The woodworking lathe dates as far back as the ancient Egyptians, and possibly further back than that even. The earliest recorded use of a lathe is in 1300BC, when the Egyptians used a simple two-person lathe, whereby one person would turn the wood with a piece of rope and the other would use a sharp tool to shape it. Since then, the woodworking lathe has gradually developed into the (usually) mechanized tool we know today but it has the same basic principle and function. The wood turns while the cutting implement remains stationary, which allows for intricate designs to be carved.
Woodworking lathes enable the creation of products that do not simply have straight lines and that require greater cutting versatility – musical instruments, bowls, lamp bases, pool cues, curved table legs are all made using a woodworking lathe. The obvious difference between a woodworking lathe and any other woodworking tool is that the wood itself moves, spinning at a controlled speed in order that the woodworker can press a sharp cutting tool, which remains stationary, to shape it – the reverse of other woodworking tool processes.
A woodworking lathe can either be a compact, table-top design or a larger, freestanding machine that can be securely fixed to the floor. The wood to be worked on is attached to a rotating spindle and secured at the other end and is either motorized or is operated by a foot pedal. The tool rest on the bed of the lathe is designed to run parallel to the wood, enabling a steady base on which to rest the required tool, whether that be a chisel or some other cutting implement. Sandpaper is often used on the turning wood to smooth the metal cuts and create a flawless shape.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced woodworker, using a woodworking lathe is a completely different kettle of fish and requires patience and learning to master the skill. It is a tool that allows you to be incredibly creative, which is why many artisans use a woodworking lathe to help them produce beautiful, hand-crafted bowls, vases and sculptures in every design, shape and size imaginable. It is a tool that allows versatility in your work. Just as woodwork products come in different measurements, so do woodworking lathes – big or small, powerful or less so and of course with that comes a huge difference in costs. Unless you are a professional you do not need to buy top-end lathes (which can be thousands of dollars) but there are a few things you should look out for.
A woodworking lathe that overly vibrates can be incredibly frustrating, given how precise shaping needs to be. You also want to ensure that the tool rest has adequate rigidity to keep your tool firmly in place. Decide how much power you need – this will depend on the size and weight of the wood that you will putting in the lathe.
A woodworking lathe is an invaluable tool for those woodworkers looking to create something really special but they can be expensive so do your research online and find the right lathe for you.
Source by Doug Clements