Another high quality writeup from the curator at the "Museum of the transmundane."
I used one of these (August 1998) that an acquaintance had built, and was most impressed by the simplicity and functionality of the design. Plus it worked pretty good, too! Here's a picture of me making my first inept attempt at using a foot powered lathe. Stop laughing back there, it isn't that bad.
So I spent a couple of evenings up at the cottage making one (Aug 1999). I had to buy $25 worth of lumber and hardware, so it was a really cheap project. The ways are 2X6, 4 feet long. You should try to get them as square and true as possible. The poppets (are these headstocks or tailstocks?) are glued up from three layers of 2X4 scrap. Make sure that when you mortice for the wedges that you put the motices through from front to back, not sideways (DAMHIKT). The shoulders of the poppets must be accurate and even, otherwise they'll shift around in use. The tool rest is a scrap of maple flooring.
When I first set it up it was without the overhead frame. The
rope was just tied to a convenient tree branch. This worked after
a fashion, but the ground under those trees is uneven, and the sun gets
hot in the late afternoon, so I added the frame and moved to a nice shady
level spot and used a bungee cord. I might try making a bow
like the lathe pictured above, mostly because it looks cool.
The first thing I turned was a small mallet that I use to drive the wedges
for the poppets. Now my task (from Ye Olde To Do List) is a
batch of knobs for the closet doors.
here is a shot of the working bits (the wedges have been reversed so you can see all the components at once)
and here I am practicing the fine art of doing six things at once...