WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Turning

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Turning
by Richard Raffan

Taunton Press: 2005
Hardback, 246 pp., $39.95
ISBN 1-56158-672-2

     For beginners, this is probably the most complete and detailed guide one can buy to start your adventure at the lathe. Arranged in easily accessed sections, the book covers the harvesting and drying of wood, tool selection, the sharpening of turning tools, accessories and attachments to the lathe, and setup of work stations for safe turning.
     Later sections cover individual types of work, from spindles to faceplate turning to endgrain work and chasing threads for lidded boxes. Raffan ends the book with basic finishing advice, including prep work, beginning and advanced sanding, and final finishing. All color throughout, the photos are large enough to easily see what is being demonstrated, and the numbered text references tie in well to procedural photos.
     Raffan explains all the basics: ways to measure depth and thickness on a workpiece, how to turn specific diameters, and different considerations for center-work and end grain. He discusses the merits and drawbacks of jam chucks, screw centers, jaw chucks and vacuum chucks. He shows how to do split turnings and long thin spindles, how to cut knobs, cones, coves and ogees.
     There are projects included to learn what is being discussed, some of which include turned boxes, a vase, a bilboquet, a lamp base, a deep hollow form and a sushi tray. For those just starting out with the wood lathe, or those wanting to try techniques they've not attempted, Richard Raffan has done a wonderful job of presenting this material.

. . . Barb Siddiqui