American Woodworker A

least a 12-in. swing capacity and a distance of about 36 in. between centers. Some manufacturers—including Delta, Jet, Record, Sorby and Woodfast—offer lathes with headstocks that swivel away from the ways, allowing outboard turning of larger bowls.

If you can afford it, get a lathe with a variable-speed drive. Stepped belt drives arc OK, but they won't give you the infinite speed control of mechanical or electronic variable-speed drives. Plus, step pulleys take precious time to switch speeds. I recommend a low speed of 400 rpm (for general bowl turning) and a top speed of about 2,000 rpm (for smaller spindles.) A I-HP motor will provide enough power; I consider a 3/4-HP motor the bare minimum for a general-purpose machine.

I-ook for easily operated locks on the tool rest and tailstock, and positive locking on the tailstock quill. Get a machine with a common thread such as l by 8 tpi on the hcadstock spindle; avoid oddball metric threads. With #2 Morse tapers in the hcadstock and tailstock, you'll be able to use numerous aftcrmarkct accessories. Cast iron is the material of choice for a lathe; I avoid lightweight steel machines because the vibration factor is terrible.

Lathes range in price from about $200 for a mini lathe to well over S3,000 for a monster with a 16-in. swing. (See AW's 1996 Tool Buyer's Guide.) Don't forget to check your local classified ads. Many fine old lathes are sold for a fraction of their value.

Steve Blenk

Turner and AW contributing editor Sequim, WA

Rip vs. Combination Blades

©Is it worth it to buy a ripping blade for my 10-in. tablesaw? I've been getting good results ripping and crosscutting with my 40-tooth, carbide-tipped combination blade, but I'm going to be dimensioning a lot of hardwood over the next several months.

Carl Anderson Columbus, OH

Ol'd go ahead and invest in the ripping blade, especially if you'll be ripping much hardwood. When used for ripping, a 40-tooth combination blade works much harder than it needs to.

Examine the sawdust and you'll see that it's extremely fine—proof that the blade is cutting the same wood fibers again and again. Yes, you'll get a nice edge, but you'll also dull the teeth much faster.

A good-quality, carbide-tipped ripping blade rips much more efficiently, allowing you to use a faster feed rate than you could with a combination blade. Save your premium combination blade for crosscutting, occasional ripping, and plywood. For ripping hardwood, get a carbide-tipped ripping blade with 18 to 24 teeth. I've had good results with CMT, Freud and Delta ripping blades.

Matt Ver Stccg Carbide blade designer Newton, IA

Mixing a Little Shellac

©What's the best way to mix a small amount of a 2-lb. cut of shellac? The usual ratio (2 lbs. of flakes per gallon of alcohol) is difficult to adjust down.

Darla Krause Wheeling, WV

OMark a line on a lidded, clear glass jar showing the volume of shellac you want. Fill the jar with flakes about halfway to the line, then pour in alcohol all the way to the line. This is a good approximation of a 2-lb. cut. Shake or stir the mixture every few hours; it will be ready to use in about a day.

Michael Dresdner AW contributing editor Tacoma. WA

where to find it Spoked wooden wheels for tea carts and toys are available from Van Dyke's Restorers, Box 278, Woonsocket, SD 57385, (800) 843-3320.

Tagua nuts, an "ivory substitute"

for small turnings, are available from Packard Woodworks, Box 718, Tryon, NC 28782, (800) 683-8876.

Machine knobs, handles and handwheels are available from Reid Tool Supply, 2265 Black Creek Rd., Muskegon, Ml 49444, (800) 253-0421.

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