Fixed my Wolverine Vari-Grind Arm

I got a new spindle gouge, and discovered that it bumps on the huge “pocket” on the end of the Wolverine arm.


I’ve never really completely liked the huge V-pocket in that arm anyway.

I found a scrap of plastic (I think it’s Delrin, but it really doesn’t matter).  I sanded an angle on one end and used a countersink bit to drill a pocket.


Screwed that to the back of the arm with sheet-metal screws.


And now my gouges don’t bump the arm. Also, I think this pocket works much better than the original.


One screw goes thru the tube, and I ground off the other one (the lower one in these photos) so it won’t interfere with the existing pocket. I don’t plan to use that pocket, but I do loan my grinder to the club’s symposium and having the “expected” setup is probably useful for demonstrators.

Wolverine makes that pocket huge like that so you can drop the butt end of a tool handle in there.  Same reason the square bar comes so excessively long (I cut about a foot off of mine).  All the Wolverine advertisements show skews and roughing gouges being sharpened like that.  I think it’s a terrible idea – way too easy to have a gouge dig into the wheel and cause alot of damage (to the operator, the grinder wheel, and the gouge). Also, every time you sharpen, the tool gets shorter, which changes that angle.  Just get a platform and make some angle-setting jigs.  Much safer and pretty easy.

Bowl Bottom Center Finder

I made a center finder thing to mark the center of a chucked piece.  I often have a bowl or hollow form that has a tenon for my chuck, but no center mark.   If I want to reverse mount it, like in a jam chuck or vacuum chuck, it’s really helpful to know where the center is.


This tool fits right down into the spindle threads, and I can tap the knob to mark the center.

I took a scrap piece of wood and carefully turned a cylinder to just match the threads.  I then drilled a hole to match some scrap rod I had laying around.  I sharpened the rod to a point and epoxied a knob onto the end.



Goblet Repair

A client knocked over a goblet while dusting, and the stem broke. So I repaired it.

There was no way to put the stem back together, so I had to make an entirely new stem, matching the original. Fortunately I had a bit of Ebony sitting around, as that was the original stem material.


I usually attach my goblet stems with a small 1/4″ tenon. The bowl has a tenon that fits into a hole in the top of the stem, and the bottom of the stem has a tenon that fits into a hole in the base.

So the next step was to cut the broken stem. I made a jam chuck that just barely fit the base, and held it in with a few dots of hot-glue.


Then I cut off the broken bit of stem (making sure to remove all the glue) and re-drilled the tenon hole.


I attached the goblet burl to my vacuum chuck, using the broken stem to align it.


The vacuum chuck doesn’t hold very well on such a small piece (and also the burl had some holes that made it leaky). So I used plastic wrap and tape to secure it. Then it was again cut off the broken stem, remove any glue, and reform the tenon.


I then used the lathe to align and clamp the three pieces together. I use epoxy to glue the pieces together.



Sometimes my tools get magnitized.  Sometimes I’ll used a magnet to hold a chuck key to the headstock.  Sometimes it just happens for no apparent reason.  But when you don’t want your tool sticking to the tool rest, etc. you need to demagnitize it.

I made a demagnitizer from an old soldering gun.  I figured since the soldering tip is basically a short-circuit (a chunk of heavy nichrome wire), the transformer in the gun should be beefy enough to use this way.


I wound up some wire I had sitting around – it looks like 12 gague – and replaced the soldering tip with the coil.


To use it, I stick my magnetized tool through the coil, turn on the gun, and move it up and down the tool a couple times.  Then slide it slowly off the end of the tool.  The alternating current through the coil randomizes the magnetization of the tool, leaving it neutral.  If it still seems magnetized, just repeat the process.


Bug Hole Blaster

I seem to end up turning alot of wood with bug holes.  The bugs always leave behind gunk that I have to clean out.  That usually involves scraping with a dental tool and blowing out the holes with air.  Well I have found a way to make that a bit easier.

At this past year’s Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium, I was talking with Roper and he turned me on to this.  It’s a basketball ball inflater needle, with an adapter to fit it onto my an gun. I sharpened the end of the needle, so it blows air out the end and can dig bug gunk while blowing it out.  I still use a dental tool too, but this helps make the process a bit faster.


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 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.


Wood Turning by Dave Landers