My Pole Lathe

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Blog entry by misslolly posted 09-30-2010 01:59 PM 6293 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Being a newby to woodworking I don’t have much in the way of tools and equipment, so I set about making some. Here is the pole lather that I started with, in various stages. Unfortunately the pole is way too strong and I need to jump up and down on my treadle to make it work. That doesn’t leave hands free to do anything else but hang on so I have to rethink the pole.

My pole Lathe 3

My Pole Lathe 1

As you can see this is a fair weather machine

My pole Lathe 4

My Pole Lathe Tool Rest 3

Here’s the tool rest

My Pole Lathe Tool Rest 2

The whole thing is made from whatever I could find lying around the place. Its all very adjustable and transportable.

I need to make a few tools to go with it as well

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

15 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3880 days

#1 posted 09-30-2010 02:27 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks, misslolly; it’s a great place for woodworkers of all kinds and you’ll love it.

I like to see anybody try to build things like this. i’ve only seen one of these in person. A fella was demonstrating it in a restored historical village.

I think that you have done a pretty good job at building the basic unit. I’m not saying that you might not need to do some modifications because you may. I’m just thinking that maybe you need a more flexible pole.

here's a picture of someone who has used a some spring steel.

here’s some of Roy Underhill’s books

here’s a pole lathe plan book

A good source for Underhill’s book

All of the above comes from first page or so of this search

There seems to be a lot of info on this out there. Don’t give up on it; you’ll get it to work good, I just know you will. If I could scrape up the time I’d like to try my hand at building one of these. I wish you the best of luck on getting your pole lathe to work. Thanks for posting.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5183 days

#2 posted 09-30-2010 02:27 PM

What a great tool.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4020 days

#3 posted 09-30-2010 02:49 PM

love the ingenuity .. if thats how you spell it ..

And welcome to LJ’s .. be prepared to spend most of your waking moments here

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4251 days

#4 posted 09-30-2010 02:58 PM

Good looking project. Necessity is the mother of invention! I’ve seen several lathes set up at craft fairs and the best one I saw used a flywheel and foot pedal to drive the lathe. With enough mass in the flywheel, you can get the lathe up to speed and cut with your hands free. Here’s a set of plans I found on the net to make a treadle lathe:

And a great set of plans to build an electric lathe:

You might get some ideas to add things to your lathe from these plans. Good luck with your projects. I like your lathe.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4478 days

#5 posted 09-30-2010 03:18 PM

Cool tool. It would be neat to see a short clip of it in action.
What did you use to make the centers?
Just a complete guess, would a group of three thin poles, like willow have more flexibility? Might put a little more spring into setup.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Darell's profile


439 posts in 4608 days

#6 posted 09-30-2010 03:30 PM

I watched a guy demonstrating a foot powered lathe last week at the State Fair of Oklahoma. He was turning out some pretty nice bowls with it too. Selling them for $40 a pop and up. Made his own tools and handles. Have fun with that thing. BTW, welcome to Lumberjocks. You’ll enjoy it here.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View swirt's profile


6038 posts in 3986 days

#7 posted 09-30-2010 06:25 PM

That’s a great pole lathe. Yes you could get by with much less branch for the spring. The spring does not need to be that strong. Just enough to bring the treadle back up. Any stronger than that and you waste all your energy fighting it. I made mine out of bungee but there are so many other options for springs as people have already shared with their links.

Click for details

-- Galootish log blog,

View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3815 days

#8 posted 10-01-2010 02:53 AM

Thanks for the encouragement. When I get the thing functioning I will see if I can get a bit of video of it in action.

The centres are just bolts ground to a point and held in place with a nut on the inside. The trick is to make sure they are ground evenly so that the wood doesn’t wobble around if the point is a bit off centre.

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4129 days

#9 posted 10-01-2010 02:54 AM

niice start
don´t giv up on that there is some good thing in it but allso a few things to be rethinked
I look forward to your next installment

and welcome to L J enjoy and have fun while you surch round on the site
you can find alot of homemade tools here

and if you want to learn how to refurbes tools its also possiple , you can find many good rusty cheap tools on fleamarkets if you know what to look for

either you have to buy new expencive tools or you have to trade you knowledge to get rusty tools in great shape again

here is another link you can learn more from about refurb and make tools

good luck Missmolly

take care

View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3815 days

#10 posted 10-01-2010 03:06 AM

Thanks Dennis for the link. I am very keen to have a go at making my own tools. beginning with a draw knife and I also want to make a stock knife like the one in this picture (not mine).

Stock knife

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3815 days

#11 posted 10-01-2010 03:10 AM

I envy those who have access to people who use these lathes. They seem to all be in the UK or the US. My nearest is probably 2000 miles away so slim chance of me getting to see one in action. Maybe when I’m skillful enough with it I will demonstrate it in a pioneer village.

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4129 days

#12 posted 10-01-2010 03:31 AM

hey that tool was not something I have seen before
this is one of many resens why L J is so great thanks for sharing it

it look like it has been a drawknife that has been changed
(seems to be awfull effective to chop chickenheads of with)

if you consider to demostrate it and take around from time to time
then you need a shorter pole and have it atasched to the bench
or use a spring from and old babycarriage
but the best is that treadle-lathe you find under one of the other link you got
here is another link

this guy has build two
and if you go to his front page there is also other interressting thing
like how citric accid work and electrolysis those are two of those things
you can use to remove rust


View misslolly's profile


52 posts in 3815 days

#13 posted 10-01-2010 03:42 AM

Dennis the stock knife is used by clog makers

I want it for cutting pumpkins amongst other things

-- wishIstillhadaclydesdaleinmyfrontyard

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4129 days

#14 posted 10-01-2010 03:56 AM

Thank´s for the explanation
and a very interresting vidio as I remember I think they did it a little different here in Denmark
but thats something I have to investigatie now , you have made me curios on this
after all its stil wood working ….LOL


View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4478 days

#15 posted 10-01-2010 09:26 AM

Cool link. He was going through wood so fast it would make a beaver watch in amazement.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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