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Introducing the Gramercy Tools Folding Portable Treadle Lathe

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Gramercy Tools | Our Own Brand
Found in Departments: Gifts For Turners
  Gramercy Tools
Introducing the Gramercy Tools Folding Portable Treadle Lathe - The prototype latheIntroducing the Gramercy Tools Folding Portable Treadle Lathe - The prototype lathecancelleft arrowright arrow
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- The prototype lathe
Introducing the Gramercy Tools Folding Portable Treadle Latheplay video

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Treadle Lathe - Please keep me informed Not available
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For several thousand years, if someone wanted to turn something, they used a foot-powered lathe. Nowadays we use electricity. There are two kinds of foot-powered lathes: the older kind, the pole lathe, last used by bodgers, or chair makers who worked in the forest, which had an interrupted cut; and the treadle lathe, with a flywheel with continuous motion, that was made in every single variation in all sizes for all types of applications.

Of course there are upsides to electrically powered machines, but we’ve discovered that treadle lathes are extremely satisfying to use. When you work an electric lathe, you feel very much like you're operating a machine. The hand-eye coordination is with the tool. When you power a treadle lathe with your foot, you feel much more connected to the work and to the workpiece.

I revived my interest in treadle lathes because it's a great source of exercise. I'm not a runner; I find cycling in the city scary; and I find using machines in a gym intolerably tedious. I need purposeful exercise. Hand tool planing and milling does a lot of that, and a treadle lathe does that in spades. In addition, as people age, one of the biggest sources of injury are falls - largely stemming from the loss of the sense of balance. Since you run a treadle lathe on one foot at a time, it offers excellent balance training. Combine the balance training, the exercise, and the satisfaction in using the treadle lathe: I wanted one. But I live in an apartment, and I didn't want a toy. I wanted a full size lathe that could be used for making chair legs, 12 inch chair seats, and with the right flywheel, a bowl or two. It also needed to be small enough so if I didn't use it everyday, it wouldn't take up the whole apartment. After several starts and stops, we've spent nearly a year developing the first production folding full-size treadle lathe.

It's a lot of fun to use. But it's also a real tool.

We are not quite at the point of production, but we justed showed a folding prototype at the Handworks 2023 show in Amana, IA. We will add better and more detailed pictures soon but the response to the lathe was awesome! The prototype was in use for two solid days, and we got great feedback. We are now working on the next prototype which will take into account some improvements but more importantly mimic actual production. We hope to have it out sometime in 2024. It's a real quality machine that can turn real stuff, and we're pretty pleased so far.

The lathe uses standard accessories and has a No. 2 Morse taper on both the spindle and tailstock. And the spindle has an industry standard one inch by 8 TPI thread for normal accessories and chucks.

The flywheel is two speed, and for people doing really heavy turning, we are making it possible to increase the weight of a flywheel for more momentum (albeit with harder turning).

As with riding a bicycle, there's a certain learning curve so you can pump the treadle and get into a nice cadence for work so you can concentrate on your turning. This is very much the same as any exercise machine or bicycle and it's not that hard to do. The difference is at the end of your exercise session, you have something to show for it, not just great muscles. And incidentally before you tell me you're only exercising one leg at a time remember the stationary leg is helping you with your balance.

When you are done with your turning session and you need the space, the lathe folds down for easy storage, without needing to be disassembled.

We’re still figuring out the pricing. We are hoping to be around $2,000. At this point we are not looking for deposits or orders. But if you're interested in keeping track of when the lathes will be available, please use the “Email me what back in stock” function. There is no obligation at all for anything. We are interested in understanding how many people are potentially interested in the lathe so we can gauge production size. A current thought is to have a limited production run at an introductory price, and then run full production.

We will be adding more pictures as we are able to.

Maximum diameter of turning: 12"

Distance between centers: 36"

Customer Reviews:for an average rating of:
Two Feet?
By: Jesse (Mar, 2024)
This is super cool! Have you considered a two-way treadle, like a sewing machine, that could use both feet while the operator sits on a stool? Potentially more power and more even transmission of power.
By: Rick (Jan, 2024)
Please keep me updated on the treadle lathe.
By: Bob Renda (Sep, 2023)
Can you turn bowls on it?. I own a pole lathe and am building a heftier one for doing bowls.

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