Treadle Lathe #1: In Texas, they use the word "Loco."

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Blog entry by Texasgaloot posted 08-27-2008 04:19 AM 9910 reads 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Treadle Lathe series Part 2: Step 1: Design »

You must figure by now that I’m ADD or something. I’ve got my Moby Plank project running. I’ve got my bow saw project running. And now I’m starting a new blog on building a treadle lathe. Well, it’s the “or something.”

Every since I saw Roy Underhill (herewith referred to as “St. Roy,”) using his treadle lathe, I have been, well, smitten. I don’t have an electric lathe, I don’t have any lathe, and I need a lathe. I don’t have $600 either, and I need that, but that brings me full circle to the treadle lathe. Furthermore, the Moby Plank project is going to finish up another month or so out, longer if I can’t come up with a big band saw to use, and the bow saw will get knocked out this weekend when the parts arrive.

So, when my wife banished me to the shop tonight and said “Go cut some wood,” (I was strenuously protesting, too, but she shoved me right out the door) I found some dimensional lumber just laying around in the loft. Gee. I took a 2×4 over to the miter saw and laid it up on the bed, and whish wound up with a board exactly 42” long. Gee. Need a second. “whish”. Those look remarkably like something—wait, it’s coming to me—yes! The ways to a treadle lathe! And we’re off…

I don’t have any clue how I’m going to handle the metal parts of this puppy, not being much up on the likes of bearing varieties, flayrods and pittman arms. I guess I will be soon…

I’ll get pictures as work progresses.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

8 comments so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3731 days

#1 posted 08-27-2008 04:25 AM

Might check out this post.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3780 days

#2 posted 08-27-2008 04:28 AM

That’s interesting. I was just looking around the internet the other day at some Treadle Lathe sites. There are a lot out there and free plans too. Of course for a true galoot, a plan is just a starting place ;)

I was thinking that for the kind of turning I might be interested in (little stuff like handles and pulls) a treadle lathe might be just the ticket. I’ll be following this one with great interest.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4089 days

#3 posted 08-27-2008 06:43 AM

May I highly recommend the Dave Gingery "build a metalworking shop from scratch" series of books? Not so much because you might want to build the metal bits yourself (although after reading the book you may very well swing that direction), but because for me it was a great eye opener on how to think about building tools and jigs.

The “galoot” in your user name says you won’t easily be scared off, but it’s a series about building a working metal shop, starting with a charcoal foundry, then a lathe, from the notion that if you’re doing this as a hobby then you need all of the skills necessary to build your tools anyway.

I haven’t built the charcoal foundry, yet, but it was a great eye opener and possibility expander for me.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3748 days

#4 posted 08-27-2008 10:44 AM

Awesome! Right now, I only have a “hand lathe” but I just can’t seem to get any RPMs on that puppy!

-- Eric at

View moonroc's profile


44 posts in 3652 days

#5 posted 08-27-2008 11:42 AM

That will be a fun project. I got the bug from Roy a few years back and built one according to his design. Wish I had some photos of it. My neighbors thought I was nuts. Eventually I had to disassemble it because it took up too much room in my shop. Looking forward to yours.

P.S. Roy did a show on how to build treadle lathe

-- Richard

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3665 days

#6 posted 08-27-2008 07:11 PM

I have a good idea in my mind of what I want the finished tool to look like, and it’s pretty much based on Roy’s. I don’t know much about the availability of bearings, and therefore how I’m going to integrate the linkage, since I don’t weld. Yet.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#7 posted 09-08-2008 04:29 PM

well isn’t this going to be interesting!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3663 days

#8 posted 10-03-2008 02:02 PM

Last spring I went to the Highland Woodworking 30th anniversary and met St. Roy. He’s a great guy. I also got to try my hand (or foot) at his lathe. I want to make one too.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

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