A lathe, my dearest, an ole time treadle lathe.
We looked at some pictures a while. She said “Sure, get to it … but, if you show up in one of those costumes…”
These top two photos are thanks to Jerry who preserves history by working with the Institute for Historic and Educational Arts in Kansas City. THANKS Jerry! (As always, click a small picture to see a larger version.)
It’s still too cold in the shop for epoxy based boat building, and another 5 inches of “global warming” just fell today, I’ve been considering two other woodworking paths.
Beautiful old clocks (or replicas), complete with mechanical movements, are things I have built in the past and have considered for the future. Previous clocks were built from kits. I would like future cases to be built from scratch. I fancy clocks such as regulator wall clocks, and Vienna Regulators. As near as I can tell, some of those would require a half set of hollows and rounds, a plow plane, and maybe a pair of snipe bill planes. The wait queue at Clark & Williams, as well as the cost, make that path one that won’t be taken this winter.
So, let’s pursue the alternative, the lathe. Why a human powered lathe?
- Because I like human powered things, hand-tool woodworking and paddle powered boats, for example. Treadle powered tools have always caught my attention, and now I have time for them. In short, I see a treadle lathe as a neat machine.
- There’s no shortage of turned things I find interesting: mallets, tool handles, more tool handles, toys, lidded boxes, chairs (not Windsors), and exquisite wooden bowls. I’m not interested in pens or bottle stoppers.
- The lathe will also be the power base for a scroll saw. I have some very interesting scroll projects in mind.
To which design or plan? Choices, choices, lots of choices on the internet. I collected several comprehensive plans (Roy Underhill’s, Steve Schmeck’s, Mike Adams’ and Howard Ruttan’s), and plenty of pictures. All have great merit, and I will build not to one specific plan, but will take bits from here and there. From Roy’s, I will take the concept of the scroll saw. His lathe has one aspect I didn’t care for, an inboard flywheel. It was also skimpier that the lathe he uses on his TV Programs. Mike’s and Steve’s are more robust and have flywheels held between two uprights, not cantilevered like Roy’s. I like the full width treadle of Mike’s, and actually a sturdier one like in the Ft. Osage picture at the top. Guidance for bearings, various shafts, and centers come in bits and pieces from all of the plans and from an email exchange with Jerry.
The attractive feature (to me) is that any of the above designs can be made from readily available “Nbr 2” construction grade SPF (SprucePineFir) lumber. The big orange store up the road has some fairly good Doug Fir that I’ll use for most of it. Some Ash or Oak will fill certain roles.
OK. It’s time to get to it.
UPDATE: When I wrote this entry this morning, I was getting a 404 error when trying to reach Mike Adams’ TreadleLathePlans site. That site is still not responding, but I have found an alternate source for his plans.
UPDATE 2: Stephen Shepard suggested (in the comments) another set of plans that I had overlooked. They are Stephen’s own plans which are sold by Joel Moskowitz’s excellent Tools for For Working Wood store. You’ll find Stephen’s plans here. TFWW always ships very fast and I live close enough to expect receipt in the next day or two. Thanks Stephen.