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Tip #114
Face-Plate Turning

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Faceplate turning is one of the two basic functions performed on the lathe (the other is spindle turning). The finished product of this lathe function is usually a stand-alone project such as a bowl or a plate. It can also be a component of a larger project.

We've assembled some basic information to help you get started on this fascinating aspect of woodworking, and feel confident that with some practice, you'll be creating some handsome projects.

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Fig. 1 Click image for larger view.

1. Start by cutting your stock to round on the bandsaw. If you've glued-up your stock, be sure to keep it well clamped and allow the glue to set thoroughly before attempting to turn it.

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Fig. 2 Click image for larger view.

2. If you don't own a bandsaw, cut the turning blank into an octagonal shape on your table saw using the miter gauge with the safety grip to hold it securely. Safety Note: If you don't own a bandsaw and are planning to use your Table Saw to round-out your turning blank, we recommend that octagonals less than 8-in. be cut with a handsaw, since they can't be gripped safetly for cutting on a Table Saw.

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Fig. 3 Click image for larger view.

3. Drill a hole in the center of your stock to the depth of your inside contour. The depth gauge function of a Dial Caliper is typically used by experienced turners to measure theis depth. Mount your stock to the faceplate using #12 x 1-1/4-in. long (minimum) roundhead wood screws. If screw holes in the back are likely to interfere with your design, you'll have to attach a "sacrificial" piece of stock to your faceplate, then glue your actural workpiece to this piece of stock with a single layer of paper between the two. Allow to set for at least 24 hours before turning.

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Fig. 4 Click image for larger view.

4. Adjust your tool rest so the cutting edge of your chisel is in line with the centerline of your stock. Wear eye protection...a Full Face Shield is considered to be by many to be the best choice...but See-Through Shields that can be attached directly to your lathe will also do the job quite nicely.

If you're using a Shopsmith MARK V, start by setting the speed at "Slow". A good set of Bowl-Turning (Scraping) Chisels will make a big difference in your results. Start by turning the outside of your bowl to round using a Gouge or Roundnose Chise ground to an 80-degree bevel. Re-adjust your speed to "B" or "C" and contour the outside using a Roundnose Chisel or a Bowl Scraper. Note: Speeds given are for bowls 6 to 10-in. in diameter. For larger diameters use slower speeds. (Inset: Chisel and tool rest positioned for scraping.)

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Fig. 5 Click image for larger view.

5. Start contouring the inside of your stock by working from the outside of the drilled hole toward the center. Continue working from the outside toward the center of your stock until you achieve your final shape.

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Fig. 6 Click image for larger view.

6. Remove the tool rest and sand your piece. Start with coarse or medium grit and end with a very fine (220) grit. Be sure to protect the way tubes and wear a dust mask when sanding.


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