As some of you already know, instead of making a homemade drill powered lathe, I decided to buy this lathe kit for drill to start my first woodturning dabbling. The lathe kit looks pretty good at first glance, but as you will see in the video and as I will discuss in this post, there are some problems I have to deal with.
In the comments of the video I immediately got recommendations that I will keep in mind. The best recommendation I can give you here is to keep in mind that using a lathe is totally new to me, so I can only give you my impressions. My intention is giving you an idea of the problems that you may encounter if you try to work with a lathe kit kit like this one, which is rather a tool for simple DIY projects with wood and has nothing of professional lathe.
It’s been a few years since I wrote this post and I still don’t have a more professional lathe. But, have you seen the drill tool kit I bought that includes a much better quality drill lathe kit?
If you are looking for someone with experience in woodturning, I recommend you to visit Miguel Sanchez’s YouTube channel, where he teaches us a lot of techniques and tricks for both beginners and advanced woodturners, as well as the manufacture of some homemade turning tools.
And starting with the turning tools, I started using my normal chisels, as I don’t have any gouges or special chisels for woodturning. With the 18mm one I didn’t have much to do, so I immediately switched to the 10mm one with which I gradually dared to go in with a little more force and managed to remove the hard bark of the oak branch I put on the lathe kit. When I turned off the drill I was struck by the appearance of the surface of the wood, where it looked like I had ripped it rather than cut it. It is clear to me that I will have to buy some gouges for roughing and shaping the wood.
I immediately wanted to try sanding the wood, first with a little coarse sandpaper followed by fine grit sandpaper. Compared to when making other woodworking projects, it is very surprising how easy it is to sand the wood on the lathe. And despite the initial poor appearance of the surface, after a quick sanding the surface of the wood gets a great look.
The worst problem I have with this lathe kit is that the chuck on my drill has a play in the shaft and also a small deflection. I think it is old and so it already made a lot of work and will have some wear on the bearings. Anyway, that play in the shaft is quite typical in most hand drills, and that causes the drive center to not stay fixed spinning aligned always in the same “imaginary axis in space” with the live center, but dances around that axis where it should be fixed. This causes that turning results are not centered around a fixed axis of the workpiece and the shapes turned are certainly not perfectly circular. Once I have removed enough wood, the distance from the chisel to the workpiece is compensated and the problem that remains is that I cannot be precise with the pieces I am turning.
But it also turned out that I didn’t inserted the drive center well into the end grain of the wood and at some point during the turning the tabs of the drive center bent back (to avoid this some people recommend me to first cut the notches to insert the cross of the drive center, so that’s what I’ll do next time). As I said before, the distance from the wood to the chisel is compensated despite of the workpiece not turning around a fixed axis, but the problem now is that the position of the wood is rotated relative to the drive center and that distance to the chisel again changes as it rotates. This causes that when trying to retouch I cut more on one side than the other, leaving marks with the chisel. And as if that were not enough, adding that to my lack of experience and an unsuitable turning tool, as you can see if you look at the pictures and also watch the video, the chisel gets caught and breaks the wood. Now I also think that part of the problem is that my chisel has a very small bevel angle (since it is not for turning), so it is difficult to rest the entire profile on the wood. I should have seen this practical advice for beginners before.
I still have some things to improve and others to change, which I will show you in this blog, because despite the problems I think I will be able to get decent results with this “kit lathe for DIY projects” (NO, after some time I think it is not worth the money. But maybe one day I will use the parts to make a better lathe). In the meantime, in this post you have a video with my first attempt at turning with this cheap drill lathe kit.
Review: Well, after having tested this drill lathe kit a few more times, the truth is that I do not recommend buying it. I think we could make a homemade drill powered lathe that works even better than this one. Or else, if possible, save a little more and buy a real lathe, even if it is a cheap one.