I was thinking about the problem of lathe products when one doesnt really want a loud machine around. So a bit of searching for future-primitivity came across various forms of non-electrical lathe.
Very impressive indeed. Probably not something one would want to use for large scale work, - as admirable as the chess-vendor is - but for an ad hoc usage, seems to be easier than building a pedal-powered lathe. The other idea buried in here is to think about other pedal powered systems (eg spininng jennys, old 19th C sewing tables) that could be converted into non-electric lathes. I have seen the pedal powered sewing tables around the place, perhaps being chucked out on the streets on cleanup weekends, but hadnt really thought about them. THere you go.
The other thought I had about powering them concerned the location of water tanks and using water-power. Instead of putting a tank at the side of a house, make a thinner, more rectangular tank (like alarge cereal box), and suspend it above the ground but just below the roof. So the water is stored in an extended enclosed case adjoined to the gutter. Then, when one wants a source of quick power, one can set up a lathe and use the water flow via a modest water wheel. Lathing is intermittent enough to be broken up by buckets of water? The waste of the gravity always struck me as something we could avoid with marginally better planning. That loss of stored potential energy in the 2m move from roof to the hose in the hand strikes me as a loss. If we designed better houses, it could easily go to use on a mixed-use generator/water wheel.