Lathe Motor Conversion to Variable Speed DC.

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Project by thewoodworker01 posted 09-05-2012 12:23 AM 14053 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recemtly turned a bunch of bowls on my lathe and I was having a lot of vibration problems. My lathe has only 5 speeds. To change speeds, I have to turn the lathe off, set my tool down, wait for it to stop spinning, open up the door, change belt, close door… (In other words it takes a while.) Then you would have to settle for that speed, and if your bowl was a little out of round, your lathe is bouncing. So I went looking around and went on to ebay and found my self a Leeson DC Motor. It is a 3/4 HP, has 27 pounds of torque. It runs at 90 VDC on normal household electric. I also bought a DC Motor Control made by KB Electronics. It has a 1 HP 110 Volt Resistor in it. It also has a Forward/Reversing switch in it as well. That really helps out when sanding.

After I did the motor conversion, I turned 7 bowls. Man is that nice!! All you do to change speeds is turn a dial. No longer changing a belt. But luckily I was able to keep my old pulleys and belt, so I didn’t have to new pulleys.

I also have a video of it on YouTube

-- Most people say "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I say, "Cut Twice, Measure Once".

8 comments so far

View KevinWelp's profile


17 posts in 2542 days

#1 posted 09-05-2012 12:47 AM

Nice job! I have a Rigid almost identical to yours that i thought about doing that to. Glad to see it can be done. Were the motor and controller very expensive?
Thanks Kevin

-- Kevin - Rochester, MN

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21973 posts in 3346 days

#2 posted 09-05-2012 01:18 AM

That sounds like a very favorable trade. I would never buy a lathe where you have to change a belt to change the speed just for the very reasons you stated!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Sbilly's profile


19 posts in 2581 days

#3 posted 09-05-2012 01:40 AM

You can do a VFD and not change the motor. It it’s you do the same as a dc motor and controller

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 09-05-2012 02:22 AM

I would never want to go back to a belt change speed lathe. You get spoiled really quickly.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 2380 days

#5 posted 09-05-2012 01:57 PM

This is on the list of things to do – I have a Jet 5-speed lathe, and I hate having to change the speed with belts.

One thing though, I don’t like how yours has you reaching to the back of the lathe to adjust the speed. It gives me the willies reaching over/around a spinning piece.

-- -=Pride is not a sin=-

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3797 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 02:03 PM

Good job, should hold up well

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


288 posts in 2429 days

#7 posted 09-05-2012 09:32 PM

Some day I’d like to spoil myself with a conversion like this. Very nice!

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View Kelly's profile


2189 posts in 3185 days

#8 posted 07-23-2015 12:55 AM

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