After seeing a post on the Woodworking With Hand Tools blog, I was inspired to make my own end-vise lathe. I found this article all about making and using this kind of lathe. Here is what I made: As you can see, the bungee cord is strung parallel to my bench, with the power cord tied to the middle of it. The power cord (blue in my lathe) wraps around the piece being turned. The cord goes through the gap for the wagon vise and is attached to a foot pedal. There are two wooden dogs with blunted screws that pinch the workpiece.
Before I built this lathe, I thought it would be inefficient, as you can only cut on the down stroke, but in reality you develop a nice rhythm.
The piece I am turning is dogwood. Be sure to at least make your piece into an octagonal shape, otherwise it will be too rough.
I would like to make some improvements to my set-up. First I want to make a better tool rest. I also want to make a more substantial foot pedal mechanism. I also want to experiment with different kinds of rope for the power cord (my current one is nylon, which I've heard is slightly slippery).
To see more videos of pole lathes in action, see Robin Wood's Youtube Channel.