Preview: Antique Ingenuity; The Shaw & Tenney Oar Lathe

June 21, 2013

Avatar Maynard Bray

Oar Lathe - Shaw & Tenney

For about 150 years this oar lathe has been making long square wood round. You start with a rough-sawn shaft of square cross-section that, in less than a minute and with only a single pass, gets shaved down to a round and perfectly-tapered loom. By hand, this would take you hours.

Two razor-sharp cuttig tools (knives) are involved, both mounted on the lead-screw-driven tool post. The first knife makes the square shaft into a round cylinder so it can slip through the post-mounted steady bearing, while the second knife, behind the bearing, creates the oar’s desired diameter and taper. Although the second knife mounts on the tool post, it varies its depth of cut as it slides along the length of the shaft by means of an adjustable taper-guide that’s bolted to the lathe bed.

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