Wood lathe work is a type of woodwork that requires a great deal of precision and accuracy. With a keen eye, a woodworker can perform all sorts of details and designs onto her work piece to give it a polished and professional look. One way in which even amateur woodworkers can perform this type of precision is through the use of faceplates, a necessary and time-tested accessory to any wood lathe workshop.
A wood lathe faceplate is an accessory on a wood lathe. Often affixed at the end of the lathe spindle, the faceplate holds the work piece firmly in place and can be turned on the spindle with more convenience and accuracy. The work piece is attached to the faceplate in two ways, (depending on the type of lathe and faceplate being used): 1) T-nuts can be screwed into the faceplate, attaching the workpiece firmly onto the plate, or 2) the workpiece is attached by threading it into holes on the plate.
The faceplate functions in two different ways. First, to carve or sculpt a workpiece with uniformity, it's necessary that the piece stay firmly in place. Once attached to the faceplate, the workpiece is not only affixed in place but it can be manipulated by controlled spinning, allowing the worker greater freedom and control with his carving and sculpting tools. The faceplate also matches the maximum amount of diametric swing space on the lathe, allowing for greater precision in the work.
The effects of a wood lathe faceplate are enormous. While the most conventional and primitive feature of the wood lathe (faceplates have been a part of wood lathe construction as far back as the Egyptian era), the plate creates the best and most important benefit to any wood lathe work. It allows far greater precision and accuracy in that work. The carver or sculptor can create designs that are uniform in size, shape or form, giving the work a polished and professional look.
Wood lathe faceplates come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the size of the wood lathe and the type of work being performed. Generally, faceplates are circular in design and are often made of cast iron or chrome plate. They have various sized holes in which the workpiece can be threaded, though most workpieces now can be attached to plates using T-nuts. For jobs with specific needs, special plates can be designed out of wood or light alloy. While most plates are attached to the end of the lathe spindle, some can be attached at the center of the lathe, again depending on the type of work being performed.
There are three types of faceplates to take into consideration when buying accessories. A dog plate is generally the smallest of the faceplates available and is usually used to hold a bent tail dog in place while working. The conventional faceplate has a variety of holes that provide different kinds of support. The slotted faceplate is thus called because of the shape of the holes or wedge holders on which to attach workpieces to the plate.