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Sharon Doughtie

Lathe Safety

Jan 2, 2017

Sharon Doughtie

Sharon Doughtie

Sharon Doughtie talks about lathe safety.


  1. If you’re angry, exhausted, etc., this is not the time to be turning. Make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to be turning. Wear appropriate clothes; no loose clothing or hanging jewelry. Make sure hair is tied back.

  2. ALWAYS wear eye protection.  A face shield is best, especially with large, multi-center, etc. pieces.  But do not turn without protecting your eyes.  Things can happen in a flash.

  3. Protect your hearing.   When doing noisy things, such as sanding, wear ear plugs. You can still hear through them.Prolonged and unprotected exposure to shop noise will damage hearing.

  4. Use a morse taper cleaner to clean out the headstock.  Also wipe around the head bolt to get any loose dust off it.  Starting withclean surfaces makes things run truer.

  5.  Use the hand wheel to tighten the tail  stock. Make sure the wood is firmly held between centers.

  6. ALWAYS rotate the wood to see that it clears the tool rest and check the lathe speed before starting.  The lathe should be started at a slow speed and you can slowly increase the speed to the proper rotation for the size and shape of the piece that is being turned.

  7. Always turn the speed down when you’re finished turning.  Don’t leave a lathe set on high speed.

  8. Always tighten chucks well.  When you’re first working on a piece, turn the lathe off now and then to see if you need to retighten the chuck.  Never leave a tommy bar in a chuck. Make sure loose things that can fly off a lathe (if someone starts it) are stored before leaving the woodshop.

  9. Use a dust mask or air stream helmet all the time – or at least when sanding.causes great harm to the lungs over the long term.  Protect your health.

  10. It’s a good practice to turn the lathe off when adjusting the tool rest, etc.   Also, do not touch spinning wood.  A hand could get caught between the piece and the tool rest.

  11. Take care of your body.  Turning can be hard on the back.  It’s good to do something to strengthen the stomach so it can better support the back.    Swimming, yoga, Pilates, etc. are good for this.  Also, it’s good to try and get some cardio exercise in to clear the lungs.  No matter how careful one is, some dust will still enter the lungs.  It’s good to give them a workout.  If there is a weak area that aches, such as the wrists, find out what area can be strengthened to give more support. In the case of wrists, building up the forearms with weights is a good solution. If you keep your body strong, it will let you turn for many years.

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