Angular Momentum is a Cruel Mistress

As much as I’d like to admit that I’m getting more skilled at the lathe, there are times that still remind me that I’ve got a quite a way to go. It’s very humbling.

This past weekend I thought I would try and make a vase out of an oak log about a foot long and 5-6 inches in diameter. Better still, I thought I would try using the spur drive instead of mounting it onto a screw plate. Like so many things, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So I found the centers, mounted it up between the spur drive center and the live center, locked it all down, and gave a manual turn to see if the tool rest was clear. Things looked good, so it turned the lathe on.

As somewhat expected, it was quite out of balance and needed a little adjustment before I was comfortable putting a tool to the wood. Not a problem, right? Just turn it off, adjust it, and try again.

Well, in reaching for the stop button I bumped the speed control and accidentally spun the wood up to well over 1200 rpm. I’m sure you can guess what happened…

That log went flying.

I proceeded to stop the log the only way physics knows how. I became the immovable object in the log’s flight path and I quickly became a classic physics problem regarding partially inelastic collisions. All that angular momentum translated into kinetic energy and impacted me right in the shoulder.

Ultimately, I’m fine. I’ve got a heck of a bruise and some scrapes now to remind me of this. Still, it scared the heck out of me, because I don’t think the face mask would have helped keep this off of my face if I was a few inches to the left.

Maybe I need one of these for the garage

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  1. Pingback: Showing the Wood Who’s Boss - Knotty Pleasures

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