Turning Archive 2004
Paul Alt on Cape Cod
>When the nice weather sets in a conflict arises for me. I enjoy working in my shop, which is a walkout basement shop with a sliding door and windows. I have no business complaining. Nonetheless, when the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the air temperature is short-sleeve comfortable, I want to be out of the basement and working wood. This year I decided to do something about it. I bought a small lathe and prepared an outside place to work. This posting shows how it turned out.
Overhanging the 6-foot glass sliding door to my shop is a wooden deck. The deck ends a foot or so past the door. Looking out the door one sees two deck support posts separated by 8 ft and sitting on concrete piers to which they are bolted. What a great structure, thought I, to anchor a bench to hold my new lathe. The “bench” became two beams oriented horizontally and attached to the deck support posts at each end. The recycled Douglas fir beams are 3-1/2” x 7” (actual dimensions). I cut a ¾” deep rabbet at each end 7” wide and as long as the dimension of the support post. A ½”carriage bolt at each end clamps the beams around the support posts and a solid bench results without compromising the structural integrity of the support posts with holes. The bench can be knocked down, and to aid in repositioning the beams at the correct height small wooden strips resting on the concrete piers were nailed to the support posts.
Though designed for turning, this bench serves very well for hand planning wood – nothing moves and many opportunities for clamping and stop blocks present themselves. The bench typically holds three items: the Jet midi lathe, a Belsaw 1” belt grinder for tool sharpening and a turntable for the tools. Here is the entire setup minus the tarp that I place underneath to make for a quick cleanup. Did I mention that dust is not a problem outside?
Two stop blocks clamped in place with wing nuts keep the lathe from moving. Two clamps keep the grinder in place, and a block of wood mounted to the bottom of the turn table lets it slip into place and stay put. It takes less than three minutes to set up all three items on the bench. The age of the equipment spans many decades. The lathe is new, the belt grinder is from the 1950s and the red-handled turning tools are approximately 70 years old – Craftsman tools sold as accessories for their metal turning lathe which spun fast enough to also turn wood.
It was well worth the effort to fashion an outside work place. The turning is quiet and does not disturb. Ditto for hand planning. The belt grinder is not quiet and can disturb the birds and chipmunks – at times I feel, I must confess, this turnabout is fair play regarding the chipmunks. If you have the opportunity to get out of the basement and work outside, try it. I highly recommend it.