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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Wanted: reasonably priced Balsa lathe in UK (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

GarySumpter
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Yes yes I know I am asking a lot!!

I am looking for a lathe for balsa wood. I am an absolute beginner and I admit I am crap at most DIY.

However I would really like to try my hand out at working with Balsa, I have a few ideas that I would like to construct for my own enjoyment.

This doesn't need to be a workhorse, I'm not looking at going into any sort of mass production, I just want to make some of my ideas REAL.

I would like to turn balsa to look like candleabra bases and table legs. I know there will be a LOT of trial and error, but that's half the fun of it Smile

Remembering I am in the UK, can any of you offer any suggestions?

Many Thanks

Gary
mkiger
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Depending upon the size you need to work with there is a home-made one here:

http://www.btinternet.com/~two.mm/articl......ypt1.htm

It is made to work on 2mm railroad size stuff. It uses Mototool or a Minicraft grinder for power. Pretty small, but wood lathes are very simple to knock together. I saw one in a Fine Woodworking magazine built in three parts (headstock, tool rest, and tailstock) that clamped to the workbench.
RiserMagic
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Gary;
Pick up a copy of Woodturning magazine. Since it is a UK based mag, there are ads for new machines readily available to you. Contact a local wood turning group. One of the members might have a lathe to lend, sell, or let you use. Most wood turners have an assortment of lathes - keeping those they have outgrown. You can most likely get a deal on one of these lathes; but you need to contact the local groups to locate the machines - used but still very good.

Jim

See posts:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/searc......=4379889

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/searc......=4379889
GarySumpter
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Thanks a lot guys, a great start for me Smile

Gary
jolyonjenkins
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Have you looked at the Axminster catalogue?
Jolyon Jenkins
mkiger
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This is a full size one,

http://www.mimf.com/articles/lathe/index.htm

Time or money, build or buy.
ClintonMagus
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Gary,

In my experience, balsa does not turn well, at least with normal turning tools. It splinters so badly that it almost "explodes" sometimes. Instead, I used files and various grades of sandpaper to "scrape" the wood into shape.

There are many full-size lathe manufacturers, but if you need a smaller one, Sherline can't be beat.

Amos McCormick
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
RiserMagic
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Amos;
Hone your turning tools and use razor sharp gouges and skews - no scraping type of tools. Carbon steel tools will sharpen to a keener edge than HSS tools. If you try to sand a larger diameter piece of balsa into shape on the lathe, it will go oval on you due to differences in wood grain hardnesses. This is really evident on a very soft wood like balsa. You want ultra smooth cuts that need virtually no sanding. Ride the bevel!
Jim
ClintonMagus
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I don't turn balsa anymore. I just shared my experiences from when I did about thirty years ago. I do keep my chisels, planes, and turning tools razor sharp via a Tormek Sharpening System, but I appreciate the advice.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
mkiger
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Hey GarySumpter,

Do you really mean balsa? The lightweight, flimsy, wood you find in the hobby store? Technically it is a hardwood, but it will not take much punishment. To work something that soft and prone to splintering you should look at active tooling. Short form, a motorized cutter on the cross-slide of a metal lathe.
GarySumpter
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Thanks for the suggestions guys.

If I am honest, I would like to learn to make dancing canes, candles etc and experiment with some other similar ideas.

Please note that they would be for my own use only. I have some novel ideas that I would like to create, I'm not here to rip anyone off Smile .

Perhaps Balsa is not the best choice?

Gary
ClintonMagus
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There are many grades and hardnesses of balsa, even in the same hobby shop rack. They are not marked as such, however. When I used to build a lot of model airplanes, I would pick and choose, based on what I was going to do with it - wing ribs, sheeting, whatever, using harder material for those areas that would receive the most stress, etc. Back then I found that generally the darker the grain, the harder the wood. By using the "fingernail test" - using your nail to lightly scribe the surface of the wood, you should easily be able to tell the difference.

Let us know how it works out.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
mkiger
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I saw a jig for making tapered pens using a table mounted router that used discs at each end of the blank. The discs were of differing sizes and rode along the fence of the router table. Scale the idea up and you should be able to make your cane.
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