A Bicycle Built for Bowls

U.S. woodworkers design a foot-powered lathe for Honduran artisans so they can produce mortars and pestles for sale.
By Don Weber
Pages: 64-67

From the August 2007 issue #163
Buy this issue now

Take one 13-tooth bicycle sprocket, a bicycle chain and a heavy spring. Add to that some plumber’s floor flanges, a few assorted nuts, Allen screws and wooden parts. And what do you have?

You might not believe it, but that’s all you need to make a foot-powered lathe that can turn bowls or spindles.

I developed this machine (with some help and inspiration) to upgrade some spring-pole lathes in rural villages in Honduras. And last year I traveled to Honduras for 12 days to show a dozen villagers how to make the lathe, use it and to help them make tools from car springs (I’m also a blacksmith, you see).

Why would a Welshman who lives in Kentucky go to Honduras to build lathes? Our story starts 14 years ago.

From the August 2007 issue #163
Buy this issue now