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Reducing mast circumference without a lathe


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Not a mast, but hopefully useful.

 

I just finished making a 5/16in dia wooden ramrod for a muzzle loading rifle that I  restored.  I first ripped a piece of square stock from a piece of hickory lumber.  Using a board with a v-groove I used a spokeshave to plane it to an eight sided section and 80 grit sandpaper to turn it into a circular cross section.

 

I then had the problem of reducing the diameter of this 36in long stick to fit into the ferrules of the gun stock.  After trying several ideas including turning it with my electric drill I tried a CABINET SCRAPER.  I worked this a section at a time scraping with the grain while rotating the piece by hand.  This worked well and produced a good result.  Cabinet scrapers need to be sharpened, a misnomer since the scraping action is produced by a burr on the scraper edge.  The technique is to file or grind a square edge and to then to produce a burr with a burnisher or other smooth hard surfaced tool dragged along the edge.

 

Roger

 

 

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As with the post above, I use a standard hand held drill.  it is easy to do for mast - just stick one end in the drill and sand to desired thickness.  I like to leave the dowel long to account for the part that is in the drill chuck as the chuck will leave indentations on the wood.  This can be sawed off later.  I do yards with a drill as well but with some modification as both ends need to be tapered, unlike the mast.  The yard is cut longer than needed (again to account for the part of the yard in the chuck.  Once one side is sanded then the other side will need to be cut to the correct length.  Then I wrap some painters tape around the side that has been tapered (so the tape rather than the wood with get the indentations from the chuck) and  you are ready to sand the other side.  This method has worked well for me over the years.  Some yards recently done can be see on my log of the revenge by xodar461

 

Jeff

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This my home made wood lathe. 

 

1489708923_WoodTurning_MG_8493a.jpg.5754829e5269813dd62446d2de85a92c.jpg

 

The plate contains a roller blade bearing and there is a ledge on the back so I can clamp it to the table.  The id of this is about 10 mm . for narrower spars I insert a wooden "washer".  I have two of these boards and for long masts I place one in the center to add more support.

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I use a small finger plane to take it down in an octagon shape and then sand.

 

In spite of owning a small Proxxon wood lathe I did what you did Justin on my Fifie's masts, and it worked a treat. I didn't expect it to be so quick and effective but ...well, I learn something every day.

 

I think for longer masts I may still use my lathe, but using a miniature plane and sanding proved quick and convenient on my last build.

 

Richard

 

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12 minutes ago, Rik Thistle said:

I use a small finger plane to take it down in an octagon shape and then sand.

I haven't been able to fully understand how to set the taper with this process (and I don't really know how to set up my plane quite yet :-). Is there a tutorial on this method? Does the V-jig set the taper?

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22 hours ago, VTHokiEE said:

 Does the V-jig set the taper?

I don't think so.  At least not the way I do it.  When I make the octagonal shape using a V jig there is no taper.  I establish the taper during the sanding.  I calculate the diameter about  5 or six times over the length and then keep checking with a micrometer as I go.

 

John

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You cut the spar four-square first. Lay out the shape on one side of your blank and cut it out to profile. The turn it 90 degrees and re-mark the profile. Cut to shape again to get a square but tapered piece. Next, mark the spar at intervals using a 7:10:7 scale. (This is covered elsewhere on this forum.) With the spar held in a  45 degree 'V' jig, it is cut to eight square (octagonal). From there it is easy to round off and finish the spar.

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Am i missing something here, dowel is freely available in various suitable woods, why start from anything else but round if you dont have to?

The only exception would be if a portion of the mast  or spar was required not to be round ( spars are often octagonal in centre)

But if i want to do that i have always started with an oversize dowel and planed the flats.

Then into a bench clamped drill like the ones above and sand  down the tapers - measuring as you go.

Edited by SpyGlass
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'(This is covered elsewhere on this forum.)'

 

Sorry druxey, I find that such a trite statement.

OK. Take the subject and put it in the search box.........often you finish up trawling through umpteen posts and if you're lucky, you might get what you're after.

Unless you can enlighten me with a better way?

Right, I'm back on the naughty step.

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6 hours ago, SpyGlass said:

Am i missing something here, dowel is freely available in various suitable woods, why start from anything else but round if you dont have to?

The only exception would be if a portion of the mast  or spar was required not to be round ( spars are often octagonal in centre)

But if i want to do that i have always started with an oversize dowel and planed the flats.

Then into a bench clamped drill like the ones above and sand  down the tapers - measuring as you go.

 

Well, you're doing it the hard way. Doweling is readily available, but often it's not of a suitable wood species. Also, dowels are often not perfectly straight, nor inclined to stay that way. That's not a big problem for short lengths for pegs and such, but for a long spar, not so much.

 

What you need is a spar gauge. You can then take any size square piece of straight grained wood without any grain runout and taper it on all four sides on your table saw, or with a plane, and then use the gauge to mark the lines to plane to yield a perfectly octagonal tapered stick. After that, sanding it round is a cinch. The only catch is that it's a lot easier on a full-size spar than on a scale-size one because of the dimensions, but a modeler shouldn't have too much problem making a miniature spar gauge to suit the task. full size spar gauges use pencils to mark the lines on tapered spar stock. A modeler's spar gauge does better with sharpened nails which scribe the lines instead of penciling them on.  This web page tells you everything you need to know about making perfectly tapered round spars using a plane and sandpaper: https://www.pettigrews.org.uk/lm/page030a.htm

 

Using the Spar Gauge

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Well perhaps I am lucky but never had much trouble in finding straight grain dowel stock in various woods.

I have  fair sized supply already in my wood box

Also I am quite idle  so - takes only a short time to shove it in a drill chuck and wrap a piece of sand paper round it.  I do check though with a micrometer and a straight edge -  you have also accept you lose the bit that has been gripped and the "free" end gets rounded so you have to lose that too.

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15 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

A modeler's spar gauge does better with sharpened nails which scribe the lines instead of penciling them on

I've seen these used before but I didn't fully grasp how to make one before (and I may not still 🙂), thanks for the link. I have a nice stock of Hard Maple for this purpose, but I never fully understood this whole process until now. Now to see if I can make one (I'm somewhat surprised they aren't sold).

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12 hours ago, SpyGlass said:

Well perhaps I am lucky but never had much trouble in finding straight grain dowel stock in various woods.

I have  fair sized supply already in my wood box

Also I am quite idle  so - takes only a short time to shove it in a drill chuck and wrap a piece of sand paper round it.  I do check though with a micrometer and a straight edge -  you have also accept you lose the bit that has been gripped and the "free" end gets rounded so you have to lose that too.

 

Indeed, that's true. If you've got the right dowel and have learned to do it with a sanding block while spinning the dowel, that's often the fastest way to get the job done. 

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I'd like to vote for the octagonal method. I've tried the homemade lathe/cordless drill method, but it can take a lot of sanding to get it to where you want it (depending on the wood). What I do now is take a regular old #11 blade to carve down the ends using the octagonal method and then sand it round by hand. There is a fair amount of eyeballing to this method, but you'd only be able to tell if you checked it with your digital calipers. 

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If you have a table saw, minirature or otherwise, a taper jig is easy to make  from scrap lumber.  With this you can cut tapers easily and quickly. If you don’t want to make and use a marking gage the mark 1 eyeball works well to plane an octagon.  Once you have a tapered octagon, the rest is easy.

 

There are also spars that taper in a curve instead of a straight line.  Here again it is easier to first cut a straight taper and then add the curvature.  A disc sander could be used for this.

 

In building anything it’s easier to work with straight lines than curves.  While it might seem easier to make a round spar from a round dowel, it is easier to cut the basic shape from a rectangular piece of wood before shaping  the circular cross section.

 

Roger

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Hopefully this is still relevant to you but here is an article from the NRGs website that goes into great detail as to making masts from square stock without a lathe. The article is by Elia Gianopulos and does a really nice job describing the process of making masts and spars from square stock, with several nice pictures. Everyone else’s advise up above is great so if this method doesn’t work for you there should be plenty to work with here! Good luck!

 

https://thenrg.org/resources/Documents/articles/MakingAMastFromSquareStock.pdf

 

Bradley 

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