Best way to cut long thin spindles for Windsor chair?

My examination of 200 year old antique Windsor chair spindles seems to reveal that they were handmade with a spokeshave. Some of the fancy spindles even had a bulb about 1/4 the way up. That works for me, too, but it is sure labor-intensive. Anyone successfully made these with machine tools? Typical spindle might be 5/8 or 11/16 inch on the big end, tapering uniformly to about 3/8 inch on the top end, and from 30 to 33 inches long. I've tried three different machine methods, but none have satisfied me so far. Start with 3/4 inch square white oak or hickory straight grained stock.
1) Turn in 16x54 inch wood lathe at 2000 rpm using a leather glove on one hand to provide a continuous steady rest while cutting with a gouge with the other hand. Finish with spokeshave.
2) With either over-arm or portable router and quarter-round bit, make four passes to produce a round section; then change to a smaller bit and repeat part way; finish by hand spokeshave.
3) I've made several hollow mills with three-lips, rotating at high speed in the wood lathe headstock to make the first cut from the square stock. Then a second pass at a smaller diameter, etc. Mills are made from 1 inch OD drill rod, hardened to Rc60-62, ground to a sharp edge. Still a lot of work because it will still only cut a single constant diameter..
4) Go back 200 years, and make with a spokeshave. That works, but it is expensive.
Any great ideas? Thanks, Dave
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Lathe and steady has been the way for many years. Help yourself slightly by having a ball-bearing cup center at he tail end. Don't tighten it into the piece, just make contact, to keep from whipping.
I mount long stuff on the lathe and take the corners off with a block plane with my spindle locked. You can get pretty close to round before you even turn the lathe on. After that, I prefer the straight portion of a big roughing gouge for planing cuts.
If you decide to build a bodger's bench and have a go with hand tools, check out the LV low-angle shave.

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I am building two windsors now. The method I used for the long spindles is to begin with straight grain ash. I cut the long spindles 3/4 inch square on a table saw. I found a three inch piece of pipe at the hardware store that is a tight fit and slip that onto the middle of the long spindle. My spindles are 34 inches. I then use a three wheel steady rest to control the smooth spinning pipe section. I turn round on both sides of the pipe section to each end. I then remove the pipe section and simpley let the steady rest run on the sections I just turned while I finish the few inches that were inside the pipe section. A piece of pipe used this way has a name and it is not new, but I can't recall what it is called. The technique removes all of the vibration. I used some old open end wrenches, 1/2" and 5/8" to determine the proper size. I would cut down with a parting tool until the wrench slipped over the turning and that would tell me I had uniform size. Actually I cut several places along the full length of the spindle, then use a shallow gouge and "connect" the areas that are properly turned. I did not find a need to use my hand to steady the piece once I found this method. I will say that straight grain wood is a must. If you do not have that you will get vibration and whip no matter what else you do. GCS
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Think Swiss Screw Machine.
On Wed, 14 Jul 2004 02:54:13 GMT, "David Anderson"

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Fred Lambert rounder and trapping plane on a slow-running lathe.
http://www.crafts32.fsnet.co.uk/products_rotary_planes.htm
Don't know if they've made it to the US yet.
Cheers
Frank

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