Perhaps because of its simplicity, the spring-pole lathe is easily dismissed as a make-do device. This lathe, adapted from an old German technical encyclopedia, is no make-do. It's precise, portable, powerful, adjustable, adaptable, and self-contained. The two dead centers permit no play in the workpiece, and the direct drive of the cord wrapped around the wood loses no power in transmission, friction, or vibration. I want you to make this lathe.
I based the entire design on readily available 1 1/2-inch softwood plank. You'll usually find that the best quality wood at the lumberyard is saved for the widest construction timbers, from 2-by-1os on up. Find a tight-grained timber and rip it down to the widths required. The movable right hand puppet is glued up from two pieces of the 1 1/2-inch stock to give it greater body. This sandwiched construction makes it convenient to cut the through mortise for the wedge that holds it to the bed.
Ash and hickory do well for the spring poles, but whatever stiff wood you can find will do—use mop handles if you have to. Fast-grown hickory and oak is stiffer than slow-grown wood with lots of close growth rings, but remember that the opposite is true for pines. The connecting rod between the springs and the rocker arm can be wood or wire, but not something that will stretch and muddy the action. The ring around the two spring rods slides left and right and varies the spring strength from weak to wow! Saw a scrap length of 1/2-inch copper pipe in half down its length and flatten one half into a stout strip. Bend it to fit loosely around the two rods, drill through the overlap, and rivet it shut.
While you are at the hardware store looking for copper rivets, pick up two 1/2-inch hex bolts for the centers. You may also want a 1/2-inch bronze sleeve bearing for the rocker arm pivot. For the axle, you can usually find rods of 1/2-inch mild steel stock, or you can hacksaw a bolt to length. The tool rest has a few screws in it, and needs a carriage bolt, a nut, and some washers to make the adjustable connection to the lathe bed.
You can make centers with threaded shafts to adjust the pinch of the turning wood, but I think you're just as well off with centers fixed into the head and tail stocks. To vary the pinch on the spinning wood, you just tap the movable tail stock with a mallet or with the handle of your turning tool.
For this kind of dead, dead center, you'll first fit the hex bolt into the wood, then remove it, hacksaw off the head, and grind it to a point before screwing it back into place. Because you'll only be able to grip the headless bolt with pliers, the hole needs to be accommodating. Bore the pilot hole in the left-hand upright and thread the hex bolt into it. Back the screw out and file across a few threads to make it cut like a tap. Turn the bolt back in and out a few times—enough to be sure that it will fit in easily but snugly.
Saw the head off and file or grind it to as conical a point as you can by eye. The centers now have to be turned to perfect, polished cones, or they will quickly enlarge their seat in the end grain of the turning piece. I usually set the rough-filed piece in a post drill, a large hand-cranked drill press, and hold files and stones against it as it turns. Alternatively, you might make a V-trough to hold the bolt at an angle to a grindstone. Keep rolling the bolt in the V and you should be able to grind a pretty good point. Screw the completed center into the lathe head, then push the other lathe head against it to mark the place for the second center.
The drive cord always passes down the front of the workpiece, after wrapping twice around it, so that the wood turns toward you from the top as you push down on the treadle. A natural fiber cord frays very quickly from rubbing against itself. Synthetic cords wear better but look out of place. The best cord is round leather belting, such as that used for treadle sewing machines. Springpole lathes commonly have proper treadles too, usually a triangular set of sticks with one side hinged to the floor. I have become used to working with just a loose slat for a foot treadle. Whatever you use, make the treadle light enough that you're not fighting its inertia but stiff enough to keep the turning action lively and decisive.
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There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.