Homemade Lathe using old drill press

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Project by geekwoodworker posted 06-20-2014 10:17 PM 5649 views 18 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Built this lathe using my old radial drill press. I can turn a piece up to 14” long. Height over bed is 10”. Tail stock will accept MT2 arbor and live centers. It is heavy on drill press side and needs to be clamped down. Haven’t tried it yet as I just finished it. Will be soon though.

18 comments so far

View Frank's profile


40 posts in 2703 days

#1 posted 06-20-2014 10:37 PM

Cool reuse. I am looking forward to hearing how well it works.

-- Some rescue cats, some rescue dogs. I rescue tools. Feel free to send me any tools you cannot take care of or don’t want and I will foster them until I find a good home for them.

View Oldtool's profile


2152 posts in 1230 days

#2 posted 06-20-2014 11:18 PM

Excellent! The ingenuity of woodworkers is one of their best tools, and you’ve demonstrated that to be true here. Great build.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View jbschutz's profile


465 posts in 1731 days

#3 posted 06-21-2014 12:06 AM

Great build, Sean. I will be waiting to hear how it works. My first hunch is that it is going to be short on speed…..let us know.

-- jbschutz

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

534 posts in 2471 days

#4 posted 06-21-2014 02:59 AM

Pretty ingenious, but I think you’re going to need a strip of metal on the tool rest to keep it from gouging the wood as the tools impact it. Still, awesome build.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View Bken's profile


32 posts in 592 days

#5 posted 06-21-2014 03:08 AM

I’ve read that this can be dangerous because the chuck can fall off while turning. Maybe some of the more experienced guys can explain in more detail.

View English's profile


371 posts in 517 days

#6 posted 06-21-2014 03:20 AM

Cool tool, what kind of speed control will it have?

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View Dutchy's profile


1137 posts in 1208 days

#7 posted 06-21-2014 08:30 AM

I like the idea! And you “created” a nice lathe. I,m curiously to the fibration.

-- My englisch is bad but how is your dutch?

View geekwoodworker's profile


276 posts in 500 days

#8 posted 06-21-2014 10:03 AM

Thanks everyone.
The drill has 5 speeds ranging from 200 rpm to 2000 rpm I think. To change speed is the standard way for most drill presses. Will see if all works well.

I considered putting a peice of metal on the tool rest and probably will once I put it through its paces. If no serious damage happens then I will live with it.

As for the chuck coming off, I thought that some large lathes had a hollow drive shaft with a taper inside for this type of thing. I will keep an eye on it and let everyone know if it flies off. Am gonna make a test bowl this weekend.

No vibration doing testing but will put it through tougher testing this weekend.

Thanks for the comments/warnings/recommendations/advice everyone.

View aussiedave's profile


3101 posts in 864 days

#9 posted 06-21-2014 12:15 PM

Very cool…awesome job it looks amazing. I hope you are going to post the work you produce on it. Thanks for sharing.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Bricofleur's profile


1292 posts in 2233 days

#10 posted 06-21-2014 01:18 PM

You proved it once again, when there’s a will there’s a way. Great build and well thought. Hat’s off. I’m proud of you.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View Farrout's profile


184 posts in 2194 days

#11 posted 06-21-2014 01:19 PM

Very nice.
The only time I have a problem with the chuck coming off my drill press is when I used a large bit that wasn’t perfectly centered. The vibration made the chuck come loose.
I don’t use a lathe, but from what I have seen, there is a lot of vibration when roughing down a piece of square stock. Be careful.

-- If we learn from our mistakes, I should be a genius!

View bushmaster's profile (online now)


360 posts in 1322 days

#12 posted 06-21-2014 01:48 PM

Very interesting adaptation,I also made my own lathe and I prefer it to my bought one because I can turn large pieces. Mosr drill presses have a morse taper to hold the drill chuck, but I guess you do not have a thread for face plates. Think awhile and you will come up with something. Great project.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Ted's profile


2605 posts in 1251 days

#13 posted 06-21-2014 03:17 PM

Very innovative… can’t wait to see the project turned from it.

-- There are three types of people in this world... those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2004 posts in 1228 days

#14 posted 06-21-2014 07:16 PM

Sheer Brilliance once again. It looks like you use a monster sized drill press. I’ve got to know, how big is it?

I’m with everyone else. Can’t wait to see what comes off of it.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View NormG's profile


4995 posts in 2043 days

#15 posted 06-21-2014 08:32 PM

Great reuse of a tool

-- Norman

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