Pole Lathe 2000

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Pole Lathe 2000

Postby Robin Fawcett » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:23 pm

Has anyone who made one of Mike Abbotts Pole Lathe 2000 design got any feedback on it ?
I think that the time has come to make a new lathe for demos, shows etc and that one does look nice and portable.
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Postby gavin » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:57 pm

I'd make the beam thicker than in Mike's design. Guy Mallinson uses Mike's design on his £297.50 per weekend pole-lathing courses, but has beefed up the design considerably with thicker legs and thicker beam.

It really helps to have a velcro or leather strap to bind each end's two legs when you fold them together once you take the lathe down. Otherwise the legs just flop apart and are a jolly nuisance to transport.
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Postby Robin Fawcett » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:59 pm

'Scuse me Gavin but since you mention prices. You charge £102.50p per weekend more than Guy.
Thanks for the tips about Polelathe 2000 though . . .
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Postby gavin » Thu May 01, 2008 7:38 am

I have not seen the lathes Mike Abbott uses on his current courses. I can only recall that his lathes in 1987 ( when I did my first course with him) worked just fine.
Can any one advise if his current dimensions are different to those in his book? I am sure his current lathes must be rock-solid, else he would not make the success he does of his courses.

The key issues are that any lathe you build be rigid & firm, and that you can move it easily if you want. (We know the greater the weight of a bowl-lathe the easier it is to use, for it then absorbs the inertia of of the spinning work, and I think it helps to have inertia in a spindle lathe too.)

I do charge more than Guy. He teaches groups of 8 to 10 with an assistant. I teach no more than 2 at a time, and usually only one. But I look forward to the day there is demand for group bowl-lathing instruction! And I may pull that off when I get to Norway in August www.woodturningcruise.com - watch this space in Sept!
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Postby robin wood » Thu May 01, 2008 9:27 am

I have not used a mike Abbott 2000, and its a long time since I used one of his original designs.

Although they have both been very successful I have 3 problems with the two designs.

1 In the "old days" folk used to build their own lathes from what they had so there was a lot more diversity. I like to see lathes that are of different designs and show the makers ingenuity.

2 I think both lathes lack sideways stability, ie if you push along the line of the bed there is no triangulation. I know in spindle turning most of the force is forwards but I prefer a more stable structure with the legs splaying sideways as well as forwards and backwards, like a chair.

3 I don't like the fact they are both made from sawn planed wood, are we into greenwoodwork or not? Why not make a nice hewn wood lathe?
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Postby Mark Allery » Fri May 02, 2008 10:57 am

Morning all,

I've built 2 versions of polelathe 2000 since I started (is it only 3 years ago?).

When I built the first one I had just been on a 1 day course at the Weald and Downland museum (can I say its really good value at around £60 to £80 for the day :) ). The museum lathes are very traditional, their weight size and structure giving good stability and stiffness in all directions. But portable they are not!

My first polelathe 2000 - I built out of reused softwood timber from a skip - with the exception of a single planed 2x4 for the bed. I used the same 2x4 for the poppets and just spaced them off slightly to allow them to slide. I used an angle and bench grinder to make the centres from lengths of studding and a few coach bolts to put it together. A bit of old pallet for the treadle plate, a couple of metal hindges and more offcuts or softwood and off we go. Total cost to me about a tenner! Considering how little I knew - and how little I still know - I have to thank Mike Abbott for making it so achievable for a complete novice to build a lathe in a weekend and get going. I had to do it in the weekend as I was booked for a demo the next weekend. Talk about in at the deep end!

I very much agree with Robin W's points about stability - and also diversity of design.

I still use the softwood lathe for travelling to demos. It has major stability problems. I've taken to splaying the legs as much as I can before tightening and sometimes pegging down the legs. I probably also need to consider a hardwood toolrest or at least a metal stiffener.

But its a fundamental compromise as I see it. Massive stable lathes aren't very portable, whereas small, light and easily assembled designs aren't very stable. I remember at the 2006 BB watching the hereford team going for it and the lathe 2000 literally lifted into the air with most of the upstrokes of the treadle. For me the massive advantages are the simplicity of the design, ease of assembly and travel which outwreigh the disadvantages.

Somewhere in the Bodgers Gazette a couple of years ago I remember an article on a 'carry your own' lathe. The legs were intentionally splayed for stability and the whole design could easily be carried in one go. Might be worth checking the back numbers to find it?

