Incredible Bow Lathe Work In Morocco

Bow lathes are a fairly old an simple contraption. A bow is used to rotate a block of wood back and forth while tools can be used to shape it, just like a modern lathe. Despite the fact that the wood is oscillating instead of spinning in one direction, the results are very smooth.

Watch as this street vendor shows his skills with the bow lathe. I find it quite impressive how well he uses his foot. You can tell he’s been doing this for a very long time. I was also pleasantly surprised when that ring popped free, I wasn’t expecting it.

[thanks Rudolph]

13 thoughts on “Incredible Bow Lathe Work In Morocco

  1. I wonder how many times he’s nearly cut his thumb off using a chisel like he does to round out the stock? :p

    But yes, prehensile toes are almost as useful as fingers in certain jobs. I think I would have found a way to work a bit more upright – hunching doesn’t seem ergonomic, but it works for him.

    I’d love to see a few hacks on how to quickly and cheaply make different kind of lathes – springpole, bow, flywheel, treadle. I don’t have a place to use one – unless I could set it up at the park now and again.

    1. In the park or work to create a local hackerspace if one isn’t nearby. I have plenty of room now, but I’m a bankrupt person with disabilities & I don’t know how long I can hang on to the space. I figured there are retired old farts being forced to downsize, so I’m exploring if a hackerspace here could work out. Trailered tiny houses are a trend, no reason why tiny shops can’t be put on a trailer. Auto racing crews & contractors already have sizable shops on trailers.

      1. That’s quite a nice idea, actually. It would have to be carefully planned for usability but I can imagine swing-up sides which reveal tools ready to work, fixed to the trailer floor but (relatively) easily unlatched and hefted out of the trailer by two people.

        I’ve found a nice hackerspace nearby my home with student rates, but they’re a bit tool-poor at the moment. And half the reason for making a small lathe for myself would be portability. I play with the SCA (some would say halfway between renfaire and real historical reenactment) and it would be fun to have a treadle lathe about the size of the inkle looms the ladies are using. Pull it out of the trunk and start turning firewood into chess pieces would probably get some attention. Almost as good as firing up a forge on-site, I imagine.

    1. This setup looks like a couple of blocks of wood, the tailstock with a dead center that swivels perhaps? could be as simple as a couple of nails for ‘bearings’. The amazing thing about a lathe is you can use a rudimentary lathe to make parts for an improved lathe.

  2. Pretty damn portable wood lathe that’s for sure. I think using it would going to be the shits when he gets old enough to need reading glasses. Trying to keep the work in focus. Maybe aging eyes is why lathes with higher beds where created, that or or sore backs. No denying that the man has developed skills.

  3. Great video! Thank you so much for sharing it. I am always amazed with people who have great talents. I am really very impressed with what he did with that wood. Out from a simple wood he was able to put some designs to it that makes it unique with the aid of its bow lathe! Pretty nice!

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