All ye lathe-less take heart!

Upon first reading through ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’ my first reaction was, “crap, now I’m going to need a lathe.”

I know Chris says time and again in the text that you don’t need one, but looking at those beautifully turned round tenons I couldn’t get my heart and mind around any other way to make them. I started talking to friends to see if they new of anyone trying to get rid of one, scouring Craigslist for lathes and even hanging out in shady alleys behind lathe bars trying to score a deal.

After nothing turned up through the normal channels I asked myself the question all woodworkers ask, “What would Roy do”? He’d build a German style spring-pole lathe of course, so I started investigating that. In the end, the time and energy required to build a lathe before I built the desk just led me to put the whole question off until later.

Well, later is finally here. This week I had to figure out what I was going to do about making those cylindrical tenons on the legs of the staked desk I’m building.

The choice was actually easier than I thought and it was practically made for me. In order to drill the mortises for these monster tenons I was compelled to upgrade my drill press setup. That meant there was nothing left over to buy a lathe, or really even to buy materials to make a lathe. And really, I still need to properly learn how to use a lathe, so enter the saw, chisel and rasp.

I began by marking out the wall of each tenon 3″ from the top with a marking gauge, and then chiseled a “v” at each wall to guide my carcase saw.

 

The design calls for 2″ wide tenons and the difference between the width of the stock and the desired cylinder was 1/2″. Because you’re cutting in from all facets you only need to cut half of that difference at a time, so each cut needs to be 1/4″ deep. In order to make sure I wasn’t cutting too deep and compromising the tenon I employed this high-tech depth gauge system, (otherwise known as masking tape) to mark when I had completed the required 1/4″ deep kerfs.
image

 

You only need to cut the faceted faces, not at the arises between the facets. Do be careful when you’re making these cuts, but don’t over think it. Trust the saw, watch the tape, and you’ll be fine.

image

After I was satisfied with my saw work I locked the leg vertically in my leg vise and marked a 2″ diameter circle from the center point with a compass. Using that as a visual guide I started chiseling away the waste making sure to stand at 90 degrees to the chisel so that I could watch that it didn’t stray too deep into the tenon. Remove the arises to create more facets and then keep working in toward the circle taking smaller bites as you approach the line.

image

image

With some care, it’s possible to pare down to something fairly close to the final dimensions of the tenon.
image

From there, I used rasps and floats to bring it down to size, constantly checking with a small combination square to make sure it was straight and square to the top which is my only real reference face at this point.
image

In order to make sure I was on track throughout I used this off-cut of pine drilled with a dummy hole to test the fit of each tenon, fine tuning with my rasp until each tenon was snug, but easily driven with a dead-blow mallet.
image

Now, time to put that drill press to use and drill the battens to match.

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “All ye lathe-less take heart!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s