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Just my .02 cents … I kind of agree with MPax.

I have a friend who does furniture restoration and repair. Several years ago, he bought a duplicator to create replacement spindles for a customer. The duplicator (can't remember which one he bought) worked, but only did about 80% of the turning … he had to finish up the detail by hand. It also was a bear to setup.

I took a turning course in a shop that was equipped with, among other lathes, a Hegner lathe with a duplicator. The instructor was the only one that was allowed to touch it, and that lathe was dedicated to that purpose … couldn't use it for regular spindles of bowls.
 

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If you make a lot of the same spindle, make a story board with the marks for the features and get a number of outside spring calipers that you can have set to the key diameters. the cut the key diameters in with a parting tool until the caliper drops in and then connect the cuts. It is fun!!
Those duplicators are expensive. You'd need a big job to make it pay. I have one for my Craftsman lathe and have not used it yet. Mine is pretty simple and does not have the and wheel. You have to move it manually.

If you are making just one table and 4 chairs, you will get good turning practice with a story board!

.................Jim
 

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I'm gonna have to go with the Vega camp here I've used and own a few there's only one you'd have to pry out of my cold dead hands.lol the Vega is so much more versatile it a turners dream attachment wise until beatable there isn't anything you can't turn with it, with the time to set it up , for production runs of exact pieces it is what you want and for not much more then your basic understanding expandable duplicater.
Just my 2 cents for what it's worth
 

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Wow - that Vega tool looks like a real nice piece but is pretty steep.

I made an old school 'spindle dancer' jig for my Jet EVS 2 and have had great success with it. It is pretty simple, allowing you to select various points on a setup piece and set the adjustable "dancers" to drop away once you have reached the appropriate diameter. I have made a number of chair rungs, salt and pepper mill sets, etc. using it. Here are a few photos of one use I made of it.

First one shows setting the adjustable dancers to the various points. They can be adjusted side to side as well as the depth they reach.

Second one shows second piece to be turned (duplicated) with dancers riding on the blank.

Third one shows some of the dancers falling away after the desired diameter is reached. The finished piece is behind it strictly as a visual assist.

This project was making a holly salt grinder and a wenge pepper mill, shown in the last picture.

Wood Circuit component Gas Machine Bunsen burner


Gas Engineering Cylinder Machine Laboratory equipment

Cylinder Gas Engineering Machine Circuit component

Table Flooring Wood Human leg Thigh


Plans are available at http://www.popularwoodworking.com/articleindex/ingenious-jigs-spindle-dancer-jig.
 

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What makes the rods swing away when the right diameter is reached?
Gravity. The rods are adjusted to the desired depth and ride on the workpiece. When the desired diamter is reached, presto!
 

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TheDane is correct! The screws you see in the front of the blocks riding on the threaded rod allow you to set the dowels ("dancers") to the proper depth, then tighten them down. The blocks are drilled out slightly larger than the threaded rod so they can drop away once the proper diameter is reached.

This may not be the most elegant tool out there, but it sure does the trick for me.

Ron
 

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Duplicator set up is SO important! the mechanism has to be tight but allow smooth movement. The tool has to be sharpened correctly or it will self feed or jump. The stock you are turning may need to be supported to avoid bouncing during the cut. There are those that are not suited for finish cuts so they are virtually worthless. Adapt a cross feed from a metal lathe to ride the ways of your jet and drive it with a chain or cable to the hand wheel. take out the cross feed screw and adapt it to a lever feed. often you can find them on ebay for under fifty bucks. or for about 500 you can buy a whole atlas lathe and less than 100 more have one that does this:
this one has been in service for over 60 years. depends on how much you need to copy and how fast lol. The template clamps onto the rail behind the crossfeed cover and a pin on the crossfeed follows the template. setups are a snap and I can clamp an original to the same bar and use a bit of angle to follow the original spindle as well. I can get any level of detail you wish including undercuts, bowls and hollows.
 

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From what I have been told numerous times the hobby type of lathe duplicators give a really bad wooly inacurate finish.In order to make spindles well you need to get a modern duplicating lathe with all the different inbuilt cutters and cutterheads .Maybe I am wrong but that's what a lot of people have told me over the years many years.
Please do your homework re this before spending hard earned cash only to be sorely dissapointed with the results. Actually on uk ebay really good duplicating lathes do come up and quite reasonably priced cheap even one went last week I had my eye on for around £650 uk plus delivery it but it was really to much for me with all my health problems I am downsizing not upgrading well sometimes LOL Take it easy and let us see what others think. Alistair
 
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