View Full Version : Crazy idea, thinking about trunnels
11-05-2006, 02:28 PM
Sitting here loking at old posts, and I thought of something crazy :)
The big thing about trunnels is the effort to make them in the first place. But I realized, hey there already is something folks who work with wood might already have or could get cheaply that would be able to make trunnels for them without sweating.
You could adapt a wood splitter, no? :) replace the kick plate with a sharp plate + hole appropriately sized and rig some sort of rest on the blade to push the square stock through. You could just hold the trunnel in place with tongs of some sort to make sure it stayed straight, or you could make up a whole apparati with bracing, tubes and rods so you could have an assembly line.
Just an idea... ;-)
11-06-2006, 06:06 AM
There already are machines for dowel making if you need to make and sell millions. But for home consumption on the black locust one felled last year, Ironmule is right.
11-06-2006, 06:49 AM
... the blade to push the square stock through.
A group of us used that method with a holed steel plate, oak blanks and a heavy mallet to make a bunch for pegging a barn together many years ago. Worked fine.
11-06-2006, 07:13 AM
When the Apprenticeshop split up a few of us kept tabs on the Lance Lee group. I remember watching a lovely Norse type, not a faering, many small planks, go together with trunnels. Lance Lee had a thang for northern Europe.
Anyway, me thinks to meself, what an elegant way to fasten a boat, even a small one. Not much more labor intensive than rivets. A bit tricky in the moisture content and such, but if done right, no more worry about rotten fastenings, ever!
And I agree with Ian and Jeff et al. Comercially viable, turning a splitter into a trunnel press? Nah. Might as well make buggy whips. It's pretty easy to pound them thru a die.
11-07-2006, 07:34 PM
Well, I get that using a hydraulic splitter modded to make trunnels is not as cost effective as sledging the things through a sharpened pipe, but if you already have a wood splitter, and you have a need to make hundreds or thousands of them I think it might save some cursing. I was never thinking it would be cost effective to make stuff commercially with that setup, nor did I think that buying one for the purpose or even converting one permanently would be good. Just a temporary modification.
I know my arms and back would bless me if I used a press instead of a hammer to make a thousand 1/2" locust trunnels.
11-07-2006, 08:58 PM
Isn't all that easy in tough woods like White Oak. This one was done for hollow spar end plugs and rough-turned on the lathe before driving thru the sizing plate. The plate's hole edges were sharp, too.
And you want to make a thousand from square?
11-07-2006, 09:18 PM
Stanley made a hand crank dowel turning machine that will turn a variety of sizes and is ideal for making trunnels. I have always been thinking of motorizing mine to take the curse out of cranking.
A web search might turn one up.
Bob Kaune at:
Might be a place to start looking.
11-07-2006, 10:25 PM
Bowdoin was on the rails for a major refit when I was at the Maine Maritime Museum. Locust trunnels. Inch and a half. Lathe.
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