Simple treadle lathe power for Craftsman lathe

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Project by Scott posted 04-07-2012 07:07 PM 8495 views 27 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I created treadle power for my Craftsman lathe, a simplified version of Roy Underhill’s lathe in Popular Woodworking Oct 2000

There are only 6 boards that comprise the frame. I used stop collars and bronze flange bearings from Amazon. The flywheel is made from one 3×8 board 6 foot long, so it is 2.5 inches thick and 22.5 inches in diameter. And I used a sewing machine leather belt to drive the pulley. The crank arm hole in the flywheel is located 2 inches on center from the axle hole. The crank arm is 12 inches long, with the 2 holes 10 inches apart. The treadle is 30 inches long.

To see a video of it in action:

The second picture shows an extension that I added to make it easy to work the lathe at the extreme right end. It is bolted onto the existing pedal on the left, and on the right it just floats freely on the support.

-- Scott in North Carolina

16 comments so far

View lizardhead's profile


603 posts in 2085 days

#1 posted 04-07-2012 07:17 PM

I could never do that—it’s kind of like patting your belly and rubbing your head at the same time.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View MasterSergeant's profile


1335 posts in 1932 days

#2 posted 04-07-2012 07:23 PM

Impressive!! Reminds me of my Grandmothers old treadle sewing machine.

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View JohnMeeley's profile


254 posts in 1577 days

#3 posted 04-08-2012 01:15 AM

What rpm’s can be generated? Obviously it works.

-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

View NormG's profile


5244 posts in 2248 days

#4 posted 04-08-2012 02:46 AM

Great idea, well executed also. As long as you have light you can work with no power

-- Norman

View kiefer's profile


4497 posts in 1911 days

#5 posted 04-08-2012 02:59 AM

Very environmentally friendly.
Now you need a little generator and you are set for lights and some tunes .
Great stuff .


-- Kiefer 松

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 3571 days

#6 posted 04-08-2012 04:14 AM

that would be one way to keep warm while turning in the winter. thanks for the project and links.

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

View mtenterprises's profile


913 posts in 1937 days

#7 posted 04-08-2012 12:18 PM

Very cool idea! I just happen to have a lathe just like that standing in the corner not being used, may I’ll copy your idea.

-- See pictures on Flickr - And visit my Facebook page -

View Scott 's profile


198 posts in 1511 days

#8 posted 04-08-2012 07:52 PM

Hi John, I am not sure about the rpm’s, I guess it is limited by how fast you can pump it!

-- Scott in North Carolina

View DHS's profile


117 posts in 2468 days

#9 posted 04-09-2012 02:32 AM

Great, simple design. I love it and want to build one. What model lathe is that? Is it available without a motor?

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1077 posts in 2218 days

#10 posted 04-09-2012 06:50 AM


-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Scott 's profile


198 posts in 1511 days

#11 posted 04-09-2012 10:50 AM

Hi Dave, I don’t know the model, but you can find them on Craigslist, I got mine for $100. The electric motor works but I just set it aside.

-- Scott in North Carolina

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 1507 days

#12 posted 04-09-2012 01:31 PM

I so want to build something like this! I will have to check Craigslist for some lathe parts.
Thanks for sharing.
Well done.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View jackcamino's profile


21 posts in 1564 days

#13 posted 07-01-2012 08:18 AM

Hi. I have a couple of questions: I’ve seen other videos of treadle lathes and I believe yours; the wheel is spinning in the right direction? Other, and probably most important for what i want to learn is How do you decide the dimensions and angles of the components from the wheel to the pedal; because again, it looks different than others and I kind of like what I see here.

-- When you think that I am buried and I will revive. (folio 59ii RECTO). Codex Atlanticus. Leonardo da Vinci. c.1490

View Scott 's profile


198 posts in 1511 days

#14 posted 07-02-2012 02:28 PM

I don’t think the dimensions are very critical. I mounted the wheel as low as possible, and the treadle mounting point is just a couple inches away from the center of the wheel. I just put it together and it worked fine the first time, but my plan was to just drill more holes and remount components in different places if needed.

-- Scott in North Carolina

View Dominik Matus's profile

Dominik Matus

102 posts in 1153 days

#15 posted 04-22-2014 10:00 PM

Speed can be increased with gear drive and heavier wheel.

-- Cabinetmaker, restorer

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