As part of my bowsaw project I ended up building a crude bungee lathe. In doing so I realized how useful a lathe could be and how it could enable my addiction…I mean hobby. Since most of my projects are from the arts and crafts movement I don’t see a lot of spindle turning in my future, but I can definitely see some serving implement, bowl, condiment shaker, and box turning happening.
So I started looking around for a way to build a lathe that fit into my “no power tools” lifestyle. I looked at a more complex spring pole/bungee lathe but to be honest the half one way half the other way thing got pretty annoying after a while. Eventually I found plans for Roy Underhill's treadle lathe (pdf) that appeared in Popular Woodworking. They were even nice enough to provide a Sketchup Plan for it. After looking over the plans it looked like a reasonable build so I got started.
My plan is to build the entire lathe from store-bought dimensional lumber – Douglas Fir to be precise. I looked around for the necessary hardware (steel rod for an axle, bearings, and stop collars) and they seemed price prohibitive. The bearings alone were $9 a piece at Grainger! While I’m normally a fan of buying American-made products whenever possible, it seemed like no matter where I looked I could not find American-made sealed bearings. So, I went on ebay and bought 10 of them for $18 with shipping – roughly 20% of the cost from grainger. We’ll just have to see how these suckers hold up over time.
I got started building the main frame – Douglas Fir 4”x4” braces make for a hefty base. Cutting the tenons for this took some time but boy were they beefy.
I’m assembling the frame with breakdown hardware – since I live in a rental I have to be able to disassemble this sucker and move it at some point.
I’m also assembling it in reverse of Roy’s plans. The configuration he had wasted a lot of valuable space. In my small shop I can’t afford to waste space so I’m flipping the lathe around. I’m also reversing the support for the drive pulley. I’m probably going to be using a spade or screw chuck and I wanted the screw to turn in the correct direction.
Now it’s time to see about the supports, the headstock, and the tailstock.
-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts