You are a proud and dedicated hand tool woodworker. Equating religion and hand tool woodworking to you trivializes both. You were quietly resentful of the workers at the sawmill when they used a forklift to load your wagon. There was a perfectly good jib and several block and falls that could have accomplished the same task more appropriately.

Since your spouse suffered a back injury, the pit saw has been a challenge.


You’ve tried both methods. Both have their advantages.

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This is how you do it.


This is how the Dutch did it.

You’ve tried using your six-year-old twins. If you put them in the pit, they immediately start complaining about getting sawdust in their eyes. Then, after about a half hour, they start playing in the meager pile of sawdust they made leaving their end of the saw unguided.

According to the judge and Child Protective Services, you can’t put them back on top of the log until you can get Texas Heritage Woodworks to make you some toddler-sized harnesses for required fall protection devices.


Less the little darlings fall off the log.

Once they can safely ascend the log, you know that with their short stature, they will we capable of only relatively short strokes. Not all that useful but any stroke is better than no stroke.

For now you have rigged some ropes and pulleys. The best you can saw is around four logs a day. All life is a compromise.

Your infill plane are still three years into the future. You couldn’t fit the ebony into the frames in any way that meets your high standards. You are trying this method you think you remember from a woodworking guild blog that you can’t find anymore. You flew to Madagascar and implanted three bronze and steel plane frames into some ebony trees (Diospyros celebica) in 2013. In three years, you should be able to harvest the trees. Once you get the proper clearances (remember Gibson Guitars fun with Customs a few years back), you can bring the planes home and complete the fitting. There may be some shrinkage but you are a dedicated hand tool woodworker.


An infill plane, just not yours.

With all your tremendous hand tool woodworking skills, the one task that confounds you is pen turning. Your well-intentioned family and the cretins at work have all pressured you into making them pens for gifts and charitable causes.  The first year you made a few hundred by splitting out the green wood and then shaping them with drawknives and spokeshaves. You then bored them out with a brace and spoon bit. Close to round but still tricky fitting all the various pen parts.


The spoon bit.

The next year you added a dowel plate to the process. First thing you learned was to bore the holes after pounding the body through the dowel plate. A matter of centering and structural integrity. Lesson two was to not use a fluted dowel plate. An interesting texture but hard to finish. There was still tear-out using the plain dowel plate but you were able to smooth them with a scraper.


User-built dowel plate.

Being a hand tool woodworker, you decide a lathe may be the answer. You try a spring pole lathe. Not bad but you don’t like the tear-out on the lathe’s backspin and you aren’t coordinated enough to pull the tool away in time.


A spring pole lathe.

Next, you try a treadle lathe. Results are good but the treadle banging the floor annoys the twins and your back-injured spouse.


One variety of treadle lathe.

You tried your Narragansett Machine Co. hobbyist lathe but it looks too industrial and still smells like a machine shop.


Narragansett Machine Co. “hobbyist” lathe. Most of it.

The wheel lathe? Your back-injured spouse is not willing to try before finishing physical therapy. Your fallback engine is the twins. The pit saw has given them some impressive upper body strength but their short arms still limit their power. You try a longer crank but that lifts them off the ground for about 1/3 of a rotation. You try a second crank 180° out from the first but that creates more problems. If they are on the same side of the wheel, one tries to kick the other in the head as they pass over one another. If you put them on opposite sides of the wheel, one claims the other is not doing their fair share of the work. Within ten minutes, all you hear is screams of “Not fair!”. This is not productive.


Another Moxon drawing of a wheel lathe.

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A wheel lathe from the Dominy shop exhibit at Winterthur. Setup for outboard turning of a tabletop.

This year, your pilgrimage to Handworks in Amana brought you the answer. In one of the area antique shops You found this:


Another foot powered lathe. You can sit at this one.


With this lathe, you might be able to spin your pens fast enough to use the traditional cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) finish.

So, you can be a purist hand tool woodworker and a pen turner. They are not mutually exclusive.

Note: I do not own the rights to most of the photos. In fact, I never even asked. What do you expect, I’m a blogger.