Headstock Lock

My Powermatic 3520B (and Jet 1642) are lacking when it comes to locking or indexing the headstock. I don’t do indexed work, but do want to lock the headstock.  Usually, I want this when I’m sanding a section or otherwise want the piece held still while I work.

The provided option is a set screw that you have to wind into the indexing holes. Probably good for holding the shaft in place, but not easy to lock and unlock.

So I took an old drill bit of appropriate size and epoxied it into a handle I had laying around.


I tapered the end slightly, and now it fits into the indexing holes.  And I can lock the headstock in place quickly and easily.


Remote Control for my Lathe

I made a remote control for my Powermatic 3520B lathe.  I didn’t like reaching around a spinning chunk of tree to hit the controls – especially if things go south and I need to hit the off switch.

You can purchase a remote, but it’s just a shutoff switch, and seems a bit expensive.

So I turned the standard control pannel into a remote.

This sort of remoting should work with just about any VFD controled lathe.  I’ve done it on my Jet 1642 also.


I got a cable (about 10′).  You need 5 wires – cable usually comes with 6, so one doesn’t get used.  I think I used about 16ga.  It’s a low voltage control circuit, so doesn’t need much.

Next, I found a PVC electrical box that the control would fit on/in, and a mix of plumbing and electrical PVC parts to reduce the large opening down to a cable strain relief .


I cut an opening in the box’s lid for the lathe’s panel. The box had another outlet on the back, which I cut off and sealed up with some epoxy and a panel cut from a PVC outlet box.

Wiring is easy – the cable should fit thru the back of the headstock, where the other control cables go thru.  I suggest photos and notes of the wiring before you start, in case something gets confused. With the lathe unplugged, detach each wire and attach a wire from the cable.  Hook up the control panel to the same wires. Some terminal connectors and wire nuts are helpful here.  Get everything neat and secured inside the headstock, making sure it’s all out of the way of the belts.


Add a cover to the opening left in the headstock.  I made a cover from some 1/4″ ply, but I might go back and replace that with something from steel someday – I have found that I want to stick the control on the headstock sometimes, and the door to the belts just doesn’t seem sturdy enough to hold it up (I already replaced that plastic hinge once).


I added 4 rare earth magnets to the back, but didn’t do it well and the control wouldn’t sit flat on all 4. So I replaced that with a big round magnet screwed to the back of the box.  the only issue I have is bed ways on the 3520B are curved, and don’t let the magnet grab as securely as I’d like.

Trent Bosch Workshop


I just got back from a 3-day workshop with Trent Bosch.  I had a great time and learned alot – I hope I can remember it all!

I was able to make about 10 pieces, and tried to challenge myself on several of them.  It was different than turning at home – the purpose being learning and improving rather than simply making things.

I did some hollowing using Trent’s Visualizer, which is super-cool and fun to use.  I don’t think I could have successfully hollowed the pieces that I made without it – at least not as quickly and with the same confidence. I do think that using the Visualizer was probably helpful in learning what’s going on inside the hollowing process – hopefully that experience will translate to doing it the “low-tech” way.

If you are a wood-turner (or think you would like to be), I highly recommend taking a class.  Pick someone you respect or who teaches things you are interested in.  If you want a low-key, flexible, and fun class (with an emphasis on bowls and hollow forms), I recommend Trent’s course without hesitation.

Chuck Sizing Guides


A simple thing cut out of thin plywood.  A point on one end and a couple saw-cuts on the other to mark optimal/minimum size for a tenon and dovetail.

The half-circle lets me get this in place when I have the tailstock engaged.

The picture above shows dovetail sizing, which is marked wide enough that the jaws will go into the recess.  Below, you can see that the tenon mark matches the bottom of the jaws (widest part of the tenon).


I use these guides to either mark where to cut a tenon/dovetail, or to check (and adjust) the size after I’ve cut one by eye.

Grinder Platform Setting Jigs


I made these jigs to set the angles on my grinder platform. They have a flat edge that sits on the platform, and two points to register on the grinder wheel.


Making them is pretty straightforward. Below shows the geometry layout. I drew it on paper as illustration, but for the jigs I made, I actually drew the geometry directly on a the wood and cut it out.


I start with a 8″ diameter (4″ radius) to represent the grinder wheel. A straight line through its center marks “level”. Measure the desired angle (40 deg in this picture) from this line at the point where it meets the circle – this is the flat bit that rests on the platform. Next, you want 2 points to rest on the wheel (these are circled in the above picture). These two points and the flat for the platform are the only important bits. The rest can be cut however you like. I like a big hole for my thumb to hold the jig on the platform. It is also useful  for hanging the up jigs (on some pegs I’ve attached to the leg of my grinder stand).

The picture below shows the cutout jig sitting on the drawing, so you can see how matches.


Vari-Grind Setting Jig

I made a couple of jigs to reset my Vari-Grind to various angles for my different gouges.

IMG_3906.jpgIt is just a dowel and a block of scrap wood.  I flattened the top of the dowel so the knob will tighten snugly.  There is a flat face in the block of wood where the dowel is glued in: this face registerswith the corresponding part of the Vari-Grind.  The other important bit is the angle to register against the leg.  I setup my Vari-Grind and then cut that angle to match.


Another Airgun Hanger

Here’s another thing I use to hang my air nozzle on.IMG_3975

It’s just a scrap of wood with rare-earth magnets epoxied to the bottom so it will stick anywhere when I want the air nozzle within convenient reach.


Really handy when working the inside of a hollow-form and I’m using the air all the time.

Airgun Hanger

Pretty simple, but it’s been helpful. I added a big screw eye to a piece of scrap wood and attached it to the end of my lathe (using holes that were already there for attaching extensions etc). I put it on the headstock end because otherwise the hose was just underfoot too much.IMG_3960.jpg

Wolverine V-Arm Setting Jig


I set the arm where I wanted it and made the guide to match that location. I really have no idea what the dimensions are, just that they’re right for my gouges. They’re just made from scraps of Masonite/hardboard.  Two points touch the grinding wheel, and the other end sits in the V.

Since they register off the surface of the wheel, they actually set the distance from the wheel to the V.  Other jigs (like stop blocks) only set the extension of the arm from some point on the grinder stand, and thus will set different grinder angles if moved to another wheel or grinder that’s configured slightly differently. So I can use these on either side of either of my grinders and get the same setting at the wheel. I can also take them to a friend’s shop and setup their grinder for my gouges.


Tool Rack


This is my turning tool rack.  Some PVC pipe screwed to a board, attached to the wall over a narrow shelf.  The important bit (as I discovered with a previous attempt) is the gap between the bottom of the PVC pipes and the shelf, to let out any chips that get in the pipes.

The “business end” of the tool is up and exposed so I can find the tool I’m looking for.  The rack is mounted high enough that I’m not going to accidentially stab myself reaching for a tool.

Wood Turning by Dave Landers