Monthly Archives: May 2013

Spring Pole Bookshelf?

2013-05-26 20.53.36 A few weeks ago, I posted some pictures of my spring pole lathe and the great progress I was making.  Well, as always, life happens, and manages to alter the best laid plans of men.  The lathe was to a point where it was looking really good.  After chopping out the mortises, I noticed a bit of stiffness in my arm.  I stopped working for the day and rested for the night.  My arm was very swollen and I could not fully flex it.  Where does the “Spring Pole Bookshelf” come in you may ask?  Please bear with me and I will explain.

I rested my arm for a week, and took anti-inflammatories, and it was feeling better, although still a little swollen.  Then, I made the mistake of using it again to install a storm door that was a Mother’s Day gift for my very patient wife.  It re-injured my elbow so badly that I had to do the unthinkable; I had to cancel my Moravian Workbench class at Roy’s Woodwright’s School.  I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I realized I would not be able to physically stand up to a solid week of punishing mortise chopping, but I contacted Roy and let him know I was not going to be able to make the class.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to this past weekend, and after going to the Doctor and getting some stronger medication and a new arm brace, my injury was doing better.  I decided to take it slow and do some limited work.  I did some plane refurbishing, which amounted to some sanding of the sole of the plane and blade sharpening.  I took frequent rests and iced my elbow after each session.  I was not feeling any pain afterwards, and I could tell it was healing.

After doing some deep thinking about my predicament, I surmised that the root cause of the problem was the height of my workbench.  I have not discussed my workbench a lot as it is a commercial bench I bought from Grizzly before I knew any better.  It’s funny, for what I paid for this bench, I could have purchased the material for a really nice bench.  I have made do with this light-weight, thin-topped, crappy-vised bench-shaped object for almost 3 years now, and I have never adjusted the height.  That all changed.  I reduced the height of my bench by 4 inches.  I must tell you, this really made a huge difference.  Planing is easier and so is sawing.

Now we get to the “Spring Pole Bookshelf” part:  As I was piddling around the shop this weekend, I was cleaning, and I placed s few books on my lathe.  They fit nicely on the bed and it got me thinkin’….If I cut a board the same shape as the tail stock, I could use it for a sliding bookend.  This was just the small project I felt I could tackle with my limited elbow capacity.

I sawed out the block of wood and drilled a hole for a 1/2″ dowel rod and inserted the rod after placing the bookend on the lathe bed.  I put my woodworking books on the lathe bed and adjusted the new bookend.  I cut a wedge to set the bookend in place and it worked great; who needs a lathe when you have such a nice bookshelf!  I took a few pics and then went to rest my arm and elbow on some ice.

2013-05-26 20.54.41

I like this design concept and I will probably make a bookshelf similar to this after I complete the spring pole lathe.  Yes, I plan to finish the lathe.  This bookshelf was only a side-diversion to entertain me until I am physically able to continue the lathe project.

I will publish a list of my books in a later post.  This is a combination of deliberate purchases, books I’ve had for years and lucky finds in the annual library book sale.  All of the LAP or Lost Art Press books I own are definitely deliberate purchases.

One side note, I was planning on doing a “The Onion“-esque post with a title like “Traditional Woodworker Injures Self in Freak Strain-Related Accident” but decided I’m not the professional humorist like those that populate “The Onion.”


It’s about time – let’s get this lathe started

Well, it has been too long since my last blog post.  I have had a lot of things going on and have not had a lot of shop time, but that dry spell has ended, and I finally got some time to work on my Spring Pole Lathe (SPL).  Earlier, I completed the short vertical side, but I did not blog that, so this will cover all my SPL efforts to date.

I am making my SPL out of Southern Yellow Pine (SYP).  First, I would like to discuss the condition in which you find SYP.  This stuff comes very heavy with moisture from the the home center, Home Depot, in this case.  The only good board that I found was really dirty.  After I cut it up to rough size, I had to plane it to get the top dirty layer off.  I did not want to use my good vintage jack plane for this, as I did not want to dull it, so I used my crappy late-model Stanley #5  jack plane (I made it somewhat better by replacing the plastic front knob and the tote – thanks, Ed!).  I used my scrub plane on surfaces that had a lot of material to remove, or were really dirty…I love my scrub plane, it saves me so much work.

After planning the stock, I squared and trued it.  Then, it was time to start laying out the short vertical.  As you can see on the plan here,   ( the mortise and tenon are split, and this was a challenge.  I just plunged ahead and drilled 1/2″ holes and chopped out the rest with my new Lie-Nielson 1/2″ mortising chisel.  This chisel is definitely a much nicer chisel than my old one I bought from Lee-Valley on sale for a set of 6 Narex.  The LN chisel cost more than the whole set of the Narex but it’s worth it.  Another example of “don’t cheap out on tools, you’ll just waste your money.”

One note about the feet of the SPL.  I find it very difficult to cut out long straight runs where the saw cannot start the cut, like under the foot in the hollow section.  So I drilled out the curve with a 1″ drill bit and used a keyhole saw to bring the cut around to the straight section.  I went far enough to fit my panel ripsaw in the slot, and proceeded to cut the rest of the way to the far end.  This worked great, and this is how I will do this operation from now on.

The ogee curves on the the feet presented me with a challenge.  Should I saw them out, chisel them, or what?  I decided to do both.  First, I saw cut a tangent that intersected both high points.  Then, I cut out a “V” in the valley of the ogee curve.  This got me close enough to use the chisel to chop away even more; being careful not to go too deep, and always chiseling downhill to the grain.  Then, I followed the chiseling with my rasps; first the course rasp to remove the most material, and then, the fine rasp to clean up after the coarse.  This left a really nice finish, and will require only minor sanding.

I repeated the same process for the tall side, and then it was time to put the ogees on the shoulders and cut out the upper portion on the tall side.  I used a compass to draw 1/2″ arcs of the small ogees on the shoulders, and for the top of the short side, I used 3/4″ arcs.  I then marked out the taper on the upper portion, and cut both sides with my rip saw.

Next, came the two bed rails and the the bottom stretcher.  I trued them up and cut all three pieces to the the same length.  I then aligned all ends, and marked them all at the same time for the tenon locations, with a framing square.  This ensured consistent spacing on all three tenons, and the uprights are parallel.  I cut out the tenons on the bed rails, and the stretcher rail, and then started on the mortises.

Side view getting an idea of the bed rail fit

Side view getting an idea of the bed rail fit

For the bed rails, it is important to have them planed to the same height.  The bed rails have to be level to allow the tail stock to slide freely and not bind.  Likewise, the inside faces need to be planed flat to each other.

Before putting the mortises in, I trued the uprights.  After cleaning and ensuring both upright-end’s mortise and tenons were tuned, and a good fit to the feet, I used a block plane to shave off the high-side foot, until the upright showed level and square to the floor.

To mark the mortise locations, I used a 3″ spacer between the bed rails, and clamped a support stick on the upright to support the rails while they were being marked on the uprights.  I was very careful in setting this up as to ensure the bed would be level, and consistent, in width along its length.  I really took my time to ensure this step was done precisely.

Round or square wedges?  Well, Roy used round so that is what I chose.

Side view

Side view

Beauty Shot of end of lathe

Beauty shot – end view










Next Entry: I will cut the slot and holes for the poles and finish the tail stock and rocker-arm assembly, and maybe the tool rest.