I have turned wood, off and on, for 66 years. I started when I was about eight years old in my
grandfather's shop and have been fascinated with the process ever since. The lathe I first worked
on was a modified "big wheel" (8 ft. in diameter) spindle lathe run by man power and sometimes a
small electric motor. My first lathe was a cast iron one (no name) as I remember, that was mounted
on a railroad tie cut down to about 5 feet. All of my turning tools were hand made by myself or my
grandfather on a home forge and "farrier's" anvil. My bowl turning came much later in life but when
I saw my first bowl come off a bowl-turning lathe in high school wood shop, I was hooked for life.
Sometime in the early 1950s I started bowl turning (on a homemade bowl turning lathe) and have been
working at it ever since. After my retirement as a sculptor and art instructor (40 years), I started
my real commitment to turning and bowl making. This started ten years ago and I have been at it to
this day. I don't know how many lathes I have owned over the years but my shop now holds three and
a storage garage holds several more. This article will focus on, what I think, is the final
configuration and the "built up model" that will serve me till the end of my days.
When I retired in 2001 I started to look for that perfect setup that would allow me to turn very
large bowls, and after looking at all of the domestic lathes and several foreign "guys" I decided on a Oneway from Canada. This search took nine years (I am a very picky guy). Their 2436 lathe with 3 HP motor, extra-long swing outboard attachment with tailstock riser block, big banjo, large
tool rest, braking resistor, 96 position indexing head, remote start/stop switch, and delivery to
Washington, DC set me back just under ten grand.
Are we finished yet? Hell no! Vacuum system and goodies like Drill Wizard and some tooling,
another $1000. You need some chucks (I have and use three), different types of jaws, and a bowl
steady rest, another $1000. Now if you also turn jugs that require deep hollowing, you will want the
Oneway laser guided Deep Hollowing system (by far the best out there especially if you have a Oneway
lathe), guess what $1000. We are not finished yet! I added a Jet industrial belt and disk sander to
the end of the lathe on the "outboard side" that can be removed with an "I-beam" lift that runs the
entire length of the the lathe set-up. Would you believe it? Another $1000. So for around $14,000. I
have what I think is the perfect system. Am I compulsive? Yes! Am I "nuts"? Maybe! Am I happy? You
damn right I am!