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Building a Treadle Lathe
April 18, 2013 8:39 AM   Subscribe

A nicely crafted video showing the construction of a treadle lathe, a foot-powered device for woodturning. The builder uses only hand tools and traditional methods; even the drill press is hand-cranked. Useful for those interested in constructing such a thing, mesmerizing for those who enjoy "how it's made"-type videos.
posted by jedicus (18 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
AGH Thank you. I so want to make one. I have been thinking about it for months. MsGroweler is giving you the "pursin of the lips and tappin of the foot" though.
posted by mrgroweler at 8:52 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this yesterday and for some reason it was a real roller coaster. I kept switching between holy crap, this is awesome! and wtf are you doing, that's terrible. Seems to work fine, though, so I guess I end up on awesome.
posted by DU at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2013


Don't get too carried away, or you might summon a wizard.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I should clarify that he uses only hand tools and traditional methods for the on-screen woodworking. Off-screen there was some machine-shop work to customize some of the metal parts of the lathe, particular creating the groove for the flywheel. I guess I can't fault him for not also being a traditional blacksmith.
posted by jedicus at 9:11 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


that was awesome. Being able to make the tools to make the tools is the difference between a woodworker and a craftsman. I would like to know total man hours expended just so I will feel even more inadequate.
posted by bartonlong at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you! A midday treat.
posted by mareli at 9:25 AM on April 18, 2013


The sound totally makes the video for me. All of the little sawing and tapping noises made me feel like a kid again. The adult in me appreciates the craftsmanship of what it takes to be able to make something like that, let alone use it well.
posted by Gronk at 9:25 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was over too quickly. He should have a live stream on Twitch.tv so we can watch in real time. Or at least an uncut version.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:58 AM on April 18, 2013


One of the crossbeams has gone out of skew on the treadle!

I notice the guy doesn't show it in actual use. This is all far too complex. You don't really even need a flywheel. Previously on MeFi, a traditional treadle lathe.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:10 AM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the crossbeams has gone out of skew on the treadle!

I'm not sure what you mean. There's only one crossbeam and it looks fine to me.

I notice the guy doesn't show it in actual use.

Sure he does. From about 4:58 to 5:30 he uses it to make the handle for a slick.

This is all far too complex. You don't really even need a flywheel.

It is true that there are lots of ways to make lathes, including treadle lathes. Using a flywheel is one of them. I'm not sure how this is "too complex", since a) it clearly works and b) flywheel treadle lathes have been around since da Vinci and were in regular use by the 17th century. Yes, a flywheel is not strictly necessary, but it can be a useful feature.
posted by jedicus at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most complex part is probably finding the cast iron bits, but with the exceptions of the centers (which are like $4 a piece at most machine shop supply places, you can make the whole thing out of wood. Roy Underhill had an article eight years ago or so ago in Populoar Woodworking where he made out of scraped dorm room lofts (picking the kid up from college) where the fly wheel was three layers of 2x6 with the outer two layers perpendicular to the inside layer.

You can also make a reciprocating lathe using a lightweight bungie cord in lieu of a tree branch even more easily.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:47 AM on April 18, 2013


It is true that there are lots of ways to make lathes

There sure are.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't really even need a flywheel.

You do for a treadle lathe because you need gears to increase the spins rate and momentum to keep the chuck (called a live centre) spinning in the same direction between foot pumps. Robin Wood's lathe is something different - a pole lathe with two dead centres and the power comes from strap wrapped around the work itself. He only cuts on the downstroke and the work has to spin backward between foot pumps.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2013


Also see the foxfire books. I forget which one but one of them features the traditional treadle lathe, bent oak sapling/beam for tension and all.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:18 PM on April 18, 2013


One of the crossbeams has gone out of skew on the treadle!

I knew someone would quote that line.
posted by i feel possessed at 1:32 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow - what a treat to watch. Makes me want to head down to my workshop. Thanks for sharing!
posted by sixpack at 2:38 PM on April 18, 2013


One of the crossbeams has gone out of skew on the treadle!

Ah. That went right over my head, then.
posted by jedicus at 3:17 PM on April 18, 2013


This is really beautiful.
posted by cthuljew at 6:11 PM on April 18, 2013


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