Wednesday, 13 May 2020

TURNING a SPINNING TOP - A Power Lathe or Pole Lathe

Power Lathe or Pole Lathe - That is the Question???

I've a power lathe with 10 foot bed in the workshop - it's an Apollo - hand built and a beautiful piece of engineering.  I spoke to the chap who made it and he was still in love with my model and could actually remember making it when I chatted with him on the phone.  So I've been making more treen using power and it's something that's taking me a long time to get used to.  I've also acquired a pillar drill and bandsaw - all very horrible, noisy and dusty!  So I've also had to invest in an industrial type hoover and a proper extractor and a ventilating head vizor mask thing to protect my lungs from dust. So I decided I'd still turn the wood green, one I like the ribbon shavings and two you don't get the dust.  Also I can turn as slowly or as fast as I do on the Pole Lathe.
So spinning top time and I did use my axe to start to rough out my billet but stopped myself and used the machinery!  This is all in aid of my back which I'm really careful of ever since I had an attack of sciatica which took months to recover from, so remember folks look after your back!
Billet prepared with Band Saw

Then for a bit of turning to get a good shape.
Power Lathe

Used the pillar drill to get the holes good and parallel - now I do really appreciate this power tool much less strenuous on the chest and shoulders!
Pillar Drill

Shaping is fun - plenty of beads & coves, decorate with black lines, think of the centre of gravity and you should be fine.

Spinning Top Components

Separate the components, carve your point and your just about set for a record breaking spinner.  I used a Hazel twig for my puller - looks good and does the job.

Spinning Top

And the movie of how well it balances and the speed it goes at - it's half time speed folks that's why the parakeets sound like a horror movie in the background!   And then have a look here at the movie Making a Spinning Top using a Pole Lathe for the same process - I know which one I prefer...
Spinning Top Movie

Wednesday, 6 May 2020



For a long time I've kept a large collection of books in my workshop, Country Crafts, Traditional Building Methods at the same time I've got the same volumes inside in the bedroom, front room, kitchen, upstairs workroom, the loft and in the sitting room!  So I've at long last really been looking at them all again - re-reading and making notes but I've found Not only do I have second copies in the workshop but up to four copies of some and I'm letting them go here 

I've a mixed bunch going on sale at the moment and all are good to enjoy during these interesting times specially those about life in the 19th century and earlier.  Isolating was common - not particularly by choice but just the way life was!  Some trades were very lonely others required teamwork constantly and often deprivation, hunger and appalling living conditions the norm.  Life expectancy short and destitution looming.  So even in these days of uncertainty life for me really is perfectly satisfactory on the whole if not good most of the time and brilliant the rest of it.

I am missing the meet ups with folks but I'm enjoying my strolls with a lovely lurcher, working with wood, chatting non stop with my wonderful wife Vanessa and playing my guitars and mandolin amongst other things!

Also sorting out my tools.  I've decided that I can have too many so I'll going through loads of drawknives, axes, billhooks, planes and plenty of other stuff.  Keeping them down to say six full sets will keep me going for all my courses and demonstrations as well as all my workshop requirements.  So keep an eye out here for a heads up on all types of tools and simple woodworking devices.  They all work well - I've used them all at some time or other but feel I should get them circulating again just like the books need to be.  If you're on the lookout for a side axe of a particular pattern or a chisel by a specific old maker because you like the tool steel, an adze, or a simple axe for spoon carving with a nice comfy handle get in touch - I'll look specifically for one in my massive collection...