The Slowest Farm Shop #5: Progress on Shaving horse, spring pole lathe, and a mystery tool...

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Blog entry by Will Mego posted 07-24-2009 11:17 PM 5769 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: The slowest summer ever? But there are projects... Part 5 of The Slowest Farm Shop series Part 6: Long overdue Spring Pole Lathe Update! »

Well, I promised pictures last time, and I have some..I started on the spring pole lathe, which is my big project for this summer/fall, and I decided after much goings on to not make a treadle lathe, meaning in this case continuous motion, but a traditional spring pole lathe, where the piece rotates once or more (hopefully many more) times, then back again. Why? I was inspired by a couple things, like poverty and such, but also after doing months of research into it, it’s just what appeals to me. Robin Wood (yes, that’s his name) has been a big inspiration to me. You can look up his work in several places, including the Assoc. of Pole Turners, and his website and you simply MUST check out his videos on youtube, most of all the George Lailey bowl video.

So anyway, understanding please that I’ve heard all the positive and negitive stuff about that course of action, I continue… So I decided to start with a log, rather than surfaced lumber. Partly to keep it looking traditional to some extent, I suppose, and partly because I’ve got a ton of maple logs sitting around here that need attending to. So I start out with this:

and start attacking it with froe and mallet..and no, I know I can’t froe this sucker…it’s big…but the froe does make a nice line across the top, which I then attack with a handsaw to give the line some depth. Then I move to hammers and huge chisel, to define some more lines in the wood,

and finally I drawknife some wedges out of waste splinters of maple..the wedges ranged from 10” to 16” long, I’d say, and only one had any kind of taper to it, one was almost round on the end. Doesn’t really matter as long as you can get one end in a crack, and wail on the other with hammers. So after much much much hard work, I have

I don’t have pics of the next step, which was to drawknife, and plane down the open face and sides of each half, to create the two halves of the body. My next steps will be to decide on a couple possible directions for the legs/stand part, whether I want it very free standing, or more like Robin Woods bowl lathe, which has advantages at the cost of space/mobility.

As for the shaving horse, I started off with a piece of pine I had lying around, and would later come to wish I had LEFT lying around. After much pointless dithering about what exactly I should do, I decided that this piece of pine was so miserable, it doesn’t matter much, and if it falls apart, it would probably be for the best. I pretty much put some holes in it, and cut a piece of reclaimed cherry banister from a fancy house ‘round here into lengths (this was a dumpster reclaim…entirely from their dumpster, which I climbed inside of and scrounged, and yes, I had the permission of everybody). and shaped some crude tenons on. Here’s a couple of pics of that…I suuuure wish it wasn’t so rickety, but I think I would of done better on a hardwood seat..this pine was so soft that test fitting with offcuts showed that any mild rubber mallet work driving the legs in would split the thing to bits. Never tried to work with such soft wood, and I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath to in the future. I guess I’m used to southern yellow pine, which is quite a bit harder to me.

But what do I discover somehow today while doing all this? A mystery plane! That’s right, a little plane hiding away in it’s own world of rust. Here it is:

What is it exactly? No idea. It’s so bad I can’t even make out the numbers on it. So it’s soaking in evaporust, and sometime this week I’ll refinish it enough to identify and perhaps use. Yes, I know some people hate that idea, but I’m one of those tools-are-to-be-used-and-honored kinds of guys. And lastly, she doesn’t care about any of this…

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

10 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3522 days

#1 posted 07-24-2009 11:52 PM

Good blog!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4095 days

#2 posted 07-25-2009 12:48 AM


This was a great post. Thanks!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3481 days

#3 posted 07-25-2009 12:56 AM

Great stuff. And thanks for sharing the video. I loved to hear to pop when a bowl was separated from the blank. Best of luck to you. Since I’m a wimp, I’ll go pay my energy bill now.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4396 days

#4 posted 07-25-2009 01:09 AM

You’ve got us interested. a nice job. Looks like the cat is under impressed.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View mmh's profile


3676 posts in 3718 days

#5 posted 07-25-2009 04:28 AM

Interesting blog. I’m intrigued on how your shaving mule will turn out. We bought plans to make one and my husband made a sturdy, but crude one with 2×4’s. I use it frequently to shave my shafts down and it’s quite enjoyable, no electronic motor noise, just the click and cluck of my foot hitting the foot pad and the scraping of the shaver. Very peaceful.

And don’t underestimate the cat. She’s listening to every sound.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4123 days

#6 posted 07-25-2009 04:34 AM

Hey Will:

Here’s a video link of how we split a log in Kentucky. Got wedges?
Don Weber log splitting video.

-- 温故知新

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 3939 days

#7 posted 07-25-2009 12:51 PM

Would love to see how you progress with the spring pole lathe, especially with how your aproaching this by hand. Great subject and videos. Thanks.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3437 days

#8 posted 07-25-2009 03:02 PM

Robin wood is an inspiration. Peter follansbee is another on my favorites list.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Will Mego's profile

Will Mego

307 posts in 3708 days

#9 posted 07-25-2009 06:48 PM

Drgoodwood, that’s essentially what I’m doing, but the maple was so hard, and since I more or less wanted a clean cut in half, not breaking it down into smaller pieces, I started by defining the exact line with froe and saw…after that I essentially did what Don (a legendary modern bodger) did with wedges, other than that I sadly have no wedges, so I made some with maple and my drawknife.

-- "That which has in itself the greatest use, possesses the greatest beauty." -

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4123 days

#10 posted 07-26-2009 09:25 PM

Here’s a snap I took of Don Weber at the Cincinnati Appalachian Festival in May.
He’s showing a group how to split a log with a froe and mallet.

Notice his treadle lathe standing behind the sawhorse. He uses an archery bow-like spring pole.

-- 温故知新

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