What Are the Instructions for Building a Lathe?


Quick Answer

To build a lathe, assemble the bed with wooden four-by-fours, glue four plywood legs on the ends, attach the motor base in the left rear corner, glue on the headstock, and bolt the bearing mandrel into the surface of the headstock. Next, fasten the motor and install a drive belt. Finally, build a sliding tail stock mechanism, the handwheel and a tool rest.

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Full Answer

Materials for the project include a 1/2-horsepower two-speed washing machine motor, a bearing mandrel, 6-foot pressure-treated wooden four-by-four, some plywood scraps and pulleys. Construct the lathe bed by gluing and lag-screwing 3/4-inch plywood legs to the ends of a 4-foot section of a wooden four-by-four. Install a hinge for the motor bed to the bottom left section of the bed.

Build and attach a headstock on top of the motor section with an 8 1/4-inch and two 6-inch sections of wooden four-by-four. Hold the headstock in place with two 3/4-inch hunks of plywood on either side. Bolt the bearing mandrel directly into the surface of the headstock with a pulley temporarily in place for the mandrel shaft. Fasten the motor to the hinged platform, and install a drive belt. Bolt an eye-and-eye turnbuckle between the plywood base and the leg below it.

To provide a sliding tailstock, mount plywood clamps to glued-together tailstock blocks, pinch the bed between the grips with a simple bolt-and-wheel, sandwich a compression spring inside the cinch, and attach a simple tension gauge to one clamp. Bolt floor flanges over the tailstock hole, and attach a ram lock and handwheel. For a tool rest, install a piece of slotted steel on two 3/4-inch conduit posts. File all metal edges to prevent cuts during operation.

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