Faster turning with preset calipers
To check your progress when spindle-turning several identical workpieces, adjust a set of calipers to each finished diameter you need.
This will eliminate the need to readjust one set repeatedly. Use your design of the piece as a guide to set the calipers and a strip of tape to identify the adjustment on each one. A cheaper alternative is to make several diameter gauges like that shown in the photo above.
Mount the workpiece to a multi-purpose chuck and secure the chuck to the lathe. Turn the inside of the work. Once you are ready to turn the outside, insert the tapered end of the jig into the opening in the work and, holding the auxiliary tailstock in place, advance the machine’s tailstock until it contacts the jig and holds the jig and work securely. Tighten the tailstock and finish the workpiece (above).
1 Making the tailstock
To support hollowed-out workpieces on the lathe, use an auxiliary tailstock like the one shown above. Turned from hardwood, this simple jig supports the workpiece at the rim only, and rotates along with the lathe’s tailstock, preventing vibration and burning of the workpiece. To make the device, first turn a cylinder from a blank about 4 inches in length, then shape the cone with a roughing gouge and use a skew chisel to smooth the cone and separate it from the waste (above). The size and taper of the tailstock will vary according to the size and diameter of the workpiece; a cone ЗИ inches wide at the base with a 60° taper suits most small work.
When spindle turning workpieces that require a sharp division between turned and square sections, such as the square pommel at the top of a chair leg, wrap a length of duct or masking tape around the blank at the transition line before turning the cylinder. The tape will help reduce tearout and provide a visual guide to where you should stop turning to preserve your square corners.