German Style Spring Pole Lathe

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Project by AJVperiodfurniture posted 02-22-2014 12:50 PM 10344 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I based this lathe off of one of Roy Underhill’s. It is built of old and new cypress. The poles are just saplings i cut down. For the string i am using sash cord, but i want to try leather wire. The cotton sash cord wears very quickly. The easy part was building it. Using it is a different story. if anyone has tips for turning on a pole lathe i would appreciate it.

-- AJV Period Furniture

12 comments so far

View murch's profile


1380 posts in 3542 days

#1 posted 02-22-2014 12:59 PM

Very nice. Would a long coil-spring work better than a sapling & cord?

-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View AJVperiodfurniture's profile


10 posts in 2484 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 01:04 PM

Probably so, but i wanted to keep with tradition as much as possible.

-- AJV Period Furniture

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2911 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 01:17 PM

Beatiful. Love this.

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View Oldtool's profile


3084 posts in 3108 days

#4 posted 02-22-2014 02:53 PM

Nice build, looks like it would be fun to use.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Underdog's profile


1557 posts in 2953 days

#5 posted 02-22-2014 03:32 PM

How to use it?

Practice, sharp tools, and good technique. And build up your leg muscles. See Robin Wood’s YouTube vids for examples of how effective one can be.

Nice build. It should be a great conversation piece if nothing else.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Paul Maurer's profile

Paul Maurer

162 posts in 2472 days

#6 posted 02-22-2014 03:58 PM

AJV, I used a strip of leather off an old shamy (like you dry your car with) for my lathe.
A spring pole lathe is a great (and safe) into to turning. The only difference besides power source is the spring returning your turning. For more speed and more turns per step, reduce the diameter where the cord contacts the piece.
and you may need a stiffer spring pole for a faster return.
Fir spring pole lathe in Denver (Englewood), Free to good LJ home

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2878 days

#7 posted 02-22-2014 06:28 PM

Very nice AJV. Is that spring pole providing enough spring? It looks on the thin side. All I can say is people say you get used to the reciprocal motion and cutting only on the down stroke after a while.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4502 days

#8 posted 02-22-2014 06:28 PM

I have never tried one of these pole lathes, though I feel I would like it. I like the simplicity of these very old lathes , and your one looks (very) or much more modern and practical in design.However if you have any interest in woodturning this is how the old bodgers used to do it, and thankfully there are groups dedicated to keeping this art alive. I love this. LOng may it continue.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View jdh122's profile


1185 posts in 3735 days

#9 posted 02-22-2014 08:51 PM

Building one of these is on my list of project. Looks like you did a great job. I have no tips on using it, other than the fact that green wood is easier than dried, but you knew that already…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 3921 days

#10 posted 02-23-2014 06:31 AM

Great work you did on this lathe

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View luv2learn's profile (online now)


3084 posts in 3220 days

#11 posted 02-23-2014 04:08 PM

Kudos to you for going Old School. I am anxious to see how your turning skills progress.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View BloodAndSalt's profile


8 posts in 2675 days

#12 posted 02-23-2014 07:01 PM

Nice. Let me know how it goes. My turning tools finally arrived in the mail, so I’m trying to figure out the same.

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