrip - eliminates clutter
3 - Anti-fatigue mat
4 - Steady rest
5 - Spur centers, standard & mini-spur
6 - Live centers

Tools: High Speed Steel / Titanium Nitrate

A - Roughing gouge, 3/4" to 1-1/4"
B - Skews, 1/2" rectangle & 1-1/4" oval
C - Parting tool, 1/16" fluted
D - Scraper, 1/2" square end
E - Spindle gouges, 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2"
F - Center punch, automatic spring loaded
G - Calipers, inexpensive verneer type


A - Grinder, 1750 or 1800 RPM, 6" or 8" diameter wheels

1 - White aluminum oxide wheels

60 grit & 100 grit

2 - Wheel dresser

a - star wheel
b - carborundum
c - diamond dresser

B - Jigs & fixtures for consistent grinds to make up for lack of experience

1 - Sorby
2 - Oneway Wolverine
3 - Glaser Engineering

C - Oilstones - skews only

D - Diamond laps - slipstones for touch-up between sharpening

E - Tormac wet grinding system

F - Sharpening technique

1 - grind full length of bevel
2 - keep tool moving on grinding wheel
3 - use light pressure on tool against wheel
4 - never use side of grinding wheel

Stock Selection and Preparation:

A - Stock should be straight grained and free of checks, cracks, knots and other defects
B - Cut stock 1/8" to 1/4" larger than finished diameter
C - Larger stock should have corners removed to produce octagon
D - Locate and mark centers on each end of stock. Accuracy is not critical on full rounds but extremely important on stock where square sections are to remain. Plastic center finder is quick & easy.
E - Extremely hard woods may require saw cuts in spur driven end or may need to have spur center driven into stock with wood mallet or dead blow hammer. Never use steel faced hammer and never drive stock on to spur while it is in the spindle.

Mounting the Stock:

A - Mount the stock between the spur center in headstock and a live or ball bearing center in the tailstock. A cup center rather than a cone center will reduce the risk of splitting the stock.
B - Adjust the toolrest. It should be parallel to the stock, just below centerline and approximately 1/4" from the corners of the stock. Always hand turn the spindle to ensure clearance.
C - Start the lathe and adjust speed to the appropriate rpm for the size stock to be turned. You are ready to start cutting.

Cutting Techniques:

A - Always start with the heal of the tool on the surface to be cut and gently raise the tool handle until the cutting edge comes in contact with the stock.
B - Keep as much of the bevel of the tool in contact with stock to ensure control and avoid catches.
C - Roll flute of tool in direction of cut.
D - Always cut down hill or from large diameter to small diameter.
E - Keep tools sharpened - dull tools are dangerous.


A - Always wear eye protection - goggles, face shield or air helmet.
B - Avoid breathing dust - wear particle mask or air helmet.
C - No loose sleeves, no gloves, no jewelry, no long hair.
D - Keep work area clean & neat