Sunday, November 8, 2009

Making A New Turning Saw - Part IV - Now With Bonus Fun Attached!

Well, the new turning saw is almost finished. There were only two things left to work on, the tensioning mechanism, and the blade (or web) assembly. Really pretty straight forward - which of course, in my shop, just cannot be tolerated! It was time to make things "better".

My first idea on improving things was by changing the way the rods that hold the blade were attached to the knobs. On the couple of turning saws I've made before, the rod was simply epoxied into the knob. Very easy to make and works fine - or did, until the epoxy lost its hold on the rod in the prototype saw. This started me thinking; could the rod be mechanically fastened to the knob? I played around with numerous versions including threaded inserts, jam nuts, all thread, etc. etc. I even build a mock-up to test a couple of these ideas:

Finally, I decided to just use a carriage bolt that passes all the way through the knob. By squaring the hole with a chisel, the squared shank of the bolt (just under the head) will keep the rod from turning independently of the knob. I didn't however, like the look of the bolt head - especially the raised three letter part code. So, as frequently happens, one solution created another challenge. I ended up heating the bolt head red hot and peening it in the pritchel hole of my small anvil to create a "hammered" look. Then I tried something new, which I had only read about - darkening the steel with an oil patina.

Here's what I did. I put a thin coat of Tried and True Original Wood Finish (linseed oil and beeswax) on the bolt heads. Then, holding the bolts in a machinist's vise, I heated the shank below the head with a torch until the oil began to smoke and darken. It took a little practice to get the heating just right. Too much heat (the first time, I heated the bolt head directly) and the oil burnt off completely - too little and it just looked bad and didn't harden. In the end, I had bolt heads that were black, with dark amber highlights. Cool! I really like it when a project takes me into new territory - especially when it works out well.

At this point I should have been almost done, but after looking at my curvy, rounded saw parts, and the straight, faceted design of my knobs I knew it was time to break out the spring pole lathe and make some rounded knobs.

Here's a shot of my spring pole lathe in storage:

And here it is in action:

Several years ago I started building a fly-wheel treadle lathe ala St. Roy. It was slow going and mid-build, eager to see if I even enjoyed turning, I converted it to a spring pole set-up. I rigged up a shock-cord spring on the ceiling and built an overly complex (hmm...) treadle. It worked well enough for me to make the shaker pegs for the peg board coat rack that now lives under the medicine cabinet; and I haven't finished the fly-wheel part - yet.

After turning the knobs, I drilled the holes for the bolts, cut the knobs to length, created a square mortise for the carriage bolt shanks, and they were ready to go:

Now all that is left to do is cut the slots and pin holes in the rod ends to hold the blade, cut the blade to length, and mount it. Then wrap the cord and use the toggle stick to create tension. That's it!

Oh, well that, and actually test it and see if it even works! Details, details...

Continued and CONCLUDED (I swear!) in Part V.


While you are waiting for Part V, here's a random tool shot and a bit of fun. Can you name the 16 hand tools visible in this photo? Ubergaloot status granted to the first commenter with the correct list! Or the closest list; this might be harder than I think. Click on the image for a larger view and give it a shot!


  1. I'm not sure I see all 16 tools, but I do see something that looks like a white gym sock in the background. ; )
    The turning saw is looking great!

  2. Scrub plane
    #3 plane
    brace &bit
    Millers falls eggbeater
    Vise grips
    Orange eggbeater
    2 bowl gouges
    parting tool
    large gouge
    Japanese style saw w/ gray plastic handle (Vaughn?)
    That's all I can figure

  3. Kari - Good eye! And yes, I counted it as a tool. A stretch (pun!) perhaps, but it did its job.

    Clarke - Nice Job! 11/16 or 12/16 if you steal Kari's!

    Two missing and two mistaken identities...

  4. The carriage bolts seem a good solution. I'm sure you'll let us know how well they function.

    FWIW, I would have used a hand cranked grinder to remove the raised letters on the bolts, and then coated them with some of Kari's black nail polish. Less change of setting the shop on fire.

    As for 16 tools, I can make out 10, almost 11. The rest is like trying to identify Bo Derek from her left pinky toe.

    Kari, the white sock is where Dan stores his Stanley #1.

