Very long shaft

discussion of the niceties of turning on a bow, bungee or pole lathe.

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Very long shaft

Postby Kaven » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:31 pm

Hi, I would like to ask about how to turn a very long shaft (several meters long) on a pole-lathe. As far as I know, medieval spear shafts, tournament lances and flag shafts should be turned out of greenwood poles. However I can't imagine turning such a long thing between centers. Was something like a modern lunette available in medieval times, or did they use some different technology?
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:04 pm

I don't know, but it seems to me that a coppiced pole worked up with a draw knife (likely in a 'ladder' style shaving horse) would be a more efficient way to do that. The whip on 3 meters (9 ft) would be horrible.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby 81stBRAT » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:06 pm

Draw knife first then use a rounder, if you have too make one or two yourself another good exercise in woodcraft, plenty of post on rounder's and how to make them.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Kaven » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:54 am

81stBRAT wrote:Draw knife first then use a rounder, if you have too make one or two yourself another good exercise in woodcraft, plenty of post on rounder's and how to make them.
Richard


That was first thing I thought of, but by rounder or drawknife you cannot make some "better" tournament lance like this: http://www.weapons-universe.com/Swords/ ... _Lance.jpg . Also spear shafts should be narrower near the spearhead, and I am really not sure if simple medieval rounder is able to gradually change diameter. When searching inet, I also got some hints that shafts really should be turned.

Just using drawknife without rounder is also possible for simple shafts, but as far as I know, many shafts were too smooth for that. Smoothing them on lathe would not be such a horrible work - just smoothing, nothing more.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby davestovell » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:09 am

You could maybe try a Trapping Plane made by : http://www.ashemcrafts.com/products_trapping_plane.aspx

There is also a video of one in use here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VmX58KQAcs
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Davie Crockett » Fri Dec 20, 2013 3:37 pm

Also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNv5FhFI3sU There is a floating belt driven chuck on this, but a treadmill or other drive mechanism (Waterwheel) would have been used in medieval times. Skip to 3:40 to see the chuck and rounders.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Kaven » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:57 pm

Well, I never thought of something like trapping plane, but it really seems possible. Rotation in medieval times could be even acquired from asistant turning the pole directly with some sort of wheel attached to the end of pole ... It would be slower, but possible. Waterwheel is not available everywhere.

I don't know if this was really used, but I can imagine it far better then turning 3m pole between centers on pole lathe. Thanks for information!
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Davie Crockett » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:19 pm

Reading a wiki article...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance It appears the type of lance you depicted were made to shatter on impact and were often hollow. Which also begs the question of how long holes were drilled.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Kaven » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:04 pm

I would expect something like a long gimlet (or auger? I'm not sure about the English word). Tool like this is used for drilling Slovakian national musical instrument called "fujara" - some very unillustrative pictures of drilling are here: http://www.fujarka.cz/vrtani.php . Fujara is usually about 2 meters long, which would be enough for "shatter zone" of tournament lance.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby goldsmithexile2013 » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:22 pm

Davie Crockett wrote:Reading a wiki article...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance It appears the type of lance you depicted were made to shatter on impact and were often hollow. Which also begs the question of how long holes were drilled.


I remember reading in the village carpenter where they used elm logs to make water pump cylinders. They used a massive auger that needed 2 men to turn it. It always entered, and exited, dead centre. Which is remarkable skill on the part of the carpenters. The 2 driving handles were about 4 feet long and the chips steamed as they came out the hole as it was being formed.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:26 pm

I researched the the settlement of Voisey's Bay a few years back. One of the books I used contained a long passage, quoted from one of the original inhabitants, giving description of how they made water pipes with a very long (can't quite remember the length) twist auger that the Moravian mission supplied, to irrigate the houses. It was a job given to young boys to turn the handles. I imagine they did not enter and exit dead center every time. The old timer who told the story described it as slave's work.
Last edited by AlexanderTheLate on Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby Bob_Fleet » Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:21 am

Previous post showing a spoon auger being used to make an elm pipe.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby jrccaim » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:26 am

OK, let me stay on topic. How do you turn a lance in a pole lathe? Well, a lance is something like 4 meters long (12 feet). It is tapered, and in real combat had a steel head. The average pole lathe is maybe one meter between centers so right away we have a problem. BTW ash was the favorite material for lances in the middle ages. This started me off on a long chain of thought. If indeed they turned lances in the middle ages on a pole lathe how did they do it? I am not there yet; but I will share the thinking.

