The wood lathe is a piece of equipment designed to rotate a workpiece around its axis to allow for rotational cutting, shaping and finishing. The process is known as Woodturning and it is used to form and shape a wide range of designs from rolling pins to instruments. The workpiece is held between the headstock and tailstock, typical on a spiked spur, or sometimes mounted on a base. A live center can be used at the tailstock to support align the workpiece centrally with the axis of the machine. The accuracy of the center is not as important as it is with a metal lathe as the cutting tool is not fixed in place when in operation

Turning is a manual process and involves the use of handheld chisels that are held on the tool rest and moved into and across the workpiece to cut. The technique involves 3 points of contact; the tool presses down on the tool rest, the handle rests on the operators body & the blade contacts the wood. As the the workpiece rotates towards the operator, the aim is to contact the material with the blade to peel/scrape off layers of material 


There are a range of chisels used for turning for different stages and cuts. The 'roughing gauge' is typically the first stage and uses a wide semicircular blade with the cutting edge on the inside of the curve. Wider versions can be used but the purpose of them is to remove large chunks of material often to make a square blank rounded. This typically leaves a rough finish and prepares the workpiece for finer shaping

The 'spindle gauge' is a shallow fluted blade use to create details in a turned piece such as coves (indent curves) & beads (raised curves). The blade is ground back in a finger nail shape at around 45º  angle to allow for versatile use of all of the blade. This chisel is only suited to removing small amounts of material and is used to shape and finish

The 'skew' chisel is a wide angled steeply pointed blade used for adding a smooth finish to the work piece or cutting bead/details. It is particularly difficult to use due to the sharp edges catching on the work piece and often a rounded edge is used for less experienced operators

The 'parting' tool is a pointed, bladed tool used for cutting through the workpiece to separate the completed work piece from the scrap. It is thin enough to be use for cutting sizing cuts into the material such as fillets. It can be used for scraping directly into the wood grain or peeling the surface of the material 

Scrapers are tools designed to remove the gauge marks left when machining and they come in a range of shapes and sizes. They use a burr as opposed to a bladed edge at the end of the blade which must be kept very sharp to work. Commonly, square end scraper is used for external surfaces and the round end for internal but other variants exist  


Material Wasting - Wood Lathe

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