bowl lathe poppets

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bowl lathe poppets

Postby trollwumple » Tue May 10, 2011 1:44 pm


I, finished Robin woods book last night, 2.00am, wife not pleased, "which I really enjoyed, nothing like reading a book which has been written by someone who knows and loves the subject he/she is writing about" , however I have a few questions in connection with the turning of large bowls or actually any bowl.

As I see it, the height of the centers above the bed is what determines the maximum size of the bowl which can be turned on any given lathe, the higher the centers the bigger the bowl.

Centres are fitted into poppets and as I understand it one poppet is usually fixed and the other is , movable, side to side and up and down, to allow for the mounting of the blank, which is turned by the mandrel which is fixed to the second center.

As the fixed poppet/head stock is what determines the maximun height of any given bowl, do you, when making a lathe, allow for a maximum size blank or is there a way of making the fixed poppet/headstock interchangable with centers which are either lower or higher, e.g, change the headstock for a 10" blank allowance etc..

Would it be better to make a headstock/poppet with different height holes and use a centre which can then be mounted in the hole which corresponds to the height of the bowl which you are turning, if you see what I mean, so giving a fixed headstock/poppet but with the ability to select the height at which the centre rests.

God I suddenly feel very confused, anyway any answers would be very welcome as I am just putting the finishing touches to my first lathe and any changes can easily be made now before the whole thing is fixed into the ground, also by height of bowl I am actually talking about diameter.


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Re: bowl lathe poppets

Postby Terence » Tue May 10, 2011 8:14 pm

the most important thing I think is that the centres are very stable. I dont think there is any need to make them adjustable. If you have the centres at 350mm for example you will be able to turn a huge bowl (eg 600mm diameter) but still have a poppet that is very stable. If you're centres were needlessly high above the bed they might be less stable. My lathe bed is at hip/pelvis height and my centres are at mid/low chest height. This has worked well for me.
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Re: bowl lathe poppets

Postby paul atkin » Wed May 11, 2011 4:58 pm

centres need to be set at a height that is comfortable for you to use, straight back etc etc. Adjustable height centres would compromise your working position and make you ache when working.

{the one with the pole of glee} morrigan 2008
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Re: bowl lathe poppets

Postby robin wood » Thu May 12, 2011 2:15 pm

As Paul and Terrence say really. My centres are probably about 12" over bed (never measured, rough guess could be more) but that would allow you to turn a huge bowl. Exactly the same set up works perfectly for a 4" diameter bowl, no need to change. Glad you enjoyed the book. bowls, books and courses
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Re: bowl lathe poppets

Postby jrccaim » Sat May 28, 2011 2:39 am

Solidity much more important than actual center height. True for any lathe. Solidity usually means mass -- that is so the force you exert with your foot goes into cutting the wood and not into moving the lathe. But one could bury the uprights in the ground. Haven't tried that one yet, but I maybe this summer...

And don't forget the tool rest -- if it flexes you will get exasperated. This is a flaw in my current lathe. Nice thing is, you can always fix it.
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