I have recently finished a new bowl lathe, made from odds and ends of wood around my workshop. The only metal in the lathe is at the centre points to hold the bowl and mandrel in place, 2 bolts for the treadle and the pivot for the return spring. It seams to work very well and is extremely stable in use. Made mainly for bowls, it is also good for spindle turning and will take competition-size chair legs for when I race next year. I use bungee cord most of the time, and not using a stick or pole as my spring, but I need to set up the lathe in all sorts of the situations and sometime indoors when demonstrating to turning-clubs. Setting up a pole on hard standing can be an issue and usually involves a very heavy lump of wood. I carry enough weight in the van as it is.
Dan turning a walnut bowl.
I do not know if you have noticed, but most of the joints are sliding tapered dovetails. The lathe will go together and very easily knock apart whether it is bone dry or sopping wet. No more desperately trying to get round tenons out of round mortices at the end of a show.
A few of the bowls we have turned whilst demonstrating at the last 2 shows. All bowls turned from beech apart from the square one which is sycamore. Dan and I are not that fast yet but we can certainly finish the bowls well, with very little grain tear out on the 2 quarters that go against the grain.
The shows are really bad this year with takings down again. I am glad that I no longer rely on them like I once did. I have some big commissions going on, so probably not so many blog posts in the near future, and not so much more bowl turning either.
At one of the shows Dan made a bowl after messing up the axing of the blank, have a look here to see the beautiful bowl he made from a bit of wood I said to throw away