I’ve been doing some simple wood turning in the lathe over the last few weeks. I found that the local DIY superstore sold hemlock balustrade blanks, for a couple of pounds. This is a pale wood that is fine grained and although perhaps not the best choice for turning is significantly better than the lumber from the outside of the store. It’s not related to the hemlock from Shakespeare but I’d not advise eating it…
I’ve effectively been turning between centres to rough the wood to a round shape. The rough blank was mounted between a centre and a 3 pronged spike that I ground and filed out of a piece of hex bar. The lathe was used in the same way as for metal but using a short fat tool to remove the wood more quickly. Once round the wood was remounted in the 3 jaw chuck. The end of the wood was faced off and a small counter bore done again as if for metal.
The next step was to use some small carving chisels resting between the screws of the tool post to turning the curved portions of the wood. I chose a gouge shaped chisel. Next some sandpaper wrapped tightly and taped to a small finger of wood was used to tidy up the results. A knife like chisel was used to start the parting off process and this was finished with a junior hacksaw.
One thing that’s important to remember when wood turning is that the sap of the wood can increase the corrosion of your lathe. If you don’t want rusty blotches on your bed and crossslide then you need to ensure it’s cleaned down comprehensively.