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If you don't want to spend a fortune, the Proxxon spar lathe has a hollow headstock to take long masts. Take a look at Blue Ensign's Pegasus build, which shows the beautiful spars you can produce on this little machine https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/15526-hms-pegasus-by-blue-ensign-finished-victory-models-164-scale/&page=4&tab=comments#comment-482414. I can also recommend it based on my own experience. I've got a larger 'proper' lathe that I can use to rough out spars, but I finish them on the Proxxon - more control on smaller diameters and easier to use sandpaper, I find.

 

Derek

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2 hours ago, DelF said:

If you don't want to spend a fortune, the Proxxon spar lathe has a hollow headstock to take long masts. Take a look at Blue Ensign's Pegasus build, which shows the beautiful spars you can produce on this little machine https://modelshipworld.com/index.php?/topic/15526-hms-pegasus-by-blue-ensign-finished-victory-models-164-scale/&page=4&tab=comments#comment-482414. I can also recommend it based on my own experience. I've got a larger 'proper' lathe that I can use to rough out spars, but I finish them on the Proxxon - more control on smaller diameters and easier to use sandpaper, I find.

 

Derek

Thanks Derek for the compliment, the Proxxon is a quality item and you can get a bed extension for it too. The Mantua is poor quality by comparison, and over priced (I have owned one).

 

B.E.

mtaylor, donrobinson, Canute and 1 other like this

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A lathe is really a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I agree that there are many other ways of 'turning' spars. That's what the old-timers did in the shipyard! They planed or adzed a spar to a square cross-section first, then eight sided and finally rounded off the parts of the mast that were intended to be round. I use a simple 45 degree 'V' shaped jig to hold the squared spar in order to make it eight-square. Holding the spar in a vise, I use sandpaper strips to round things off, section by section.

 

Advantages? You are not limited to any length and you've saved a ton of money. Of course, if you are planning on doing a lot of turning and machining, then go for a good lathe.

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I will bare that in mind with The Mantua lathe should i want one.

Must admit when i did the masts and spars for the cutty Sark many years ago i used sand paper and turned the dowel in my hand and it worked out just fine.

If i did need a lathe i would use a drill.

Paul

 

 

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I agree a lathe is a nice-to-have rather than essential, at least when it comes to wood. I use the v-jig method to produce eight-sided from square stock before turning on the lathe, as I find it gives me a good 'feel' for the wood. One advantage of a lathe is that it makes the production of small turned components easier, for example:

Lathe.thumb.jpg.e00df9501a57eb8aef44d2f8ea1bcd93.jpg

Not impossible without a lathe, just easier with one. Having said that, the thing I find hardest is producing identical components - but that's more to do with the workman rather than the tool (sometime I'll get round to re-doing one or both of the columns!).

 

Incidentally, much of the rest of the work on this component was done with a Proxxon micro-mill and rotating table. Another great little tool.

 

Derek

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I've been wondering what' 'long' means. With longer pieces spinning on a lathe, the tendency for the stock to whip can result in significant variations in thickness and shape.  This can be controlled by steady rests.  Examples of suitable steady rests for a mast or spar can be found by searching for a decorative turning called a 'trembleur', which is done as a competition in France.     

 

Depending upon the length, an alternative to a lathe is a drill press, which you could think of as a lathe turned upright.  The mast or spar would secured in the chuck at one end, and then to a center point or a steadyrest in the table hole.   Penturners occasionally use this technique. 

 

But I would be inclined to use hand methods. Here's one method.

 

1.  Cut a v-notch or two in a block and secure it in a vise.

 

2.  Use a block plane (a 102 or 60-1/2) to start roughing out the taper.  Place the dowel rod in the a notch for support and then plane off wood while rotating the rod to maintain as much symmetry as possible.  Holding the plane at a skewed angle will make it easier to cut. 

 

3. Occasionally, refine the cross-section and taper by chucking the rod in a drill and sanding it with sandpaper (80 grit cloth-backed abrasive on this birch rod works well.)  You can also loop the cloth around the rod.  A file might be useful too.  Then return to the planing and repeat as you go up the shaft, checking for dimensions as you go.  For double-ended spars, leave some extra length on the ends to be trimmed away later.  

 

Of course, practice improves performance. Use scrap first.  I'd like to acknowledge my lovely handmodel Margaret.5a7f0e3f1f460_IMG_20180210_094138-Edited.thumb.jpg.25cc6343002738e84ebb2315dd954130.jpg5a7f0e3c6fdee_IMG_20180210_093916-Edited.thumb.jpg.d5ea7d99f68510a80002eef44c478e4e.jpg5a7f0e3a361f8_IMG_20180210_094035-Edited.thumb.jpg.1bc84e55131b31218482cd486971dc89.jpgexternalfile:drive-7fcc864980590d1222bde1852ad1ffbbb981d5dc/root/Pics /IMG_20180210_094035 - Edited.jpg

Edited by Bob Blarney

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I have the 4400 long bed Sherline lathe and have used it for both masts and yards. Check out their site they now have a lathe setup for pool cue manufacturers along with an extended live center (new product) which I plan on buying. One thing with working with a lathe with wood is the type of wood being cut. Hardwoods are best, softwoods tend to shred rather than cut. I use mine primarily for metal and occasionally for wood. Keep in mind you can always turn wood with a metal lathe, but you cannot turn metal with a wood lathe. Just my 2 cents.

