The lathe found in use among the natives of India, fig. 5, still remains the same primitive apparatus that has been considerecl as the probable starting point of turning. The practice is as follows; - when any portion of household furniture has to be turned, the wood turner is sent for; he comes with all his outfit and establishes himself for the occasion at the verv door of his employer. He commences by digging two holes in the ground at a distance suitable to the length of the work, and in these he fixes two short wooden posts, securing them as strongly as he can by ramming the earth and driving in wedges and stones around them. The centers, scarcely more than round nails or spikes, are driven through the posts at about eight inches from the ground, and a wooden rod for the support of the tools, is either nailed to the posts or tied to them by a piece of coir or cocoa-nut rope. The bar, if long, is additionally supported as represented, by being tied to one or two vertical sticks driven into the ground. During most of his mechanical operations the Indian workman is seated on the ground, hence the small elevation of the axes of his lathe. The boy, who gives motion to the work, sits or kneels on the other side of it holding the ends of the cord wrapped around it in his hands, pulling them alternately; the cutting being restricted to one half of the motion, that of the work towards the tool. The turning tools of the Indian are almost confined to the chisel and gouge and their handles are long enough to suit his distant position, while he guides their cutting edges by his toes. He grasps the bar or tool rest with the smaller toes and places the tool between the large toe and its neighbour, generally out of contact with the bar. The Indian and all other turners using the Eastern method, attain a high degree of prehensile power with the toes, and when seated at their work not only always use them to guide the tool, but will select indifferently the hand or the foot, whichever may happen to be the nearer, to pick up or replace any small tool or other object.
* L'Art de Tourneur ou de faire en perfection toutes sortes d'ouvrages au Tour, par le R. Pere Charles Plumier, Religieux Minime. First edition, folio, Lyons, 1701 : second edition, folio, Paris, 1749.
The limited supply of tools the Indian uses for working in wood is also remarkable, they are of the most simple kind and hardly exceed those represented in fig. 5. The most essential in constructing and setting up his lathe being the small single handed adze, the Bassoolah, referred to page 473, Vol. II. With this he shapes his posts and digs the holes, it serves on all occasions as a hammer and also as an anvil, when the edge is for a time fixed in a block of wood. The outer side of the cutting edge is perfectly flat, and with it the workman will square or face a beam or board with almost as much precision as if it had been planed; in using the bas-soolah for this latter purpose the work is generally placed in the forked stem of a tree, driven into the ground as shown in the illustration.
The method followed by the Persian turner, fig. 6, is not quite so rude. In his lathe the centers are made to pass through the ends of an open box, the edge of which serves for the support of the tool; they are raised or lowered to suit work of different diameters in a series of holes pierced in a vertical line. Small works are set in motion by the bow, both by the Persian and Indian, for those of larger diameter, both use a cord pulled by an assistant ; but, when using the cord the Persian lathe is fixed by means of stakes to prevent its being pulled along the ground. Excepting the portable box the turning apparatus and manipulation thus differ but little from those last described.
The lathe used by the Arabian and Moslem group of turners, is shown by fig. 7, drawn from a sketch by the author, made in 1873 in one of the numerous turners' shops in Cairo. The Arab's lathe although roughly constructed presents several improvements over those of his Eastern brethren; it is more complete and is adjustable to works of different lengths. The apparatus is formed of two wooden feet or cross pieces, about six inches square by three feet in length, carrying two iron centers towards their ends; a longitudinal wooden stretcher about five or six inches wide, is fixed to the left foot and passes through a corresponding mortice in the right, within which it can be fixed by a wooden wedge. When the work is fixed between the centers, the four pails form a rectangular frame, which the width of the longitudinal piece in great measure prevents from racking and retains moderately square. The tool rest consists of a heavy iron bar laid across the two feet, and is adjusted to the height of center by separate pieces of wood placed between it and the cross feet. The center points being adjusted to the length of the work and the stretcher fixed by the wedge, the machine is retained stationary whilst in use by four loose spikes, which pass through holes in the feet and are slightly driven into the floor.
The operator sits upon one heel, the toes of the foot going just under or upon the stretcher and he directs the tool, which he holds by a long handle, with the toes of the other foot; the position being much like that of the Indian fig. 5, except that the whole body is more compactly held together. Occasionally and for heavy work, both feet are advanced, placed close together, and press the tool on the bar by the big toes, the other toes closely pressed around the tool and on the bar; while the latter is always pushed forward by the feet and withdrawn by the hands, as may be required to regulate its distance from the work.
The tool or the bow are held indifferently in either hand, as the work may render more convenient; but, the left hand and the right foot for the tool, with the bow in the right hand appears most general. The bow presents a peculiarity in the hinged piece near the handle, employed to regulate the tension of the string; the string is wrapped once or twice around the work, after which it is twisted round the jointed piece, which is then folded back and held in the hand with the handle. A stick is used for the support of long work of small diameter;