Once you’ve bought your lathe and some basic tools, the next consideration is how you are going to grip the work securely enough to allow it to be turned safely. In fact, holding the work is more than half the battle in woodturning, and with experience you’ll soon develop a range of different strategies to suit the item being made and your particular way of working. Alan Holtham talks us through how to grip your woodwork
Step 1: Holding Spindles
Holding spindles is relatively easy, as these are just held between centres which fit into the Morse tapers of the main spindle and tailstock, photo 1.
Step 2: Drive Centres
The drive centres for the headstock are available in a variety of sizes and patterns, depending on the diameter of work you are turning. One with four prongs and a diameter of about 1in will cover virtually all your needs, photo 2.
Step 3: Two-pronged Versions?
For smaller section material, a 5⁄8 or 1⁄2in diameter centre might be needed, but don’t bother buying one of these unless you actually need it. There are some two-pronged versions available, photo 3, but these should be used with care as you can split the work if you’re too heavyhanded with them.
Step 4: The Tailstock End
At the tailstock end, the work is supported by another centre, which ideally should be of the revolving type, photo 4.
Step 5: Don't Burn the Wood
Although they’re bulkier, they spin with the work so you can apply enough pressure to get it secure without worrying about overheating. If you use the cheaper fixed or ‘dead’ type of centre, there’s a real chance of burning the work, photo 5, particularly if as a nervous beginner you tend to overtighten things.