Professionals and Amateurs Together

Running Lathe in Reverse


In what situations should a lathe be run with the motor reversed?—Tom Harris


Claude Dupuis replies: I’m in reverse very little. I will sand the exterior of a bowl in reverse and will reverse to remove a worm drive from a bowl blank.

Jim Forbes replies: This is very useful for improving the efficiency and results of bowl sanding. It is also helpful for bowl and hollow form internal turning when the tool position and or reaching would be unsafe. It is important to be sure that you can safely lock the chuck to the spindle with grub screws that will not damage the spindle threads. If you do not have locking screws on your chuck, do not reverse the lathe unless you are prepared to catch the chuck and whatever it is holding in the gut when you least expect it!

Jon Siegel replies: A lathe should be run in reverse when sanding, especially the first sanding pass after the chisel work is done. Then reverse again after each grit and one more time at the end. This makes the sanding go faster and will cut off the fibers more cleanly.

Sometimes turners run the lathe in reverse when boring vessels because that way the chisel is in a more natural position and you can see the point of the tool better. If you run a lathe in reverse be sure the chuck or faceplate is screwed on tightly so it does not come off. That would probably ruin the work and is very dangerous for the woodturner.

Tags: Woodturning