May I get some advise for a newbie please?

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Avengers1

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Feb 20, 2020
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Hi, I am new to pen turning and want to buy my first lathe. I am looking at an Excelsior mini. It only comes as the machine. What other parts do I need ie chuck, tailstock, mandrel etc. Also where is the best place to buy? Finally what size tool rest works best, 4” or 6”?

Thanks so much for helping me!

ps. I’m actually a newbie squared. My last name is Newby. Lol
 
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leehljp

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Here is a rather long, and old but still relevant thread. Look at one particular term: TBC (Turning Between Centers) or without a mandrel.


TBC does not use mandrels, is much simpler than mandrels, has FAR less problems than mandrels.
For TBC you will need a drive center and live center on the tail stock.
It is good to invest in a good chuck but not necessary early on. Also drill chuck. Very handy for drilling on the lathe.
6 inch tool rest IMO.
 

Dehn0045

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newbie Newby o_O haha

Here is the list of what I use (note - I have a jet 1013 that appears to be basically the same thing. Also note- the tailstock and tool rest should come with it. If you are buying used and it doesn't come with it then you may want to consider buying new, because the cost of a tailstock and tool rest is probably more than everything new being it is on sale for $200 at rockler. I use the standard tool rest and it has done just fine for me.):

Dead center
Live center
Vernier Calipers (digital -cheap set from amazon or harbor freight is fine)
jacobs chuck with MT2
Nova G3 chuck with pin jaws (or similar scroll chuck. make sure the adapter matches your lathe, which I think is 1" x 8tpi)
Turning tools (I usually just use a cheap skew, in part because it is easy to sharpen)

Additional comments:
I TBC as Hank recommends. This saves on buying and keeping track of bushings. You may want to buy some bushings (LazerLinez has TBC ones also) when you are first getting started. As you improve your turning skills you can go without bushings, which opens things up a little because you aren't constrained by bushings. TBC is also a lot more accurate, my struggles with "out of round" on the mandrel is why I switched.

I drill on the lathe. If you have a drill press, then you may not need/want the scroll chuck and jacobs chuck. I'm not sure if the excelsior is variable speed or changed using the belt, mine is belt which I actually prefer because I get good torque at low speed for drilling. The small VS lathes lose a lot of torque at low speeds (this can be a problem for drilling or turning larger objects).

I square on the lathe also, I mount the blank in the scroll chuck and face the end of the blank with a pointed skew. Other options for squaring include sanding jig for the lathe, using a disk sander, or barrel trimmer in drill press (this is the least preferred method IMHO).

If you drill/square on the lathe with a scroll chuck then pin or pen jaws are preferred. The standard jaws just don't quite give enough support.

Tools - bought various HSS tools, but then had to get a sharpener which wasn't cheap. If I started over I would get a decent HSS skew (which is easy to sharpen with a flat stone) and a couple of carbides (maybe a square and a round). If going the sharpener route, then I would suggest a standard speed grinder with CBN wheels. The wet stone works OK, but is kind of a pain dealing with the water.

In pen turning there are a thousand different ways to skin the cat. A lot depends on what you want to do and your budget (and what you already have). For high volumes drilling/squaring on the lathe doesn't make a lot of sense. But if you are doing small volumes with segmenting/etc then drilling on the lathe might be a better option. Similarly, if you want to do high volumes but aren't super concerned about precision then using a mandrel with bushing might be a better choice. If you think you might want to turn bowls or boxes, then getting a scroll chuck would be a good investment. These are just my thoughts and recommendations, largely based on the type of penturning that I do.
 
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Dehn0045 beat me to it. :eek:
Newby (ha!) - Welcome to the addiction. Several decisions to make. A chuck isn't mandatory at this point but there are several things to consider. (Gosh, I hope I don't drag this on too long)
1 - What other tools/machinery you have may influence what you do. If you're a "woodworker" (like me), you might already have a drill press and/or a grinder. If you have a drill press, you won't have to invest in a chuck to drill the holes in the pen blank for the tube and a separate chuck to hold the blank while you do that. If you don't have a drill press, drilling on the lathe (with chucks) might be a decent way to go.
2 - If you have a grinder, you might want to consider buying a beginner's set of traditional steel turning tools. If you do, get ready to learn how to sharpen - both gouges and skews. Knowing how to sharpen is a skill that MUST be learned by any turner using steel tools. And there is a learning curve (and a bunch of tooling to flatten the curve). If you don't have a grinder, consider going with a couple carbide tools. Many (most?) beginners try carbide. The learning curve is far shallower. Either way has plusses and minuses. Personally, I'm a steel guy.
Good luck
 

Dehn0045

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This is the tutorial that I referred to when starting out with TBC (turning between centers). Instead of using a mandrel, you position the barrel between a dead center (in the headstock) and a live center (in the tailstock). The 60 degree cones force the barrel to be nearly perfectly centered. It is just a friction fit between the centers, so you have to play around with it, too much force and you will flare the brass or crack the material, too little and the blank will just spin. This forces you to use better turning technique because too much pressure from cutting will just cause the barrel to spin. When starting out you can use bushings between the centers and the barrel, this allows for more force to hold the barrel.
 
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