Use Diameter to Determine Turning Speed
I’ve just started turning spindles and vessels. What is the correct speed for turning them?
Mort Bell, Athens, OH
You want to go faster than you might think, because in general your tools leave a better surface the faster you turn. I use the formula RPM = 7,500/dia. to determine maximum turning speeds. But I’m a professional turner. If you aren’t comfortable turning at these speeds, feel free to slow down. Here’s one other caveat: Long, thin spindles tend to flex and whip from tool pressure, so dial back the speed significantly to help control it.
Just follow the formula. It works for most faceplate turnings, except for irregularly shaped chunks of wood. Turn those at slower speeds.
The same goes for spindles. The formula works as long as they’re less than 16 in. long. Slow down for anything longer, especially if it is less than 2 in. dia.