I've noticed that many lathes are almost works of art or else are precision engineering. I also know people who like making lathes more than they enjoy turning. But I also enjoy demonstrating on something made out of old bits of reused wood that everyone can find - I hope that I have encouraged a few people to make their own as a result - very imperfect though it is. I keep meaning to make a much better lathe - but somehow the time and ability has eluded me thus far. My shave horse is even worse - but we won't go there now :-)

For last years bodgers ball I built a second lathe (so my brother-in-law had a lathe to use as he came over from Germany for it). I also needed it as I demonstrate most weekends through the season and I needed to avoid dismantling my set up in the shed each week - but this time I made a few alterations of my own. It's still very much a pole-lathe 2000. This time I made it from Timber I milled myself using a chain-saw mill. The legs are softwood but the bed and poppets are......wait for it....birch. What else?

I made longer legs as I found the legs designed by mike A to be a little on the short side. I used a slightly shorter bed - just due to the timber I had available, dried and vaguely straight. I'm still trying to get the centres to line up properly!

I normally use this lathe at home - in my neighbours open fronted old cartshed - and have started to bolt it to 2 upright beams that I have installed - which solves the stability problem.

I think those are the most important things I can remember to say on the subject of the mike abbott 2000 design. A great starting point as they instructions are very comprehensive, clear and its easy to build. It's been a big help in getting me started.

Next up - my birch bowl-lathe. Watch this space (but don't hold your breathe). Now I must climb back under the Landrover as its just failed its MOT in fine style and I'll be walking to the BB at this rate!


cheers

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Postby simon » Tue May 06, 2008 9:58 pm

Very much agree about using bits of wood you have got.
I recently made a lathe 2000 mostly out of salvaged 2x4s. The bed was part of a door frame and the poppets were made up from some beech worktop thrown out by someone redoing their kitchen.
It hasn't had a lot of use yet, and I haven't tried doing anything very long or heavy but for chair leg size stuff it's fine.
And if it does go wrong, I've got plenty of other bits of wood to patch it up with. :)
Make it, mend it, wear it out,
Make it do or do without.
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Postby robin wood » Wed May 07, 2008 7:57 am

Now I guess I was not thinking about skip wood and thinking that folk were going out and buying sawn wood from B&Q. Skip wood is a great idea and knowing that is what folk are using that makes the design a good one for making an accessible lathe. I guess for me coming from a forestry background round wood is virtually ree and square wood is expensive, for others it may be the other way round.
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Postby Bob_Fleet » Wed May 07, 2008 9:53 am

What's this talk about sawn wood?

This one was made in our local community woodland over a weekend.
Come and make our own on the last weekend of June.
We are charging £60 for materials and you make it with a bit of help. £30 for a shaving horse.
We're obviously poor deluded souls with no business sense in the South of Scotland but we enjoy doing it.
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Free camping, BBQ etc. New design for this year but not sawn wood either. If it works then it's a pole lathe.

The bed is a split log, poppets from roundwood and the whole thing is pegged and knocks down in a few minutes.
2 metal parts only and they're the spindles.

One compromise though - lateral stability achieved by a diagonal strut. It can be reversed if you want to work the other end but never have to in practice. New design overcomes this.

Image

Sorry but it's not coming to the BB but I'll see you there and take bookings for the weekend.
No need to make a lathe though, just bring your own or whatever greenwood things you do and join in the activities with like minded souls. All for free.

Now back to that debate about poles or bungee cord.
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Pole Lathe 2000

Postby benwillis » Fri May 09, 2008 5:10 pm

Made one a couple of years back, found it to be very good. Only suggestion I'd make is to use something good and solid (oak, ash) for the legs, or the whole thing's got a tendency to start taking off when you're peddling hard! Probably a truism for pole lathes generally, but certainly seemed to be the case with 2000.
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Re: Pole Lathe 2000

Postby cagsley » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:59 am

I was thinking of making a pole lathe 2000 in the summer. I will be felling an Oak in My woodland in a couple of weeks, If I Mill to near the dimensions required how much will the oak twist etc as it dries? How long should I leave it before building? I have only worked larch so far and know this seasons relatively quickly but not sure how soon I could use the oak. i intend to make a new shave horse from green oak as I don't think that needs the accuracy of a lathe and a little twisting may add character. I am also taking down a very large birch, is Birch better for this use than oak??

I hope to provide some answers one day as you have all inspired me (may be a long time in future though).

I have just finished my first spoon (xmas pressies spoon knife and a carving knife) so another hobby to take up my time.

