Hand (and foot) operated Lathe

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Forum topic by bytebullet posted 03-30-2012 12:14 PM 3478 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 2868 days

03-30-2012 12:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

Whilst on holiday in Morocco last week, my wife and I visted a few places around the country. On the way to the souq (marketplace) one morning in Marrakech we passed a few (make that a lot) shops selling crafts made from wood and depending on the piece, some of them are making their goods right there in front of you.
I had seen a few machines at the front of shops that I could see were lathes, but so far none of the shopkeepers were using them, until I came across one guy who obviously spotted that he could potentially make a sale if he demonstrated.
Below are a few pictures of his hand powered lathe and a few of the things this guy makes. What he ended up turning was a free little neck charm for my wife, he put it on a piece of string. At one point he swapped the bow with rope on (seen below) to put it around a small wooden drill (more like a bradawl) to drill the hole through the top of the charm for the string, at that point he joked that this was the Moroccan Black & Decker.
I eventually ended up purchasing a set of 12 BBQ skewers from him and even went against all my normal instincts for haggling and just accepted his first price of 50 dirham (about 5 Euros) because to me he had put on a good show also.

I wonder, technically, does this count as just a hand tool?

He goes back and forward with the rope bow and uses his other hand to move the tool, whilst his foot steadies the tool on the rest. All very fast and pretty precise too.

He turned a ring and then cut in under it to release it so that it was loose on the rest of the trinket.

You can see in this last photo the skewers in the foreground and what I think are some chess pieces in the little bowl, as well as some fresh green wood with the bark still on and some turning blanks.

He had loads of other nice things in the shop too, we just didn’t have enough room in our case by then.

-- Rod, London UK

5 replies so far

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 3236 days

#1 posted 05-23-2012 07:15 PM

Did he also make the chess sets in the background?

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2783 days

#2 posted 05-23-2012 07:45 PM

Pretty cool.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5234 posts in 4522 days

#3 posted 05-23-2012 08:46 PM

Kinda makes ya wonder why we spend SO many Dinars on stuff. I’ll bet he sharpens on a flat rock. Sure blows the he!! outa the need to hone to a zillion grit on our lathe tools. How much is enough when the result is what matters?
Great post.
If only my back would allow.
It ain’t the arrow, its the indian.

-- [email protected]

View bytebullet's profile


32 posts in 2868 days

#4 posted 05-24-2012 10:48 AM

he was certainly making some chess pieces, I presume he (or someone close by) was making the playing board. There seemed to be lots of guys dotted around the place making things.

When away from the more touristy areas there were loads of places where guys would be making things by hand in what would be their specialist area, be it metal work or leather work, as well as woodwork and most of them had workshops that they could only just fit themselves in and some materials, certainly less than 5’x6’. The smallest I saw was what just looked like a doorway 3’ wide and no more than 5’ deep, and he spilled onto the street where he used his contractor saw and he had a small lathe inside the door.

There may have been places that were more like large production facilities, but I did not see them.

-- Rod, London UK

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3799 days

#5 posted 05-24-2012 12:05 PM

Even more amazing is the gun building culture in Pakistan. Here’s the wiki article on the market where they are sold.

I can’t imagine making a working machine gun with files, a drill press, templates and time… Just think what they could make with a milling machine and a lathe!

-- Hal, Tennessee

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