Lathe Operations: Facing

Facing Operations Facing is the process of removing metal from the end of a workpiece to produce a flat surface. Most often, the workpiece is cylindrical, but using a 4-jaw chuck you can face rectangular or odd-shaped work to form cubes and other non-cylindrical shapes.

When a lathe cutting tool removes metal it applies considerable tangential (i.e. lateral or sideways) force to the workpiece. To safely perform a facing operation the end of the workpiece must be positioned close to the jaws of the chuck. The workpiece should not extend more than 2-3 times its diameter from the chuck jaws unless a steady rest is used to support the free end. Cutting Speeds

If you read many books on machining you will find a lot of information about the correct cutting speed for the movement of the cutting tool in relation to the workpiece. You must consider the rotational speed of the workpiece and the movement of the tool relative to the workpiece. Basically, the softer the metal the faster the cutting. D…

What are the basic principles of wood turning?

It must be noted, however, that although skill can only be acquired by practice, by "making shavings" as the saying goes, it is futile practising unless the basic principles are being applied. The basic principles are comprised of four main elements:

  • The choice of the correct tools

  • The use of properly sharpened tools

  • A good stance

  • The use of correct cutting techniques

Consideration must also be given to safety. Safe working habits should become habitual and are as much part of basic principles as the four points covered above. Unsafe practices may not prevent good turning but they may cut short a turner's career.

Much of this book is devoted to these basic principles. However, before he can practise the basic principles the prospective turner must provide himself with a certain amount of equipment. At the very minimum this will be a lathe, a grinding machine and a set of tools. He will also need somewhere to keep it and somewhere to work; usually, of course, these are the same place, namely the workshop. The question of a workshop and equipment is discussed in the next chapter and tools in the one after that.

Some of the comments made above may make learning to turn seem daunting but it is not intended to put people off. Anyone, from nine to ninety, male or female, with a modicum of manual dexterity, can learn to turn successfully. Given a reasonable degree of application it will only take most beginners a few hours of practice to learn to make simple but attractive objects which provide immense satisfaction. Many of these objects only take an hour or so to make.

The great pleasure which can be derived from wood turning stems from two things. One is that, whilst very satisfying results can be obtained with relatively little experience, learning and improvement can go on for the rest of a lifetime. The other source of pleasure is that hand turning brings the maker into a very close and intimate relationship with his material. Turners get to know wood as few other people can.


  1. If you go with a manual mahnice it will be much cheaper. If you're doing small stuff like e-cigs the a Sherline could work. Those come in manual and CNC. For gunsmithing you'd want a larger mahnice I think. It's a tough question. I wish you luck finding a solution that fits your needs.


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