Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lathe-ing away at the shop

Receiving shipments of quad violin cases, cellos, or a double bass is all cumbersome work but today we may encountered a new heavyweight contender. A semi-truck had parked next to the shop and dropped us off a wooden crate.

At first, I thought it was the arrival of Les' bow making tools that he had shipped from school. But this thing was marked fragile and Made-In-China, leaking oil from from the corners of its cover.

Lester obviously knew what it was and seemed all motivated to get cracking at the crate. With hammer in hand, he began to tear away at his special delivery package.

Ladies and gentlemen of the shop, please meet your new machine: the lathe!
So what exactly is a lathe? Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines it for us:
Entry: 1lathe
Pronunciation: 'lA[th]
Function: noun
Etymology: probably from Middle English lath supporting stand
: a machine in which work is rotated about a horizontal axis and shaped by a fixed tool

If you've ever seen how a potter's wheel works, it has some very similar mechanical principles to it but the material is worked in a horizontal manner. The material is held in place by two horizontal axis points and spins it really fast, while a third point comes into do some precise cutting work.
I thought this was some complex cutting edge machine, but little did I realize it's been around for some time.
[Image: A lathe from 1911 showing component parts.]

The image shows its modern predecessor during the Industrial Revolution but in fact, lathes were used as far back as the Ancient world such as the Egyptians.

Enough of the history, so why the need? Mainly for Lester's repair jobs such as bushings, eyelets on the frogs, and button making. He also makes tool bits used for his bow making. Example, a prim bit he uses cuts inside the the inner mortise of the frog. However, this little tool can't be found in the store nor can they found in a craftsman tool catalog like Dicks. He had to make it by ironing and grinding it, a long and manual labor task. With the lathe, less time spent and precision tools made for better work, less work, and Les happy.

For all the necessity of Lester's work, more work was required to make this work. First, getting it transported on the dolly. A one, two, three, lift and support. Carting it inside to the edge of the stairs, a slow descent down to the shop basement. And of course, this ole' lathe needs some support, a table to be built. A shopping run out to Lowes for material and Les was hammering away.
I'll do a full blown blog about the operation of this lathe in the future for any of you tech nerds and mechanics out there. For now, we're still trying to read the instructions manual.

No comments:


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.