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DATo
04-20-2013, 11:26 AM
"How did they make the first lathe?"

About 25 years ago a young man asked me this question. I wish I had this video at the time. I could have saved a lot of breath. *LOL*

http://www.wimp.com/footpowered/

Lots of fun to watch!

vpt
04-20-2013, 11:35 AM
At the end when he is using the lathe the sped up video makes it look like he has a leg spas problem. lol

Tony Ennis
04-20-2013, 11:39 AM
The first lathe was probably more primitive than this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnv0DAR_gWA).

Paul Alciatore
04-20-2013, 02:04 PM
The first lathe was probably more primitive than this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnv0DAR_gWA).

Absolutely. A modern, precision tool like a lathe or mill is the end result of a very long line of incremental improvements. It probably started with wood "machines" that were hand or foot powered. They were incredibly crude by modern standards. They were first carved out with chipped stone tools. The "first lathe" was probably a collection of tree branches, shaped with stone tools, held together with hand woven cords, and powered by a bow string, like in the video above. The cutting tools were probably also chipped stone.You could make such a "machine" in your back yard or a nearby wooded area with a source of rocks, but it would take some time. You would probably make stone knives and axes first. But each one was capable of making an improved machine or at least parts of one that were slightly better than the parts used in it's own construction.

Hand work played a very important part. Things like generating flat and straight surfaces using primitive methods with hand tools. Scraping is one of these processes. Using a primitive set of journal style bearings to allow you to machine better bearings would be another. And then the process is repeated with the new bearings, perhaps in the same machine or in a newer and better one.

It did not happen at once. It took centuries. Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of slightly improved "machines", each one only slightly improved from the previous. New materials were found and used. Bronze replaced wood in some parts. Later came cast iron and steel and others. All in small, baby steps over decades and centuries. A long, slow process.

taydin
04-20-2013, 02:23 PM
The first lathe was probably more primitive than this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnv0DAR_gWA).

Wow, thanks for posting that. True craftsmanship in action there!

I feel ashamed for having a nicely equipped shop and still moaning about needing this tool or that tool...

JFLingg
04-20-2013, 02:47 PM
The video in the OP, "The foot-powered lathe." is also a great example of how machinery frames were built of timber instead of castings. Much easier, too, to haul a few small castings and gears in a wagon, then construct the frame of local timber. Been done for thousands of years, water mills, wind mills, agricultural machinery, etc.

JFLingg

DATo
04-20-2013, 04:12 PM
It did not happen at once. It took centuries. Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of slightly improved "machines", each one only slightly improved from the previous. New materials were found and used. Bronze replaced wood in some parts. Later came cast iron and steel and others. All in small, baby steps over decades and centuries. A long, slow process.

Paul,

I think your comment is precisely correct and sums up just about what I said to the young man who asked me the question. It took many, many iterations over time with each iteration adding a little more improvement through innovation as well as use of improved materials and evolving technological techniques.

I am always surprised when people appear pleasantly shocked by some of my work. I am rather blasť about it after all these years, but much like them I too am always amazed to watch a craftsman of another trade at work, especially one like the woodworker in my OP and that wonderful craftsman in Tony Ennis' posted video. He must have one hell of a callus on the bottom of his foot ! (Thanks for the video Tony.)

dp
04-20-2013, 05:04 PM
I'm still pretty amazed at how simple it was to create the first screw lathes. Simple and brilliant at the same time.

duckman
04-20-2013, 07:03 PM
If you want to see a very unique lathe go to the Precision Museum in Vermont the bed is about 12 or 14 feet long and made from 2 pieces of granite with cast iron vee ways leaded on to them , what is very unique is that the carriage is powered , there is an endless flat link chain the full length of the bed between the slabs of granite , there is a clamp that grabs the chain depending which side is grabbed is the direction of feed , to hold the carriage down there is a huge chunk of granite hanging from the underside of the carriage , the museum does not know how old the lathe is . The museum also has an M head BRPT serial #1.

sasquatch
04-20-2013, 08:26 PM
Great videos!! Thanks for posting these.

saltmine
04-21-2013, 12:28 AM
They were given to us as some ancient alien theorists believe. What's the matter? Don't you watch "The History Channel"?

Paul Alciatore
04-21-2013, 12:42 AM
From Wikipedia, "Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants." That is so true. And the biggest of them is the stone age bushman/woman who first(?) shaped something (pottery) by rotating it. The first lathe may have shaped wet clay.




Paul,

I think your comment is precisely correct and sums up just about what I said to the young man who asked me the question. It took many, many iterations over time with each iteration adding a little more improvement through innovation as well as use of improved materials and evolving technological techniques.

I am always surprised when people appear pleasantly shocked by some of my work. I am rather blasť about it after all these years, but much like them I too am always amazed to watch a craftsman of another trade at work, especially one like the woodworker in my OP and that wonderful craftsman in Tony Ennis' posted video. He must have one hell of a callus on the bottom of his foot ! (Thanks for the video Tony.)

Tony Ennis
04-21-2013, 09:07 AM
The progression of lathe development when something likes this:

pottery lathe (perhaps wood floating and spun by hand on water?) ->
direct human drive (like the video I posted) ->
pole lathe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbv2r4NuC3s) ->
direct human drive with machanical advantage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrjhYkMPXcc) (treadle lathe) ->
Monarch 10EE (http://www.cnccookbook.com/img/Workshop/GreatShops/Kepler10ee_after.jpg) ->
Chicom 9x20 (http://www.rlberg.com/image003.jpg)

I'm pretty sure there were no other steps in there. Disclaimer - some archeologists believe the American Pacemaker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wchang1215/4394227606) should replace the Monarch lathe in the progression...

vpt
04-21-2013, 09:19 AM
I bet water wheels were a favorite to drive machines back in the day.