Recommended Lathe AccessoriesThere are many things needed for the lathe that don’t necessarily fit into nice neat categories. I’m going to call these items, lathe accessories.

Take a look at this list and think about the projects you create on your lathe. There has probably been a time while you were turning and you needed a special part to complete the task. That is what this page is designed for.

Hopefully, you will discover the lathe accessory you need to complete a particular task in advance, and you’ll be set. If not, this list will be here for you.

Below is my list of  Recommended Lathe Accessories. I’ve included Amazon links so you may check the current price and availability.

Live Centers

Live centers attach to the tailstock and have bearings that spin freely with the rotation of the lathe. Live centers are used to hold a bowl blank secure while turning and can provide additional support and stability.

I use a Robust Live Center which has a #2 Morse Taper or  MT2 as my main live center. The Robust Live Center also has a Center Cone Set available which includes two different sized cones. These are great for turning the delicate openings of bowls and hollow forms.

I also use a Hurricane 60° Cone Live Center MT2. This same live center is also available in a #1 Morse Taper model if your lathe tailstock is an MT1.


Drive Centers

Drive centers, unlike live centers, do not have bearings but are rather fixed and do not spin freely. The drive center, sometimes also called a dead center, is usually placed in the headstock Morse Taper hollow and friction keeps it in place. The lathe knockout bar is used to dislodge drive centers from the headstock.

For mounting bowl blanks to the lathe, I use a Four-Prong Drive Center to get a good grip on the bowl blank. A Set of Lathe Drive Centers is handy to have on hand because it allows several different options for mounting a piece to the lathe.


Adapters

When I first started turning, I had no idea what size thread was used for faceplates and chucks. I wondered did specific manufacturers make their equipment a certain size and does that fit on all lathes. How do you know?

There are a few standard sizes for the headstock spindle. Learn more about identifying lathe parts by reading this article.

Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it first seemed. Isn’t that true of so many things?

If you start out with a bench top lathe that has a 1″ diameter by eight thread count headstock spindle and then purchase a lathe with a different diameter and thread count headstock, everything is fine. You can simply use an adapter to accommodate your equipment.

There’s no need to abandon your older gear because of an upgrade. Look at the following adapter chart and select what you need.

If an accessory is not seating completely flat, use a plastic washer to fill the space. Without a washer, the bowl blank will vibrate and cause issues.

Headstock SpindleAccessory SizeLink
1 1/4" x 8 TPI1" x 8 TPIClick Here
5/8" 8 TPI1" x 8 TPIClick Here
1" x 12 TPI1" x 8 TPIClick Here
M33 x 3.51" x 8 TPIClick Here
3/4" x 10 TPI1" x 8 TPIClick Here
1 1/2" x 8 TPI1" x 8 TPIClick Here

Tool Rests

In addition to the hardened top edge straight tool rest that came with my lathe, I use a 12″ Exterior Curved Tool Rest and 12″ Interior Curved Tool Rest. Both of these tool rests have a one-inch diameter post.  For 5/8″ diameter tool rest posts, take a look at this Large 8.5″ Bowl Rest.

Measure the diameter of the hole of your tool rest post. Make sure you order the post diameter that best matches. All of these tool rests feature a steel hardened top edge and rarely, if ever, require maintenance or filing.


French Curl Tool Support

This is the curved tooled rest I use with the Jet 1221VS lathe. The French Curl Tool Support gives me good access to the inside of bowls. The curve allows my gouge tip to get as close as possible to the bowl surface which gives me a stable, controlled, smooth cut.


Tailstock Extension

There are times when you need a little extra reach from your tailstock. This MT2 to MT2 tailstock extension (Morse Taper 2) is just the ticket when a bowl blank fills up the lathe swing area, and you need to offset the banjo just a bit. I also use my MT2 to MT2 Tailstock Extension to reach in and support the bowl center while I’m coring out multiple bowl blanks.


Jacob Chuck

The Jacob Chuck or drill chuck is a wood lathe accessory that can be mounted on either the headstock or the tailstock. The Jacob Chuck has a Morse Taper connection and simply slides in place. A knockout bar will dislodge the chuck from the headstock.

A Jacob Chuck is typically used to attach a drill bit. One purpose for attaching a drill is to core out the initial center material on an end-grain bowl blank.


Lathe Light

Good quality light and adjustable light are essential while turning bowls, both during the turning and finishing phases. For more detailed lathe light information, see this article.

On my lathe, I use a Moffatt Flexible Arm Lamp which is attached to an arm on my lathe. This lamp is easy to move and adjust to any location. A different version of the Moffat lamp is also available that incorporates a screw clamp for easy mounting. Moffat as offers a lamp with two mounting holes, so the light can be attached to a fixture, stand, or any other surface where two bolts can be fastened.

I recommend the Moffat lamps for several reasons, but mainly the strong, flexible arm holds the lamp in position and doesn’t vibrate or swing around while turning.

At my sharpening station I use a Magnetic Base LED Task Lamp to properly illuminate the workspace. This light is critical for determining if the tool being sharpened is done correctly. This magnetically mounted lamp is ideal for smaller benchtop lathes as well.

If mounting a lamp directly to your lathe is not ideal, try using this flexible floor lamp to illuminate your work area. These bright lamps can be moved freely and light specific areas very well.


Calipers

In the process of making bowls, it’s a good idea to check wall thickness frequently. The fingers are the best way to gauge this thickness at first. Once the bowl gets too deep, and fingers won’t reach, that’s when good calipers come into play.

I have several different calipers I use throughout my bowl making process. The simple Large Pincher Style Calipers do the job every time.

The more bowls I make, the more variations of calipers I need. This Three-Piece Caliper Set is a fantastic all-around way to cover many different bowl styles, shapes, and sizes. I use one of these three or a couple of them, almost every time I turn a bowl.


Thin Cuts

When it’s time to remove tenons or part larger turned pieces, a thin kerfed saw is ideal. I love my Japanese Pull Saw. The fine tooth count and the thin yet rigid steel cut so smooth and precise. Every time I use this saw I want to explore making detailed Japanese joinery. Ha! I’ll stay focused on wood bowl turning for now. This pull saw quickly and safely removes tenons or wood joints with little effort.


Measurements

Frequently, I check the bevel angle of my bowl gouges to make sure I’m not drifting away from my desired angle. I use a simple metal adjustable locking protractor to accomplish this task. The nice thing about this protractor is the thumb screw lock in the middle. I can lock down the desired angle and see if my bowl gouge bevel is matching up.

If you’d prefer to do things a bit more digital, or if reading a manual protractor is difficult, try out this cool digital protractor. Just set the angle to match your bowl gouge bevel angle, and the angle reading appears like magic.


Scribing

Marking the size and location of tenons and mortises is an important task that needs to be precise. I use a high-quality divider to do this important job. Once set to the proper chuck dimension, the divider can be used over and over to mark bowl bottoms clearly and precisely.

If you’d prefer a more economical version of these dividers, try out this comparable divider.

A little tip about the divider and chuck sizes. I have three different chuck jaws sizes. On the back of my workbench, made of wood, I have made a small gauge with four holes. The left hole is the constant and the other three are the sizes of each of my chucks. So, if I need to mark for my medium-sized chuck, I place the left leg of the divider in the far left hole and adjust until the right leg matches the middle hole. Learn more about making tenons and making mortises.


Lathe Maintenance

Maintaining the lathe is very important and easily overlooked. In my article that covers the topic of wood lathe maintenance, I explain in detail all the steps needed to keep your lathe running at peak performance.

Here are some of the products I use to maintain my lathe and discuss in the article.

    

 

 

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