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What to practice on lathe

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Creativechipper

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#1
Hello everyone,

I was thinking you all could list some practice cuts or things to start off practicing on the lathe.

I have only done face cuts so far and starting to think I should practice steps, curves, shoulders, etc

Really no idea what to practice first or what will build up good lathe skills for when I actually turn a project.

I have heard some people practice making bullets? What is that all about?

Thanks
 

RandyM

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#2
In my opinion, there is no better practice than to just make something. You really need to find a good project and go at it. :encourage: Surely you have something to make or repair?
 

ttabbal

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#3
Obvious first places to start are facing, turning to a diameter accurately, turning a shoulder, chamfers.. Maybe practice drilling to depths. Basic boring, though that's a whole art in itself from what I can tell. And, of course, threading.

I only recently started learning again a long time after doing only some basic stuff in a high school shop class. I personally find it more rewarding to make things that I can use. So my method was to do some basics, get to +/-0.002 or so, then work on some simple projects to get more accurate and just get more practice. One that I liked was to replace the bolt holding my toolpost with a handle so I can easily adjust the angle of the tool. Reasonably simple, depending on the exact toolpost design, and good practice for all the basics.

I started a thread about project ideas for beginners. https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/beginner-lathe-projects.66563/

I plan to work on more of those ideas soon, I'm in the middle of a DRO install and really need to get it done. :)

Bullets are probably because they can be decorative/interesting, have a couple diameters and lengths to hit, and often include a taper for the bullet itself. Drill a little hole in the bottom where the primer would go, and you can put a magnet in there. There are always uses for magnet holders around the shop to hold plans, charts, etc..
 

Ed ke6bnl

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#4
With no internet and first lathe I turned down pvc plastic to get a feel for the lathe
 

Dave Paine

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#5
I feel the same as Randy. I prefer to practice by making something.

When I started machining I found single point threading to have a decent learning curve for me, also parting.
 

Creativechipper

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#6
I am definitely wanting to make something, just a matter of what now.

The clickspring how to scribe pen looks good to me.
 

ttabbal

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#7
The scribe was my first real project. I used aluminum because I had it and brass is way overpriced around here. I use it for nearly every project I do now.
 

Skowinski

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#8
Another vote for making something you need. My little Atlas needed this spacer collar, so I made it, learning turning, facing, parting and boring along the way. This first one was aluminum, and I intend to make another one at some point out of steel, just for the practice using different metals.

It's a very simple little part, but I learned a lot making it.





 
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dtsh

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#9
I would consider thinking about the various projects you want to do, pick one that seems just above your ability and start working on it. For me, this inevitably leads me to situations where I have to stop and make some tooling before I can finish the project. Typically, the stops to make the interim tooling leads me in areas and teaches me skills I hadn't anticipated. When I have a choice of buying or making tooling for a project, I tend to go with making unless the savings are substantial; it may take me a lot longer to get back to my main project, but I tend to learn a lot more in the process.

That said, this is what works for *me* and may not work for, or make sense to, anyone else.
 

WarrenP

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#10
My first project was the captive nut puzzle. You can do a search on the internet to find instructions. 20170904_191729.jpg
 

MrWhoopee

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#11
Identify some simple tools that you might need, then make them. It's more fun to make something useful than it is to practice making something useful.
 

T Bredehoft

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#12
The only lathe job that needs to be in the "I can do that" class is thread chasing. Turning an ID is just a matter of engaging feed and stopping.

Doing the exact same thing 15 times to get a good thread takes practice. There are several things that can go wrong and only one way to do it right.
 

MarkM

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#13
How about a test bar for your lathe? Something you ll always need. In the end you ll have a shaft say ten inches or so (not critical) that can run between centres with two pressed on rings an inch or so from each end a half inch or so thick to check tailstock alignment. You would take a cut on one ring and move to the other and compare your measurement. True alignment would read the same. No dimensions are real critical other then the press fit. A thou. or so. I used 3/4 " for my shaft but makes no diff. Make your own centre in your chuck with the compound. ( take a light cut the next time to true it for the next time you test or need to offset for a taper). Make your rings whatever you want just have a press fit. Make a bushing to be used to help press each ring on? You Can use your tailstock to press on the rings with care.
 

P. Waller

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#14
Make a spindle stop for the lathe, this will be mostly lathe work and has a use, nothing beats a spindle stop for repetitive work in a lathe.
 

Creativechipper

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#15
Not sure what a spindle stop does or is used for or how to make. I see some complex looking spring wrapped stuff when googling it.

Is it simple?
 

Winegrower

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#16
Make another chuck key for your 4 jaw and learn to use two keys to quickly center any round thing to less than 0.001'
 

P. Waller

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#17
A spindle stop is a work stop, if making multiple parts of the same length push the cut length through the chuck or collet until it stops, your numbers tell you where 0 is. Face one end clean then flip the part and face to 0 in Z this will give you multiple parts at a known length. 5C collets have an internal thread that allows you to set a collet stop. Note that 5C collets using a drawbar are not dead length, the length will vary from one part to another slightly depending on the stock diameter. There are dead length collet systems available.
A spindle stop is simply a rod that passes through the spindle bore and can be locked in place in order to face and turn at a fixed position.
This is what I use on one of the lathes that I often run, a simple round collar that clamps to the end of the spindle and a hole for the rod stop with set screws to hold it in place. This is the only picture that I have, it is only keeping 7/16" square bars that are 40+" long from whipping around, the normal stop rods are 5/8" round cr steel. All lathe work and a drill press for the tapped holes that are 1/4-20.
Simple as pie and useful.
 