  5. Working from Clarke's post, that looks like a #5 or equiv, not a #3. On the right, I see what appear to be a burnisher and a half-round file.

    I have no idea what that is chucked into that eggbeater (which looks like it's a Millers Falls #2s with the flange wheel, unless there's something behind it). There seems to be some sort of handled thing in front of that.

    There might also be a workbench somewhere in that picture.

  6. Darn, I was going to identify the sock, but Kari beat me to it.
    AKA under-hood-stored oil check device, bullet case, vertically-stored-long-gun dust guard, pot holder, dog tug-of-war toy, emergency mitten, hankerchief, and Charles Bronson lethal weapon (with $20 in quarters).

    Needle-nose vise grips by the sock?

  7. Your collection is great. Love everything about it. Very intresting and informative blog. Please check out mine and follow me asap.

  8. Bob - Actually the sock with my Stanley #1 was accidentally thrown out in the trash. This sock is only holding my backup #1.

    I didn't think about the grinder - but the file work was super easy after the bolt had been heated first. And I really like the smell of cooking beeswax.

    Bo Derek's left pinky toe, hmm. I'll try to work that in the next puzzler!

    Brian - Good call on the #5 and the half-round file. That only leaves two tools missing! But they might be the hardest to find/id. The burnisher is actually a small gouge. Nice eye on the MF #2 as well, especially the flange wheel (or "LRRCW" from George's Basement). And extra credit for the bench :)

    Josh - You forgot "shop helper" sock puppet. And "nope" on the needle nose vise grips, but close!

    JPN - Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying the blog.

  9. Okay, I think Clarke and Brian deserve "Ubergaloot" status! Nice job gentlemen!

    But, before I call this and post the full answer, I'll let it ride for another day to see is someone can step in and finish off the last two tools - and thus earn the final Ubergaloot title.

    Of course, if that someone were Clarke or Brian, he would claim the title outright! Hmm...I think we need a championship belt!

  10. Is that a handscrew in the back, at the upper left?

  11. Brian - Yes! That leaves only one, which Josh started on...

    But I think this has run its course and I'll put together an answer key post.

    Thanks All!

  12. Sweet springpole lathe! I must build this. Please post more pictures.

  13. Very nice. I like the carriage bolt solution, especially getting the hand hammered look. Did you peen it while hot, or did you heat it to soften it, then peen it cold?

    I imagine you could also heat the end where you are going to cut the slot and hole as well. They don't have to be hardened to still be strong enough for this purpose. Or am I imagining wrong? I have just had trouble cutting slots into a bolt before, and hadn't thought about taking out the temper first.

    Nice job. And good creative use of what's at hand.


  14. John - Thank you! I'll try to do a post in the near future - but in case I forget to mention it later, I'm not really happy with the treadle part of my lathe design, so I wouldn't really recommend making that part of it...

    AAAndrew - Thanks! I heated it then hammered it cold. I don't think bolts are particularly hard, but they do soften up some. In fact, I didn't heat the second one quite as much, and it was noticeably harder to peen. Maybe I'll experiment with cutting the slots and see if it makes a appreciable difference.

  15. Dan - this post (and therefore you) is responsible for very slow progress on my shoe rack the last weekend.
    Not only did I find the need to build a turning saw in the near future, but this spring pole lathe got me side-tracked and I spent almost a whole shop day with setting up a lathe myself and try some turning.
    My self-turned hammer handle didn't come out nearly as pretty as your saw handles, but for a first try I was quite happy.
    I need more shop time. And more tools.

  16. Michael - I'm sorry I played a part in delaying your shoe rack, but happy to have helped inspire you to try the spring pole lathe!

    And I'm with you - MORE SHOP TIME!

  17. Dan I recently came across this post while looking for turning saw projects. What really caught my eye was the awesome lathe set up that you have. I have the plans for a monster treadle lathe but it will not be built for a few years since I plan to move overseas in about 5 years and would not be able to bring it with me. Wanted to include a link but it appears the page is gone. I could send you a scan if you want.

    Anyway I would be interested in a more in depth article or some more pictures of that sweet layout that you have.


    1. James - I'll try to do a post on it soon - I think several others have also been interested.


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