Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe

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Other than at Williamsburg and Sturbridge, are there any genuine 18th  
century lathes in existence elsewhere in North America, preferably ones  
that have detailed online photos available for viewing, that one can  
look at. I kind of like the idea of peregrinating about the eastern half  
of this continent but I just don't have the time to visit more than one  
or two distant museums this coming year so I'd like to narrow my search  
to the most promising ones. My search is specific to the 18th Century.  
My Google and other Internet scrounging has unearthed a bunch of modern  
day adaptations but the museum folk I'm working with are very much  
concerned about creating as authentic a reproduction as humanly  
possible, and for that we need some genuine real articles to emulate.  
These historians love their documentation at least as much as their  
museum pieces, I'm afraid. ;-)  We're not particularly interested in the  
"great wheel" lathes but more humble town and village types that were  
presumably as common as dirt at one time but which seem not to have  
survived in the larger, well known museums.

Thanks,

J.

Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
I believe the Dominy shop at the Winterthur Museum has such a lathe.
I'm not sure you'll find anything online, but the book "With Hammer in
Hand" is an incredibly detailed account of the people and shop, and it
should be of help.

tt




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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
Yes, Winterthur is on my short list, it's just hard to get an exact idea  
of their collection from their website. The Dominy shop is iconic and  
perhaps for that reason everybody knows about it but few know exactly  
what's in it. I will consult that book just the same.

Thanks,

J.

Test Tickle wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe

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I'd be inclined to reach out to someplace like Williamsburg and ask for some  
guidance. Williamsburg has a number of experts (Jay Gaynor is director of  
historic trades) and they have a couple guys (Jon Laubach and George Wilson)  
who make reproduction tools for use in the restored area. Check their web  
site for contact info... There is an on-line and similar print article about  
their tool making operation at  
http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/Foundation/journal/Holiday06/tools.cfm
I worked with Jon in the Gunsmith Shop in the mid-80s and knew George  
socially. Both are quite willing to share their knowledge.

There is also an organization called the Early American Industries  
Association. http://www.eaiainfo.org/ I have no doubt that if you contact  
them they can point you to some folks who possess references with the  
requested information.

I'd also think that Diderot's Encyclopedia would offer some pictures (though  
I admit it's been years since I hand my eyes on it...)

In speculation, I have to wonder if a simple spring pole lathe wouldn't  
accomplish what you are after? In the period a Bodger might have simply made  
one of those on-site in the woods to turn spindles carrying little more than  
turning tools and some lathe hardware from site to site... I cannot imagine  
many of those surviving from the period and outside of old drawings or  
modern interpretations by folks like Roy Underhill or Don Weber there may  
not be much available in photographs.

John




Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
Gee, I've been to Williamsburg a few times and I never had an inkling of  
their toolmaking operation. I guess I was too busy ogling the period  
shops...  When I get over this cold and get my voice back I'll give them  
a call, and ditto for EAIA.  Thanks!

We were kicking the idea of the pole lathe around but some folks were  
very concerned that the mistake you make just once in your career --  
accidentally cutting the drive cord -- might injure someone on snapback.

J.

John Grossbohlin wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe

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The tool making operation is generally not open to the public so it isn't  
something you would have found on their map!

Having worked on a spring pole lathe at Williamsburg (there used to be a  
couple behind the Hay Cabinet Shop) I don't see that cutting the cord would  
cause any harm to anyone. The pole would whip up but I'd hope that visitors  
would be kept back from the lathe while in use and the pole wouldn't be in  
line with the turner in any configuration I've seen.

Of course having worked in front of the public at Williamsburg I've come to  
understand that you can NEVER underestimate the ignorance of the visitors--I  
had people try to pick up items that they had just watched me heat up red  
hot and hammer at the forge and I had a woman come up and sit on the  
chopping block while I was splitting a walnut log. I guess the concepts of  
flesh-melting-hot and cut-your-arm-off sharp tools aren't common knowledge  
today. ;~)

John  



Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe

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Depending on what you're actually after- the technology is going to be the  
same at http://www.bodgers.org.uk/ and links.

http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/ is sort of fun.

