Skip to main content

How to Make a Spring Pole Lathe for Bowl Turning, Part 1

I like making bowls more than I like making money.

H.V. Morton, In Search of England, 1930

I've been wanting to make a new spring pole lathe for the last 2 years or so and now that I have 5 acres with trees again, I decided that making such a lathe would be a good winter project. If any of you happen to have a copy of the February 2002 issue of Woodwork you'll know that there is a wonderful article in that issue about Robin Wood, a bowl turner in England. (If you don't know about Robin already please visit his website at www.robin-wood.co.uk/index.htm, he is simply an amazing woodworker and you should see his work.) In the article there is a photo essay of him building a spring pole lathe out of a log using just an small broad axe, centers made from 5/8 inch rod and several different sized augers. That is what I am working on, making a lathe from a tree with just a Jersey pattern axe and a brace with a bit.



There was a Douglas fir near the house with a dead top that had a little bit of lean to it, but it looked like a decent tree. I felled it with my Husky 385 chainsaw and bucked most of it into firewood except for the butt of the tree which I cut to a six foot length. Then I started to split it with wedges.


When I was a teenager back in the mid to late 1970's, I split incense cedar trees for fence posts for our property in northeast California, my parents and brother did too, it was a family affair, each one of us seeing who could split out posts faster and straighter then everyone else. Splitting this log brought back many memories. I knew that the Douglas fir would be tough and stringy, I've split Doug fir before and this one was no exception to the rule.


The tree had more of a twist then I expected, so to shorten the amount of time I needed to swing an axe I scored the log with the chainsaw, okay, so I cheated from my rule of using only an axe, etc. Those little pieces are a lot easier to split off then big chunks.


Here's what it looks like after some hewing, as you can see I have more work to do.

I don't own a broad axe, but I do have a nice Jersey pattern axe that works well and a little double bit cruiser axe that I use for carving. I would like to get another Jersey pattern axe and re-grind the bevels so that it would be better at hewing. Wow, I guess I'm tired after a day of tree falling and hewing, my sentences aren't making much sense. I'll post more tomorrow, there's a snow storm coming in with strong winds and a high of only 17 degrees F.!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Off the Bench and For Sale: Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar

This guitar has a Western Red Cedar top, Claro walnut back and sides, Royal ebony fretboard, Indian rosewood bridge and a 650mm string length.

This guitar has a beautiful voice and is loud! I was amazed at how loud it is as soon as I got the strings on and tuned to concert pitch. It is easy to play and I am blown away by the musical nuances that can be created with this guitar.

Please click on Guitars Currently Available or Studio Model to read more about this wonderful guitar!



1961 Hernandez y Aguado Style Classical Guitar, Redwood/Indian Rosewood, For Sale

The partnership of Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado was one of the most successful in guitar making history.

Roy Courtnall, Making Master Guitars, 1993

Please note that this guitar is currently for sale at Savage Classical Guitar. Please click here to see this guitar!

I made this guitar several years ago, but because of custom orders, I had to set it aside. I put strings on it two weeks ago and it is a most magnificent sounding guitar! It has good, clear separation string to string, wonderful sustain with evenness and balance throughout with a very lyrical voice. I originally made this guitar for myself, but someone with a good strong technique and a good understanding of musical interpretation should own this guitar and play it on a regular basis.



This guitar is a fairly close copy of a guitar made by Hernandez y Aguado in 1961. The body length is 480mm, most of the HyA guitars had a body length of 490mm; string length is 650mm, many were 655mm and longer; other than that I trie…

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…