books on glassworking lathes


There are lots of books on how to use a wood lathe or a metal working
lathe. I don't know of any book on how to use a glass working lathe.
Are there any, even if out of print, and if so can someone mention
a few of them.
Reply to
Allan Adler
Since glass working lathes are a totally different operation from wood or metal working lathes - being used primarily to turn pieces of large tubing in synchronization for heating and joining - and very costly, it is unlikely anyone has written much of a book about them. Contact a scientific glassblowing site and see whether they have a paper or video showing the action. In the US this would be
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and in the UK
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I have temporarily posted (for a few days) two images of a very largelathe in use at last year's Glass Art Society meeting in Seattle, takenunder poor lighting conditions. One image
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shows an overall view of thelathe with one piece of large tubing mounted in one of the heads. If youare using IE, you may have to select enlarge if it automatically reduces itin display size. At the right end of the 4-5 foot glass tube can be madeout a rubber stopper and air hose to a pivot for blowing. The other image
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shows theunit being used. Note that the flame, as large as it is, covers only abouthalf the end of the tube, yet it is all hot because it is rotating in theflame.
Reply to
Mike Firth
Hi Alan,
Although there are some books dealing with scientific glassblowing, I don't believe I've ever heard of one specifically for lathe use. I own five lathes myself. There are a few different manufactures of lathes such as: Litton, Woodland, Heathway, Arnold, Bethlehem. They basically work the same way. Some main differences would be reversing motors, and disengaging tail stocks. There are also different styles of chucks that are used like planetary, scroll, and Jacobs chucks.
Usually as an apprentice you would be concentrating on developing your hand skills first. You really need to understand the nature of the beast before you can master it.
The main thing a lathe does for you is takes the hand skills out. It will turn your glass evenly while supporting both ends of the tube of glass. Mike referenced a couple sites where you see a large Litton K model lathe being used. When the glass gets to big for you to possibly hold it, and deal with the heat, a lathe is mandatory. Many smaller jobs can be done without a lathe if you have developed good hand skills. Rollers can be a great help as well.
A site was referenced to build a lathe. It shows a finished piece of work in it. They welded two different sizes together making a nice transition. Personally I would not use a lathe for diameters that small because I have developed the hand skills. However in a production setting, a lathe will definitely speed up the process of making such butt welds.
If you have a lathe at your disposal my best advise is to just try it out with small tubes a first and work your way up. If you do not have a lathe available, A book could only help you understand basic safety and operational issues. The rest, just like learning hand work, is a matter of practice and time spent on the burner gaining experience. On most jobs you only get one chance at it. There are so many things that can go wrong that can ruin your piece. You really need to be on top of it. On larger jobs that one mistake can cost you (or your boss) lots of money. I have seen pieces work itself lose and simply fall out of the lathe, pieces get crushed by the chucks, crack because it got to cold, crack because they were heated to fast, cracked because they hit it with their hand torch. You can burn out the glass by over working it. Warp it from to hot of an annealing fire. Have it crack in the oven because it wasn't flame annealed well enough. Lathe speed is crucial, centrifical force can be a tool to be used , or a problem to deal with. Go to slow and your hot glass will begin to lobe out of center. Get your graphite paddles to hot, they can stick to your glass. You don't want to contaminate your hot glass with smoke from burning corks, tapes, wraps, or metals. Unless you are doing production work, every job is different, with different sets of problems to deal with.
I hope this helps, Good luck,
Randy Hansen SC Glass Tech Scam Diego, Comi-fornia
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is a link Ohio States glass shop. Tim has some great shots of his workalong with some on the lathe.
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Reply to
Randy
"Randy" writes:
In the case of metal lathes, some of the best books were written by the manufacturers for use with their own lathes, e.g. The South Bend Lathe book. I think they were used in their own factory. In the interests of quality control, maybe some manufacturers of glass products with glass blowing lathes put together similar documents for internal use.
With hand skills, one still has to learn the nature of the beast a little at a time. What would be wrong with learning that on a glass lathe instead of with hand turning? Naively, it seems that there would be the advantage of not having to worry about your hands while you learn the other stuff. I agree with all your points about the economics of it, but what I have in mind is not a business enterprise or a job.
Since you have experience with a glass lathe, maybe you can address one other issue regarding metal work versus glass work. On a metal lathe, one often has to worry about very close tolerances, e.g. a ten-thousandth of an inch or less. What kinds of tolerances come up with a glass lathe?
Also, there are now numerically controlled metal lathes. Are there CNC glass lathes?
Reply to
Allan Adler
Hi Alan,
Lets see if I can make any sense here....
Not really other than "here's the on/off switch, and here's the speed control" They're pretty basic.
Most of the skill of glass blowing is using your hands and eye hand coordination. Learning the nature of the beast entails understanding how it moves with gravity. Learning how to move a lump of glass and spread it evenly, to make it flow. The sign of a good scientific glassblower is how the transitions look. From a large tube to small tube it should look like one tube just grew out of the other. The wall thickness should be uniform and even from one to the other. Even if the walls vary in thickness there should be an even transition. It will look like it grew out of it. No lumps, bumps, thin spots, folds, pin holes, cracks, ect. As easy as it sounds, it takes years to get really profficient at it.
