Hints and Tips


Sharpen turning scrapers upside down on the bench grinder; the downward motion of the grind wheel creates more of a burr!

Jam Chucks

Make your jam chucks from a softer timber than the piece to be held. (courtesey of Jules Tattershall Jan 2004)


Don't fold your abrasive paper more than once; that way you can feel the build up of heat before it does any damage to your valuable piece! (Miles Buckley)

Alternate power sanding with hand sanding. The former produces more random scratch marks whilst the latter leaves circular marks. By alternating the two you can see when one your abrasive has completely removed the marks left by the previous, courser grit. (courtesey of Jules Tattershall Jan 2004)


Be wary of burnishing rough burrs and open timbers with paper tissue or shavings. The open grain can tend to capture small bit of shaving or paper and you're then faced with a long session with tweezers to get the bits out. (Miles Buckley)

Calliper Setting

Take a cheap plastic ruler and cut it into two pieces about 5 inches (125mm) long. Stick to your tailstock using double sided tape. It's very handy for setting callipers etc. I only had a clear ruler so I stuck some white paper on the back, again with double sided tape, before sticking it to the tailstock.

Double Sided Tape

Double sided carpet tape is great for sticking small pieces to a wooden faceplate. It works even better if you use two pieces - stick one piece to the faceplate and one to the wood. Rub them down well, peel off the backing and then push together - sticking "sticky to sticky".

Thread Chasing

Many tools "out of the box" have a "half tooth" on the leading edge of both male and female chasers. This should be ground away so there is a full tooth at the leading edge, otherwise they don't work properly. They should also be given an initial grind as they are usually not sharp out of the box. A quick pass over the grindstone will give the required edge and then hone, for example with a diamond file, until they need touching up on the grinder again.

Whitworth Tap Sizes for Small Threaded Items

If you want to screw together small items such as a small finial on a box you won’t be able to chase the female thread, because the hole is too small. The way to do this is to drill the appropriate size hole and then use a tap of the appropriate size.

The tap sizes are:

    • 3/8 inch Whitworth – 16tpi thread
    • 5/16 inch Whitworth – 18tpi thread
    • 1/4 inch Whitworth – 20tpi thread
    • 3/16 inch Whitworth – 24tpi thread

You’ll also need the appropriate size drill and you want a “bottom” tap. (If you tap steel it is usually done in 3 stages – with the bottom tap being the final tap used.)

You will also need to turn a short handle to hold the tap before you use it – don’t try to use it without a handle!

If you want to make threads this way just put the tap in a bit of wax to help with the thread cutting first. The male thread is cut in the normal way by hand.

Delaneys on Cross Street, Macclesfield sell taps and drills to suit.

Have You Cleaned Your Lathe Lately?

I only do this once in a while and it should probably be done more often. When was the last time you fettled up your lathe?

Remove all the nicks from the rest(s) by drawing a file down the length or rest it on your belt sander (don't forget to remove the arrises) then polish with fine wet and dry with a bit of WD40 used as a lubricant.

Clean the lathe bed, again with wet & dry and WD40, then polish with some paste wax.

Clean all the plates on the banjo and tailstock.

Take out the tailstock quill, clean it and lubricate with a few drops of 3-in-1 oil

Clean the Morse tapers out - again I use kitchen paper and WD40.

Clean your chuck - a bit of cellulose thinners on kitchen towel will remove the gunk.

Take off the jaws and give them a good clean - I use an old toothbrush. Get out all the dust in the holes that the bolts pass through.

Clean all the sawdust out of the little bolts that fasten the jaws to the chuck.

It took me about an hour but everything is a lot smoother now.

A word of warning - avoid spraying WD40 anywhere near the bearings as it will dissolve the grease. Yes, I did that many years ago on my old Record and had to buy a new set of bearings!!