Considering a lathe....

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I have decided I need a lathe. I have aquired an obscure new hobby, gathering wild rice. In order to collect the rice, wooden flails ( also called knockers) are used to knock the rice from the stalks into a canoe. The size, shape, and weight of the knockers are determined by Minnesota statute. They must be smooth and round, no longer than 30 inches or one inch across, and weight no more than one pound. I figure I need a lathe to make these knockers.
Ricing is an obscure activity, not popular at all. this is because it is such hard work. there are no commercially available knockers. Yes, I know that I could just use a branch or a broomstick but here's the thing. The right knockers can increase your ricing efficiency dramatically.
Most of the other ricers I see are Native Americans ( I am not). I have been careful to observe what type of knockers they use and their shape. I assume that these tools have been passed down through generations and the design is very specific. It is widest in the middle and tapers toward the ends similar to a rolling pin but more exaggerated. IIt is very smooth except for that ridge in the middle. They are also larger than my knockers and I am guessing they are sanded down until they are exactly at one pound. A heavier knocker is probably an advantage and this ridge in the middle is likely the most you can have and still be called "smooth". the ridge would aid in the knocking.
It seems that the critical dimension in choosing the lathe is this 30 in measurement. When looking at lathes I notice that they say "working distance between centers". I assume this number needs to be greater that 30 inches. would that be correct?
The reason I am confused it that they will call it a 14 inch lathe because it is the bed capacity but that the distance between centers can be listed as 40". Can anyone explain this to me? here is an example: http://www.7corners.com/7c_store/showdetl.cfm?DID=1&offerings_ID=-974133630&ObjectGroup_ID95181403&CATIDf9291778
Basswood is a traditional material for knockers and I have lots of it on my place. It is very soft and easily worked as well as lighweight, attributes which make it ideal for a tool that has a maximum weight for a given size. I have plenty of basswood to allow for the mistakes I am likely to make.
What type or size of lathe do I need to fashion these "knockers". I was hoping to find a low cost benchtop style machine but it looks like i need somthing bigger for these 30 inch sticks. I never want to buy a low quality machine because that has always been a mistake for me in the past. On the other hand, I don't have any other project in mind other than this one and I don't care to spend any more than necessary. Also, what type of tool( s) like skews and chisels will be needed in order to do this job? thanks to all
Lawrence
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I agree on the smooth and round, but I think this is too much of an intrusion by government. Is this some bill introduced on behalf of plastic surgeons and Dow chemical? Are there certified state knockers inspectors? How does it work, are women tested and inspected when they renew their drivers license?
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Where I come from (Liverpool) knockers are women's breasts! I agree with the Minnesota statute! "They must be smooth and round," Eddie
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Eddie wrote:

LOL, knockers are also breasts her in the USA. I expected and encourage such jokes, hahahhah. This usage is very obscure, I assure you and will not be found in andy dictionary.
Lawrence
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Hello Edwin, Congratulations on being the first to make a knocker joke, hahahhaha. Ricing is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources just like hunting and fishing and a state liscence is required. So you see, there are knocker inspectors out there called the DNR. I doubt though if they put much energy into enforcing knocker design. I'm sure the fine is a very small one.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I wouldn't mind being a certified state knocker inspector.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Or uncertified either for that matter...
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Lawrence,
I hope you like wild rice, because you are going to spend a few $$$ to gather it.
A Jet Mini lathe is about $290. It has a 10 swing, meaning that it will turn work of 10" diameter. The bed is only about 18 inches long, so you will need an extension to make a 30" knocker. Add another $80 or so.
You can buy a cheap chisel set for about $40 and you are in business.
Once you get the lathe, I'll bet you find a few other things that you might like to do with it. I put in several hours a day on mine.
Walt Cheever

http://www.7corners.com/7c_store/showdetl.cfm?DID=1&offerings_ID=-974133630&ObjectGroup_ID95181403&CATIDf9291778
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Walt Cheever wrote:

LOL, thanks Walt for your reply. I already have lots of tools I probably don't need, lol. I'm a freak for tools and love to buy and own them or else I wouldn't be buying a lathe. Yes, I like wild rice quit a lot and figure I can eat one or two pound per week. You might be surprised to learn that ricing can be a profitable activity. It is a 50 million dollar business in Minnesota! Wild Rice can be processed for $.70 per finished pound. The retail price is between 5 and 10 dollars per pound. So you see, there is a profit there. Of course you have to have a truck and canoe as well as other tools...

