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Basic techniques for Faceplate Turning

There are two primary functions of the Lathe. The simplest of these is spindle turning where the workpiece is supported between two centers and the ultimate result is usually a spindle, shaft, stair rail post or similar cylindrical object where only a single plane of the object is actually shaped.

The second of these functions might best be referred to as ?open-ended? turning, where the workpiece is attached to the rotating Lathe shaft on one end only...leaving the opposite end of the stock free of obstruction in order that it, as well as the sides of the object may be shaped during the turning process. The ultimate result of this process is usually a bowl, vase, platter, tray or similarly shaped object.

This second approach is most commonly referred to as ?Faceplate Turning?...although today's woodworkers have several devices that allow them to approach this form of turning without the use of a Faceplate. The most common of these substitutes are Screw Centers and special lathe Chucking Systems. However, in this article, we will only be addressing Faceplate Turning, leaving the other forms of work-holding for a future discussion.

Preparing the workpiece. If you're gluing-up your turning blank from a series of smaller pieces of stock, be sure to clamp everything together tightly and allow a full 24 hours for thorough drying before starting the actual turning process.

Next, use your Bandsaw or Scroll Saw (if you stock is less than 2" thick) to cut the blank into a round shape (See Fig. 1).

The purpose of this rounding process is to minimize vibrations (and the chances of a chisel ?snag?) as you begin the turning process, so it's not imperative that your stock be perfectly round. If you don't own a Bandsaw, cut your blank into an octagonal shape on the MARK V Table Saw with your Miter Gauge set at 45-degrees. Be sure to use your Safety Grip to grasp the stock firmly during this process (See Fig. 2). CAUTION: For the sake of safety, use a handsaw to cut this octagon if its finished size is to be less than 8".

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