It’s possible to turn small items on any big lathe, but it may not be as user-friendly as a small machine if the tailstock and toolrest are heavy and clumsy. Most of my work is quite small and I knew I would be getting rid of my smaller lathe, so I made a point of turning spindles when ‘test driving’ the Titan 315 before I bought it.
Now I’ve had time to turn different items in my own workshop, I’m very happy with the result. I had a batch of spindles to copy, 40 mm maximum diameter and 300 mm long. Here are some before finishing.
Because I don’t have another rest the right length, I used the long asymmetric one. It needs a wooden strut at the thin end to stop vibration. I had no trouble at all. The rest holder and the tailstock slide freely and lock securely. A little bit of WD40 on the bed helps with this. A rub of wax on the top of the rest lets the tools slide smoothly. The spindles were rock solid between the centres. I didn’t feel at all that a smaller machine would be better for the job. I did find I shall have to take extra care if I go on loading the blanks without stopping the lathe when turning spindles. The powerful motor, heavy toolrest and solid grip mean I really don’t want to get my fingers caught!
Then I set up a larger piece – a reclaimed baluster made of pine, 500 mm long with a maximum diameter of 200 mm. I wanted to reshape it for another purpose.
I tried earlier to do this on my old Tyme Classic lathe but found it tough going. The Titan makes it easy, although the wood is very gritty and full of cracks.