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Archive for October, 2010

This is a posting I submitted to the Association of Pole Turners ask and answer forum.  I was fairly well received and nearly put an end to a three page thread.

You cannot measure efficiency in a vacuum. Neither can efficiency be optimized in a vacuum. Every thing in motion is both efficient and inefficient to a degree. If a thing is done as a hobby, efficiency is not as important as it is when a profit is expected and necessary to continuing the operation. With regard to pole turning, a broader knowledge of related woodworking craft is necessary as well as an understanding of the principles of design of the lathe such as having the center line of the work at the height of the turner‘s elbow which might call for a frame with height adjustments. It may be all well and good to measure wood chips per calorie burnt and to provide those who have a pedestrian interest in pole turning with properly functioning gear to take for a spin, but ultimately, those who are truly interested in becoming pole turners need to be exposed to a wide enough range of related arts and practices in order to produce not only their own gear but also to custom make the gear and to modify and adjust it to optimize their efforts. For instance, which tools are most effective for the intended purpose and how do you sharpen and apply them. Again, what sort of joinery is best suited for building a pole lathe for spindle work as opposed to bowl and plated turning and where best do you position the pole support in order to have enough flexibility that it is not too difficult to treadle without knocking one off balance or wear one out and still be able to return to the first position in a timely fashion for the next cut. A shave horse of some sort and perhaps a splitting/chopping block will have to be fashioned to prepare stock before it even gets to the lathe. How does one keep the cord for binding itself and preventing the return movement. . . In the end, the efficiency of a pole lathe, or any human powered machine, is almost entirely subjective and ultimately is an ever changing and hopefully improving experience rather than a measurable or fixed value

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Yesterday was the 19th annual Delmarva Folk Festival in Hartly, Delaware.  Although the weather a few days before was unusually rainy along the eastern U. S. seaboard a stiff breeze on Friday pretty much dried the venue, known as a mud hole of a place from previous rainy years, was quite dried out and with the exception of the far edge of the main parking field was in fine shape for the main day of the event. 

Because of the weather, I think  there were far fewer people attending than would have after a week of clear skies and sunny days.  Even so, I got to meet up with friends and made new acquaintances.  Most notable were Bob and Bethany who, upon seeing the pole lathe in action, experienced something akin to love at first sight.  It was kind of nice, after 2 1/2 years of demonstrations with the lathe, to find someone who was not only interested and appreciative but also determined to be directly involved in becoming a pole turner.  Dave Lawson, a candidate for a Senate seat in the Delaware legislature also was there as he has been the last 3 shows I have done locally.  He and his family spent the afternoon perusing the vendors and listening to the music.  At the end of my time there he and his grandson helped me out by cleaning up the wood chips from the shave horse and dumping them in the bonfire pit just inside the stage area gate.

As always, everyone was quite fascinated with the lathe and the other “greenware” on display and for sale.  Not much selling for me but plenty of oooing and ahhing.  Tish did quite well with her bead jewelery I have now however gone national with product going as far as California and as we were packing up one of the artists/musicians-Andy Reiner with Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers www.bmuz.net – came to our booth to see about having a custom wort stirrer made.  Wort is one of the steps in the process of home brewing beer.  We came to agreement on price and design and soon I will fulfill a special order to sent to Massachusetts.

I actually got a couple of people to have a go with the lathe and they did quite well beyond just moving the treadle but actually cutting wood.  All good fun.  I am really looking forward to the festival being an annual event for us.

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