Tip For Lathe Work & Elsewhere

If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you are sure to have noticed that I’ve been working at my lathe – it’s a Minimax T-124 Copy lathe – quite a bit. My inherited version of this lathe does not have an indexing head. I don’t know if other versions of this lathe have an indexing ability or not. While no index abilities generally are not a problem, there are times when it’s a huge disadvantage. Laying out flutes is one of those times. If you happen to have a similar problem, then here’s a great tip to get the job done. You could also use this tip for lathe work in other areas of woodworking, too. (I’ll post additional tips in upcoming blogs.)

Tip #1 is how to divide a turning into equal segments (what an indexing head is best at). Take a thin strip of paper, wrap it around your turned part and mark and trim the point at which the paper overlaps. Unroll the paper then divide it’s length into the number of segments you want, placing a pencil mark at each division point. When you re-wrap the paper around your turning, transfer the division points onto your workpiece and you have divided the area into equal sections. Equal, that is, unless your measurements are off.


You could also plan for unequal segments by placing the division marks at varying points. Then when fluting or reeding a set of table legs, for example, each time you wrapped the paper around your turnings, the layout would be identical if not equal.

Here’s another hint: If your turnings are not at an exact diameter, you can still use the paper by simply sliding it up or down a tapered turning. If your turnings are not tapered, pick up that lathe tool again and tweak your diameters.

Tip #2 is a simple jig to extend those layout marks along your workpiece.

— Glen D. Huey

If you’re a 360Woodworking member, you can read about another way to overcome the lack of an indexing head in the presentation “Second Generation Candlestand,” or re-visit this slide presentation on how to “Build a Jig for Fluting.”

Not a member? Here’s where to join.



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