Double Spring Pole Lathe [Part 1]

Roy Underhill's Double Spring Pole Lathe
Roy Underhill’s Double Spring Pole Lathe

I love wood turning, but I can’t afford one of those you-beaut lathes that hobbiests commonly buy. So, continuing with my new-found insterest in DIY tools I’ve decided to have a go at making my interpretation of Roy Underhill’s Double Spring Pole Lathe. I say my version because I’m not using the timber he specified, I’m using recycled fence panels for the main structure. I’m hoping to add a separate spindle to wrap the cord around instead of wrapping the cord around the work. I will most likely use a couple of pieces of ‘greenwood‘ of suitable diametre and length. Anyway, I made a start on it a month ago, and hope to get back into it soon.

  • I started off by selecting out some of the best pieces of timber, and measured out the sides. Both side pieces will be the same height. you will note from the pictures of Roy’s design that one side is necessarily taller due to the position of the top arm that is part of the mechanism that turns the wood. I’m not ignoring this need. Instead, in the interests of keeping this lathe as compact as possible I’m going to attach a hinged extension to the upright part that can be folding down when not in use. I hope I can make this work!


  • I centered the bottom of one of the leg uprights over the foot (which hasn’t been decoratively cut yet), clamped it down, and chisled right through. Normally for cutting holes I would use my oscillating tool to make a quick and easy job of it, but not this time. I’m not planning to use a single powertool for any kind of cutting on this lathe, except for an electric drill to drill holes when needed (I don’t possess a hand drill yet). So I chiseled my way through both pieces of timber with that low quality chisel you see in the pic. It did the job well enough for it to look convincingly vintage! My handmade mallet performed very well too!


  • Finally, I glued the two pieces together and using a scrap piece of pine bar left over from another project I inserted it through the holes and cut two wedges into each end so that the leg is securely fastened. I also hammered in a small nail on each side of the wedged joint for additional rigidity until the glue dried.


That’s one leg down, and another to go. I did this in a couple of hours one afternoon, but due to the business of life haven’t got back to it yet, but, perhaps tomorrow…

No Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *