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Pro woodworker seeks advice fro a machinist - I think? Answered

So, I have 5 young nephews (5 - 12) that are super into Harry Potter. I want to make them individual, unique wands for Christmas. Not so much “traditional” HP style wands, but ones geared to each of their individual personalities. I am highly skilled with (and own) all major wood working hand tools and stationary tools, except (crucially) a lathe. Plus a lot of basic metal working tools. The goal - I would like to build a lathe like appliance, that would hold small wand sized branches / sticks, and execute assorted procedures on the branch... 1st - allow me to turn the workpiece at variable speeds (because most will not be straight). A sliding router jig would allow me to rough round theme most irregular pieces at a low lathe spin rate. I’m not so worried about achieving this goal. 2nd - I need one mandrel to be lockable (so I can inlay details with my router, for example). 3rd - I need to be able to INDEX and LOCK the mandrel at least at 6 to 12 positions (or 60 degree to 30 degree positions) - preferably the 12 position so I can make 90 degree faces, too). Unlimited stop options would be ideal, of course. This allows me to create all kinds of faceted surfaces and textures with different bits or tools. So, the obvious answer is go buy a wood lathe with an indexable and lockable mandrel. But I can’t find a cheap one, and I am a touch cash poor right now. I assume there must be a machinist mandrel head that will index like I’m describing, that I could build into my homemade appliance and power with a variable speed motor. But my main problem i have found is that I do not know the correct terminology. Any help? Thanks! Colin

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Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

1 year ago

I am not quite picturing this.

Are you saying that in some circumstances the workpiece is turning, at a slow, and variable, angular speed, and in other circumstances the workpiece is not turning at all?

Moreover in those circumstances when the workpiece is not turning, you want it to be locked to a particular angle, e.g. some multiple of 30 degrees, like the hour numbers on a clock face?

Also you said, "I need one mandrel to be lockable". Does that imply there are two mandrels? Like, one on either side of the workpiece. Perhaps one is driven by a power source, and the other just idles.

Actually that makes sense. I guess that is the way a lathe usually works. The workpiece is usually supported on two sides.

I've never actually used a lathe. Although for a long time I have been using my drill press, for smoothing and shaping cylindrical pieces of, uh, usually soft metal, and the drill press's chuck just holds the spinning piece on one side. Actually, I have some pictures of this, here:

https://cdn.instructables.com/F1T/ZZPV/FWX11GUL/F1TZZPVFWX11GUL.LARGE.jpg

https://cdn.instructables.com/F1U/N2ZW/GAPV7ZS8/F1UN2ZWGAPV7ZS8.LARGE.jpg

https://cdn.instructables.com/F5E/KGF4/GR1TLCIQ/F5EKGF4GR1TLCIQ.LARGE.jpg

https://cdn.instructables.com/F36/SMJ7/GR1TLCIO/F36SMJ7GR1TLCIO.LARGE.jpg

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Phil B
Phil B

1 year ago

It is called an indexing head. Sometimes it is called a dividing head. I believe I once saw helps for making one to add onto a wood lathe, but I do not remember where. It may even have been at Instructables. Also try YouTube.