Sunday, November 2, 2008

Turning Brass on a Woodturning Lathe

These brass details are part of the 'Concertina Game Table' post on 10/17 below. I first discovered I could turn brass on my Powermatic wood lathe a couple years ago while making some details for a custom mirror. You can probably use most any wood lathe that allows you to adjust the speeds. I'm not sure of the exact rpms, but we start at about the same speed that you would use to begin turning a rough spindle. Once you get the hang of the tool position, and if you have a variable speed lathe, you'll find the speed that's most comfortable for you. Will watched me turn the sample you see above and then after his first one, did the other three cleaner and faster than I could have. It's a knack that mostly involves tool angle, sharpness, control and tool movement speed. Getting your mounting holes centered in the blank is also crucial. On the feet below we started with 2" lengths of 1" round stock, drilled one end for the .44" tenon on the end of the leg and the other end of the brass blank with a 3.8 x 1/2" deep hole for a screw and the live center on the lathe tailstock. We turned it down to .9 on the large end and about .75 or so on the small end. We used a poplar short to mount the brass for the bulk of the turning and sanding and then did the final sanding and fitting on the real legs. Our small 1/2" round nose scraper is our favorite tool for roughing and using our new little Porter Cable belt sander while the brass is turning on the lathe makes quick work of the rough sanding .... Click the photos to enlarge them for better viewing ... Similar process to the square foot details on this bubinga table ...

Turning position

Shows the tool and tool angle and the conical live tail stock center

The drill press jig for predrilling the tenon and screw holes . The 1" hole is a tight fit and the rod is for driving the blank out from the bottom of the jig. The screw point engages the brass blank to keep it from spinning while you're drilling it. the resulting dot is turned off in the process.

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