Simple treadle lathe power for Craftsman lathe

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Project by Scott posted 865 days ago 4702 views 25 times favorited 15 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

15 comments so far

View lizardhead's profile


517 posts in 1466 days

#1 posted 865 days ago

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

-- Lizardhead---Yeah but it's a dry heat--Tempe, Az

View MasterSergeant's profile


1284 posts in 1313 days

#2 posted 865 days ago

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

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View JohnMeeley's profile


253 posts in 958 days

#3 posted 865 days ago

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


4088 posts in 1628 days

#4 posted 865 days ago

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

-- Norman

View kiefer's profile


3026 posts in 1292 days

#5 posted 865 days ago

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


3647 posts in 2952 days

#6 posted 865 days ago

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


817 posts in 1318 days

#7 posted 864 days ago

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


153 posts in 892 days

#8 posted 864 days ago

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


111 posts in 1849 days

#9 posted 864 days ago

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


1063 posts in 1598 days

#10 posted 864 days ago


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

View Scott 's profile


153 posts in 892 days

#11 posted 863 days ago

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 888 days

#12 posted 863 days ago

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


20 posts in 945 days

#13 posted 780 days ago

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


153 posts in 892 days

#14 posted 779 days ago

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

91 posts in 534 days

#15 posted 120 days ago

Speed can be increased with gear drive and heavier wheel.

-- Cabinetmaker, student of restoration

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