Here are my favorites:
Heavy Duty Velcro
I use Velcro to attach my chuck wrenches, etc. to the lathe. I wrap one side of the Velcro around the wrench and then stick the other part to the face of the lathe within easy reach, and it becomes very easy to keep up with the chuck wrench and the set screw wrench.
Sorry, I can't resist this one: What kind of birds stick together?
(Answer at bottom)
Emergency Stop Button
My lathe has an emergency stop button on the switch panel. Luckily, I have never had to use it, and things will probably happen pretty fast if I do need it, but it makes me feel better knowing it is there. Guess I should try it one day in a non-emergency to see if it works.
I used to spend a lot of time trying to drive slotted screws though the faceplate to get a bowl blank attached to the lathe. When you use green wood, the screws tend to stick, especially if you let them stay in the wood for any length of time. Backing out a slotted screw with a drill mounted screwdriver is very difficult and well nigh impossible with a manual screwdriver. The screws break and the slots run out and it becomes pitching-stuff-around-the-shop time. Many times I have had to drill holes around a broken screw and then use visegrip pliers to back out the stub. Not good for the screw, the pliers, or the blank, and the source of much frustration. I got a cordless impact drill driver a few months back and it is a great joy. Using the right screws and the impact driver, you can run screws into the wood effortlessly, and better yet, they come out with almost no effort when using the impact driver. That little driver just bangs and bangs at the screw until it starts out and then it is done. No harm, no foul. Better not touch it when it comes out though, cause it's hot.
How can you be a bowl guy without a chain saw? Mine has a 16" bar and I make sure it gets tuned up pretty often so it will start when I want it to. Nothing worse than a saw which will not start. I also learned how to sharpen the chain and I am pretty darn particular about who uses my saw. The only thing worse than the saw not starting is some fool (I'm sorry, is that too harsh?) letting the blade touch the ground while it is running. Dulls the blade completely in three and a half seconds. One of my friends brought me a very large Bradford Pear stump the other week and I sharpened my saw and cut that thing right up. It was a real joy. (Jumbo Shrimp, Chainsaw Art) My goal is to throw an arc of chips over my shoulder with my chain saw. I'm still working on that one.
Spax screws are the best thing since government cheese. They have tiny little saw blades on the first few threads and with the impact driver above, you do not have to drill pilot holes ever again. The #8 or #10 about an inch and a half long with the cross head have held everything I have yet stuck on my faceplate. I reuse them many times and if you are particular with the impact driver, they hardly wear out.
Dust is a major problem in any shop and when you start to sand a bowl, dust just goes everywhere. When I built my shop last year I put in a 3 HP central dust collector with four to seven inch pipes under the floor. Cats, small dogs and children under three have to be very careful in my shop. I rigged up a four inch hose that I can put just under the bowl and it will pull most of the dust off the sander. There is also an ambient air filter hanging from the ceiling and I am continually amazed at the amount of dust which collects on the entry filter. Whatever doesn't go in either one of those goes in your lungs so a good dust mask polishes it off.
Every time I put a piece of wood on the lathe I have an image in my mind of what the finished piece will look like. Sometimes it is from a book or a picture, sometimes a sketch, sometimes from an example I have seen somewhere. It almost never works out and when that happens you just have to forget that initial vision and go ahead on as they say around here. The good part is that no one else knows what you had in mind at the beginning, so they cannot say it is done wrong and as long as you have a convenient memory, everybody is happy.
Glad Press'n Seal Plastic Wrap
Whenever I need to leave a piece of green wood partially completed, I am always concerned that it will dry too quickly and split before I can finish it. The solution I have found is Press'n Seal. (Sneak it out of the kitchen.) Just tear off a large piece and wrap the wood with it. It sticks to the wood and sticks to itself even better. You can wrap any piece of wood with it and it will stop water loss and evaporation. It is reusable if you treat it kindly and it works well enough where mold could be a problem if you leave it on too long.
Funny thing, most of these accessories are very inexpensive. Try them out and I think you will enjoy using all of them. Just tell the kids to be careful around the dust collector.
Keep on turning!!
Terry Chapman, a retired engineer, lives in Fairburn, Georgia. He writes an entertaining blog at www.asthewoodturns.blogspot.com. His turned bowls are available at www.thewoodshop.etsy.com.
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