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Helpful Accessories for Turning

by Curtis Turner
Round Rock, TX

Note: Click on any picture to see a larger version.

I wanted to share with you a few items I have found to be useful in your turning. I am embarrassed to say that these took me way too long to "discover." I thought others also might find them helpful.

Task Lighting

I could come up with a clever pun about finally seeing the light, however, I will just cut to the chase. I added an additional task light to my lathe.

This is not a unique idea. So, why did it take me so long to add an additional light? Well, I already had a light that I felt was adequate. In reality, I was wasting time trying to reposition the light. After which, I would realize I was unable to fully light the piece. Typically, I ended up with a shadow in the piece or a dimly lit item. I knew I needed to come up with a better solution. However, this was just one of those things that were added to my long "to do list." Then one day, I was in a big box store searching for something else when out of the corner of my eye I see a display of lamps. Inspiration struck and in the shopping cart went the LED lamp.

The Modification

I wanted this small LED lamp to mainly light up the interior spaces of my turnings. This auxiliary light would allow me to leave my main lamp in position and place the new lamp in any position necessary to achieve the optimum visibility.

Unfortunately, the lamp base was not acceptable for my needs. I decided to use a small block of oak to create a stand that would support the lamp. I cut and planed the blank square. I drilled two holes into which I glued two Rare Earth Magnets . I drilled two more holes for the lamp mount. I then cut out an arch in the blank:

This arch also helps the base sit without rocking.

This modified lamp can be positioned on the banjo, bed of the lathe, or tailstock. So far, I really like having it mounted on the banjo.

I have found that I use both lamps even when I work on spindles. I am very pleased with this light mod, I just wish I had done this much earlier. It is safer to have proper light at the lathe particularly when it comes to interior work. Fortunately, better options for task lights are readily available with no modifications necessary:

The Center Punch

The second item is another one of those "why did it take me so long" moments. I have owned a Center Punch for many years, however, I rarely use it. Recently, while teaching at a woodworking school, I used a Center Punch, only because I did not have my awl with me. I realized I had been overlooking a gem of a tool.

Center Punches are spring loaded tools that punch a small hole into wood or other materials. When you place the point on your mark, press down holding the tool in one hand.

This trips a spring mechanism, and automatically punches a small hole into the wood. These are great for marking a center on spindle blanks. The force helps to ensure the hole is on center and does not wander with the grain of the wood. These are also handy for making a starter hole for drilling.

Edge Protectors

I teach at several locations and need to carry my tools on a regular basis. Consequently, I need to frequently remove and replace tools in my tool roll. I am always extra careful handling tools around the skew. The exposed edge of the skew is an accident waiting to happen. I realized I needed to come up with a way to protect my students and myself, so, I created this simple edge protector:

I used pipe insulation to create a tight fitting pocket.

I sized the insulation to the skew and folded over more insulation to create a padded end. I used a generous amount of tape to tie it all together. It works perfectly!

I also used a short piece of tubing to slide over my small spindle gouges.

Most home centers sell a wide variety of tubing and pipe insulation that would be suitable for making your own edge protectors.

This is a simple, low cost way to avoid an accident. No one wants a nasty slice from a skew!

Curtis is a former President of Central Texas Woodturners , a member of the American Association of Woodturners , and a member of Fine Woodworkers of Austin . Curtis teaches and demonstrates nationally for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He also teaches for TechShop. He owns a studio where he teaches and works. Curtis lives in Central Texas with his wife and four young children. Take a look at his website at www.curtisturnerstudio.com .

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