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Bob Glenn
05-25-2009, 2:36 PM
Some time ago, I posted some questions about spring pole turning. Several asked for pictures of the lathe I made. This is an embellished copy of Roy Underhill's pole lathe, which is a copy of the one Moxan wrote about in the seventeenth century.

I make Windsor chairs, and reenact the same at eighteen century events. This past weekend I attended the Vincennes Rendezvous, and took some pictures of the lathe. I've not yet been able to achieve any real skill on the lathe, as it is very different from turning on my electric lathe at home. You have to balance on one foot, pump maddly with the other while moving the lathe tool in and out of the wood with precision as the reciprocating spindle reversed direction with each pump of the treadle.

I was going to convert it to a continuous rotation lathe with a crank and fly wheel, however, with the double spring poles and lever action (just out of the pictures) with the rope wound around the spindle, it is a real crowd pleaser.
I have found people will stand and watch as long as I will stand and pump the lathe.

I've never posted pictures before, so I hope they appear below.

george wilson
05-25-2009, 2:49 PM
You need to get your turning tools VERY SHARP due to the low power of the lathe. It isn't necessary to really move the chisel in and out,just ease up the cutting pressure on the return stroke of the lathe,with very little wasted motion,so your tool doesn't have to be repositioned for each cut,which would be difficult.

Bob Glenn
05-25-2009, 3:18 PM
Thanks George. I've slowly been learning and have gotten better, with quite a bit of improvement this past weekend. I spent a lot of time honing my tools before the reenactment and had much better luck. It definitely takes more practice on one these these machines.

It's amazing to me that the bodgers could actually make a meager living turning chair legs in forests surrounding High Wycombe, England.

Bob Haverstock
05-25-2009, 4:15 PM
I was lucky enough to see Bob Glenn's lathe in action this weekend. I'm very impressed with it. Mr Glenn did a fine job constructing it, in a word it is a beautiful machine. I was allowed to try my leg or should I say my hand on it. It is great fun to operate. I NEED one!

I was hoping to see Bob and his lathe on the Commons. I'm very pleased to have made his aquaintance. Bob, thanks for taking time to talk to me.

Bob Haverstock

harry strasil
05-25-2009, 4:25 PM
there is always some kid who wants to participate, with their parents consent, let them pump it for you, that is usually a real crowd pleaser I have found when demoing, no matter how insignificant the job, the kids really go for it.

Bob Glenn
05-25-2009, 4:32 PM
Thanks, Bob. You picked a good day to attend the Rendezvous. It rained off and on the next, and I had a problem keeping the Windsor chairs and all my steel dry during the day.

A rain storm came through last year and soaked my lathe before I could get it under cover. It was either the lathe or the chairs that were going to get wet, and I chose to cover the chairs with my only canvas. The water swelled the walnut threads on the headstocks of the lathe, making them in operable for the rest of day. Another reenactor saw my problem and gave me some bees wax dissolved in mineral spirits, and I applied it liberally to the threads this year. Problem solved.

After the rain on Sunday, I was turning chair legs, and lady asked my how I kept my legs the same size. I told her it was easy, I just switched pumping the lathe between my right and left leg. She said no, I mean your chair legs!

We all had a good laugh! Great fun! Thanks for coming to the event. Sorry it took so long to get some pictures.

Bob Glenn
05-25-2009, 4:38 PM
there is always some kid who wants to participate, with their parents consent, let them pump it for you, that is usually a real crowd pleaser I have found when demoing, no matter how insignificant the job, the kids really go for it.


Great idea Harry. Sunday afternoon, there was a young lady in the crowd that said she had her own lathe at home, but it was electric. There were about 30 or 40 people watching the demo, so I asked if she wanted to give it a try.

I invited her to come up and put the tool in her hand, gave her a little instruction, and she went to it. She wasn't riding the bevel at first, but I repositioned the tool for her, and she picked it up pretty quickly. I told everyone watching how hard this was to do, and everyone gave her a round of applause. :D

george wilson
05-25-2009, 7:26 PM
I've seen old pictures of an old English guy making a nest of bowls from a big chunk of wood,with a spring pole lathe. The largest bowl must have been 14" in Dia. He had a curved chisel that cut the whole nest out of the 1 block. He had to put the chisel in at just the right angle to make the bowls. The chisel looked about 1/2" or 5/8" tall,and about 3/16" wide. When he got each bowl close to being turned,I guess he popped it loose and planed the bottom flat.

I thought that was a nice feat for a spring pole lathe!

We made a nice treadle lathe that is in the Gunsmith's shop in Col.Williamsburg. The flywheel is about 6" thick and 2' in dia.,oak. Before we put the wheel in the lathe, I had to get the axle situated in the wheel.It ran between 2 female centers. Then,I rigged up a motor,and a big block of wood sitting on the floor for a tool rest. Then,with a rather loose belt from the motor,I made the wheel turn while I trued it up,tapered it,and turned in several "V" grooves for the leather round cord to run in. It was a rather iffy process,but I carefully managed to take small cuts and get the job done. The stepped wheel and pulley were not for different speeds. They were to reset the leather belt in as it stretched in use. Finally,you had to cut the belt shorter,and refasten it together,and start again.

