Fluting in the old days ... - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Fluting in the old days ...

In the old days fluted columlar conical chair- and tablelegs with cirkular cross-sections were popular. But they hadn't got any machines, so how on Earth did they make the fluting ?
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 08:22 AM
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What makes you think there were no machines? There may not have been electric machines but there were plenty driven by other means. Apprentice power turned lathes by hand, water power was also used. Many of the things we try to do, today, were done with hand tools in the past.

The legs you show are reeded, taper reeded, not fluted. They aren't colonial, more likely Empire or neoclassical, which would have been around the turn of the 19th century. An age when machines were taking over, water powered at first. The picture isn't clear and it doesn't show the entire piece or the finish very well. The finish appears to have a film that may be scratched, chipped, maybe some pickling but it's hard to tell. If so, this would be a modern piece, 1950's?
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 08:35 AM
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Well, that is called reeding. The had machines to do the bulk of that but I believe the rounded over top of it was done by hand. You could do that yourself by raising your tailstock to where the straight part of the turning was level with the bead of the lathe. Then build a box surrounding the turning with the top level with the straight part of the turning. From there nail a couple of strips of wood as a guide for the base of your router and d route the groove one at a time rotating the turning for each cut. My old lathe the pulley is indexed to where you can lock it in each position. Anything would work to prevent the turning from rotating would work.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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I appologize. The legs are reeded. They sit on an English regency table from around 1820. But I still wonder how they made them ?
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 08:45 AM
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I appologize. The legs are reeded. They sit on an English regency table from around 1820. But I still wonder how they made them ?
That would be nice to see. I have an old table the reeding is contoured with the leg. I made 8 chairs to go with it but was unwilling to hand carve 16 oak legs to get that design so I left that part smooth.
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post #6 of 21 Old 02-22-2016, 09:14 AM
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Great info from previous posts. Although reeding designs continue for some furniture today using automated machinery, the original process was designed, laid out on the wood, and hand cut, which took many days to complete. Consider going on line or find books on early (USA & European) woodworking techniques for more information. Be safe.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Handcarving with that precision ! My God ! Let's hear from members refusing to use machinery and hope they will show us on photos. That is, if they don't refuse to use cameras too.
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 03:49 AM
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Handcarving with that precision ! My God ! Let's hear from members refusing to use machinery and hope they will show us on photos. That is, if they don't refuse to use cameras too.
You seem to have a problem with those who do not use machinery and prefer hand methods. Why?

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post #9 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 05:23 AM
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Hand crafted is better!

I know people here in India who make hand crafted furniture with high precision. Hand crafting gives character to a piece which is never possible with a machine. That is why old hand crafted furniture is valued much more than modern machine produced items.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 07:32 AM
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Yes, there are people that could do the reeding on a table leg like that by hand with that precision. I could do it myself however it would probably take me a week to do one leg. Even someone better that would be prohibitive to do on a production line. Since this thread was started I've been searching the net for a machine especially made to do fluting and reeding on turned legs and haven't been able to find one. I believe the older legs the fluting must have been done on a shaper available in the late 19th century. I could construct a cradle to hold a leg and make that cut. I think in later years when they had electric power tools they used something more similar to a router-crafter to do that.
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post #11 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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I have no problem with people using machinery ! When looking at my regency furniture from around 1800 to 1820 I just wondered: How on Earth did they make the fluting and reeding with no machinery ? But it seems that our Indian friend Jig-saw knows how !
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post #12 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 10:02 AM
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I have no problem with people using machinery ! When looking at my regency furniture from around 1800 to 1820 I just wondered: How on Earth did they make the fluting and reeding with no machinery ? But it seems that our Indian friend Jig-saw knows how !
You know folks used to make molding with a hand plane. All that would be necessary is a jig to keep a molding plane going in a straight line to make the reeding on a turning. On those legs that are contoured I saw a guy make a box that was contoured the same as the leg and had a board holding the knife which followed the contour. What wasn't shown is what they do when going against the grain. My guess is the block holding the knife was exactly centered and reversible.
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post #13 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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A picture tells more than a thousend words. Lets hope to see a photo or two to tell us how it was done.
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post #14 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 10:44 AM
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On this Lathe Page I have examples of two lathes from the 1800's that were capable of turning odd shaped objects such as gunstocks. The first lathes were opposite to what we are familiar with, they used a revolving cutter.

http://sawdustmaking.com/Lathes/lathes.html

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #15 of 21 Old 02-23-2016, 08:57 PM
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I have a reproduction of a book written in the 1880's by a designer and manufacturer of lathes, cutters and indexing tools. He sold a lathe like the one pictured with all kinds of attachments to do ornamental turning. The attached picture is from just one chapter explaining how to use one of the special features of his lathe. Other chapters show other tooling that allows for all kinds of outrageously amazing turnings that would be hard to duplicate with today's lathes. If you would like to see more examples let me know and I'll post more pictures.
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post #16 of 21 Old 02-24-2016, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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I thank you all for your answers. On a lathe you can make all sorts of ornaments perpendicular to the axis. But fluting and reeding are in the same direction as the axis. See my photo example. You can't make them by turning the object on the lathe. And they were popular and made in the period from at least the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Not much machinery in those early days. They must have had som method, but which ?
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post #17 of 21 Old 02-24-2016, 07:26 AM
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I think the method would vary as much then as it doses making something today. An individual or small company today might rig some kind of simple jig to do that with a router where a production company probably would have a CNC which would fabricate a dozen or more of them at a time. Probably a well equipped shop in the late 19th century had a machine like what Frank has shown in the link where an individual or a small business would do that like at a time before machinery doing it by hand.
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-24-2016, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golgatha View Post
On a lathe you can make all sorts of ornaments perpendicular to the axis. But fluting and reeding are in the same direction as the axis. See my photo example.
The ornament on the right side of Terry's second picture has some shallow flutes running parallel with the axis.

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post #19 of 21 Old 02-24-2016, 10:15 AM
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I thank you all for your answers. On a lathe you can make all sorts of ornaments perpendicular to the axis. But fluting and reeding are in the same direction as the axis. See my photo example. You can't make them by turning the object on the lathe. And they were popular and made in the period from at least the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Not much machinery in those early days. They must have had som method, but which ?
In the 1800's tools were often invented with a clear mind, there were few if any previous examples to follow or confuse the issue.

Today we have a preconceived notion of what a wood lathe is and the kind of work it does because we are familiar with dumbed down hobbyist machines built for the masses.

Blanchard did not have a modern lathe to modify, he saw a need and built a machine to accomplish that end, from there other machines evolved, usually for a specific purpose. Building a machine to flute contoured legs would not be out of the question using a rotary cutter which was prominent at the time.

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post #20 of 21 Old 02-24-2016, 11:58 AM
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Straight reeding and fluting is done after lathe has already done its work. Radial patterns are marked out by molding rings and then chiselled by hand.


If you wonder about precision hand crafting, see the ancient architecture (Persian, Greek, Roman, Indian).
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