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Firstram

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#18
Make another chuck key for your 4 jaw and learn to use two keys to quickly center any round thing to less than 0.001'
^This^
2nd project should be a spring loaded tap follower.
 

P. Waller

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#19
^This^
2nd project should be a spring loaded tap follower.
This I do not understand, please explain 2 chuck keys used at once and how it is an advantage.
 

Bi11Hudson

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#20
I suppose you could call me lucky(?) in that respect. I knew what a lathe was and roughly what it could do a long time before I got one. Now I have several, with more in my past. The big issue was more a place to keep it than cost. With that said, the first project might be something like a chess set. Brass and aluminium will give good contrast. Brass is expensive though. Make it all from aluminium and blacken one set. That's always a good project even if you don't play chess. Me, personally, I just play at it. But with so many pieces to make mistakes on, what more could you ask.

Then there are the little "tooling" ideas. You don't need something so complex you spend more time figuring it out than making it. Maybe a soft hammer... ... Or that punch you need to drive a nail just so. Most anything you want to buy can be built, given enough time. The opportunity to learn some new technique is wide open.

And finally, from long winded me anyway, is to repair something around the house. The lathe is just another tool, not the "end all" that many make it out to be. Albeit expensive, I will concede. You can turn most any material you want. Even water, though you have to freeze it first. Air now, it might be a problem... ...

Welcome to the hobby, my friend;
Bill Hudson​
 

Creativechipper

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#21
Wow now the wheels are turning.
Tooling sounds like the most practical thing to make, I could always use some and less expensive the better!!
Spring loaded tap follower, I see how that works but the spindle stop just spins my gears, someday I am sure it will sink in.
I like the idea of a test bar and have a few diameters of aluminum so I will give that some thought too.
Thanks for the kind welcome Bill H. and everyone for the great ideas!!
 

Z2V

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#22
My first project was the captive nut puzzle. You can do a search on the internet to find instructions. View attachment 273295
I’m with Warren here. I made several in different sizes and threads. Right hand, left hand, coarse, fine, 1/4” - 1”

Like @Winegrower , I made a chuck key also. Fun projects.

Currently working on adapter for the knee crank on my mill so I can use a cordless drill instead of armstrong power to raise and lower the table.

Pick a project and just go at it. You might have to start over or fix a mistake but it’s all a fun learning process.
 

Firstram

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#23
This I do not understand, please explain 2 chuck keys used at once and how it is an advantage.
This video explains the process, it's worth learning. Dialing something in on the 4 jaw is a necessary skill, it does not need to be frustrating or intimidating.
 

P. Waller

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#24
My employer saves all of the 4Jaw work for me to do at one time, this is usually 3-4 days per month of work so I am quite familiar with the process.

I do not see the advantage of using 2 keys is all.
For example


 

Firstram

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#25
You have enough experience that it's second nature, using 2 keys when you're just starting off can help learn cause and effect.
 

CluelessNewB

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#26
The first thing I made on my Logan 820 when I got it running was a replacement shaft, you can see it lying in the chip pan. It was almost done at that point only needing to cut two woodruff keys, I did that on the lathe later using a Palmgren milling attachment. I had not used a lathe since high school back in the early 1970s.


logan820_a11.JPG
 

MrWhoopee

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#27
I've been in this a long time. The two chuck key trick was a real eye-opener for me. One of those "why didn't I think of this?" moments.
Being able to move the opposing jaws simultaneously (and equally) really speeds the process. I made two shorties, so they were matched.
 

ttabbal

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#28
So, how are you making a chuck key in a lathe? Start from the right size square stock? It's easy with a mill, or even a milling attachment on the lathe. Just not sure how I would do it with only a lathe and "normal" lathe tools. I'm always interested in learning techniques.
 

Creativechipper

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#29
I was wondering the same, so many items seem to require a mill in addition to a lathe.

Can I mount a mill table vertical on the lathe and accomplish the same thing?
 

RandyM

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#30
So, how are you making a chuck key in a lathe? Start from the right size square stock? It's easy with a mill, or even a milling attachment on the lathe. Just not sure how I would do it with only a lathe and "normal" lathe tools. I'm always interested in learning techniques.
I was wondering the same, so many items seem to require a mill in addition to a lathe.

Can I mount a mill table vertical on the lathe and accomplish the same thing?

Well fellas, I am struggling in the opposite direction. I have a mill but no lathe and I find that I can do everything I want to so far but, it is challenging sometimes to do lathe operations on a mill. Just have to put my mind to it, and sometimes it takes a while, but I do get there in the end. Actually, I have the lathe, I just need to get it functional.
 
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