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The world of glassworking tools is a world of extremes

There are hand tools and full size glass lathes

This project is an attempt to create a tool in the middle

Design Goals

Invent a single sided, glass spinning and positioning machine, smaller, lighter and more flexible than a rigid two sided glass lathe

The angular orientation of the workpiece should be easily adjustable, and be able to be locked in place. When unlocked, the machine should feel effortless and balanced, like an extension of your hand. When locked, it should support the piece being worked and resist the forces commonly applied in glasswork

Inserting a a workpiece should be easy, and once inserted, the piece should be held securely enough to resist the forces commonly applied in glasswork

The rotation speed, direction and more complex motion should be CNC controlled. When released from CNC control, the spin should be manually controlled

Controls should feel comfortable to the glassworker

Current Project Status

On Jan 7, the NQALHA Debutante Ball was held at Marcel Braun's shop (The Starship), in Eugene, OR

Lots of top glassworkers showed up, and a few used the machine. Of those who tried, one "got it" right away, another was close, but most struggled a bit. The glassworkers who had lathe experience had a better time. The pure handworkers struggled a bit more. Using a musical analogy, I invented the saxophone and gave it to a bunch of guitar players. I suspect that Charles Litton faced similar reactions when he invented the glass lathe in 1928

Everyone made VERY positive comments and congratulated me. Marcel successfully made the biggest and most complex object yet, amazing everyone

We also discovered some design weaknesses that will delay the full test. Marcel will distribute machines to some testers, but will wait for the improvements before distributing to others who need the improvements

Test pilot and co-designer Marcel Braun, making a large solid object

Preliminary Specs

Max RPM of the drive wheels is 300. Of course, the RPM of the workpiece depends on the handle diameter. Minimum RPM is 0.06, but can be made much lower if needed.. it's just math at slow speed. A static weight of 5 lbs has been hung from a handle about 7" from the face

During testing, Marcel made the largest solid object yet. Precise measurements are not available, so I rely on eyeballic estimates. The core of the object measured approx 4" dia x 2" long. A moil was constructed on a 1/2" steel punty, and the core was picked out of the kiln. After heating and shaping, a layer of milli rods was attached, bringing the size to approx 5" dia and 4" long. This object was workable on the NQALHA, but heavy paddle pressure stalled the motors. After the final layer was added, they object grew to approx 6" dia and 5" long. The NQALHA could barely spin it, if it was on center. The motors stalled, but the magnetic locks held. Looks like we found the limit

The NQALHA has two modes, rotation and step

--In both modes
The lever on the handle releases the locks, allowing free movement
The back button selects all axis lock or vertical lock only

--In rotation mode
The thumbwheel controls speed
The front button starts and stops rotation
The footpedal pauses and reverses rotation

--In step mode
The thumbwheel controls step size
The front button reverses direction and moves one step
The footpedal moves one step

Beta Test Program

The purpose of the beta test is to see how the machine stands up to many hours of use. If parts fail, the design will be updated to address the weaknesses

After beta test is finished, I'll determine the cost of production. Making each one by hand is expensive, so I'm exploring manufacturing options with US CNC shops

The price will be then be announced, and I'll get real hard evidence of whether or not it's a viable product. If it is, it will go into production


Build History

Prototype 1

Prototype 2

Prototype 3

Prototype 4

Prototype 5

Prototype 6

Prototype 7

Prototype 8

Prototype 9

Prototype 10

Prototype 11

Release Candidate 1

Release Candidate 2