Updating my mini-lathe

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Blog entry by Sawdust2 posted 09-29-2007 06:04 AM 1711 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Going back a week or so I posted that I wanted to make my old Carba-Tec a variable speed lathe.
I had contacted the manufacturer and they confirmed that to upgrade with a new motor would cost more and be less efficient than a new lathe.
Another LJ pointed me to eBay where someone sold a variable speed device for between $19-24 plus shipping.
Rockler wanted $34.98 for its variable speed plug.
The old motor was 1/6 hp, 2.5 amps, 1725 rpm and 25 years old.

So this is what my old buddy looked like.

I undid all the old switch stuff

I used my Kreg jig to make the pocket holes to attach the new swithc box to the table

These are the parts. I went to big blue and for $.25 for the box and $4.83 for the variable switch I am on my way to a variable speed mini late.

I wired it all together

And it works!

The only problem is that the old fart needs to start at the fast speed and then wind down. At our age you’d think it would be the other way around.

Now, our subdivision is having a chili cookoff tomorrow. Before I started all of this I put together my version of Skyline chili and it was simmering for 3 hours while I adapted my lathe.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

8 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3929 days

#1 posted 09-29-2007 06:09 AM

Looks good and I can smell the chili. Lee, I think you’ve out did yourself.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4054 days

#2 posted 09-29-2007 03:57 PM

Alas, it was all for naught.

The motor is really old and the decrease in voltage does not transfer to a decrease in speed. It runs at it’s 1725 until there is not enough power to run it and then it quits.

Glad I only spent 5 bucks on the project.

the good thing is that the switch is in an easier place to reach and does not get covered up with lathe chips.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3949 days

#3 posted 09-29-2007 04:14 PM

Can you talk a little about the buffing wheels in the background? That looks cool. Does it work well?

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4054 days

#4 posted 09-29-2007 05:28 PM

Works really well.

My group made three of them originally done to polish bottle stoppers.Cost came out to $30 apiece.

I don’t remember what company has a shorter version, which may work better because there is less distance for the wheels to wobble. With 5/8” allthread it doesn’t wobble much.
Anyway, the company (maybe PennState) sells their’s for $39.00 on a #2 Morse taper so if you don’t have a group that wants to buy stuff in quantity it may be the best bet.
The original is from Beall.

I also use it for buffing pens while the blanks are still on the mandrel.

It is really convenient.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4030 days

#5 posted 09-29-2007 08:51 PM

I didn’t want to venture a guess until you had given ‘er a go, but I think that type of motor will not work with voltage regulators for variable speed. I quote from:

Fine Woodworking #64, Power Primer: Electric Motors in the Woodshop by Edward J. Cowern
“Motor types—Broadly speaking, two major types of motors are
commonly used by woodworkers: induction motors for stationary
power tools, and universal motors for portable tools. A third type,
the direct-current permanent-magnet motor, is becoming popular
for battery-operated cordless tools and in applications where
controlled speed is important.”
The router variable speed type switches only work with Universal type motors.
I hope the attribution will keep me out of trouble with the fine folks at Taunton Press

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4054 days

#6 posted 09-30-2007 03:40 AM

Well, if I can just find a universal motor at a reasonable price…

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3949 days

#7 posted 11-15-2007 06:34 AM

Wondering what ever happened with this guess the way you went was more fun

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4054 days

#8 posted 04-20-2011 04:03 AM

Time has passed. Since then I bought a CarbTex mini lathe and it worked fine for the pens I make. A couple of weeks ago that motor went south. PSI no longer services them and CarbaTec in Australia did not get back to me.
So I bought the PSI VS motor. I was told that PSI did not have any experience with this motor on this lathe but so long as I did not make it unsellable they would take it back if it did not work.
Just to be precise I took the motor and mounting bracket to a local machinist to accurately drill the necessary holes.
I installed the motor on the lathe today. The most difficult part was getting the belt back on the pulleys.
The motor sounds quite different. Could be because it is 1/2 horse as opposed to the 1/4 horse that came with the lathe originally.
If someone else has the same problem the machinist made a template to make a replaceable mounting bracket.
All together it cost me $160 to upgrade to the 1/2 hp motor (which isn’t bad considering that I could not replace the 1/4 hp motor.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

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