Step 4: Lathe Details - Building the Spring Pole

At this point the “spring pole” lathe is almost built. THe reason for all the quotes around “spring pole” will be evident in a moment. At this point, we have uprights mounted on A frame supports, parrallel crossbeams, holding up a moveable head and tail stock with steel centers. Now we need a power source to rotate the object that will be held between the centers.

In olden times, and I do mean OLD, the power source was a springy pole, that would pull the rope wrapped around your workpiece back after you’d pushed down on the treadle to rotate it. This would create a reciprical or back and forth motion of the workpiece. You’d apply your tool on the down stroke, and ease off on the up stroke. This is the wood turning was done for hundreds of years.

Since I could not walk out to the woods and find a springy pole, and more to the point, I had no room in my garage for one, I decided to use a “bungie cord” instead. This would give me spring back enough to do the job, and could take up much less space, while still recreating the motion of the springy pole.

For my lathe I took a couple of lengths of 2×2 and drilled holes about 1 inch down from the top, on one side. I did this for both side pieces. They were about 8′ long, straight out of the hardware store. I trimmed about 6 inches from the ends to get rid of bad wood. I then cut a 4′ chunk, and drilled the ends to accept a 6″ piece of dowling on each end. It stick out about 4″ after sinking it into the ends. These dowels go through the holes in the tops of the side pieces. No need to attach it any better, since the next step is to hook the end of the bungie (mine was purple, very festive) around the 2″ of dowling sticking out of the side piece, and stretching it over to the other side to hook it over the other dowling end. This pulls the two side pieces up agaisnt the ends of the 2×2 middle piece, and it’s all good.

All I had to do was tie a rope around my bungie in the middle, and wrap it around the piece of wood pinched between centers, and voila a “spring pole”!

The last step was to create a treadle from some 1×2 scrap, a piece of leather for a hinge, and a piece of scrap ply wood to stand on. The 1×2 should extend past the end of the crossbeams. I notched the ends and made a sort of A shape out of the 1×2 pieces with two hinges attached to the plywood I stand on. The crossbar of the “A” was placed so my foot had a comfortable place to rest. It works quiet well, and is less work than I expected!

I’m still working on a design for a toolrest. For now I just clamp a 2×2 scrap to the head and tail stock, but that doesn’t work very well.
I am trying to build a medievil staff sling (trebuchet on a stick) and can only get it to throw a short distance. Anybody out there build any, got any advice?
<p>I've built several Staff Slings. They are awesome fun. Here's an article on my first one:<br><a href="http://cuallaidh.hubpages.com/hub/fustibalis" rel="nofollow">http://cuallaidh.hubpages.com/hub/fustibalis</a></p>
A hoopack? Ask Tasselhoff.
Don't Tassel the Hoff.
you need to attach a sling to the end of the staff where the loop on the sling is glue that on then tie a loop in the other end of the sling then slot that over the end of the staff<br />
Just come on over to slinging.org 's forums and we'll give you plenty of advice :)
are you turning/going to turn seasoned or green wood on this lathe? It would&nbsp;definitely&nbsp;be easier to turn green wood, but is that just part of the challenge?<br>
Look into traditional bowmaking for your spring pole (think the top half of a bow), I'd find a straight grained red oak 1x2 and sand it down to a taper testing its springyness along the way. There's lots of 'ibles about bowmaking that can help
(comment was removed by a seal)
you could also make it like a sewing machine where the pedal operates a rod attached to a flywheel. I don't know if they used such devices in the middle ages for lathes, but off center wheel and rod technology has been around for a long time.
The idea of a spring pole lathe always intrigued me -- I was wondering what it would be like to scavange a spare bicycle rear axle/cassette and take advantage of the pawl mechanism to get a spring pole lathe that didn't reverse direction every time you lift your foot. Hrmmm. Then add some spinning weight to help carry momentum. Might really make it even easier to use.
Great idea! I was also wondering if it would be helpful to add some kind of gear or pulley system that would increase the number of revolutions with each step on the treadle.
omg r2d2
It would have been very interesting to see a video of this lathe in motion.<br /> Thanks for sharing.
Do you have some more detailed pics of the treadle mechanics? We're looking to make an automaton powered by treadle, but now that I see this I want my own lathe...:) Thanks for the instructable.
this looks great! how does it turn?
Hiya, Badger! For a second there, I thought you were my old friend Sir Baldwin (aka Badger), and was surprised he had taken up woodworking so fervently!<br/><br/>Not to steal <em>any</em> of your thunder, but did you happen to see the reciprocal lathe that Avery Austringer set up in front of Midrealm Royal 5-or-so years back?<br/><br/>I've been needing some bedposts turned, since I'm too cheap to buy the damn things premade. Would be WAY cool to do them &quot;right&quot; - do you think that would take an insane amount of effort for a piece that big?<br/>
Oooo, I'm all famous and stuff. Actually, I got here looking for ideas on how to upgrade my lathe for this coming Pennsic One tip I have for anybody thinking about doing this: go to www.useenco.com (or any other site that sells stuff for metal lathes) and get a pair of carbon steel dead centers. For $10 or so you can get yourself a pair of #3 Morse taper centers that are well machined and will give you lots of bearing surface.
Oooh can<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.instructables.com/group/medieval/">my medieval group</a> you add this to <br/>
I saw a smaller human powered lathe on a travel show a while ago. i think they where in morocco. the work piece was turned with a bow drill... like you might use for starting a fire. the lathe was low down, and you used it sitting on the ground (good, because then you can use your feet to help hold your tools.
Very nice creation. I watched one in use at Plimoth Plantation in MA. Very cool to see in action. The chips really fly! Theirs used a sapling mounted to the ceiling as the rebound spring.
Thanks. I would love to see the one you've seen. I need to make it out there one of these days. The bungie cord is my sapling. I don't have room in my garage or access to saplings, so I made do. :)
I understand where I'm viewing this instructable nearly one year after it's posting. thing will change. To see the &quot;build process&quot; we are instructed to navigate away from the instructable to <a rel="nofollow" href="http://wood.box23.net">http://wood.box23.net</a> . However that URL results in an error message from wordpress, is there another source for viewing your build process? TNX...<br/>
Sorry, I had to move my sites to a new host, and never got around to rebuilding that blog. I'll look at it, maybe I can get it up later. I think most of my notes are here in this page though, so it should be complete. Thanks for checking out my build.
I see you have the same workshop decorator I use. Nice instructable and pix.
do you have any pictures of any turnings?
Not that I've turned on this lathe. I use my motorized modern lathe all the time. I'm still learning how to use this one, it requires different techniques. Plus I haven't had time the garage for a while now.
Quite the cool project. I think it's a little ironic, however, to build a midieval tool using modern technology.
The irony is not lost on me. :) badger

About This Instructable




More by badger:A modern build of a medieval spring pole lathe 
Add instructable to: