Treadle Lathe #5: The Plot Sickens...

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Blog entry by Texasgaloot posted 09-15-2008 04:46 AM 8126 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Paying attention to basics... Part 5 of Treadle Lathe series Part 6: I'm feeling a little cranky... »

I’m not a metal worker.

I actually got some shop time this weekend. Not enough, it’s never enough! I had the opportunity to continue the lathe saga, and to “engineer” some of the metal parts. Now, I never purported to be a metal worker, but after a couple of tries the axle/crank came out better than I had hoped, in terms of nice crisp bends. I may find that the length of the crank arm (to use cycling nomenclature) is too long, resulting in a wildly flailing Pittman arm or a treadle that requires an arc of two feet (ar ar..) In keeping with the original design considerations and my admitted penchant for being a bottom feeder, I visited my local hardware store and came home with a handful of bearings and stop collars. Total bill, $28.00. After cutting the 45 degree flywheel supports, I counterbored with a Forstner bit and JB-welded (carefully) the bearing into the counterbore, so that each bearing sits more or less flush with the inner surface of the support. I also added a couple of floor flanges to the flywheel itself, and put it together to see what it would look like.

Flywheel mounted

It’s starting to look like a lathe enough that I’m getting excited!

Now to fabricate the parts that will affix the flywheel to it’s axle. This isn’t easy, because in case I didn’t tell you, I’m not a metal worker. I don’t know how to weld (yet.) The closest I can come to welding is to open a package of J-B Weld and mix it. So I did. I took two of the hardware store stop collars I had picked up and dressed their backs with a file.

I then cleaned and flattened the nipple end of the floor flange, being sure to remove all galvanizing. I then ran a bead of J-B weld around the nipple end of the flange, and popped the stop collar on it. I’ll report later if it works… or doesn’t.

This is as far as I got today before my 11 year old came out with his and my bows and said, “C’mon, Dad! How about some archery with me?” I couldn’t pass that up, so I’ll be back at it tomorrow night!

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

6 comments so far

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3747 days

#1 posted 09-15-2008 04:58 AM

Wow. I’d love to make a treadle lathe (or what’s the other kind called? a flywheel lathe?) but this seems way above me for now!

-- Eric at

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3707 days

#2 posted 09-15-2008 05:10 AM

That looks like a pretty long arm on that crank. This link was posted early and the guy on it has a treadle lathe. It shows a shot of the treadle mechanism, which is way short, compared to this.
You may do better with a bend about in the middle of the one you have pictured. Keep us posted.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4290 days

#3 posted 09-15-2008 05:13 AM

enjoying the progress on this project.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3943 days

#4 posted 09-15-2008 01:30 PM

Hi Tex;

The plot sickens? Are you a writer?

You have a way with words for sure, so maybe you should consider it, if you’re not!

This is turning into quite a large lathe. Do you have room for it once it’s finished?

Staying tuned;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3663 days

#5 posted 09-15-2008 05:19 PM

Hey Eric:
I’m not sure what you mean by “the other kind.” Is it possible you mean a spring-pole lathe? I really thought about making one of those because they tend to be very portable, which just seems cool… have lathe, will travel. I chose this because the direction of the stock rotation is constant, rather than reversing each cycle.

Yessir, Tim:
This is the poster child for what happens when you become more focused on the process that on what it is you are processing. Once I got it done, I looked at it and thought “Cool… [pause]... Ruh roh… Daddy always said that when you mess something up, the do-over is easier because you’ve learned something. I think you’re right about the new length. I’m hoping I can get after it tonight.

Hey Lee:
I appreciate your kind words. I guess I should find something to say…


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

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3778 days

#6 posted 09-16-2008 04:31 AM

Looks great. The process is the fun part.

-- Scott - Chico California

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