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Project by Stephen Mines posted 03-11-2011 10:07 PM 2676 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is ALL about the BASE. An order that had absolutely nothing to do with wood turning was offered to me by one of my most-favored wood turning customers. This customer was a real go-getter company that ALWAYS thought outside of the box, and often forced me to think outside of the circle.

The base shown in the 1st photo (and in the 2nd photo-drawing) was a complex lamp base for a Las Vegas hotel job. The order was for 775 parts, well worth my considering! (775 X $9.56 = $7,409)


What you’ll see in this project is one of the most innovative uses of a pattern makers wood lathe you are likely to come across. It is copy shaping and it is pretty much the territory of CNC machines nowadays.
By mounting a sturdy table (2” X 6” X 72” solid steel) onto and over the bed of the lathe, with room for the lathe carriage to traverse below it, a rock solid and true base is established. Attached to that is a top of plywood to mount the work pieces to. Four sides of the bases (all around) had to be detailed, so I made four stations where the rough band sawn pieces could be bolted to the table on protruding studs (in the holes pre-drilled for the parts of the lamp to be attached).. Alternating end/side/end/side, one pass of the router (which is mounted on a hydraulic tracer, which is in turn mounted on the lathe carriage) will do 2 ends and 2 sides. From the operators point of view, the router travels from right to left. As the router finishes cutting on the 1st piece and moves on to the next, the operator uses an air ratchet wrench to undo the nuts holding it, removes it, and replaces it with the neighbor on it’s left, which is then positioned for its finishing cut at the beginning of the next pass. . . and so on down the line, with a new, unshaped piece being attached at the farthest left station. The feed rate of the router is totally adjustable and can be set to suit the speed with which the operator can detach and re-attach each stations’ part (accounting, of course, for a feed fast enough to keep the cutting tool from overheating…remember, the material the cutting tool moves into is a coolant) Fast and furious suits me just fine and (since I’m the operator!) I got the speed down to just under 6 minutes for each pass. Each pass means another finished part X $9.56 per part equals $145.28 per hour, pretty good wages for a 51 hour run. Subtract about a $.74 per piece for Poplar cost ($527.00 total, 6/4 S2S 1.5” multipules of 6.5”W)...still a good job. I don’t even think about costing set-up time on something like this…cause that’s the part I really like! Too, the cost of the special cutter LRH made for this was $280 but that amortizes out well, and the cutter is always good for down the road on another job. If you have any questions, fire away…I’ll be happy to try to answer them. By the way, I’m kinda aiming the posting of some of my projects to those here striving to make a living at woodworking…paying it forward… but there are tidbits for anyone looking for them.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

5 comments so far

View rance's profile


4271 posts in 3614 days

#1 posted 03-11-2011 10:19 PM

Stephen, I’m confused. You said “The base” and I’m looking at the flat piece on the table. Then you talk about turning. I don’t see the 2nd picture you speak of. I’d really like to see what you are talking about though. Especially for $95/hr. :)

Edit: Oh, I see now. :) Thanks for sharing pricing too. I like to compare notes from time to time.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3144 days

#2 posted 03-11-2011 10:37 PM

Hey Rance, I feel your pain! Thing is, I’m on dial-up, and not all that bloody reliable dial-up. I have to upload pics one at a time. I shovel snow between photos! LOL. Hang in, it’ll happen.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View Dusty56's profile


11850 posts in 4141 days

#3 posted 03-11-2011 11:59 PM

Did I read this correctly ? It takes 6 minutes to route each piece ?
”....6 minutes for each pass. Each pass means another finished part ”

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3144 days

#4 posted 03-12-2011 06:37 AM

Dusty, I’m wrong about that. I just went back to my notes and each pass, from start, make the pass, to back to start (the slide pulls back, carraige goes into reverse and stops at the right end of the work table, ready for the next pass) only took a little under four minutes, not six. Just think about it for a minute: each pass does the end of #1 part, the side of #2 part, the end of #3 part, and the side of #4 part. As soon as the router passes part #1 (on the far right) the operator removes the nuts holding it and takes it off of the work table…it is a finished part: both ends and both sides have been detailed. Then the operator removes the nuts holding part #2 and takes it off the studs, turns it 1/4 turn, slams it down on station 1, then moves to the next part down the line. Think of it as a round robin operation. Remember, too, that the operator doesn’t need to touch any switches (if it is set on auto). It’ll just keep going. If the operator gets behind, he flicks a switch to ‘single pass’ and the router stops at the start point, waiting for a go signal.

This really sounds complicated, writing it down; it was only mildly complex to do. Kind of fun. Pay was very good!

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View devann's profile


2250 posts in 3145 days

#5 posted 03-12-2011 07:48 AM

That’s pretty slick there Mr. Mines. I like the tool setup you did and thanks for taking the time to explain it. Seeing how you had the router mounted reminded me that I want a pin router. But I can’t afford one. Someday I’ll build my own but I have to get more metal working tools.
I’ve wanted to make a router rig so I can cut odd shaped bowls. I made some heart shaped bowls but had to be creative in clamping the material to be cut. After the first one I realized I was doing it backwards. I need the router fixed and then move the material to achieve the cut.
The magic wands are still cool too. I have the ones you made with the gunsights in my favorites section.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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