The makeover for the famous Foot Lathe at the Ozark Folk Center

by Sherman Anderson on September 10, 2013

Last November I learned that I could plan to move the foot lathe from its outdoor shed at the Ozark Folk Center (OFC) Craft Village to an air conditioned shop. I planned to move in March and the season would open April 3rd. The shop, located at the Visitor Center in the parking lot, now makes a great presentation of wood turning on two eras of lathe technology, foot power and modern electric power.

Our guest book registrations confirm that we continue to attract people from the world over to see this outstanding park dedicated to preserving cultural history through craft interpretation in 20 old time trades and music. The age of this lathe is unknown yet it remains the focal point in this craft shop of 220 square feet. Next to it is my Fisch TC 90-100 variable speed electric midi lathe on which I turn most of my spinning tops. In 14 years I have made and sold 8,900 tops using 87 species of wood making five sizes of peg tops and the gyro-type “Zorro” top a popular spinner done in 140 shapes or profiles among the 1,400 sold. In Spanish the term Zorro means sly or foxy that describes the character of this spinning top.

The features of working the foot lathe indoors include air conditioning, lots of counter space, provisions for wood turning much of the day, seating room for eight, ample space for throwing spinning tops, walls for vertical presentation and windows to clean. In my previous 14 years at this job I had difficulty making tops outdoors in hot humid weather even though the shed had a roof. There was not enough space to set up a work shop and have room enough to keep several jobs going at the same time.

I am so grateful for the changes of 2013 made available by the leadership team of the Folk Center, the interior decorating ideas of Vicki Gorrell, supportive interest of fellow crafts people, ideas from Mary Gillihan our Park Interpreter, suggestions from Jo Sutter and Angela Hallman in the Visitor Center General Store, and the team in the Homespun Gift Shop. The effort to make this craft shop location a success is a team effort positively dedicated to visitors of our Park. What a great way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Folk Center’s starting year.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sherman Anderson September 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

Yes indeed. Somewhere in my photo library I have photos of me operating the foot lathe. I just need time to fix them and add them to the blog. Appreciate the item.

I’ve turned wood today out in the shop for about five hours trying to get my mind off the crime at the Navy Yard this morning.


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