"The bowls created by Robin Wood’s reconstructed lathe have an
unique finish, which is only found in bowls cut with a traditional pole
lathe. The sharp tools leave a distinctive mark much like the lines
found on thrown earthen ware or glass. The clean cut with the sharpened
tools means that the objects are practical for everyday use. They can
be washed with warm soapy water and will not fuzz up, unlike a bowl cut
on a machine lathe and later sanded smooth. Robin’s bowls and plates
only improve with use and ware."
"Of course making wooden table ware for a living means making thousands
of items every year, which seems rather a tall order when you consider
the technology being used, but Rob insists that his pole lathe can turn
out wooden ware as quickly as the mechanised equivalent. This theory
has been put to the test and proven correct. As Robin explains in the
film, when he’s powered up, so is his lathe and he can get results
quickly. When he stops the lathe turning he can adjust the wood
instantaneously, whereas when you power down a mechanical lathe you have
to wait for the machine to slow down and stop turning in it’s own time."
"In the last twenty years or so since I built this foot-powered
treadle lathe, I have received many requests for drawings or
plans. The lathe has been used as part of our traditional
woodworking demonstrations and it never fails to draw a
crowd. Of course, the reason the lathe exists is because I felt a
need for it as a tool. Some of the main considerations when designing the lathe were:
Human powered -- our solar energy system was pretty small at the time
Size -- it had to be less than 42" tall to fit into our old truck
Compact -- since it would sit in our small shop all the time, a small footprint was essential
Portable -- as in not too cumbersome or heavy
Functional -- it had to perform the basic duties of a light-duty lathe
Adaptable -- I had in mind several untraditional uses for the tool, like sanding"
"Metalworking lathes are necessary to the production of almost everything but are very expensive. In 1915, special lathes made from concrete were developed to quickly and cheaply produce millions of cannon shells needed for World War I. Lucien Yeomans, the inventor, won the nation's highest engineering award for it but sadly the technique was almost forgotten after the war. We re-discovered it as a way to quickly make inexpensive but accurate machine tools for use in developing countries and in trade schools and shops everywhere."