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Wilkinson Foot Powered Wood Lathe

A cast iron treadle lathe by A.J. Wilkinson & Co., Boston. The 22" flywheel has a two stepped pulley. The lathe has an 8" swing, 6 1/2" over the tool rest base, and 17 1/2" between centers. The headstock has 2 1/4" and 5" pulleys, bronze bearings, 3/4" 10 tpi outside thread on the hollow spindle and a tapered bore for accessories. The taper is slightly larger than mt-1 in both the head and tail stock. The fork center and dead center both appear to have had their points damaged and reground. A small 3 jaw keyless concentric chuck threads onto the spindle. The chuck uses a flat scroll and opens to 15/16". It is marked "A.F. Cushman, Maker, Hartford, Conn., Pat Dec 24th, 1872". The tailstock ram has 2 3/4" travel, operated by a screw. The tool rest has a 4" blade, fully adjustable. It's post is locked with a set screw. The base is locked with a large wing nut identical to that on the tailstock. The hardwood (walnut?) table is 38" x 11". The lathe bed is 36" high, the footprint is 35" x 23 1/2".

Part of a table saw attachment is included. The folding table appears complete, but the saw mandrel and blade are not present. From the location of the saw table, it appears that the saw mandrel was held between centers, with the driven end perhaps screwing onto the spindle, or perhaps held in the 3 jaw chuck. The table folds up and swings behind the lathe when not in use, or is easily removed from the lathe table. The circular saw table measures 13" x 12", with a 12" x 1 1/2" blade slot. The table top has two miter slots - a long 7/8" wide slot parallel to the blade and a short 1" slot at 90 degrees to the blade. The oak treadle is a replacement, but set screw marks along the square treadle shaft indicate that a single pedal, movable to any location along the shaft was also the original configuration.

The lathe, fitted with a new 1 1/4" leather belt, works extremely smoothly and with little effort. The lathe always stops in the same position - just beyond dead center and ready to start without having to turn the flywheel by hand. The dead center remedy is a very old one - a large weight on the flywheel. Surprisingly, this doesn't affect the flywheel's balance when in use, perhaps because it is counteracted by the force of the treadle.

UPDATE: After using this lathe a great deal this past week, I decided to replace the fork drive for heavy use. I turned down the shank of a new MT2 spur drive to match the Wilkinson taper. It works great with no more chance of the work slipping. Both centers are included.

UPDATE: The new book on human powered machinery by Ken Cope arrived today from M.J. Donnelly. Collectors of foot powered machines will find this book a useful reference. My immediate interest was in the entry for A.J. Wilkinson. The No. 1 Wilkinson lathe, from their 1874 catalog is very similar to this one, but with the crank hook on the left side near the flywheel. However, the Babbitt Improved Combination Lathe, made by Baldwin (also from 1875)is an even closer match, including the folding table saw. The other bracket on the left of the saw is for a scroll saw attachment. Wilkinson offered Baldwin lathes in its 1875 catalog. The circle saw attachment is described in the Baldwin catalog as a 4" blade running on an arbor, one end of which screws into the live spindle and the other held in place by the center of the foot spindle (tailstock). Our thanks to Ken Cope for his never-ending research and book after book after book.

I also found a new use for the Wilkinson lathe this weekend - turning multiple half columns to support barn swallow nesting shelves. I screw 2 2x4's together, turn several pieces at once, separate the halves and saw off the individual shelf supports.

view from the right side

the headstock

the tailstock

the tool rest

the concentric scroll chuck

finishing a finial with the Cushman chuck

the maker's plate

the flywheel with dead center weight

the crank hook

the crank hook and pedal

the accessory saw table in place

another view of the saw table

the saw table folded back

Price: sold

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© 2006, American Artifacts, Taneytown, Maryland.