VIII. Centering Stock for
There are several devices for sale which are supposed to help you find the
center of a piece of stock that you want to turn in your wood lathe. And they
work just fine, as long as the stock is round or square.
But usually the piece I want to turn is NOT square or round. It is likely to be
almost any shape. Like the piece shown below.
So how do I find then center of irregularly shaped stock?
I use a pair of dividers.
I set the dividers to an approximate size and put one leg on the approximate
Then swing the divider to another side. Then check all 4 sides and adjust the
divider until you have found the largest circle you can draw. Push the divider
leg into the wood to mark the center.
Now draw the circle. I do this on both ends of the piece. If there is a defect
or damage to the wood I can often move the center on one end to avoid it,
particularly on a handle where one end is going to be small anyway.
Now I double check to make sure the stock is big enough for its intended use.
I use a center drill on the tailstock end where I normally use a live center. (A
live center is one which has bearings inside and spins with the stock. A dead
center does not turn.)
On the drive end of the wood the mounting method depends on how I intend to
drive the piece, but I always have to have at least a small, shallow hole
drilled for reference.
I bought and made several different devices for this, but in the end I found
that my trusty dividers are easier and more certain than any other method.
As always, your mileage may vary.