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QUESTION: I have been preparing blanks to turn in the lathe for chair legs. I made them 2 inches in diameter with the drawknife, which may be cutting it close for my max diameter of 1 and three quarter. Is this basically an okay approach? I found on my last attempt that I lacked stock on one part of the leg. Also, roughing out the blank seemed like a lifetime project. The large gouge pounds like a jack hammer on the blank, catching the little ledges of wood. Is there any tips for getting a blank smooth before putting it on the lathe? Thanks alot. BN 5/31/03

REPLY:  After squaring up your turning blank, mark the centers with diagonal pencil-marks, then drawknife the edges to reduce "jackhammering" on the lathe at roughing out. I have found that taking it easy on the first approach to rounding a square blank works equally as good/fast. R.W. 6/1/03

REPLY: In the past I tried lots of methods to prepare lathe stock. Not many seemed to accomplish enough to be worth the effort. I will occasionally dress or trim a piece on the bandsaw. I have a drawknive hanging by the lathe and will knock the corners off after mounting the piece between centers. Otherwise it's usually quicker to do what you've been doing. Practice will teach you the chisel angles and lathe speed to minimize the beating you are describing. If you don't have a heavy duty roughing gouge it helps. JT 6/1/03

REPLY: I bring my lathe stock close to round with a hewing axe. I just make several chops down the sides to set the depth of cut and then take off chips with long strokes. I also turn green maple which comes off in long ribbons. The leg will go slightly oval when it dries and only the tenon needs to be touched up on the lathe to match the mortise perfectly. I sand the leg at this time too, as green wood doesn't sand well. I agree with JT, get a big roughing gouge. BG2 6/3/03

REPLY: BG2 made a good point. If you are turning dry wood your problem will be worse. Green wood turns considerably easier and the pounding is less. I turn all my chair stock green and am always suprised when I put some dry stock for furniture on the lathe how much harder it knocks. JT 6/3/03

REPLY: Turning stock preparation. I use a router to turn square stock to perfect cylinders in 5 seconds(one pass). I built a box to fit on my lathe that allows my router to sit above the turning stock on a flat plane. Once the stock is turning at a moderate speed, I turn the plunge router on with heavy half-round bit on and plunge down to my desired diameter and run the length of the stock. This will reduce all of the gouge time and produce a uniform cylinder. Saw a guy doing it for baseball bats and used it for 15 years. Good Luck. D.O. 6/5/03


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