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Foot Treadle Grinder

Foot Treadle Grinder built by Jock Dempsey 1970
Foot Treadle Grinder on Wooden Stand - By Jock Dempsey

I bought this old grindstone from an antique dealer on the horseshoe bend near Eagle Irie on highway 501 in Bedford County Virginia. That was in the days back when they had a roadside zoo with a starving scroungy old lion in a cage.

The stone was on a rickety stand with the wheel sitting loose on the shaft where it had been operated for many years at about a 15 degree angle wearing the wheel crooked and out of round. I did not know at the time that these stones were wedged on the square shaft with wooden wedges. So I cemented it on with a Portland cement sand mix.

I built the stand and made the few metal pieces (the crank and connecting end) which were my first forgings. The frame is pine 2x12 and 2x4's. I spend many hours pumping the treadle grinding on old rasps using them like scrapers to try to true the stone. It is now square but still runs out a lot - maybe an inch.

These old stones are quite soft and grind very slowly, more like polishing. They could be used to put a finished edge on a tool but would be very slow to shape a tool. It helps to have a can dripping water on the wheel when grinding OR for it to pass through a trough of water. Wheels should not be left standing in water as it softens the stone AND it results in an unbalanced wheel.


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