Members questions.

As a result of the lockdown with our club we felt the members still needed somewhere to ask questions, the clubhouse was closed and the meetings cancelled, who could they turn to. The Teaching squad agreed that if the members wanted to ask a question that an email address should be made available, as Nick Simpson was the co-ordinator of the teaching squad his email address would be used.

We have started to receive some questions, the first of which are posted here.

Welcome to Lockdown question time,

The teaching group have received the following question from a novice member.

How can I keep my hands safe when sanding natural edge items.

You will see from the attached document that the Teaching Group have offered  a wide range of options.

If you wish to discuss these suggestions or put forward your own suggestion then please email me and I will co-ordinate and circulate your additional views.

Please let me know if you are happy for your name to be attached.

The questioners will always be anonymous.

Stay safe and good turning

Nick Simpson. Co-ordinator/convenor HWC Teaching Group

Teaching in Lockdown Questions #1

How can I sand natural edge pieces safely? I’m worried about my hands.


  1. Nick Simpson

Here is an assembly of my sanding stuff following your request for advice about sanding natural edge. Not pretty but functional

A is the Simon Hope Pro Sander, which is a freewheel sanding set up with Velcro topped discs – see Simon’s website

B is Simon’s ball sander which is covered by sticky back Velcro on to which you place strips of fabric-backed sandpaper (Rhino)

C is a box of graded Abranet sanding strips

D a roll of Rhino sandpaper and pine sanding blocks with sandpaper stapled on

E a collection of dowels with sticky back Velcro to which can be attached cloth-backed sandpaper of Abranet

All of these except the Abranet pieces will keep fingers away safely but even Abranet can be cut to fit the sanding pro elements – in fact the 80 grit 72mm disc has Abranet on top.

Of course, dust is hazardous so is PPE essential and keep lathe speed below 1000 so that your extraction system can cope

  • Dave Hobson.

I use very similar stuff for sanding but if there’s a big problem area they can always stop the lathe and power sand.

  • Errol Levings

Good plan!  I have used the Simon Hope Pro-sander and it works well up to a point – it does give a good finish but is tricky to keep revolving!

In the event, I prefer to use a powered sander (drill with attachment) where I can;  the larger 75mm (3 inch)  as much as possible but necessarily  50mm (2 inch) and sometimes even smaller depending on the size and shape of the space you need to sand.  Most of you have seen Alec use the detachable discs a lot – I find these a bit hard to manage – maybe I am a bit heavy handed with them!  I prefer to use the Simon Hope padded discs with the hook & eye (Velcro) sanding discs.

It is a good idea to keep the various grades of abrasive media in separate marked slots/boxes/compartments so that they are easy to find for the next time.  Only Abranet seem to consistently mark each piece of sandpaper, so before you use them take the trouble to mark your discs/pieces with their grade with a marker pen.  Remember also that the abrasive compound wears out – it gets blunt, in other words, and no longer does its job. For best results – use your sandpaper as if someone else has paid for it!!!

  • Alec Mutch

In addition to Nick’s list of materials and equipment/ref “tools for sanding” take a look at this link it also covers some more of the finishing materials that can be used. I’m particularly familiar with the use of the Powerlock system and where to get them. Advice on using the Powerlock system can also be found on my web site under the 2nd link,”half log natural edged bowl” do take a look.

In summary: Take care and if in any doubt stop the lathe and sand by hand using a sanding block or a power sander if you have one; always wear an effective dust mask as well as an extraction set-up.

This is the second HWC members’ question to the Teaching Group.

Ask 60 turners this question and expect 60 equally valid answers.

However, as you read through this document several themes emerge – but I won’t spoil your entertainment by revealing anything here.

Tony Wilson would be delighted to receive any further pearls of wisdom from anyone else and if you would share that with me then I could share it with all the members and the website through Alec. If you would like to remain anonymous please indicate and no-one will know that you use a Black & Decker drill on a wooden cradle!

Please keep questions coming to me.

There will be more Top Tips next week.

Stay Safe


HWC Lockdown Teaching Group Question #2 – Which Lathe to Buy?

Tony Wilson posed this question to the Teaching Group:

My lathe has failed and repair isn’t economically worthwhile.

In looking at options I am uncertain of the speed control systems.

Are there problems associated with lever controlled approaches as per SIP 01949, Record Cl3 or is the step up to variable speed as per Record Cl4 justified by benefits in safety, maintenance, reliability ?

Any experiences to share before I part with my money?

My current lathe is a Poolewood 28-40 and I have a Supernova2 Chuck.

I have looked at Axminster AC370, Scheppach Lata 5, Sealey sm1100, Charnwood and others.

The Poolewood was 1 HP with variable speed.

I have made a few bowls(very but I did enjoy it but lacked confidence), pens, sit on tractor wheels, rolling pins and small boxes.

I have never used the full length but like having it available.

I like the leg mounted as being straightforward On my lathe speed was changed by turning a wheel and was very simple. I had no difficulty.

Well – ask 60 turners this question and you can be guaranteed 60 different answers, all of which will be equally valid. Below are the unexpurgated answers from the HWC Teaching Group.

Errol Levings

In particular, go for the M33 thread if you can (though this limits you to more recent lathes and there are some good older ones out there) as this will really help to future proof your lathe. No question, you get what you pay for – in the long run, buy as far up the price range until you feel you cannot justify any more.  If you don’t, you will find in no time at all that you will wish you could do just that little bit more with your machine than it is really capable of!

