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778Pole Lathes

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  • rmhowe
    Jul 1, 2003
      Once upon a time an adventurer named Ken wrote:
      > One of the infinite questions that I was saving ...
      > was about pole lathes. I saw one being used by a guy
      > in Wiltshire and wondered if they were around in
      > Anglo-Saxon times. I guess the answer to that is ...
      > Next question please !
      > I would like to learn to use these... <

      The biggest problem I can think of is you are going to
      be walking around like John Cleese for a while after
      you are done pumping the silly thing. ;) They are
      certainly period.

      A few references for you:

      There is a picture of a primitive ground-mounted lathe
      being used to turn bowls in:
      Basilov, Vladimir N. (ed.): Nomads of Eurasia; Seattle,
      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in association
      with University of Washington Press, 1989. First Edition.
      Quarto hardcover, 8.25x11.5”, jacket, xiii, 192pp. including
      contributors, extensive bibliography, index, 99 full color
      plates with 128 b/w illustrations; hardback, , index.
      Published to coincede with "Nomads: Masters of the Eurasian
      Steppe," exhibition from Feb.1989 - Feb. 1990 - a touring
      exhibit which featured 1,100 artifacts from Soviet museums.
      ISBN:029596815X A number of Steppes dwellers turnings of
      bowls, vessels and kumis cups of wood are included in it.
      Available through http://www.bookfinder.com/ or
      http://www.abebooks.com/ usually.
      A wonderful late period illustrated discussion of
      lathes is in:
      Daumas, Maurice: A History of Technology & Invention -
      Progress Through the Ages, Volume II,The First Stages
      of Mechanization; Translated by Eileen Henessy, Crown
      Publishers, New York, English translation 1969, originally
      published as Historie Generales des Techniques, 1964,
      Presses Universitaires de France. Hardback, 694 pages.
      This book begins with the Fifteenth and Sixteenth
      Centuries. It includes lathes for glasswork and screw
      cutting and early jeweller's/watchmakers type lathes.
      Curiously one large bow lathe illustration is upside
      down in its room. I saw one of the keyed multiple
      screw cutting wood lathes once at Williamsburg in an
      exhibit. A very similar one is depicted here.
      The head had a variety of threads cut on the central
      spindle, any of which could be engaged for bow lathe
      work by raising or engaging the key which would then
      move the spindle in and out. Obviously this was for
      turning objects not mounted on the end-stock. But it
      was bow lathe operated. It had to be reciprocal.
      There are a number of different lathes in use at
      Williamsburg - I've photographed all of them in the
      different shops. Wheelwright, Cabinetmaker, silversmith,
      pewterer. And that one complex one at the Decorative
      Arts Museum exhibit.
      Hodges, Henry: Technology in the Ancient World; 1980,
      Alfred A. Knopf, New York. With drawings by Judith Newcomer.
      About 300 pages. Attributes the earliest lathe depiction to
      a Ptolemaic tomb painting [this would have been after
      Alexander the Great, or third C BC at least]. Says Theodorus
      of Samos invented the lathe [doubtful claim]. Depicts a
      vertical and a horizontal Egyptian lathe. Photograph of
      modern Hunzas turning a cup on a primitive bowl lathe.
      The cup is held by three or four metal or wooden dowels
      set into the base from the human powered lathe shaft end.
      Depicts another lathe device for holding a charged [with
      abrasives] copper wheel for cutting stone [lapidary] or
      glass. The invention of the lathe was again attributed to
      Anarcharis. ISBN 394448081
      A particularly good one for turners:
      Müller, Ulrich: Holzfunde aus Freiburg und Konstanz;
      [Wood finds from Freiburg and Konstanz]
      Theiss, 1996, 328p. + 52 pls., Hardback.
      ISBN 380621266X. $84.00
      "Wooden objects from waterlogged deposits in Konstanz
      and Augustinian drains in Freiburg range in date from the
      13th to the 16th centuries. Not only an extensive
      illustrated catalogue that will be invaluable for
      reference and identification, but also an extensive
      study of how the objects were made, what timber, how
      it was cut, how it was worked and what they were used for.
      Ranges from combs and beads to a complete backgammon board;
      lots of turned objects." [Their take.]
      Have it, like it. Similar to the woodworking book from York.
      Many turned objects in it. Got it through Oxbow listed below.
      and another good one for turners:
      AY 17/13 Morris, Carole A.: Craft, Industry and Everyday
      Life: Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and
      Medieval York; 2000, 400pp, 37 half-tones, 8 colour
      plates, 185 line-illustrations, ISBN 1902771109,
      £34.00 "This important fascicule is the definitive study
      of over 1,500 wooden objects and woodworking tools of both
      wood and iron, recovered from 16-22 Coppergate and the
      surrounding area, and from the Foundry and College of
      the Vicars Choral sites at the Bedern." [Their take.]
      (Do not buy the Bedern Foundry book, you'll be terribly
      disappointed in it.)