Mark Stutz
05-25-2009, 7:41 PM
I wish I had known I was talking to a fellow Creeker on Sat. morning! I tried this lathe and it works very well!
What is not shown in this picture are the hand made windsor chairs he spoke of. Bob, you do great work!

Mark

Bob Glenn
05-25-2009, 10:03 PM
I wish I had known I was talking to a fellow Creeker on Sat. morning! I tried this lathe and it works very well!
What is not shown in this picture are the hand made windsor chairs he spoke of. Bob, you do great work!

Mark

Hey Mark, looking at your avatar, thinking back, I remember you looking familiar. We had a lot of people at the Rendezvous, and it is sometimes hard to even recognize people in your own town.

Vincennes, Indiana is a small town in southern Indiana, about 18,000 people. This was the 33rd year for the Rendezvous and it usually attracks twice it's population. It's always a great event with many surprizes each year. Generall there about 1000 reenactors participating each year, and it is very authentic to the eighteen century.

Thanks for the compliments on my chairs. I don't usually sell them, however, I get lots of requests. They are a labor of love and most stay in the ever expanding family of kids and now grandkids. I love showing them off and how they are made. I'll post some pictures in a different thread later, now that I know how.

Thanks to all that have commented.

ROY DICK
05-26-2009, 9:42 AM
"After the rain on Sunday, I was turning chair legs, and lady asked my how I kept my legs the same size. I told her it was easy, I just switched pumping the lathe between my right and left leg. She said no, I mean your chair legs!"

Bob,
Thanks for the laugh. I bet you had a blast doin' the demo, and I am sure that the crowd enoyed it too!
I'm am still laughing. :D

Roy

Jim Paulson
05-26-2009, 7:14 PM
Hi Bob,

It is great that you are sticking with the spring pole lathe and doing demonstrations turning windsor chair legs. I also have a spring pole lathe and lately I've configured it in the garage to be set up with an overhead pole. Between that and using a leather cord belt to wrap around the leg I'm turning, I found that I have incredibly fast returns.

By this fall, I going to restore my lathe to being portable again for windsor chair leg turning demonstrations. My lathe design is Roy's earlier one, Hulot, and I may end up modifying it to use two poles as your's does.

My windsor chairs can be seen at (http://www.chairsbypaulson.com).

Take care,
Jim

Bob Glenn
05-26-2009, 10:17 PM
Jim, thanks for the comments. I just visited your website, and I can see that we are cut from the same cloth. A hand made treasure is worth is weight in gold in today's world. I cherish each moment spent in one of my chairs.

Keep up the good work.

Bob

Jim Paulson
05-26-2009, 10:42 PM
Bob,

Thanks too and speaking of Windsors as wonderful chairs, I have learned what an awesome thing it is to put them in the homes of family members. My son just took a Sack Back home and already he is thinking about owning a set of them. Not to mention the joy we get from making them.

Take care,
Jim

Regis Deandrade
05-30-2009, 11:48 AM
Bob,

Here is a great source of information on spring pole turning:

http://www.bodgers.org.uk/index.php

And this is the guy George Wilson was talking about:

http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/

I made one with Roy Underhill last year when he was teaching in town. There sure is a huge learning curve, but I'm getting there. The guy at bodgers.org.uk are very friendly and helpfull. I have learned a great deal from them.

Now, when it comes to Robin Wood, he is in a whole different category. If you search him in You Tube, there are several videos, even one where he beats a guy with a powered lathe by turning a bowl faster. Pretty amazing.

Hope you find the websites helpful.

Regis

Bob Glenn
06-01-2009, 11:22 AM
Thanks, Regis. I've seen the Bodger website while researching spring pole turning, however, I had not seen the Robin Woods, site. Hmmm, I may just have to switch from making Windsors, to turning bowls. Sure looks like fun!

Jim Paulson
06-01-2009, 2:05 PM
Hi Bob,

Robin makes it look easy, but hey stick with the Windsors. We have a tradition to keep.:)

Jim

george wilson
06-01-2009, 2:42 PM
That's not the guy.Picture was an old,old shot of this old,bearded(IIRC) guy seemed like his lathe was very tall.

Frank Zolp
10-14-2009, 9:26 PM
Hi Bob, do you ever go to Feast of the Hunters' Moon in Lafayette Indiana? It's lots of fun too. This year was the 42nd annual feast.

Bob Glenn
10-14-2009, 9:50 PM
Frank, I've never been to the Feast of the Harvest Moon, but I've heard really good things about it. I've been up to Kokomo, Indiana for their event and down to Rockport, Indiana for their inaugural re-enactment, but usually I just do the Vincennes Redezvous in the spring and the Muster on the Wabash in the fall, also in Vincennes. There's just too many other things going on since I retired. I don't know had I had time for everything when I was working. Thanks for the reply.

Bob