Farewell, old friend

In every life there comes a time to cast off most of the material things that we labor to gain and maintain, those possessions that, ultimately, possess us.

Pretty philosophical, right?  Well, the truth of the matter is that I need space.  Anyone who has walked into my little shop in recent months has found it more cramped than ever.  I’ve just got too much stuff in there.  So I decided to take an inventory and get rid of things that I hadn’t used in the last year or items that I possessed in multiples.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that gaining some much needed space would not, necessarily, be that difficult.  If reality could talk, it would have said something like, “Hey!  Dumb Ass, you’ve got three full size lathes here!  Why?  Who needs three lathes in a one man, 400 square foot shop?  What are you thinking?  You’re not thinking!  One of them has to go!”  There it was.  Cold.  Hard.  Reality.  Ugh….

The main lathe is a Nova 16-24-44 that I bought several years ago.  Couldn’t get rid of that.  Then there’s a Powermatic 45 that’s next on the list for restoration.  It’s the lathe I’ve always lusted after.  That one’s staying put.  So.  There it was.  It had to be the Treadle Lathe.  What?  The Treadle Lathe?  The heavy duty, double spring, spring pole lathe that could swing 20″ and center 48″?  That lathe?  The one I built with my own two hands?  That lathe?  Yep.

I’m a great believer in the notion that a true craftsman finds his joy in the process, not the product.  But still, this was my baby.  I was more than a little attached.  But after thinking about it awhile, I decided to call a friend of mine.  This particular friend is a hand tool aficionado, collector, student of woodworking history and a guy who, along with his family and friends, is building a log cabin with hand tools (non-powered).  So I called him, explained the situation and, to my relief, he agreed to “adopt”  the lathe.  There it was, the lathe would have a new home.  It would be well cared for, appreciated and I could visit occasionally. Several days ago we loaded it up into his truck. I suppose the feeling that I had, as the truck pulled out of the drive, was like the guy just gave his dog away (right after the dog had chewed up his new $500.00 Italian loafers).  It was a mixture of emotions.

So now I have desperately needed space that I can use for assembly and finishing.  But it is an unusual feeling.  The shop seems to have lost some of its intimacy.  Hmm?  I wonder… Could there be some other unique project out there? I mean, hey, now I’ve got some room…

cone pulley reeving



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6 Comments on “Farewell, old friend”

  1. Carroll Says:

    I’m blown away. So glad to hear the DBL 2009 has been adopted, will have a good home, and that you have visitation rights.

  2. larry porter Says:

    could it be time to free up the space , those old l-n planes and that swamp weed work bench are taking up?????????? if so……………….. you got my #

  3. Bob Jones Says:

    I’ve been looking for an old lathe myself. I’ve found a complete powermatic 45 that is a 5 hr drive away for $450. It’s a little rough looking but reportedly works fine. Is that a good deal?

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      Hi Bob,

      I’d say that’s a good price. 45’s come in several power and drive configurations. I found a 110V-step pulley version. I’ll be using this one for spindle work, exclusively, so I won’t be making frequent changes in rpm. The Reeves drive version sells for a little more. But if you’re looking for easy speed change, they’re well worth a couple of extra dollars. If you’re not familiar with Reeves drives, just beware that they must be kept clean in order to perform optimally. The RD version also has a slower low speed, which helps if you’ll be chasing threads. Most of the old cast iron, American lathes (Powermatic, Yates, Delta, etc.) are very smooth and you’d probably have to pay several thousand for a new lathe that performed as well. Check the bearings for “slop”. But even if you have to put in new bearings, they’re worth it. If it’s an ex-school lathe, you’ll probably have a huge build-up of shellac friction polish to remove. That was always the last thing that students did before the bell rang for class change. “Sorry teach, no time to clean-up.” If you get it, let me know. I’d be interested to see what your experience with this “icon” is like.

  4. Paleotool Says:

    I have wanted to build a lathe like this for a long time. Your photos of the build were great but, like you, I am limited for space. It’s on my list after I move to a bigger shop.

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