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Large Treadle Lathe and Scroll Saw

This large treadle lathe was once used in the blacksmith shop of one Uriah Lowe, of New Buffalo, Pennsylvania. The only Uriah Lowe I could find in New Buffalo was born in 1871 and is now resting in the Hill Church cemetery, just outside of that small town (pop 145). New Buffalo is in Perry county, overlooking the Susquehanna river. Judging by the apparent age of the lathe, I would guess that Uriah Lowe was not the first owner. It's 30" swing and massive shafts and flywheel would have been appropriate for a pattern maker's shop.

When I was cleaning the wood rails of the bed, I was surprised to find large stencilled letters appearing on the wet surface. First, it appeared to be the maker's name "*ols Tolend". Upon further cleaning, I was disappointed to read clearly "HANDS OFF - NO TOOLS TO LEND". Then I remembered the damaged upper treadle arm with its very early repair with several large cut nails. It may well be that this stearn warning was stencilled on the lathe in response to an incident resulting in that damage. It also suggests that the lathe was used in a larger shop, employing more than just a few workmen.

The lathe - front right view. The lathe center is 15 1/2" above the bed and the maximum distance between centers is 65 inches. The centers are 52" from the floor. Each rail of the massive bed measures 4 3/4" x 6 1/4".

The 4 ft diameter wood flywheel with decorative turned spokes. The heavy flywheel is suspended between 3/4" conical bearings threaded into the frame members. The 5" stroke crankshaft is directly mounted on the right side of the flywheel. The flywheel has a 4" face and 4 3/4" thick rim.

Spindle turning

The headstock spindle with 1 1/4" 7tpi outside threads.

The tailstock with cup center machined in end of threaded ram. The 4 1/4" decorative handwheel moves the ram 3".

The tailstock with wood screw clamp apparently for a sliding tool rest. The round wooden nut with metal band turns smoothly.

The tailstock The vertical hexagonal rod tightens the tailstock clamp

The upper arms of the treadle mechanism The right arm is a modern oak replacement. The 16" upper arms are mortised into a 3 7/8" square upper shaft. Their opposite ends are connected to the treadle arms with 27" slats.

Rear view showing the treadle mechanism. The 28" arm at the end of the upper shaft connects to a 27" rod which in turn connects to the crankshaft

A massive 4 point spur drive attaches to the spindle with a small taper. This early form of spur drive has the blades sloped on both sides and a center point no longer than the blades. It grips well, but is harder to center the work than a modern spur with longer center point. Making crossed saw kerfs in the end of the work does allow instant centering.

A modern oak flange, threaded to fit the spindle, and plywood faceplate. Other accessories, such as a taper chuck, could be screwed to the baseplate, in place of the faceplate. The oak baseplate is 6 1/4" dia., the plywood faceplate is 11" dia.

The tool rest - a modern replacement with full horizontal adjustment to utilize the 30 inch swing of the lathe. There is no vertical adjustment.

Lacking rooom for the lathe in my workshop, I've set it up on a loose plank floor in the upper barn. It is working quite well there, but, it should be secured to the floor in its final location. It is definitely not a portable lathe to be taken to shows, unless it is mounted on a trailer. There seem to be several early modifications to the rear frame and one rear leg is a replacement, as is the tool rest and an upper arm in the treadle linkage. The compound linkage in the treadle mechanism is a rare feature.

turning a coopered column - right view

turning a coopered column - left view.

turning a coopered column - closup

The scroll saw and its drive pulleys in place

The scroll saw mechanism with brass slide

Closeup of the scroll saw slide mechanism mounted under the table

The slide mechanism with split screw blade clamp

Lathe with scroll saw mounted - front view

Lathe with scroll saw - left end view

The scroll saw pulleys

The scroll saw upper arm with blade guide and tension arm. The large hand forged upper arm is mounted on a heavy plank resting on the rear lathe frame. This is a very early replacement to increase the throat size. The original upper arm would have mounted directly on the saw table.

Price: sold

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Contact: Richard Van Vleck - Email:

© 2005, American Artifacts, Taneytown, Maryland.