The history of wood turning

The history of wood turning

Did you know that the lathe might have been invented several thousand years ago? Yes, you heard it right. For this reason, the lathe might be one of the oldest machines ever created by humans. A lathe is a machine that rotates a piece of material at an axis, allowing the user to perform several operations like sanding, cutting, knurling, deformation, drilling, and many other functions.

The earliest evidence of the use of lathes can be dated back to Ancient Egypt, around the 13th century BC. Besides, in the Mycenaean Greek, there were pieces of evidence that the Mycenaeans used lathes as early as the 14th Century BC. However, figuring out details of evidence from the past about the use of lathes is like scavenging for fossils. Most of the pieces of evidence were already gone.

Nevertheless, the only clear evidence of the use of lathes got based on turned artifacts that dated back to the 6th century. This evidence included wooden bowl fragments in an Etruscan grave, indicative of the use of a lathe.

Uses of Lathes by the Ancient Romans and Chinese

The Chinese invented a type of the rotary lathe machine likewise. They had been using a variety of rotary lathes since the 4th century BC. They used this machine to sharpen weapons and tools. However, the oldest depiction of a lathe dates back to ancient Egypt in the 3rd century BC.

The ancient Romans also invented powered milling lathes. The lathing rod of these powered lathes got shaped out of stones, and the whole system rotated because of gears and ropes.

Use of Lathes During the Renaissance

The first recorded mechanical lathe with a continuous revolution was the one sketched by Leonardo da Vinci. It showed a treadle equipped with a crankshaft instead of a flywheel.

Wood primarily made his machine. We were unable to determine whether Leonardo da Vinci invented this tool. But it might also be a sketch of an existing machine used in those days.

The earliest prototypes of the lathe machine included primitive straps., poles, and bow lathes. Past artisans also used pole lathes called bodgers. The etymology of this word is not certain. The bodgers produced turned parts of chairs, indicating that they were skilled.

( Information collated from the wood turning magazine)

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