Nothing wrong with a good second-hand machine – usually will save something even after converting to electronic speed control.  I have had a Record CL3  lathe – did not like the round bars at all. Having said that, Alec used it happily for many years for demo purposes.  I replaced this with a second-hand Nova 3000 with manual 8-speed change and converted it with a Speed Genie – once you have electronic variable speed, you will never go back to manual.  It has served me well for many years without trouble (touch wood!)  Only problem, the Nova 3000 has a 1 1 /8 inch thread drive is not quite M33.  Adaptors are available, but direct connection onto the spindle drive has got to be better. And an important point. The “foundation” for your lathe must be solid.  The bench my lathe is on is a pretty hefty wooden one. It was not too bad when I had it on a concrete floor but still bounced around a bit with an unbalanced load.  My “temporary” workshop is an old portacabin with a wooden floor base – and so much less stable than the solid floor of old.  An unbalanced load now means a very slow start up speed, even below the “recommended” minimum operating speed range – without changing belt position pulleys on the belt drive.

I know of an old Myford 8 lathe in Fort Augustus which I believe is in reasonably good mechanical condition if a tad dirty.  I cannot find the pictures I have of it to show you right now but have spoken to the owner who is going to double check it out and ping me some pictures in the next day or so.  If you are interested the cost will be a very affordable £150.00.  The lathe comes with a bench, a number of old style attachments and a bunch of similarly old chisels. I would recommend changing the electrics to move on to electronic variable speed which would effectively completely renew all the electrics.

Haydock Converters – see for prices of Speed Genie kits.  You will probably need a 1hp motor kit price at about £200 plus VAT.  It would be worth talking to the Haydocks whichever lathe you go for.

David Hobson

Hi Tony I would set a budget and look at all types for the best made within your budget. I replaced mine 18months ago I went for a Stratos because of the quality and it allowed me to make a larger bowl over the bed

Alec Mutch

What lathe to get depends on a few different things, first what do you want it to do? 2nd what are you prepared to spend? in the purchase of a lathe you definitely get what you pay for, the higher the spec the higher the price. I used a Record CL4 for some years for doing demonstrations, it had an electronic speed control which we found fairly trouble free, and it wasn’t expensive, being bench mounted made it a bit unstable with larger pieces of wood on it, in other words it was only as good as the bench it was on, floor standing is definitely the way forward, but they are more expensive.

I would stay away from any lathe that has a mechanical variable speed system, they either shred the belts or wear out the pullies in no time at all, electronic speed control is really the way forward.

Why not consider a second hand lathe, there’s not a lot to go wrong with a lathe provided the motor and bearings are in good order. The types of lathe I’m thinking about are the Union Jubilee, Union Graduate, both these lathes were used in schools for many years, they are floor standing and very robust, you would be able to pick up one of these for the same price as you would pay for a Record Cl4, another good lathe is the Myford ML8, again floor standing and again very robust, you may have to add the speed control if you do buy second hand as all of these lathes were mainly made with stepped pullies where you manually changed the speed by moving the belt on the pullies. The Rolls Royce of lathes is the VICMARC, any of their range are superior lathes, again you might find a second hand one on sale, they have an M33 thread, standard to most lathes now and all electronic speed controlled.

You mentioned your chuck, it may be that you will need to sell that separately as it will possibly not fit any other lathe, you do get inserts to change a chuck thread to suit another machine but it’s much harder to get an insert that will change the lathe thread to fit the chuck, so just sell the chuck and start again.

David Ross

In reply to question about a new lathe here are some of my suggestion

A cast iron bed in preference to round bars

Swivel head stock to allow for easier access and allow and larger faceplate turning which may not seem important just now but will as you get more experienced

Variable speed where the controller can be moved and not fixed to headstock as this can cause problems when trying to turn off large faceplate turning if something goes wrong

Good solid legs that can be fixed to floor

Space in workshop/garage for new lathe

I have had only two lathes in my twenty years of turning a Record DML26 and a Record Maxi 1 both served me well

If you look at the Record Cornet Envoy it has the specification that I recommended above but I am not suggesting you buy this lathe as I have never tried one myself.

John Ruickbie

This is exactly the same problem I had when I started l bought a perform lathe which used the variable speed system which alters the pulleys lt shredded the belts and failed twice. I purchased a Wivamack lathe on the advice of Jimmy Clews it was expensive with electronic speed control but still serves me well after 12 years heavy use. The mens shed just purchased a Record Power Cornet lathe which I find very nice to use. Electronic speed control is well established and reliable. Most lathes now use m33 threads so think about what chuck you have and what you wish to turn look at over bed swing and buy as large a motor as you can afford. Take your time and ask lots of questions before buying.

Nick Simpson

There are certain principles to apply (in my view)

1. How much money do you have to spend

2. How much Power do you need?

3. How long do you see yourself woodturning.

If you are looking at longer than a year or so then you should ‘future-proof’ by choosing a lathe with an M33 threaded spindle, which is the current and (foreseeable) future standard. This threading has been available for several years so 2nd hand lathes are available.

If you just want to make pens then get a small lathe, but it may not have the flexibility to turn 6 or 7 inch peanut bowls. Variable speed is essential once you have used it. Get a continuously variable speed model but you will still need pulley changes to cope with heavier and out-of-balance loads because motors run at their most efficient at higher revs.

As someone else has said spend as much as you can afford (+ a bit!). I have 2 secondhand lathes: a 1966 Union Graduate and a 2013 VB36. Neither have M33 threading. Obtaining T2 (1 1/2″ 6tpi) threaded chucks for the Graduate is impossible except for Axminster. Similarly the VB36 takes a bayonet mount – SO I did not practice what I preach!!

Chucks are important and as Alec says do not let your NOVA chuck determine your next upgrade.

I would say ‘try before you buy’ but at the moment that is not possible.