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About: I am a graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design. With a passion for making things I always go into a project with the hopes that I come out of it with a better way of how to do something. I do repli...

I apologize this isn't a complete Instructable I completed this in an afternoon as a christmas gift for a friend of mine. The pictures are in order of how I went about making it. I basically put a 2" diameter chunk of aluminum onto my wood lathe... yes my wood lathe (I don't actually recommend anyone do this since it probably isn't the safest thing, but hey it worked for me and i've done it again since soooo yeah). I used my turning tool that has a carbide bit with the accompaniment of cutting oil. I approached it very slowly and just turned away.




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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    that looks GREAT! :-)
    When it comes to working outside the design limitations of your machine, go ahead, and good for you! Seriously, most people are too afraid to push past their comfort zone, and never really find what they and their machines are capable of.
    Did you know that you can, with practice and skill, turn precise threads in steel, on that same lathe? :-)

    Looking at your pile of chips, it appears you actually turned some stringy bits! nicely done. You said carbide tipped tool, but not what KIND. was it one of the carbide insert scraping tools? Did you switch out the scraper bit for a machining insert?

    [/begin my usual ramblings]
    Bear in mind that I have multiple years of college for Machining, Blacksmithing, and Wood Turning(gotta love modern liberal arts degree programs), but I once used my belt drive wood lathe, with handheld tools, to make turned and threaded parts for the schools metal lathe. The parts worked quite well. spares were made on the now working metal lathe(to slightly closer tolerances), but were not installed in the years I was there, since the wood lathe parts were made within the tolerances called for, and it was not a precision machine to start with(well, maybe 40 years ago when it was new, it MAY have been a precision machine).

    [keep your tools working ramble]
    The one big thing to watch out for is... if you do a LOT of metal turnings or spinnings, you'll need to keep an eye on your spindle bearings. Metalwork is a LOT rougher on the bearings than woodwork. A wood lathe that turns 6" bowls 24/7 will probably still be working 10 years later. that same lathe(without a bearing upgrade) that does metal spinning or turning, it will be dead within the first year from galled or siezed bearings.

    [/normal safety ramble]
    As long as you have a long enough handle on the tool... it should be safe-ish. Any wood or metal turning is inherently dangerous.
    I can't see the majority of your machine, so I don't know how the drive is set up. direct drive or gear driv is pretty un-safe for metal turning by hand on a wood lathe. Belt driven pulley systems are fairly safe, and tredle/belt powered are safest. Not SAFE, but safer.

    For anyone attempting this on their own, remember that turning speeds and depth of cut for metal(even soft alu alloys) is MUCH lower/slower than for wood. wood turning usually runs 500-4000rpm. Almost all metal turning is done below 700rpm. So make sure you have a true variable speed lathe with low range before attempting.

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Very good to know. I often wonder about adding an X-Y table to be able to make use of a fixed cutter to work with an eccentric chuck or eccentric faceplate system. You can make some really incredible pieces, but you also need to have a rock steady hold. I find it hard to maintain precise tool position when the tool is cutting air for 2/3 of the spin.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Never having really don interuppted cuts in metal by hand, the only advise i can give is the same as I would for wood... get thee a larger handle! Your cutting tool is a lever. One end is you. the other end is the wood. The fulcrum is the tool rest. If you make your tool 2 foot long, instead of 6", and keep the tool rest very tight against the work, even your eccentric turnings become considerably easier. Not EASY, but easier. ;-)

    Happy turning, and keep the chips flying.