Spring Pole Lathe 2, Non-electric Boogaloo

All the hand tool excitement of the original, but with more rip sawing!  And more mortising!  And some honey badger thrown in.

So the first task of the day is ripping the upright post where the lathe arm attaches.  It is a pretty long rip, this is not your father’s eastern white pine, and we have no saw benches.  What could go wrong? So out comes a pair of stools and Roy’s mean 3 1/4 ppi rip saw.  That is one serious saw and it takes care of one side of the cut pretty easily.  Of course I first did a cross-cut for the end of the rip with my backsaw, but that’s not quite as dramatic sounding.  I only marked one side of the piece, so for the second rip I had to saw towards my body, which is not quite as easy as it sounds, at least for me.  Whoops, I followed a growth line instead of my pencil line.  Time to stop and reassess the cut.  Roy comes over and suggests I try one of his big frame saws, with the piece upright in the vise. At first it seemed a little ungainly, but I soon got used to the motion and I actually found it easier to rip with than the big hand saw.  The motion uses more of your upper body and basically is like doing push-ups.  And because of the smaller height of the saw plate, it proved easier to control the cut and make small adjustments.  I used the same saw to cut a small patch piece for my mistake cut, roughly a saw kerf wide.  With some glue and a bit of trimming later on, it is almost seemless.  I wasn’t as photo-happy as usual in this class, so some of the in-process shots are missing, but here is the taper on the rip from the completed lathe.  If you look close on the left side below the pivot point, there is a small gap where my patch didn’t quite reach.

We drew out the feet for the uprights using the same template on both.  For these the shape is partially made by an auger bit and the rest is cut with a turning saw or a chisel.  I didn’t get any pics of the layout but will try to put a sketchup model together of the best method to do this.  With some vises, you hold the two pieces of stock together and put the auger bit right at the joint.  Then twist twist out comes the pine.  Do the other hole, then flip the pieces around for the other holes.  The diagram should make it obvious what I mean.

I did some quick sketchup work to generally display how we clamped the two feet together to use the auger.  First auger out the holes to define the ankle part of the foot.

Then flip them end-for-end to define the lower curve.  I made these a little too small in the model, they should be the same size as the other holes.

And after you are done trimming with a saw and/or chisel, you get something like this (with the same relationship as the above model view):

Here Curtis has his leg in the vise and is getting ready to use the turning saw to cut the profile.  Some western-state woodworkers might recognize Curtis, as he works for Lie-Nielsen and demonstrates at their hand tool events.

For my feet, I used a bigger auger bit, though I can’t recall the size.  I think it was 1 1/4″ and in the pine it took some effort  with the brace.  Even worse, one of my holes had a big knot which *really* took a lot of effort.  Most people used the turning saws, but there were on a few of them to go around and our class was all in about the same steps in the process.  So for mine, I just cut them with my backsaw and used a chisel on the waste.  The basic technique is to score down to the line with the backsaw, making a series of cuts, maybe 3/4″ to 1″ apart along the entire profile.  Then with the mortise chisel, pop off most of the waste using a technique of halves–attempt to get half the waste, then half the remaining part, and half again till almost at the line.  Roy brought out a monster slick and showed us a quick way to get the last remaining bit.  It worked like a charm and made me think of Tim Allen in “Home Improvement” but with a hand tool twist. I think I even made Allen’s signature chortle after the first pass.  For the bead part of the profile, I just pared across the grain with the chisel and slowly got close the line until just a little remained.  For the cove part, we used some in-cannel gouges to match the general shape.

After the feet were cut to profile it was time to turn our attention to the tenons.  Similar to a breadboard, the tenons are split with a small tongue or haunch between the longer tenons.  Like the tenons for the rails and stetchers, I used my rip hand saw.  But I learned my lesson and got very close to the line.  I had little to trim to get the proper thickness, and was mostly using a wide chisel when Roy bent over under my bench and brought up…The Badger Plane.  Badger Plane don’t care, it cuts through yellow pine like it was buttah.  Normally it is used for raising panels, but because of the long and wide sole, it was easier to keep in the proper plane of the tenon.  After trimming to thickness, the waste between the tenons is sawn out.

We then used the cut tenons to lay out the mortises on the feet.  And like the through mortises for the bed rails and stretchers, we first defined them with the chisel taking small cuts, then flip the chisel over and bevel-side down groove the mortise to depth.  Do the same on the bottom side, but we only have to define the two tenons and not the broad haunch.  Here you can see the upper mortise before I cut the 5/8″ mortises for the tenons.  As with the other mortises, we used an auger bit to remove most of the waste and then trimmed with the mortise chisel.  Also in the foreground is that knot which caused me some auger-ache.

These tenons and mortises fit very close with only a few minutes of trimming, unlike the hour or so from the day before.  They were a little tight, but went together easily with the vise applying even pressure.  Since the lathe is designed to be broken down, a tight fit without glue is a good thing.

Physically, this was the toughest day of the week.

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