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It Works!! My home-made helical lathe upfit makes spiral cuts!!

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Project by poopiekat posted 03-14-2010 08:32 PM 22186 views 22 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, the working prototype is finished! This was a project I mentioned briefly in another forum, and in a previous blog of mine. Though there were a few doubting Thomases, I can now present my helical-cut lathe fixture, with which I can cut barley twists, spiral flutes, and other decorative accents on columns, legs and spindles. Being the frugal type that I am, I gathered salvaged materials from wherever I could, with a general idea of what I had in mind. As parts became available, it was an interesting challenge to make them work. For example, the linear-motion component was salvaged from a Nordic-trak-like machine. (Oddly, a remaining unused part of it is in the background of some pics) the chain-and-sprocket mechanism is from a restaurant conveyor-type commercial bread toaster. The inner structure, the orange colored pieces, are from some industrial doors I picked up somewhere. And, of course, the lathe bed and tailstock are from an ancient ‘Hobby Craft” lathe from the 1930’s, as mentioned in my blog. Pictured also is the first piece produced, for general testing purposes, a chunk of tulipwood salvaged from a pallet. I produced an array of cylinders on my Delta/Beaver lathe for detailing on this fixture, no I don’t believe I will do any sizing on this unit because it is all hand-operated except for the router itself. By the way, I love this antique B&D router which I’ve owned for 25 years. It’s even got a little light inside, near the collet! Anyway, this project was lots of fun, zillions of little problems to address one-at-a-time, and ultimately once all the little bugs are worked out I will re-create it with some beech understructure to replace the particle board stuff, and incorporate a few more improvements and upgrades. Feel free to ask me about how I did it, making stuff is fun, but making machines that make the stuff is a whole ‘nother experience! Thanks in advance for your comments.
ps More about it here: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/27516#comment-579005 and. http://lumberjocks.com/poopiekat/blog/13091

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!





36 comments so far

View michelletwo's profile

michelletwo

2292 posts in 1769 days


#1 posted 03-14-2010 08:39 PM

very clever McGyver

-- We call the destruction of replaceable human made items vandalism, while the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources is called development.

View RichardH's profile

RichardH

295 posts in 1756 days


#2 posted 03-14-2010 08:42 PM

Very impressive machine. I enjoy seeing the various tools and equipment people build and have personally gone through phases where the tool building itself became more of a focus than the end product. I’d like to attempt something like this one day though I don’t do much spindle work…perhaps instead some form of poor man’s ornamental lathe. My favorite part is your use of the nordic track.

-- "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it...It's the hard that makes it great."

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2242 days


#3 posted 03-14-2010 09:10 PM

That is one AWESOME feat of engineering, stick-to-itiveness and general all around cool.

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3746 posts in 2488 days


#4 posted 03-14-2010 09:37 PM

Thanks, all, for your great comments! Michelle, I thought you were just being friendly.. until I looked at your projects…WOW!! Now I’m wondering what your method is for your unique turnings!
Yes, Richard, I’m too cheap to throw stuff away, and it all gets used on some contraption or another. Padre, thanks again for another heart-felt compliment!
Actually, the reason for making such a device was explained in one of my earliest threads as an LJ. I was commenting on my worst woodworking experience, in which my work was featured in an upscale gallery, only to have my successful designs duplicated by others. Though the thread morphed out of control, I resolved myself to only do work that could not be easily duplicated. Though a few took offense to that statement, ultimately if I was doing rope-turns, spiral flutes and barley twists instead of standard joinery stuff, I might have persevered in that craft boutique. But that was long ago. Now that I’m entering my twilight years, I might do a few crafty things and/or donate to fundraising activities in the future. Though I still like to test my limits, whether woodworking or creating machinery and fixtures.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15090 posts in 2429 days


#5 posted 03-14-2010 09:45 PM

Good job, I take it you totally invented this from scratch? I hate to tell you but Sears sold thise back in the 70s as Router Crafters or some similar name.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3746 posts in 2488 days


#6 posted 03-14-2010 10:04 PM

Heh, yes Topamax they sure did…but if I recall, they had some sort of yo-yo string design to move the fixture along the workpiece, which did not have the accuracy of this device. Don’t confuse what I said about unique craft designs with fixture designs! Of course there are lots of spiral machinery configurations around. Mine more closely resembles the “Legacy” mill, only with a link drive instead of a lead screw. Actually, mechanical fixturing dates back to the 1800’s, not to mention every screw-cutting lathe in the world…. Mine can do spirals in 2 directions with a 2-minute change in the set-up. Nothing drives me nuts more than spiral legs or bedposts that all spin in the same direction!!!!!! It’s like the work of the devil or something….

