The pole lathe takes a little getting used too. Even more so since I’m trying to learn to use it and learn to turn simultaneously. It took me a couple of hours to develop a rhythm and feel for the pumping action. It proved to be a much more relaxed rhythm than I had imagined it would be and there is a good bit of feedback from the lathe and the work to guide you. One element of this lathe that has proven quite useful is the adjustable double spring pole configuration. I quickly took to adjusting the tension on the springs to match the type of turning I was trying to do. Heavier tension for roughing out and lighter tension for more detailed work. It takes only seconds to reach down and slide the connecting strap to change the spring tension.
On the subject of spring poles. The plans call for 1″ diameter spring poles, but since I made my lathe a little longer I bumped my spring poles to 1-1/4″ diameter. At first I thought that they were still too slight, but once I developed a feel for the lathe, I find that they are more than adequately sized for the task.
On the movable puppet I opted for a fixed dead center over an adjustable screw configuration. I struggled over this fearing that it would be cumbersome to adjust the pinch between the two centers without the aid of the screw feed. However, I find the puppet quite easy and intuitive to adjust with light taps from a mallet or tool handle. I’m happy that I didn’t go to the extra work of fabricating a screw-fed center point.
Another element that I needlessly worried about during construction was the wire linkage between the pivot arm and the spring pole. The wire is looped at each end and simply slid over the respective member and rests in a shallow groove. I was convinced that it would constantly slide off during use. It doesn’t. It hasn’t even moved from its installed location.
My first couple of pieces through the lathe were just to get a feel for the lathe and the tools.
Practice has its place, but I find that my skills improve much quicker when I’m tackling actual projects. I’ve come up with a couple of projects that seem to be geared for the beginner, a Garden Dibber and Peter Follansbee’s Ratcheting Book Stand. The Garden Dibber is a basic shaping exercise, but can be made as elaborate as you want. The same holds true for the Ratcheting Book Stand with the added wrinkle of needing to duplicate parts. We shall see if my choices for my first projects was wise or not.