I recently stumbled upon a video on the web of a Romanian woman turning drop spindles on a hand bow lathe. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2DX0ExY44g ) The drop spindles (a primitive tool used to spin yarn) were beautiful and the simplicity of the process was too much for me; I had to do it myself. I dont own a lathe and have used one only a handful of times but after a few hours of research I was ready to make one for myself. I decided on a spring pole lathe and drew up some plans. This is an old drawing which shows the concept.
The first obstacle that I came across was the centers. The centers are what holds the work yet allows it to spin freely, Being that I’m a full time traditional woodworker, I don’t have a lot of money; so I boldly decided to just make them out of whatever I had lying around. I found some screws that seemed like the right size and cut the heads around three quarters of the way off.
Next, I drilled and screwed it in and cut the screw head the rest of the way off. Then I filed it into the desired cone shape.
I have some work left to do, but the lathe is coming along nicely. I have the frame set up and I am waiting for the sapling I cut to dry. Then it’s time to try my hand at turning drop spindles on my new spring pole lathe. Should be a lot of fun.