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Eric in central Florida's profile

Eric in central Florida

3676 posts in 2329 days


#7 posted 03-14-2010 10:12 PM

That sucker is cool !

-- All glory comes from daring to begin.

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

906 posts in 2367 days


#8 posted 03-14-2010 11:05 PM

I agree, that sucker is cool!

Any comparison with a Router Crafter is an insult (other than the intended results). I picked one of those up at a garage sale several years ago and then sold it at my garage sale ‘cause I never could get the thing to work right! Cheap, flimsy, poorly designed… but I digress.

I would love to see more details and perhaps a blog that describes the operation more. This is something I could envision building for myself.

Well done!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3746 posts in 2488 days


#9 posted 03-14-2010 11:27 PM

Thanks, EE andWoodwrecker!
I could probably put together a list of materials and some set-up instructions. I’d probably go with recirculating ball-bearings when I make the permanent keeper version. So far, between scrounging and some eBay and local hardware pieces, I’ve kept the cost down to $200 or so, the only single big expense was the 1:1 angle drive gearbox which was $50 plus shipping. I made my own headstock but perhaps if you have access to an old lathe you might be able to upfit it in its entirety. If I had a trove of spur gears, I’d make a leadscrew version instead of chain-operated indexing. It was important for me to meld old and new, but…picking up piece-parts and starting all fresh is really the path of least resistance, and it would still cost less than $500 or so. I’d be happy to help anyone deciding to make one of these. It’s gonna be fun using this new toy!!!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View noknot's profile

noknot

548 posts in 2195 days


#10 posted 03-14-2010 11:46 PM

You sir are a genius with pretty cool ideas

-- GO DAWGS!

View Don "Dances with Wood" Butler's profile

Don "Dances with Wood" Butler

1003 posts in 2149 days


#11 posted 03-15-2010 12:41 AM

Very nice, poopycat.

I just threw money at it, not that I have a lot of that.
I have a Legacy 1500EX, a monster!

By the way, I don’t turn columns of any great size as solid pieces. I glue up a hollow form so they won’t tear themselves apart as the outer part contracts and the core doesn’t sp much.

d

-- Will trade wife's yarn for tools.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15090 posts in 2429 days


#12 posted 03-15-2010 12:42 AM

Sorry if I upset anyone. I said it was a nice job. I just merely meant to point out there was a similar product on the market. Guess I used a poor choice of words.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112939 posts in 2331 days


#13 posted 03-15-2010 01:00 AM

Far out cool . I never could have made a great machine like this puppy. super job.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3746 posts in 2488 days


#14 posted 03-15-2010 01:24 AM

Thanks all once again for your kind words!
don,...yeah, I came so close to simply sending a check to Legacy for one of their really excellent mills….but I was afraid once the novelty wore off it would become a $2300 clothes rack. By the way, are you using those bird’s mouth shaper cutters to make your hollow columns? If so, how do you find your centers?
I’m amused by the fact that now that I’ve built it, I actually have to gather some notes together to remind me how to set it up. Heh, looks like I need to write an owner’s manual, LOL! I’ve got quite a variety of gear ratios available for experimenting with pitch angle, etc. Everything is on shafts and set screws, so much that can go wrong if I’m not diligent about making sure everything is buttoned down before I switch on the router…but I’m really going to have some fun with this! And, as I said, I’ll help anyone who thinks they’d like to make a similar unit.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

4940 posts in 2636 days


#15 posted 03-15-2010 01:44 AM

Good for you PKat. That is quite that machine. You do some good scrounging. This really reminds me of homebuilt CNC. They are so cool, but it is a very scary and a unique thrill when you turn on the router and let ‘er rip.

I have lots of questions:
Do you think you might get less backlash with toothed belts instead of chains? I have never really thought of chains for linear movement control.

How is that Nordic linear bearing setup working? Can it hold up to the sawdust? Is it ‘tight’ and can the router lift up? It is hard to tell from the pictures.

Is the chain drive hand driven? Do you think you could hook up a motor drive (or maybe even a variable speed drill) to drive it?

Pretty cool unit,
Steve

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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