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Project by Stephen Mines posted 03-03-2011 07:00 AM 3180 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Two columns for the mid-nineties Aaron Spelling TV series MODELS, INC. gave me an opportunity to use my newly developed reciprocating capability. I’d figured out how to make the action happen just a few months before this job came up and had only used it on 3 different sample lamps and one run of 35 of one of those lamps. Bill Hrnjak, the Set Construction Coordinator, and his wife Leslie Parsons, Production Designer both worked for Aaron Spelling on the Models, Inc. show. They were building the permanent set and came to me to see if I had any ideas for columns, something special, out of the ordinary. Bingo! I showed them the lamps I’d just made with the wavy, reciprocated flutes. They really liked the idea and a couple of days later brought me the glued up blanks to make the columns. The blanks were 8” X 82”, in Poplar for a painted finish. Just a real fun days work for me, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store. No glitches, no problems, job on time, good income! WIN/WIN! The last photo shows the largest piece I’d been paid to do this wavy flute on before the columns, (a batch of Lamp #6 (code name) for Hallmark Lighting).

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

11 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17707 posts in 3668 days

#1 posted 03-03-2011 12:28 PM

Congrats to you! Very impressive work. Great shop as well!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Mojo1's profile


286 posts in 3170 days

#2 posted 03-03-2011 01:10 PM

That’s a serious piece of machinery you have there , I love it.

View michelletwo's profile


2783 posts in 3495 days

#3 posted 03-03-2011 02:30 PM

JR Beall (beall tool) used to make an attachment for a lathe that made this type of turning. Today he makes a Pen Wizard that does the same thing on smaller scale. At this moment, I forget the French name for this design (& others) ..very cool set up on your lathe.

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3565 days

#4 posted 03-03-2011 04:36 PM

I think, I can visualize how you would do this, did you use a chain driven cam on that rear carriage to raise
and lower the cutter, or was it made with gears for this application? Either way this is one beautiful lathe.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3814 days

#5 posted 03-03-2011 05:03 PM

Brilliant rig Stephen. Makes my lathe look like a tinker toy. You sound like an enthusiastic whiz kid, so I can see why you would get this kind of work, especially if you consider short deadlines just a challenge. Admirable qualities.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3170 days

#6 posted 03-03-2011 05:37 PM

Thanks very much for the comments…is appreciated!

Gus, When I started the build on this machine to enable flutes/twists, etc., I considered gears (for precision) and nearly fell off my barstool when I started computing the overall costs for matched gears. I decided to explore chain drive possibilities and found with a tiny bit of backlash control (heavy spring-loaded idler sprocket)
that it would work. As I’ve needed a special lead (one complete turn) length I’ve bought whatever sprocket was needed if I didn’t have it already. I have created tables of lead lengths based on driver sprocket. Example: 32 tooth driver + 40 tooth driven (spindle) results in 11” lead. With the sprockets on hand I can create a lead length as small as 1/8” or as long as 36’. Yup, that’s feet, as a prox 4.5’ piece would get a eighth of a turn along it’s llength.
That said, the recip solution is simple: remember the little toy pop corn man that cranked the popper at fairs and such? The same principle turns the spindle, first one way, then the other. That aluminum bar (w/rounded ends) connected to the two sprockets does it: bottom sprocket turns one direction continuous, the spindle sproket is driven first one way, then the other. The cutter head does not move up and down…cutter is centered on the workpiece and moves continuously from one end of the piece to the other as the workpiece (column) turns, Does that explain it? Thanks again for your interest! Stephen Mines ([email protected])

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3498 days

#7 posted 03-03-2011 07:59 PM

That is an awesome piece of machinery, I’m impressed! Any chance of a video showing this machine in action? I would really appreciate that.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View peteg's profile


4435 posts in 3303 days

#8 posted 03-03-2011 10:11 PM

Serious stuff going on here Stephen, well done

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View David's profile


211 posts in 4195 days

#9 posted 03-04-2011 12:38 AM

WOW! Very impressive. I picked up a copy not too long ago of Shopnotes with a design for a Router Milling Machine. I studied the plans and design pretty well and never satisfied to leave well enough alone, scratched my head and thought it could be well combined with a couple of other concepts. Here’s a video too.” Here’s my ideas, as I have no patent or exclusive rights and would rather see if someone wants to take the idea and run with it.

For starters one could use gears made from Matthias Wandel’s page and make a lot more sets of gear combinations. Then I was thinking that a pattern could be followed if it were placed under the carriage that supports the router. Use a roller to follow the pattern, raising and lowering the router carriage so different shape turnings could be produced as well as straight and tapered straight. Basically a tracing lathe: but with more options.

Now looking at your lathe, I’m scratching my head raw, thinking about reciprocating linkage as well as putting in cams. Working along the lines of the Shopnotes machine, you could build something quite reasonably that would produce reasonably accurate work. ... and incorporate a Rose Engine (Google that one)

Thanks for sharing, this is outstanding.

-- [email protected]

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3170 days

#10 posted 03-04-2011 04:58 AM

Thanks for the input David, it is appreciated. Don’t have to google rose engine… For a brief period I did the newsletter for The Ornamental Turners of America. Made a presentation to the OT guys at the AAW symposium in Sacramento early 1995. Ornamental turning is what I do, but on a macro scale it is called complex turning. Not really a fine line between the two: ornamental is just that: very intricate ornaments (maybe a snuff box) while complex turning is BIG, very often funtional (Balusters, newell posts, columns that hold up a building). At least that’s the def I know. About gears and such, I believe my choice of chain and sprokett allowed me to explore further, be functional faster for far, far less investment.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3375 posts in 4192 days

#11 posted 03-04-2011 06:28 AM


WOW! This is W-A-Y beyond our finite minds but, OH, SO interesting. There are so many brilliant minds on here from whom to learn. We’re always curious about “how they did that.”

Thanks for sharing.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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