      Morris, Carole A.: Craft, Industry and Everyday Life:
      Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval
      York: The Archaeology of York - The Small Finds Series
      17/13, 2000, app. 400pp, 225 illus., (Council for British
      Archaeology, Bowes Morrell House, 111 Walmgate, York,
      Y01 9WA), pb, ISBN 1902771109, Printed by Henry Ling Ltd.
      The Dorset Press, Dorchester, Dorset.
      Has a lot of information on medieval turning. Depicts
      woodworking tools and techniques, the craft of lathe
      turning, vessels, and resultant waste; coopered vessels;
      domestic equipment and utensils; boxes and enclosed
      containers; furniture bits; personal items; manual and
      agricultural implements; textile implements; implements
      used for non woodworking crafts and activities; games
      and pass-times; building bits and fragments; pegs and
      miscellaneous implements; 2 saddle bows; and a willow shoe
      last; with a large bibliography and a small glossary.
      [My take on what's in it.] Obtainable from:
      York Archaeological Trust, to C. Kyriacou at Cromwell
      House, 13 Ogleforth, York, YO1 7FG. (We accept Mastercard
      and Visa. We now have an on-line order form (which can
      also be printed/faxed). For further information contact
      YAT by telephone (01904 663000), fax (01904 663024)
      or e-mail (postmaster@...).
      York Series: (AY) http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/index.htm
      Direct or through http://www.oxbowbooks.com/ if you like to
      Richards, Julian D.: Viking Age England; Tempus Publishing
      Ltd., The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Gloucestershire,
      GL5 2QG UK; PB 190pp., ISBN 0752414895 £14.99.
      Wooden cups, plates and bowls with turning waste
      from York (p. 109). Otherwise sparce for turnings.
      Sim, David: Beyond the Bloom, Bloom Refining and Iron
      Artifact Production in the Roman World; edited by
      Isabel Ridge, BAR International Series 725, 1998, 155pp.,
      published by Archaeopress, PO Box 920, Oxford OX2 7YH
      England, printed by the Basingstoke Press, ISBN 0860549011,
      available from Hadrian Books, Ltd., 122 Banbury Road,
      Oxford, OX2 7BP, England.
      "The major part of this work details practical experiments
      that replicate the working environment of a Roman blacksmith.
      The tools and equipment used were as far as possible copies
      of Roman originals. A record was kept of time taken to turn
      raw bloom iron into workable iron and the amount of fuel
      and other materials consumed. Similar records were made of
      the times to make Roman iron artifacts together with the
      amount of metal and fuel consumed." [Their description.]
      [My description]:
      Various ancient to 16th C. forges, furnaces, hearths, tools,
      weapons, etc. are depicted. Examples would be drawplates, a
      mandrel / die used to make solid rings for mail, pattern
      welded blade, pilum, *pole lathe, stylus, hammer head, nails,
      ballista bolt head, fire arrow head, bow drill, swages.
      A three page glossary and a three page bibliography are
      included. For some reason the author also includes quite
      a bit about firescale including many pictures of it...
      Sim David, and Isabel Ridge: Iron for the Eagles,
      The Iron History of Roman Britain; 2002,
      Paperback, 160 pages, black and white diagrams and
      photos, and a number of color photos of Roman stuff
      and reenactors there. Tempus Publishing Ltd., The Mill,
      Brimscombe Port., Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 2QG UK/
      Tempus Publishing Inc. 2 Cumberland St.,
      Charleston, SC 29401 USA http://www.tempuspublishing.com/
      http://www.tempus-publishing.com. ISBN 0752419005 $30.
      How blacksmiths made weapons for the Imperial Army.
      It is full of progressive diagrams of tools and making
      the artefacts like arrowheads, pilum heads, plumbata
      heads for pila, spear heads, tools, *portable wooden
      lathe, etc.
      Singer, Charles (ed. et al): A History of Technology,
      Volume II, The Mediterranean Civilizations and the Middle
      Ages c. 700 BC to c. A.D. 1500; 1956, Oxford University
      Press, New York and London. Should have lathes in it.
      Volume I certainly does. Unfortunately my second volume
      has gone walk-about for the moment.

