Looking to add a wood turning lathe to your workshop?

Lathes are an essential piece of kit for hobbyists and professional woodworkers alike – used for sanding, drilling and turning.

With an extensive range to choose from, including easy-to-transport models and heavy-duty industrial machines, we’re confident you’ll find something suitable here at Kendal Tools.

But the question is, do you know how to operate a wood turning lathe correctly?

Lathes can be dangerous pieces of woodworking machinery – with the vast majority of accidents and injuries occurring as a result of carelessness and ignorance. Other hazards can stem from poor maintenance and setup.

Here we offer 5 tips to ensure maximum safety when using a wood turning lathe.


1.    Make sure you have the appropriate PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is key when you’re using a wood turning lathe. Without it, you’re at serious risk of being hit in the face or eye by the workpiece.

Safety glasses must be worn to protect the eyes, as well as hearing protection if you run the lathe and dust collector for long periods.

On top of acquiring the necessary PPE before you start, we also recommend that you avoid wearing loose clothing and remove rings, watches and any other dangly jewellery. If your hair is long, this also needs to be tied back off your face. All of these things could get caught up in the spinning lathe.


2.    Secure the workpiece to the lathe

If you need to make any adjustments – either to accommodate the workpiece or alter the spindle speed – these need to be done before you switch on the wood turning lathe or once it has come to a complete stop. Don’t attempt to do these whilst the lathe is turned on!

Ideally, your timber needs to be seated and aligned properly, and everything needs to be locked tight onto the lathe (i.e. chucks, tailstock and tool rests).


3.    Sharpen your tools

Nobody wants to work with dull tools! Sharper tools are easier to use than dull ones and ensure a smoother finish.

Making sure your chisels and other tools are sharp before you begin using the wood turning lathe will save you time and effort, allowing you to complete your project sooner. When they aren’t in use, such tools must be kept secure – preferably out of reach of children if your lathe is in your garage at home.


4.    Keep your work area free from clutter

Although it’s helpful to have everything within easy reach, it’s important that you keep your workshop as tidy as possible. After all, a messy work area can provide obstructions and increase the risk of accidents – not to mention breed inefficiency.

If your wood turning lathe doesn’t have a separate table or tool rest, never lay tools directly on the lathe. Instead, use a wide board with a cleat on either side and organise your tools in the order you’ll use them. This will save you the hassle of fumbling around – improving safety and efficiency.


5.    Inspect your lathe regularly

To get the most out of your wood turning lathe, you should check it regularly, and thoroughly inspect it, to make sure there are no loose nuts or bolts etc.

Simple things like making sure the machine is stable, chisels are sharp and the handles are in good shape, all help. If you spot any defects (e.g. cracks or damages), you can then take the necessary steps to repair or replace them.


Want to know more?

If you have any questions about wood turning lathes, or you’d like more tips on using woodworking machinery safely, speak to the team at Kendal Tools.

We’re always on hand to help and will be more than happy to share our expertise.

Either give us a call on 01539 733 774 or email info@kendaltools.co.uk, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.