Turning Archive 2008

First lathe, first project! *PIC*

Rich Glisson
>Hi everybody--

I have been hanging around WoodCentral since the dawn of time, mostly lurking around the hand tool forum. I got a Jet JWL-1220 mini lathe for my birthday earlier this month and have since been avidly reading the turning forum posts. I saw the marking knives Dominic Greco posted here on 2/11 and that inspired me to make a couple for my first turning project...thanks for the inspiration, Dominic!

I used cocobolo and made the ferrules out of brass tubing fittings. The blade for the small knife was made from a worn-out Bosch jigsaw blade, and the blade for the larger one was made from a defunct 6" jointer blade. The blades were shaped free-hand using my stationary belt sander, a grinding wheel, and a Dremel with various grinding stones, then polished with 600-1500 wet/dry sandpaper and Mother's mag polish. The little brass pieces ("sub-ferrules"?) projecting from the ferrules were made from 1/4" brass rod (I inserted the brass stock in a hole drilled in the end of a block of wood and ran the block through a bandsaw to split the brass in half lengthwise). The blades are jammed tight in 1/4" holes bored in the knife handles, and epoxied with JB Weld. The cocobolo polished up beautifully on the lathe, but I added a very thin coat of tung oil varnish for good measure, followed by wax.

I made the smaller knife first, and after trying it out realized that it is important to keep the blade short on this kind of marking knife so it can be grasped like a pencil. As a result I made the ferrule and blade shorter on the bigger knife. I don't think it is so critical for the small knife, as it can be held almost like an artist's paintbrush when marking dovetails, etc. Also, I realize that a round profile on a marking knife is not a great idea, but can't bring myself to grind flats on them. Maybe after they hit the floor a few times!

I had never done any turning before, and enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to mount the turning stock for each step. I got a Barracuda chuck and a Jacobs chuck with the lathe and used both, along with a mandrel I made from a 1/4" carriage bolt shank. I screwed the mandrel into the blade end of the handle and drove it with the drill chuck to finish the other end of the handle.

All in all, a satisfying project. Thanks for your interest!

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