      Singer, Charles Joseph. Ed. (1954 - 84). A History of
      Technology. First 4 of 8 Volumes. Oxford University Press,
      Oxford, UK.

      On medieval carpentry tools Singer states:
      "His main tools ax, adze, hammer, saw and chisel, had been
      in use for millennia; his bag of tools hardly differed from
      that of an Egyptian carpenter." (pg. 240). [The Egyptians
      definitely had simple framed lathes, and the oldest
      depiction of one is in an Egyptian tomb.] [11th century]
      "Italian craftsmen were practicing inlaying and veneering
      and using mortise-and-tenon and dove-tail joints long
      before the craftsmen of northern Europe." (pg. 240).
      It is possible that the brace was in use by Assyrian times,
      for the Theben hoards contained what appears to be crank
      pieces and centre bits from a brace. ...Roman bits with
      square-section shanks are known, though the braces have
      not so far been traced." (pg. 230).

      Volume I From Early Times to the Fall of Ancient Empires.
      Lathes pp. 192-3 discussion of earliest lathes., p. 518
      discusses the spread of the lathe from the Mediterranean
      to Northern Europe from Greece where it was possibly in
      use from the middle of the second millenium BC., 680
      and 688 depict turnings by the Phoenicians in the 9th C BC..
      Strong, Donald and David Brown (editors): Roman Crafts;
      1976, ISBN 0715607812 Duckworth, The Old Piano Factory,
      43 Glocester, Crescent, London, NW1 7DY. Covers a little
      Roman lathe work, in particular the turning of cast metal
      pans on an illustrated wheeled lathe.
      Theophilus' On Divers Arts contains a number of
      instructions and illustrations of early lathes for such
      stuff as bellfounding and pewterturning. Circa 1122.
      Dover ISBN 0486237842
      Woodbury, Robert S. 1963. "The Origins of the Lathe."
      in _Scientific American_, vol. 208, no. 4 (April 1963),
      pp. 132-143. The short version of this man's longer work
      on the history of the lathe in industry. There is also a
      brief list of references for this article on page 202.

      His longer work: History of the Lathe to 1850:
      A Study in the Growth of a Technical Element of an
      Industrial Economy. Cleveland: Society for the History
      of Technology, 1961. First Edition. 124 pp; 49 figs.
      Ranulf of Waterford mka Gary R. Halstead
      Robin Wood http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/
      Robin does museum quality work on a pole lathe (and has
      some advice on how to build one).
      A past issue of Woodwork, A Magazine for All Woodworkers
      #73 - Feb. 2002 has an article on Robin Wood of UK
      Medieval woodturning fame (he does the stuff full
      time) visiting a woodturning demonstration in Germany
      with a bagful of tools and producing a pole lathe out of
      a mostly 10" by 6' oak trunk. http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/
      There is a subsequent article on making hooked gouges to
      turn with by him.
      The Robin Wood articles run from page 24 to page 31 so
      it's larger than most. There is also an article in the
      magazine on Rumanian spoon carving and one that contains
      some gothic carving including a pretty gothic chest picture.
      The only things in the photos that seem to be missing
      in explanation is the spring pole and there is no
      indication of the construction of the cord wound mandrel
      which he is using to turn the bowls with. Such things are
      covered in the York Book on Woodworking Crafts available
      from the York Archaeological Trust.

      Woodwork No. 73 ISSN # 1045-3040
      Woodwork Magazine woodwork@...
      (415) 382-0580
      P.O. Box 1529, Ross, CA 94957
      (published by Ross Periodicals, Inc.
      42 Digital Drive #5, Novato CA 94949)
      No website as of yet.
      Haven't checked these recently. At one time they had
      articles on lathes. http://www.historicgames.com also
      had a page on lathes.
      Master Magnus Malleus, OL, GDH, Manx, Regia.org
      © 2003 R.M. Howe
      *No reposting my writings to usenet newsgroups,
      especially rec.org.sca, or the SCA-Universitas elist.
      I view this as violating copyright restrictions.
      As long as it's to reenactor or SCA -closed- subscriber
      based email lists or individuals I don't mind.
      It's meant to help people without aggravating me.*
      Inclusion, in the http://www.Florilegium.org, Atenveldt
      MoAS newsletter, or Regia’s Chronicle as always is permitted.

      *Sasha & M. Mira, I am no longer on Medieval Encampments -
      can't catch up on my mail. If you care to forward...
      I am on Medieval Sawdust though.

      It generally helps if you want to ask me a question to put an
      * in front of the subject line. I read by list, not by date

      There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading,
      the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to
      pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers