Seth Clayton

LARGE (long) project

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Hi guys! Woodworking is my hobby, horse training is what my wife and I do to put food on the table. Good jumps are expensive, and the rails are the most expensive. Bought commercially they're around $30 for a 12' long, round sanded rail, about 3 1/2" in diameter.

The standard budget method to create rails is to rip the corners off of a 4x4 to create a 12' long octagonal rail. These tend to warp badly over time, so I was hoping for some suggestions for doing the round ones myself.

I don't currently own any turning equipment, and have not had any luck finding a lathe long enough to handle 12' stock at any of the shared shop space in Indianapolis.

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I plan to eventually make jumps for my wife and turn all the fencing posts with one of these attachments for the woodmizer

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Check out some of the replies in this thread.  There was some good discussion on how to turn long objects.

But if you plan on doing the same item over and over again, you could probably build a lathe specifically for that piece.   A motor turning a drive shaft, mounted in some bearings set into a block of plywood, fixed to your bench or stand, would work for the head stock.  A similar setup for the tail stock, with maybe 6" of travel in it would work.   A steady rest in the middle.    Such a setup could be attached to a long table or bench, and could easily stored away when not being used.    It'd be far cheaper than buying a lathe capable of handling things that big.    If you wanted to get real fancy, you could add in a duplicator so you would have identical parts each time, but with such a simple shape (if not big), just some go/no go gauges for the various diameters would be easier. 

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Check out some of the replies in this thread.  There was some good discussion on how to turn long objects.

But if you plan on doing the same item over and over again, you could probably build a lathe specifically for that piece.   A motor turning a drive shaft, mounted in some bearings set into a block of plywood, fixed to your bench or stand, would work for the head stock.  A similar setup for the tail stock, with maybe 6" of travel in it would work.   A steady rest in the middle.    Such a setup could be attached to a long table or bench, and could easily stored away when not being used.    It'd be far cheaper than buying a lathe capable of handling things that big.    If you wanted to get real fancy, you could add in a duplicator so you would have identical parts each time, but with such a simple shape (if not big), just some go/no go gauges for the various diameters would be easier. 

This is exactly what I imagined, but have no clue if I'd be biting off more than I could chew. What sort of motor would I need, and where could I find the bearings?

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I know nothing about horse jumping, but do these parts HAVE to be wood? Could you use a pvc pipe, with the octagonal 2x4 inside to stiffen it?

They have to be wood. PVC does not react the same way if they hit the rails

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In that case, I'd say a species other than construction SPF might be in order. More costly, of course, but straight-grained wood that has been properly dried will be less likely to sag and warp. Keeping it well protected from the elements is key, also. Soak some epoxy into the end grain, and paint the whole thing thoroughly with a good outdoor paint.

If the octagonal 2x4 is "good enough", you should be able to round the poles (using straight grained lumber) from octagonal, using just a spokeshave. Much cheaper than a lathe setup, and not all that slow, with straight stock.

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I am wondering about the cost/benefit here.  It has been too many years,  so I am not sure my memory is correct.  There are 16? obstacles in a standard course?  So maybe 24  or so rails, depending on the course.  At $30.00 each $720.00 total, that with simple maintenance will last several years.  With the cost of machinery and time, I wonder how long it would take to for the effort to payoff. 

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I am wondering about the cost/benefit here.  It has been too many years,  so I am not sure my memory is correct.  There are 16? obstacles in a standard course?  So maybe 24  or so rails, depending on the course.  At $30.00 each $720.00 total, that with simple maintenance will last several years.  With the cost of machinery and time, I wonder how long it would take to for the effort to payoff. 

You're not far off here. The benefit to having the capability to make my own would be to sell more to other barns. There are very few sources for well made jumps, and there are almost a dozen trainers just in Indianapolis that need them.

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I wonder how hard it would be to rig up a coopers plane that they use for shaping the barrels to cut your octagonal poles into cylinders.

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This is a serious question, but if you are turning your rounds from the same wood that you were making into octagonals, won't they warp just as badly?  It sounds like the problem is the wood, not the shape.  

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This is a serious question, but if you are turning your rounds from the same wood that you were making into octagonals, won't they warp just as badly?  It sounds like the problem is the wood, not the shape.  

Good question. I think you're absolutely right. I was planning on getting better wood if I figured out the turning.

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It seems to me that $30 for a 12' long piece of wood that has been rounded & stays fairly straight is a fair price.

The cheapest wood is construction SPF, but to keep it straight it would need to be ripped into thinner, say 3/4" boards & then laminated to thickness. The layers need to be flipped & alternated so the stresses neutralize the movement. That's a lot of work though.

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It seems to me that $30 for a 12' long piece of wood that has been rounded & stays fairly straight is a fair price.

The cheapest wood is construction SPF, but to keep it straight it would need to be ripped into thinner, say 3/4" boards & then laminated to thickness. The layers need to be flipped & alternated so the stresses neutralize the movement. That's a lot of work though.

Ok fair enough! I'll buy the rails and have more time to ride!

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20 hours ago, Seth Clayton said:

This is exactly what I imagined, but have no clue if I'd be biting off more than I could chew. What sort of motor would I need, and where could I find the bearings?

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I'd guess a 1 hp motor would work, No more than 2.  I'd be tempted to try it on my lathe (if I had the length) on my 3/4 hp.   Build yourself some pulleys out of plywood, Matthias has a couple good videos on building his own lathe where he makes his on pulleys.  Make both the Head stock and Tail stock out of laminated layers of ply.  Like a dozen or so 6"x6" pieces glued together would probably make a solid enough stock.  

Bearings should be easy enough to come by, finding the right drive shaft might be an issue.  You might have to make one. 

Another option would be to get a cheap 8" or 10" lathe (you really don't need any more capacity for this job), and just mount the tailstock way down on the end of the bench, in home built ways.   In fact, this would probably be your best option, as all the mechanics and such are known to work, you don't have to worry about mucking around with designing it.     This method also gets you a fully functional lathe in the process for other work.   

I'd say right off the bat, check out some of the cheap HF lathes that are out there.   It wouldn't take you much work to convert one.   The only downside to the 10x18 Lathe they have is that the Hp is only 1/2, but it's cheap.  And thinking about it some more, while the piece you're turning may be heavy, it's not wide, so the mass is tight to the axis of rotation, a smaller motor might be able to handle it.   The worst that happens is that you buy it, find it doesn't work, and you can return it.   You only have to have a bench long enough to handle the length, and build the tail ways to hold the tail stock. 

The biggest PITA, though, regardless of your final choice, is making a steady rest to handle both squared and round stock.    A string steady rest might be your best option to start till you get some section rounded off, then you could switch to a wheeled one.   Or, thinking some more, I like this option the best, use a spoke shave to round over a  couple small sections to mount wheeled steady rests to. 

If do plan on turning these, I'd still recommend ripping off the corners first to make it easier to cut.  

 

Sorry if that was one long brain fart, it was half stream of consciousness and half migraine induced rambling. 

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