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Step 8: Turning Long Section

While turning the long section, you'll want to cut slowly and not too deeply. If you cut too deeply and your tools cause the wood to shift at all, that would throw off your centricity and cause you to cut off-axis. It might look fine when you take the wood off the lathe, but it would manifest when you put the top on your slimline pen and you notice the tip isn't straight. Rough out your shape slowly, and turn up the speed as necessary to avoid catching on the wood. Be especially careful while using a spindle gouge to make deep cuts. The wood may "chatter" as you get thinner and thinner: this will cause uneven grooves in your wood from it flexing. To avoid this, go slowly and if it gets too bad, consider using a steady rest if you have access to one. This shouldn't be needed if your wood is less than ~6in long.

Below is an example of what knocking your part off-axis looks like. You can see ghostly projections around the part since the bottom section is no longer concentric with the turning axis. Since I had so much material still (still roughing out the wood), it wasn't a big deal: I could still remove material to make everything concentric again. You can imagine that if I had less wood it would be a different story: removing material would then make everything too thin to the point of snapping, not to mention increasing the chance of wood catching from the uneven cut.

As I got the hang of things, I realized that its helpful to sand and finish while you can. Thus, even if the full shape weren't finished yet, I would stop to sand just the top portion. This is so that if anything gets knocked off axis later or the wood snaps off, I could at least have intricate details sanded nicely. If I need to sand on a drill press (described later in step 14), I would not be able to reach into crevices and get as nice a finish. Below, you can see that the top portion is decently sanded even though the part isn't finished. Note that the end is still thick: I like to keep the ends thick and finish them first, before going back to make any part in between narrower. This is to prevent snapping as much as possible, though it is time consuming.

Speaking of sanding, let me talk about that for a bit...