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Re: Pole Lathe 2000

Postby Robin Fawcett » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:26 am

cagsley wrote: I will be felling an Oak in My woodland in a couple of weeks, If I Mill to near the dimensions required how much will the oak twist etc as it dries? How long should I leave it before building?


Oak takes a long time to season and it's almost impossible to predict how it will move as it dries. If you slab it (ie just slice the log into planks) most of the boards will tend to "cup" to some degree except for the one in the middle which will be "quarter sawn". Also the tannin in Oak will affect any steelwork such as the crank and centre in the poppets.

The birch may be a better bet - also good for spoons and utensils !
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Re: Pole Lathe 2000

Postby gavin » Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:54 pm

cagsley wrote:If I Mill to near the dimensions required how much will the oak twist etc as it dries? How long should I leave it before building?

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek I suggest you use wood like it grew on trees. It seems you may have plenty to use, so why not make one now from the milled green oak? And another 2 years later when your 50 mm (?) planks may have stabilised? Take photos of the process for your own records, and also DO post them on this forum. We'll all learn something. If you have never done a process before your experience will still be of value to others - at the very least it will be motivation for someone to think "I could do that too!"

If you have Oak sufficient, why not try riving the pole lathe 2000 parts as well as milling them? It will take a long time to season ( an inch per year of thickness ) so why not get going on it now? Since riving is something anyone can do with minimal kit, it would be be interesting to see how it goes.
Oak will last for ages outdoors so it will give you more shed space if you ever want to leave the oak lathe in the rain.

cagsley wrote: I am also taking down a very large birch, is Birch better for this use than oak??

It will be lighter so more inclined to move when you pedal. If you leave it outdoors it will rot. I would say not better. But certainly more easily worked. So you could build this one first from green milled birch. I am sure you are thinking " I only want ONE lathe." But I reckon you'll build one, and soon see how you'd like to have altered it. So build another. If you have more than one lathe, you can then have a pole-lathe party ( always good fun!) Sounds like you have a chainsaw, so it will be pretty quick.

cagsley wrote: i intend to make a new shave horse from green oak as I don't think that needs the accuracy of a lathe and a little twisting may add character.

If you do shows and wish to transport it, you'll be glad of birch for its lightness. Apart from that I'd go for oak, because you can leave it outdoors and it won't rot. Sheds are NEVER big enough, so putting things outdoors increase your floor space.
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Re: Pole Lathe 2000

Postby Follansbee » Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:02 pm

Robin Fawcett wrote:
cagsley wrote: I will be felling an Oak in My woodland in a couple of weeks, If I Mill to near the dimensions required how much will the oak twist etc as it dries? How long should I leave it before building?


Oak takes a long time to season and it's almost impossible to predict how it will move as it dries. If you slab it (ie just slice the log into planks) most of the boards will tend to "cup" to some degree except for the one in the middle which will be "quarter sawn". Also the tannin in Oak will affect any steelwork such as the crank and centre in the poppets.

The birch may be a better bet - also good for spoons and utensils !


Robin, Robin, Robin - how can you call yourself an Englishman after seeming to besmirch oak in such a way? the ONLY place I would take birch over oak for anything is woodenware. I don't even burn birch it's so useless...

& oak is the wood that built your country, isn't it?

My lathe was built from recycled house parts, so not green when it was built. but if the timber is cut out & left to dry, then it should be a first-rate lathe. I would saw them oversize, sticker them & wait.

NOW, Robin - my next question for you. I know you can't post pictures of the lathe you saw at the Science Museum. But what timber was it? My money's on oak....
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Re: Pole Lathe 2000

Postby Robin Fawcett » Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:48 pm

You're probably right about the brass polishers lathe Peter but it is very black. Perhaps you'll be able to tell from this picture which I'll stick my neck out and publish here.

Photo courtesy of the Science Museum.
Image
My money's on it not having been made from Oak which had only been felled a couple of months but we'll never be able to prove that will we !?
As for besmirching Oak I was merely giving pragmatic advice to someone who's just starting out. Of course as an Englishman I love Oak - I think it's in our genes. Interestingly we never burn it on our open fire as it spits terribly. I'd take the birch any day - it burns quickly but very brightly.

Not sure what's happening with the photos we took of the lathe. We asked for permission to publish them here and I sent another email later on but never heard back from the Science Museum. I sent my photos to Matt Jarvis who came with us and I thought he was going to choose the best and that we had decided to "publish and be damned". Hopefully he'll post them in The Old Lathe thread and not here.

Matt . . . Matt ... are you there ?
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