In a modern lathe, the spindle is hollow. So on a big (300 mm+ center height) lathe you might be able to fit the butt of the lance through the lance through the hole in the spindle and turn it. I have seen 5 or 6-meter propeller shafts turned that way. But not on a pole lathe, because we turn between centers, so we then need about 4 meters between centers. After some thought (I welcome adverse criticism!) I think you would need to build a pole lathe long enough in the bed to take the lance. This is not impossible. But would have to be very solid indeed, as heavy as a bowl lathe. Even that is not enough. A 4 meter shaft will "whip" like an angry dragon. You will need some steady rests, I would guess about one every meter. Again not impossible, but not your standard bodger's stuff. My conclusion is if indeed they did turn lances in the middle ages, they used pole lathes with very long beds and steady rests. Lance making was a specialized trade, I am sure, so a purpose-built pole lathe complete with steadies is not out of the question. It would be quite an investment of time and effort to build such a "lance lathe" and in truth, the market for lances is rather slender these days :) but it was otherwise in "days of yore.'"

If you shave the lance on a horse (as previous posts suggest) it is much easier; I wonder more than ever how they really did build lances back then. Maybe Sir Galahad used shaved lances for practice, and for the tough stuff he went to Sam the pole lathe turner with the big lathe? Fun to speculate.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby AlexanderTheLate » Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:54 am

For sure that there would be some record of lathes that big, particularly if they were used regularly to produce lances. Really, it seems to me that shaving the lance is a much more efficient way of producing large amounts of them.
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Re: Very long shaft

Postby jrccaim » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:45 am

AlexanderTheLate wrote:For sure that there would be some record of lathes that big, particularly if they were used regularly to produce lances. Really, it seems to me that shaving the lance is a much more efficient way of producing large amounts of them.


You have a point, but oh, no there wouldn't necessarily be a record. For one thing, in the middle ages most people couldn't read, much less write. For another "trade secrets" were big. So my imaginary lance maker (Sam) would not document his procedures even if he could. Still less draw you a picture. The clergy could read and write -- some of them, anyway -- but were not into documenting trades. Notice that Roubo's book L'art du meunisier did not appear until the 17th century or so, to my knowledge the earliest book on woodworking. Long after the middle ages.

I agree that shaving is the easiest way, but remember a lance is four meters or maybe even more long. I do not have Sir Galahad's e-mail so I cannot ask him :) , but maybe he used a longer lance to hit his opponent first :) I do not know whether anyone has tried to shave a 4 m pole on a horse. I have tried say 2 m and it is almost impossible. The thing whips around like a demented snake. And remember a lance is tapered. This is why it would be very difficult to use a rounder on it. You would need a lot of rounders to do a proper taper.

OK, I venture a guess. How would I do it if I were Sam? Well, I would build a jig much like a pole lathe, with centers at butt-height plus a bit. It would have to be 4m or long whatever the regulation length is. Waist-high. I would have a clamp to hold the work steady while I shaved. But the work would be held between centers. Rive the blank from ash. Shave to octagon. Then taper. In fact, a very long chair leg. Then work it down to circular or at least hexadecagon; probably good enough for tournament work. Maybe if I were very clever I would have a pole lathe arrangangement for final polish. This is reconstructive archeology :) and people make a living at it! I am an engineer and I find this sort of mental exercise fascinating.
But it is still a guess.

It is interesting that the art of making chain mail has survived (in fact I have more or less learned it; see my blog); people will make you a full suit of armor, but the art of lance-making seems to be lost. If it has survived I am unaware of it. In this country we have the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) but while they shoot arrows at each other and bash around with swords, they do not do jousts. Possibly because it costs a great deal to maintain a horse. I will have to do some more research.
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