Hand Tools Archive

Re: (Roubo) pole lathe dimensions *PIC*

Warren in Lancaster, PA
Here is Roubo's measured drawing:

It appears to me that the bed height is around 36 inches and the height of the centers is about 11 inches above the bed. My own lathe has 35 inches for bed height and 9 for center height. I don't know if I intentionally deviated from Roubo measurements in 1981. In any case, the height can be compensated for by changing the height of the tool rest, so it is not as critical as might be expected. Roubo shows one tool rest, but a turner may have had half a dozen at different heights.

Note that Roubo shows two positions for the cord: one going through the bed and one going on the far side of the bed. These are like two different gears, one has more speed and one more power. I use the cord through the bed, but Peter and many others today use the outside cord. In historic drawings you see both ways.

Note also that the centers are not in the centers of the puppets for this type of tool rest.

My lathe has 36 inches between centers, because I was unsure of the success. I would do 48 today. When I made the lathe the literature (Bealer, Dunbar, Nutting, Hummel) was very dismissive of the pole lathe and described it as clumsy, crude, inefficient, and stupid. None of the writers actually knew how to use a pole lathe.

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