In scientific work most pieces are not simple designs like a vase. They usually have things attached to the vase like inlets and outlets, joints , and side arms. These additions take the hand skills to attach them. The difference being you use a hand torch and work around the glass, verses using a stationary torch and working the glass around it. If you just want to make vases, lathe work is not so hard. There's only so many things you can do. You push the glass up and thicken it, or you can stretch it and thin it. It would be like a wood working lathe, if all you want to do is turn table legs, it's not to hard. If you want to build the whole table you need more skills. In scientific we build the whole table in the lathe.....If that makes any sense????
Learning free hand you can use gravity to the fullest. When a piece is locked in to a lathe you are limited to what you can do using gravity to get the glass to flow WHERE you want it. Not having a basic understanding you would be really at a lose.
Glass working is not a true science. Most of the tubing you buy will have a variance of up to 2 to 3 mm out of round on larger tubes. In fact if we want exact tolerances we would use a machine lathe and cold grind or drill to exact tolerances using diamond. Or you can re-extrude the tubing to exact tolerances using mandrels and vacuum forming over them. In these cases you have to figure into the equation the expansion and shrinkage of the mandrel, the thickness of the release used on the mandrel, and the shrinkage of the glass. You are limited to how long of run you do using this method.
Your biggest challenge is trying to get the tube to run center as you can. Many time the chucks will warp from heat, and over tightening. You end up shimming the chucks to get your to tube to run center.
Glass can be cut on a CNC as well as metal. There are computer controlled lathes made by Litton. They can only do the most basic steps like a but weld with some simple paddling or forming with a mold. The are great for making test tubes, ampoules, and simple designs like a vase. Fortunately for me, they will never be able to automate the skill of an experienced scientific glassblower. There's simply to much hand work involved.
The man that mentored me most, "ol Freddie attack it Hacket", always told me this " they can get any monkey to work a lathe, what will make you valuable is what you can do with your hands"
He was so right.
Randy Hansen SC Glass Tech Scam Diego, Comi-fornia
Reply to
Randy
Hey Randy,
One of the best dissertations on scientific glass work I have read in quite a while! Right On! A very good friend did all of our production and lab glass work (for three different product lines and seven different lab setups) in Manassas, Va. He was a an ARTIST! He was always going to apprentice me on his own time, but was sooo busy, we never got around to it. Our semiconductor diffusion tubes were 6" dia. and approximately 8 ft. long. They are much bigger now.
Hal
Reply to
Harold E. Keeney (Hal)
I don't think Alan yet has a sense of the purpose of a glass lathe compared to metal and wood working lathes. The closest comparison in metal working is spin welding, if you have ever seen one of those, and that is not very close. With metal and wood working lathes, the material is spun fairly fast and a tool digs into the diameter (ignoring the use of accessory cutters where the lathe is basically just indexing the part.) There is almost always just one powered head and the tail is a point or a free spinning center. With glass lathes, the material is turned slowly and both head and tail are powered to keep the pieces being attached in line as heat is applied to weld them. A glass lathe is a fancy welding jig. It shares a name and not much else with metal and wood lathes. As Randy says - if you want to machine glass you do it with diamond grinders.
Reply to
Mike Firth
"Mike Firth" writes:
I'm sure I have a lot of misconceptions, but I think I do understand the purpose of a glass lathe. What I'm less sure of are its capabilities and that is one reason I asked for books.
Actually, I haven't heard of spin welding. I guess I should think of it as something like using a glass lathe, except instead of melting glass, one melts metal.
I had some hand glassworking lessons. I never got the knack of keeping the two halves rotating at the same rate. One of these days I'll follow the suggestion in Strong's book, Procedures in Experimental Physics, and take two pieces of tubing joined by a tube of heavy metal cloth and see if I can learn to rotate the two tubes, one in each hand, so that the cloth doesn't get twisted up. One additional problem is that I recently developed a kind of cyst in my left hand. I don't know how much it would cost to have it removed, but the doctor charged almost $400 just to examine my hand. He said there is a 20 percent chance that it will go away by itself and only a one percent chance that it is malignant. I can't close my left hand and I can't completely straighten my index finger when the hand is open flat, but I can still do most of the things I'm used to doing, so I've been betting on it going away by itself. One motion that is a lot harder to do under the circumstances is the twisting motion that I would have to perform if I were holding a thin tube in my hand and trying to do glass blowing. I can do it, but it is easy to get my hand into positions where it is very uncomfortable. So if there are mechanical ways to compensate for this hopefully temporary disability, I'm interested in knowing about them.
Maybe I can learn to do it with my feet...
Reply to
Allan Adler
My Father had to learn how to turn glass without the use of his index finger. One of the most devastating injuries you can do with glass is to run it through you hand cutting a tendon. When he did this he didn't have insurance. They stitched the cut, but he didn't have the surgery to reattach the tendon. To this day he can't flex that finger. Where there's a will there's a way.
