Manual Treadle Lathe

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Blog entry by apprentice posted 06-14-2013 09:13 PM 3356 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The latest in my build projects for this year is this manual treadle lathe, designed again in 3D CAD for lazer cutting from stock 10.00mm steel plate. The bed section will be made from English Elm with two steel wear strips embedded into the top outer edges.

The flywheel/s are 700.00mm dia 10.00mm steel plates, and a triple fabrication using the two main rings to clamp against an inner rim made from steel strip, 16 bolts support the rim and hold everything together nice and solid.

The throw of the crank gives a 120.00mm travelling recip each cycle of the foot pedal, which has a wooden capping over the entire length of the main pedal frame.

Pictured below is the main section plan complete.

As I build the top section, which will incorporate a four speed quick change gearing can lock mechanism, she will also have planetary gearing similar to the rose engines of yesteryear, I will also add a geared travelling tool post as well as tool post for doing long tapers.

The benefits of the composite flywheel is, you can add extra layers for more reciprical momentumn for those heavier work pieces, the lathe shown here is 2 meters between centres, but can be made in almost any length. The full length foot pedal also enables two people to work at the lathe, providing extra foot power on the bigger projects.


9 comments so far

View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#1 posted 06-14-2013 09:21 PM

A few more views of the Layout, showing the wooden lathe bed.


View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3150 days

#2 posted 06-14-2013 09:43 PM

Wow, thats going to be amazing! I love foot powered tools. Cant wait to see that come together.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#3 posted 06-17-2013 10:01 PM

Tail stock, lazer cut and self jigging slot fabrication, I will add a plunge drilling lever as well.

Showing rear of lathe bed with the rear steel inlay which support the long taper attatchments and pattern copying mech.

Showing the transfer gearbox that takes the power from the main crankshaft through and up to the overhead gallery drive, this will also drive an overhead mill.

The flywheel side will also incorporate a geared tranfer box for driving a rose engine and gearbox.
More coming soon.


View Dakkar's profile


323 posts in 1926 days

#4 posted 06-18-2013 12:32 AM

That’s an interesting design. A lot of people probably don’t understand why anyone would want a treadle lathe these days, but I think it offers some advantages. In addition to being generally safer, you have constant and intuitive speed control. It can always go exactly the speed you need at them moment.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3290 days

#5 posted 06-18-2013 01:20 AM

My engineering sense tells me you’re going to need to stiffen the treadle against twisting, for when you’re pushing at the end away from the crank/flywheel – especially since you’re planning to make it 2 meters long. A diagonal beam going from the back corner at the flywheel end to the front corner at the opposite end should do. A better option might be to build it like a torsion box – the deeper the better, within the limits of what’s practical. A third option might be to put a flywheel and crank on both ends; then you’d only (“only”) have to stiffen the treadle against bending down in the middle.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#6 posted 06-18-2013 07:28 AM

That’s right J J, I had the double flywheel, double crank shaft idea in mind. If you notice the middle foot pedal support, this will be positioned at the two thirds distance on a 2 meter version, taking away much of the torsional flex on the wider units, the frame itself is designed to flex instead of being over engineered and needing to be solid, rather like an oil tanker that is designed to flex under heavy seas.

The pedal is tubular steel/braced constructed.

On such a device the energy needed to keep things going is very little once the reciprocal momentumn is initiated so there will be very little downwards pressure needed to keep things going, or topped up.

I intend this lathe to be a serious contender to the old Holtzapffel.

In 3D you have a tool, that lets you screen test for torsional/strength parameters to see what properties any given load will create, something you would have to build and destroy in real terms, the science is good with this kind of modelling.

I have also allowed for this lathe to be multi driven, electric and small gas powered engine, using a centrifugal cluch on the gas version, the simplicity of design and the wooden bed will enable people to chose what ever length they desire, only pedal and bed lengths need altering in house

My main aim is to bring the world of ornamental turning to the masses in kit form, the system is designed so everything is self jigging from flat lazer cut stock metals and off the shelf bearing blocks, I have done this on many occasions now, even venturing into wooden items like the plywood Chevy as you have seen recently.

All comments welcone, ideas are always best when shared with the whole.


View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#7 posted 06-18-2013 09:53 PM

Here is a double flywheel/crankshaft version, for some serious power if needed.

Showing the overhead drive gearing, it can have both live tail stock and saddle feeds in both directions for long boring of taper turning and other possibilities.

For the main drive I’m looking at toothed cam belt from the motor industry or chains.

For reverse you simply pedal backwards and change over the gearing, this is where things get complicated, the gear ratios are not defined as yet, but will have lots of different options/miltiplyer/planetary.

I will show the drive mech and indexing head tomorrow.


View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#8 posted 06-19-2013 08:44 PM

A through shot of the head stock and the multi indexing flywheel which is drilled directly into the flywheel pulley.

Exploded view showing the self jigging ellements of the simple version of the head stock.

Head stock together.

A more complicated head stock for the mutli driven model.

Gearing for multi shaft drives, gears are also lazer cut, chain is from motorcyle 428 pitch.


View apprentice's profile


218 posts in 2158 days

#9 posted 06-19-2013 08:49 PM

Gearing ratios can be changed to suit different jobs, gears are also lazer cut for accuracy.


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