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I used the Proxxon DB250 for the masts and spars on my Badger.  It was a really great tool, and made constructing them very easy.  It had an opening to be able to work with longer masts, and really was an easy tool to use.  I just used sand paper as the wood was turning to create taper in the masts, and it worked quickly, easily, and accurately.

 

I ended up selling mine because I upgraded to the Sherline thinking it would be more versatile to turn metal as well as wood.  In a way I wish I kept the Proxxon given how easy it was to use.  I haven't used it yet, but it's good to hear from Roger that there is a hollow spindle so you don't necessarily need to buy a longer bed.

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3 hours ago, Paul Jarman said:

Like that way Bob, I will give it a try.

Paul
 
and from Vaddoc

Last time I used a drill and a bearing. The drill was on a simple wooden support to keep the chuck horizontal and the bearing was within a piece of scrap MDF screwed to my disc sander. Worked pretty well.

I should have mentioned that when sanding, one should start from the round end nearest the chuck.  This will make it easier to smooth out the irregularities.  Also, keep the speed down on the drill, because a high speed may melt resins in woods and thus clog the abrasive and fill/burnish the wood.

 

That said, it might be a good idea to combine Vaddoc's dril & bearing technique with the plane technique.  I would build a dedicated fixture for the bearing (scavenged from a skateboard or rollerblade wheel (they're usually 8x20mm).  The planing off of excess would go a long way to reducing the amount of dust thrown into the air. 

 

Finally, I have both a Sherline lathe and a modified Delta Midi-lathe, but I'd rather use the handplane & drill sanding technique - it's likely faster.  But the Sherline or the Delta could be used too - I use the 102 block plane on the lathe to produce smooth cylinders and tapers.  On the Delta, I've replaced the standard motor with a smooth-running 2HP DC motor scavenged from an exercise treadmill so that it can turn from 50 to 2200 rpm, and spin in reverse too (using a chuck that has a retention grub screw to prevent it from flying off the spindle!). 

Edited by Bob Blarney

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Hello, I am the Proxxon Distributor Sponsor for this site (on the home page).  I offer a special Proxxon DB 250 lathe combination at a good price.  Please check out my website and contact me if I can be of assistance.  Quite a few modelers on this site have bought from me at a good discount price.  

 

website:  www.proxxontoolsdiscount.com

 

Thanks,

John (texxn5)

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Just a few words if you wish to buy a lathe (it's a versatile and fun tool!).  Movement and vibration cause mis-shapened and rough-surfaced parts.   Mount the lathe on a substantial base, such as piece of a granite countertop or several layers of MDF, and then place that assembly on a soft foam mat on a level bench top.  (My Delta is bolted to a platform that 'floats' in a 4-inch deep sandbox that effectively dampens vibrations.)

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1 hour ago, texxn5 said:

Hello, I am the Proxxon Distributor Sponsor for this site (on the home page).  I offer a special Proxxon DB 250 lathe combination at a good price.  Please check out my website and contact me if I can be of assistance.  Quite a few modelers on this site have bought from me at a good discount price.  

 

website:  www.proxxontoolsdiscount.com

 

Thanks,

John (texxn5)

Here looks much cheaper:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Proxxon-37020-MICRO-Woodturning-Lathe/dp/B0017NQWFG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518368549&sr=8-1&keywords=Proxxon+DB250

thibaultron and donrobinson like this

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The key-point for working on long parts in a lathe (either 'proper' or makeshift with e.g. a power-drill) is to have a fixed steady. The fixed steadies on metal lathes aren't really suitable, as their bearing would cut into wood. You can use, however, a style of steady that has gone out of fashion these days. Take a piece of plywood or MDF, think about a way of clamping it upright to your lathe bed (or work-table, if you use a make-shift arrangement) and drill a hole into it a centre-height. The diameter of the hole should be larger than the diameter of the parts you wan to turn. No you make two pieces of MDF or even hard card-board with V-notches and two paralle notches in them. These V-notches have to be placed exactly at centreline. With two screws and washers you can fix these 'jaws' over each other at the upright steady so that they jam the piece being turned (without realling jamming it).

 

Sorry, I don't have a picture to illustrate this.

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This day wasn't lost ... learned something: I didn't know about these French 'tremblers' as a specific woodworking challenge. The 'string'-steadies to keep whipping movements under control are particularly interesting and something to remember !

 

Thanks for bringing this to our attention !

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A few points about the trembleur video -

 

a) the mass and smooth running of the lathe are important for preventing vibration

B) a soft start and stop of the motor prevents excessive torque on the trembleur workpiece that would tear it apart

c) I don't know if the composition of the yarn is important.

d) I believe that these are cut with a tool called a bedan, which is traditional in France but just gaining popularity here.

 

Here's another video showing skillful spindle tapering technique with an 'oval' skew that is far faster than sanding and that produces a better finish, but other tools work too.  As always, practice.

 

 

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