new pole lathe

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

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new pole lathe

Postby Darrell » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:24 pm

Hi all,

Pretty quiet around the forum lately, so I thought I would post some of my progress.

I was at the Bodgers Ball in 2015, and I got to have a go on a number of lathes. And I decided that I wanted to build a new lathe at home. My old one was built 17 years ago, after seeing one other lathe, and mine was made of scrap and workshop detritus. It did, however, work. This made me a believer, and convinced me that anything even remotely lathe-shaped would do the job. I persevered with my awful lathe for ever so long, and then I was overwhelmed and inspired by what I saw at the Ball. I took lots of pictures of people's lathes, so I had plenty of great ideas awaiting my eventual lathe build.

Finally, I completed enough of my outstanding to-do-list items and I had time for a new lathe. I contacted one of my Bodger acquaintances (Kevin) and he very kindly sent me a lot of pictures and descriptions of his lathe and how it was built. Armed with a much better idea of how to put together a lathe, I ended up with this on my front lawn this week:

Image

I have to make a better tool rest, the one pictured is literally a couple of pieces of scrap lumber laid across. The neighbours didn't stop or look or ask, they have seen enough strange things in my yard over the years (like the forge and the trebuchet) that they are not surprised by anything I do now.

"There's one in every neighbourhood. In mine, I'm him."

Darrell
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Re: new pole lathe

Postby Darrell » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:33 pm

Since I wanted to be able to use my new lathe indoors as well as out, I needed a recoil that didn't require driving stakes into the ground or attaching poles to ceilings. I have a Bodger's Muddle I built some years ago, and it does work OK, but this time I thought I would try a bungee.

I don't like the bungees with big hooks on the end. I know a one-eyed fellow who can tell you exactly how dangerous those hooks can be. So I want just plain rubber rope, so to speak, that I can tie on to the lathe uprights. My local hardware had spools of bungee cord available online, so I dropped in and (of course) they had none in stock but they ordered it for me. In the meantime I cut a pair of hop hornbeam poles (locally called "ironwood", tough & springy, and very dense) and clamped them to the lathe uprights. Then I bored a pair of 5/16 inch holes for carriage bolts & wingnuts to hold the poles in place. This seems solid, but we shall see...

A friend emailed me and said there was a pile of wood down the street, about 3 blocks away from me. He said he thought it was a big pine tree they took down. I drove over in the van and *holy carp* someone cut down a very large beech tree. And here I am looking for turning stock. I wrangled a relatively clear section about 10 inches in diameter and 16 inches long into the back of the van. Good for chair and stool legs. I also grabbed another piece, about 10 inches thick and oval in section, about 16 X 20 inches. That one will be set up as a knife & axe throwing target.

I set about splitting the beech into smaller bits for chair leg blanks. Started with a couple of wedges to split it in half. Then quarters. Ah, there's a bad knot in this quarter, so it becomes firewood. Switching to the froe now, the heart wood gets split off, and the balance gets split into kind of leg sized blanks. Some runout ruins a few pieces but I end up with a dozen good blanks, and a couple of marginal ones.

Off to the shaving pony (like a small shaving horse that I clamp on my woodworking bench) and the drawknife to get the blanks mostly round. I use a trick one of the Bodgers showed me, a washer and pencil to draw a circle on the end of the rough blank. This gives me something round to aim for with the drawknife. It works a treat, and I soon have a bucket full of round-ish leg blanks. I put a coat of glue on the ends to keep them from checking, as I doubt I will get to them for at least a week.

So, what am I making? Stools I guess. So I need seats. Another session of rummaging through the wood rack and offcut bins for suitable stock. I glued up a couple of pieces of 2-by stock and ended up cutting out three 12-inch diameter circles. Cleaned up the edges with the drawknife and spokeshave. And then used a set of dividers (the one I marked out the circles with) to set out the locations of the three legs.

All this stuff went into a box, waiting for the bungee cord to be delivered. Finally picked it up on Friday night. Saturday we had a big family dinner planned, so messing about in the shop was not an option. Sunday morning I dragged the lathe parts out of the garage and started setting it up on the front lawn. Pete (neighbour across the road) was outside working on the bulkheads for the sailboat he is building in his dining room & living room. He came over to watch my antics and ask some questions. I showed him how the lathe worked, he was impressed, and we went back to work on our respective projects.

Here's the new lathe with the Bungee recoil:
Image

I had to look up and learn a new knot to tie the bungee cord onto the hornbeam poles. I needed something that would not undo itself when put under load and stretched back and forth. First thing I turned was a mallet for banging in wedges and adjusting recalcitrant inanimate objects. That worked out OK, so I set the poppets up for my leg blanks. I turned three legs, and quickly discovered that any skill I may have once had with a skew chisel was completely forgotten. What a mess.

I persevered and completed the three legs, and they will look OK as part of a rustic stool. I hope that my skills will improve a bit before I get to the bottom of that bin of turning blanks. I'll let the tenons dry a bit before I assemble the stool. I feel like I should not post this picture, but I must accept the good with the bad, so here goes:

Image

Darrell
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Re: new pole lathe

Postby HughSpencer » Thu Sep 29, 2016 5:40 pm

Nice one Darrel!

I like to set stuff up in the garden. Neighbours soon get used to having a nut case living nearby.
I'm hoping to get back on the lathe more now. I drove some silly distances this summer. Boston to Toronto and back visiting friends and family. Very jealous of all the wood and space in north America. Then spent a week in Lithuania where I had a go at baking sour dough rye bread in a traditional oven and had a play with a loom that belonged to the owner's great grandmother. There is a museum the shape of Lithuania where they have regional houses placed in the relevant parts. Some crafts people who demonstrate old crafts and lots of guides dressed in traditional costume. The guy on the pole lathe didn't know much about what he was doing :-)
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Re: new pole lathe

Postby Bob_Fleet » Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:00 pm

Nice one Darrell.
Remember to leave the ends of the stool legs a little larger than the prospective hole you'll fit them into.
When they've dried and warped and shrunk etc you can then accurately round the end inch or two of them to fit.
Not too much wood to take off when dry so it isn't a chore.
Enjoy
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Re: new pole lathe

Postby anobium » Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:37 pm

Bungee cord is available from marine chandlers by the metre and is probably better quality than that used for luggage elastics.
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