Monday, February 8, 2016

Free Ebooks About Lathe Work

Having become interested in lathe work well before YouTube was a "thing,'" I learned many of my techniques from books. Nowadays, of course, you can watch videos by myself and others and find a wealth of plans and tips on websites, but I think books are still useful for someone who is learning to turn. And of course the only thing better than a useful book is a free useful book, so I thought I would point you towards a couple of free ebooks which I think are worth reading. All three are available from Project Gutenberg, a non-profit organization that finds and scans public domain books and makes them available in a variety of electronic formats.

A Manual of the Hand Lathe (1869) 

Egbert P. Watson

Despite its age this book is a do-it-yourself guide in a format which will be very familiar to contemporary readers. Watson wrote at a time when small foot-powered lathes were a must-have tool for the home workshop. Unlike later books, which usually focus on either woodworking or metalworking, Watson takes for granted that you will be using your lathe to turn wood, metal, and any other material that was available in the 19th century. Probably the most valuable aspect of the book is the description of how to perform metalworking operations like threading using hand tools. At times Watson becomes a bit pedantic, and his organization could perhaps be better, but this book is still a treasure for anyone interested in "low tech" lathe work.

A Course in Wood Turning (1919) 

Archie S. Milton and Otto K. Wohlers

This book was intended as a guide for high school shop teachers for developing wood turning lesson plans. As such, it describes all of the essential techniques and concepts for both spindle and face-plate turning. Even though it was written nearly a century ago, none of the fundamentals of the craft have changed. Anyone who masters the skills in this book can legitimately claim to be a competent wood turner. The book also includes plans for a number of projects and, although few of them would be mistaken for anything except a high school wood shop assignment, some of them, especially the spiral turnings, could be a useful source of inspiration for the reader's own projects.

Turning and Boring (1914) 

Franklin D. Jones

This work was intended as a general reference to any sort of turning and boring operation that might be encountered by a working machinist. Although it assumes the use of a metalworking engine lathe (or, in the later part of the book, a boring mill) many of the operations can be adapted for use on a simple lathe like the Handy Lathe Mk. I. Probably the most valuable parts of this book for most of us will be the detailed drawings of mandrels, hold-downs, and steady rests, and similar fixtures, which are so necessary for many advanced turning projects.

Download these books to your tablet and other device. Study them, perhaps with the addition of a couple of classic non-free books like Machine Shop Operations and Setups or the Gingery series, and you will know just about as much about lathe work as you're going to learn from books. After that, the only way to learn more will be to get to the shop and make things.

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