Good luck,
Randy Hansen SC Glass Tech Scam Diego, Comi-fornia
Reply to
Randy
In this thread, a glass lathe has been perceptively described as a fancy jig for glass working. Are there any other standard kinds of jigs for glass work?
Reply to
Allan Adler

I'm curious.
Do you actually DO anything with glass? Or do you just ask highly technical questions for no apparent purpose?
Reply to
Moonraker
writes:
I've taken some glass working lessons in the past and it is something I would like to do again. I like to plan things like that very carefully for safety reasons and for reasons of limited space and money. I believe that the most important part of any experiment or any construction project is the thought that goes into it. Also, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, I have a cyst in my hand and that limits what I can do with my hands. As Randy pointed out, one can in principle still do glass work with damaged hands, but I think it would also be advantageous to know what kinds of jigs and fixtures one can use. I read a book on the design of jigs and fixtures for metal work and have no reason offhand not to expect that there are similar devices for glass work, especially since a glass lathe has been described as a fancy jig.
I've been particularly interested in literature on glassworking and I would much rather read it than bother people on this group for technical information. I've read Strong's book, Procedures in Experimental Physics and that constitutes most of my reading about glass work.
It is reasonable to ask why I happen to have started asking a lot of questions at this time. I'm not actually building something but I am trying to understand in detail how a particular thing is built, namely the Balmer series spectrum tube described the shop drawings for the Apparatus Drawing Project by Marcley. I think that even with my low levels of glassworking skills, I can probably make most of it, since in the past I managed to make a sealed, evacuated tube with naphthalene in it. What I don't have any experience or guidance with is making metal to glass seals and attaching electrodes to such a tube. I also have no experience with annealing.
At the moment, the only place I have to do any work is a tiny apartment and I don't think it would be safe to do any work in it. I would be glad to know of glass working clubs that provide space for people to work and opportunities to learn more about glass working. For my purposes, the best thing would be the website of an umbrella organization for people interested in glass working and which has information about local clubs that will enable one to find the nearest club in one's geographic area. The American Go Assocation has such a facility, for example, for Go clubs.
I'm aware of some specialized programs in glass working. For example, at Salem Community College in New Jersey, they have a Glass Center offering a specialized program in glass work that apparently addresses many of the questions I've asked about unsuccessfully here. For example, whereas I asked in an earlier thread about shop drawings for glass work and gotten cursory answers, Salem CC has an entire course devoted to reading such shop drawings. They also have a course devoted to the glass lathe. I haven't been able to get much information about their program, and in any case I have no way of getting to Salem Community College or of paying for their program, but I think it is likely that they use books. I've been unable to determine from their bookstore's website what books or other literature they might be using and I haven't gotten any replies to my email requesting information about them.
To make a long answer to 's question short, there are other alternatives besides those has listed. In my case, I am trying to learn and to plan using the limited opportunities and resources available to me.
Reply to
Allan Adler

construction project
Oh..
Gonna study it right into submission, eh?
All the book-learnin' in the world doesn't replace hands on experience.
Reply to
Moonraker
writes:
I'm managing with what I have at the moment.
No one said it does. That doesn't mean it doesn't serve a purpose.
I'm not here to argue about the merits of reading and planning. If anyone knows the answers to my various questions and feels like sharing them, I'll be glad to learn from them.
Reply to
Allan Adler
Well, this thread has been pretty well beaten to death, but if it's technical skills you want from a book, the best I've seen is (uh-oh, my brain went blank, and the book isn't readily at hand - I'll try anyway) Glassworking by Hammesfahr and Stong. It's probably out of print, but I've had really good luck searching for books on Amazon; they give numerous links for used books of the desired title.
Get a torch and play as you read. A Minor torch works well for getting down the basic coordination, if that's where you're coming from.
Depending on what you need in the way of electrodes, neon electrodes are easily obtained in several diameters, and even incorporate an evacuation/fill tube. In the US the electrodes are in lead glass, but I believe that Europe uses borosilicate for their neon construction.
Hope you get a chance to play.
Joe
Reply to
Joe
Joe writes:
I read a book by Hammesfahr about 20 years ago, published by W.H.Freeman in San Francisco. At that time, it was a lot harder to search for used books and I eventually gave up. Thanks for reminding me of this book (if it is the same one) or pointing it out (if it isn't). I didn't read it that carefully and it would probably be good to reread it now.
What do you mean by a "Minor torch"? Do you just mean a propane tank or mapp gas tank with a torch attachment?
It really wouldn't be safe to use my apartment for this and I'm not sure my lease would allow it. There is no yard to use. So, I'm not sure I can provide myself a place to work. Best would be a club of some kind that would provide such logistical supports.
When I'm better educated in this craft, I might have more sense about what kinds of risks are reasonable. Right now, I think I need more responsible people taking an interest in any glass working activities I do before I try actually doing anything. Reading is a lot safer in the absence of that.
That's good to know. I'll start looking into what is available.
Actually, there are probably places that make customized neon signs. Maybe I should talk to them about this construction problem.
Thanks, me too.
Reply to
Allan Adler

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