Check out the minimalist kit at http://www.living-wood.co.uk/ , though a  
shop would certainly have something powered by someone besides the turner  
himself.  Apprentices were cheap....  


Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
Thanks. On the next trip across the pond I will try to drop in on one or  
two of those bodger organizations.

J.

George wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
Hi John

Fort William by Thunder Bay, has a lot of old equipment and knowledge,
I have been there, and they do have a lathe, but I don't remember if
this was still a original one or build to old specs.

Here's a link
http://www.fwhp.ca/take_a_tour.html

There was a wheelwright -- wagon maker living across from the place I
was born and grew-up, there was an old wood lathe, used a wagon wheel
as flywheel, I know they used it with 2 persons, one powering the wheel
and one turning, even though I don't recall ever seeing them using it.
I think that most of those lathes were home build on site, and the
flywheel use was preferred over the pole lathe, for the continues
direction made turning easier and faster.
I don't think the lathe is still there, as the last owner of the shop
past away a few years ago, and the house and shop was sold I think.

Have fun and take care
Leo Van Der Loo


John wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
Thanks. It's worth a call or a letter just the same.

J.

snipped-for-privacy@rogers.com wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
On Fri, 05 Jan 2007 21:17:23 -0500, John wrote:

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A thing to bear in mind is that most of what is now the US was only thinly
populated by Europeans in the 18th century.  Historical societies in the
thirteen original colonies and the Spanish and French occupied areas
(Florida, Louisiana, California, etc) would likely be your best bets.  
Might spend quite a lot of time making calls before you find lathes.

I suspect that the wooden spring-pole lathes were mostly shop-built and
idiosynchratic--if you can make it with hand tools and it works and looks
something like the illustrations in the various histories then it's
probably as "authentic" as anything you're going to find in a museum--but
I don't have a source for that.  Might be worth looking at it from an
"experimental archaeology" viewpoint--make one that looks like a picture
in a book, using hand tools only, and see what goes wrong, fix it, and
after the fourth or fifth one you should have a pretty good understanding
of what compromises are forced on you by the materials and tools.

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--  
--John  
to email, dial "usenet" and validate  
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
You may well be right. One of the college kids in the group tried his  
hand at a bungee powered pole lathe and learned a lot about how not to  
do it.

This past summer when in Nova Scotia and PEI I made an effort to visit a  
number of village museums. Lots of boats but no lathes. And the absolute  
coolest homebrew machine I ever saw - for making the little wooden pegs  
that used to keep lobster claws closed.

Next summer, Quebec most likely. I think I still remember enough French  
to navigate a woodworking museum.

J.


J. Clarke wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
J.
About Nova Scotia, my province :-) , when we lived in Sherbrooke Village we  
rented for the first year a house in the Historic Village, a working 1750's  
vintage replica. There was a woodturning shop there for the chair maker,  
Rick Lair. He made great Windsor chairs, as in he has one in the permanent  
exhibition of wood in Ottawa. The lathes in the shop were all treadle lathes  
including a 19th century one that Rick had picked up and converted from  
metal to wood working. I am not sure what is available to the public now in  
the turning department what with all the cut backs and budget stuff, but it  
was great then. Rick is no longer there. He is now in charge of wood  
products for Parks Canada.

--  
God bless and safe turning
Darrell Feltmate
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
You know, it crossed my mind as I was there to drop by and say hello and  
thanks for the info about the Oland tool but  we were running late for  
the ferry to PEI, (little did we realize that the published schedule  
represented approximate departure times), and after all it was a Sunday.  
I figured on that particular day of the week you were earning your keep  
rather than playing in your woodshop.  :-)

Stunningly beautiful countryside up there.

And thanks for the info about the Oland. It's a heavy beast but it works  
well.

J.

Darrell Feltmate wrote:
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe
John
Sorry to have missed you. Next time try and stop in. There is always wood in  
the pile that needs a new home and coffee is generally close to hand.


--  
God bless and safe turning
Darrell Feltmate
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Re: Authentic Reproduction 18th Century Wood Lathe

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Check out Lindsay publications online.  That's just about made to
order for what you're talking about.  Not only could you buy detailed
pictures, but probably get detailed plans and techniques for making
and using the tools as well.

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