I recently knocked up a couple more commodes and have now turned my attention to the second of the Stooges – The Moravian Back Stool. I’m very fond of this design and whilst the commode was all square this one’s all angles and I’m starting out by tooling up.
A lathe can be a useful tool for the hand tool workshop, but it isn’t something I’ve ever dedicated floor space to (except for one, but that was outside). However I have knocked up a few like this one. Like many things that I use in my furniture, I’ll knock it up quickly, complete the job and then it gradually makes it’s way to the firewood pile or gets refashioned in to something new.
Over the years the design has become fine tuned, at least from a quick and simple build point of view, although there’s no denying each one becomes less and less of a looker.
I’m pondering whether to come up with a more refined design or rather to just publish designs of this one and then leave it to you to refine if needed. I’m swaying to this option because I don’t need it to be anything more than it is.
The most notable points are that it is bench mounted. This takes advantage of already having a very solid workbench and I can hold mine down through a combination of the face vice and a holdfast. The lathe itself isn’t all that robust but it works great since it is held so firmly by the bench.
It’s foot and bungie powered, very simple to set up and remarkably effective. Unlike a small motor the power is unrestricted so you can give it some welly if you’re feeling up to it, it can take it because the workbench is such a strong and stable platform. I think my leg can create more torque than most bench top lathes, so don’t think that these things are slow.
It can be built in less than twenty minutes, I used some scrap building pine for this one and it’s fixed together with half a dozen Spaxs and the centres are nothing more than a couple of lag screws.
It’s compact to store, and whilst this one’s short you can build it as long as you’re bench if need be.
The reason I’ve always favored a bench top lathe is because I’ve had unstable workshop environments, often moving at the drop of a hat. Also, floor standing ones need a lot of support and bracing to prevent them wiggling around, and there’s nothing worse than a flimsy human driven lathe. A robust, compact floor standing model is possible but these require to be built more stout which isn’t something I’ve been able to give the time or effort.
Whilst the chair itself won’t be requiring any turnings, we do need to make ourselves a reamer and a circumciser, so that’s the next job.
On a personal note I love the finish that human powered lathes can give, it tells a story much like a hand planed board. Electric powered lathes are a bit too planer/ thicknesser-ey for me
There’s a short video of this in action over on our Facebook page.