Gosh Walt, thanks for that reply. I have seen that tool for sure but assumed it was too small. That is affordable for me and I will take another look at it now. I bet you are right to say I will find other projects for it. I have heard that turning can be quite addictive. I live on a 20 acre wood lot and have access to lots of odd shaped pieces of wood that could be turned into bowls or other objects. for now, I am interested in "knockers", lol.
Lawrence
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Walt Cheever wrote:

The Jet is a good suggestion. Another possibility is the Rikon. A little less money, a little more swing, a little more length, and an extension is available for about the same price. Of course, it's not a well known brand as is the Jet, but I haven't heard any complaints about its quality.
-- It's turtles, all the way down
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I would also keep an eye on auctions in your area. You may be able to find a good used one for less money.
I googled harvesting wild rice in Minnesota because I was not aware that wild rice grew there. Is this the same rice as what we are used to - that was introduced to the US in colonial days as a cash crop? I always thought that rice grew best in warmer climates - I did not think it grew that far north.

http://www.7corners.com/7c_store/showdetl.cfm?DID=1&offerings_ID=-974133630&ObjectGroup_ID95181403&CATIDf9291778
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J. Chris Tilton wrote:

I am new to ricing but have learned a lot this year. Wild Rice is an interesting plant. It is a grass rather than a true rice. I have read up on it a bit but haven't heard about that particular bit of history. Wild Rice is sacred to the Native Americans in this area. In their legend it says thay the creator told them to travel west until you find the food that grows upon the water. The Indians have used it as a cash crop and subsistence food for as long as they have been here. Interestingly both the Indians and the archeologists agree, the plant is ancient and pre-dates humanity in this area. Minnesota seem to be the center of the wild rice universe but it grows throught the great lake region including Canada, but mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It used to have a much wider range before it's habitat was disturbed. Also, I learned that these rice beds are large geographic features which can be seen on sattelite photography. So I can just Google Earth to find the rice!! Word of mouth is also helpful. I have well known ricing areas within one mile of my home.
Now there are thousands of acres of commercial rice paddies that are harvested with chemicals and machines. There remains, however, a market for truly wild harvested rice even though it is a lot more expensive. Wild harvested rice has several culinary advantages over commmercial rice including that it is better tasting and cooks in 1/5 the time. Here are a few links for your further study, there is even a video:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic_Gardening/1982_September_October/A_Gourmet_Harvest_From_the_Autumn_Mud
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snapshots/plants/wildrice.html
http://www.nativeharvest.com /
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/julaug04/ricing.html
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Mon, Sep 11, 2006, 1:48am snipped-for-privacy@infinet.com (J.ChrisTilton) doth claimeth: <snip> I always thought that rice grew best in warmer climates - I did not think it grew that far north.
Wild rice ain't rice. Google it.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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->I have decided I need a lathe.
When did "need" ever enter into the equation when it comes to buying a new tools? :-)
Joe
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10x wrote:

LOL, thats a good one Joe. At least you didn't make another knocker joke. You are correct to correct me. I don't really need a lathe. I just want one, which is quite sufficient since I don't have a woman to veto the purchase, lol.
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*snip*

That one would be too easy... Too easy.
Puckdropper
--
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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http://www.7corners.com/7c_store/showdetl.cfm?DID=1&offerings_ID=-974133630&ObjectGroup_ID95181403&CATIDf9291778
A used craftsman will run $70, with tools. But even for $70 you could get a woodworker to knock you out a few knockers.
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Toller wrote:

Now that's affordable and something I will look into. I am a bit of a woodworker and also a do-it-yourselfer or I wouldn't be gathering my own food from the wild. It will be fun for me to buy a new tool and give it a try. I have lots of that nice basswood around to make my mistakes on. also, It can be difficult to hire anyone to do anything in our isolated are, believe it. thanks for that helpful reply.
Lawrence
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"lwhaley" wrote

You better be careful there Lawrence. In rural areas, word will get out quickly if you have any unique abilities. You start making things on a lathe, every carpenter in the area will call on you to make replacement spindles for staircases and porches.
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Mon, Sep 11, 2006, 6:50am (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@paulbunyan.net (lwhaley) scribeth thusly: <snip> also a do-it-yourselfer or I wouldn't be gathering my own food from the wild. <snip>
Obviously not hard-cor DIY, or you'd make your own wood lathe - out of wood. I've got plans for one somewhere you can basically extend as long between centers as you want. The plans show about 8' if I recall right. There-s plans on-line too.
You might ask the Native Americans what kind of lathe their ancestors used for their knockers, maybe they have plans available. I like small knockers myself.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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