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Mkng-a-p-lathe-art – 2/15/04


"An Easily Made Primitive Lathe" by Master Magnus Malleus.


NOTE: See also the files: p-lathes-bib, tools-msg, tools-bib, wood-msg, wood-bending-msg, woodworking-msg, wood-utensils-msg, wood-finishes-msg, Sharpng-Tools-art, wood-utn-care-msg, mazers-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If  information is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: rmhowe <MMagnusM at bellsouth.net>

Date: Wed Jun 18, 2003 1:12:29 AM US/Central

To: "- Stephan's Florilegium" <stefan at florilegium.org>

Subject: Easily Made Primitive Lathe


An relatively easily made primitive lathe from the Steppes:


Happened to be reading a book called _Nomads of Eurasia_ this week (one I bought from the late Master Finnr's estate). There is an interesting lathe in it that is extremely simple to make and use to turn bowls and cups with. Knowing how some people love primitive projects out there I may as well describe it. People loved the home-made forge article. It's not every day you can lie or sit down at your work either. Pick a dry day. ;)


This takes two people to operate. One manipulates the tool. The other pulls a cord/strap wrapped around the round mandrel to turn the workplace to be cut. The puller sits straight up on the ground. The turner lies partially over the left side of the lathe beam and holds the tool he is using on the inside of the bowl slightly lower than center. The tool would have to have a more acute angle than the curve of the bowl or vessel it is cutting to do this. There is no discussion and the end of the tool bit is obscured by the wooden core piece. I have no idea if it is hooked. Many tools used by pole lathers in Europe certainly are.


The main body is a log with a cross-section cut out of it in order to put a wooden cross-piece into with I assume a conical arbor in the end. This is then held in place with a simple wedge. In fact this is how the lathe tightens to clamp the workplace and the mandrel stuck into the back of it to turn it with. Looking at it, the mandrel itself has the other turning point in the end of it as when it hits the end post there are various v shaped holes in it at different heights.


I am going to make the log square for ease of drawing the item. {No? Okay, you do it. ;)  )


   __  <==back up _ stakes==>     __

_|__|___________| |___ _________|__|_____

|         wedge- |w|   |-turning center   |

|                |_| O |  on the end      |

|   FRONT        |_|___| of mandrel      |

|                   ^                     |

|   main beam       crosswise slot        |



__                   ____ Bowl blank split from tree.

|  |________         |__  \                     ___

|  |________|_____    _ \  \  _______________  |>  |

|  |wedge   ||    \_ | \_| |=| | round     | | |>  |

|  |________||   |_|>> _  |=| | mandrel   | |>|>  |

|  |_________|____/ |_/ | |=|_|___________|_| | p |

|  |         |       __/  /^                  | o |

|  |solid beam       |____/ |Teeth driven into | s |

|__|_________|__________________ bowl blank____|_t_|_

|  |         Ground Level                      |   |

|  |                                          |   |

|  |                                          |   |

|__|                                          |___|


The round mandrel has a cord wrapped about it, or you could use a belt. This is pulled back and forth alternately on either end to turn the round mandrel with a reciprocating motion. The main beam acts as the lathe tool rest. In the picture I saw the lathe tool looks like it is on a broom handle.


There are iron bands on either end of the round mandrel and there is one on the end of the fixed mandrel in the crossbeam. These are there to hold the conical ended spike tips in to act as lathe centers or for the several sharp flat teeth in the bowl end of the round mandrel that the bowl blank is normally driven onto in line with the grain. You don't want your mandrels splitting do you? Similar round mandrels are known to be used on medieval lathes from York. Bow and spring pole lathes for example use them for turning bowls. I have books from Russia, Germany, and England showing turning waste and objects and lathe parts.


What I am referring to as the beam is actually a large chunk of tree trunk with a flat bottom backed by two stakes. All adjustment is done by knocking the end of the main mandrel in the beam and tightening or loosening it with the wedge.


For metal lathes a 60 degree point is generally used. That would not be a bad point in the case of this little lathe. If you have a half inch drill and a grinder you could put a half inch piece of steel rod into the drill chuck and rotate it against the grinder to make the conical ends. Use eye protection and be patient. The other ends could then be driven into a half inch holes several inches deep. If it were me I would use a mallet or a board and not hammer the mandrel points with a hardened hammer and dull them. You would need to pre hole the turning blank and the upright post at the end of the round mandrel. Given the primitive circumstances the holes wouldn't have to be perfect, just centered. There are drill bits made for drilling these holes for mounting on lathes. Ask at a machinery supply house like Enco or MSC - Manhattan Supply company. In fact you can buy some lathe centers for less than $10 each from Enco. Usually these fit Morse Tapered Holes. #1 is the smallest size, #2 is generally used. #3 and up are for larger metal lathes. They both sell tool steel if you care to grind or forge your own tool bits.  If I were starting out I'd simply buy some Sears turning chisels and re-handle them for this application in a longer handle. In the case of the nomad it was held under his arm and shoulder.


The medieval turner would have axed the corners off his blanks wherever possible.


All you need to cut anything is something harder with a sharp edge. Turning chisels and gouges are available from Sears quite cheaply although for this application you would want to put them in a longer handle with a steel ferrule or ring at the end to keep them from splitting.


Rings could be made of steel pipe couplings or if you have access to a pipe cutter pieces of steel pipe cut to length. For the turning mandrel I would use 3" diameter steel. The larger the diameter the easier it is going to be to twist it back and forth.


If you hook the turning mandrel up to a motor and it cold cocks you or someone else don't come crying to me. These things aren't meant to operate at motorized revolutions per minute. Wear eye protection and gloves.


Master Magnus Malleus, OL, GDH, Atlantia © 2003 R.M. Howe

*No reposting my writings to usenet newsgroups, especially rec.org.sca, or the SCA-Universitas elist. I view this as violating copyright restrictions. As long as it's to reenactor or SCA -closed- subscriber based email lists or individuals I don't mind. It's meant to help people without aggravating me.* Inclusion, in the http://www.Florilegium.org, Atenveldt MoAS newsletter, or Regia’s Chronicle as always is permitted.


It generally helps if you want to ask me a question to put an * in front of the subject line. I read by list, not by date generally and I never catch up.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org