Homemade Lathe

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Project by Litrenta posted 10-30-2013 05:01 PM 12040 views 17 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well I’ve always wanted to dabble in some wood turning but I could not justify the money or space for getting a lathe. After going to my local community centers woodworking shop and playing around with the lathe I was hooked. Again, not wanting to spend the money on a real lathe I dug up an old shopnotes that I remember seeing them build a mini lathe. I almost had every single piece I needed laying around the shop so I was sold. All I needed was some threaded rod, a couple pieces of aluminum, 2 bearings and 2 pulleys which cost me less than $100 to make this. The motor is a 3/4 HP Delta drill press motor that was dismantled and given to me for free.

The build was relatively straight forward from working off the plans, it was just a bit difficult to find the pulleys anywhere locally but I was able to go to a small engine shop which ordered them for me. The grumpiest owner I’ve ever met in my life but he got me the pulley and belt so I can’t complain.

The lathe runs pretty well and I was able to do some small spindle turnings which I am practicing for my next build (coffee table with turned legs). The only problem and I would love if someone might have some good ideas for me is the way the motor is mounted. In the shopnotes plans, it says to put the motor on a hinged platform so use the weight from the motor to pull tension on the belt. I found that the motor jumps around and flexes the wood quite a bit. I actually use a couple clamps to clamp the platform to my bench to stop the vibration. I think I might come up with a different solution where the motor is resting flat behind it and have some play in and out from the lathe bed so I can tension the belt that way (similar to a drill press tensioning system) and then lock it in with some knobs.

Either way, it’s definitely curbed my turning appetite for now but I’m already scouring Kijiji for some second hand mini lathes. This will do for now though!


14 comments so far

View Julian's profile


716 posts in 1724 days

#1 posted 10-30-2013 05:30 PM

Great job on the lathe. Looks like it would work fine for smaller turnings.

-- Julian

View Gianni's profile


216 posts in 1008 days

#2 posted 10-30-2013 11:52 PM

I have been considering a project like this as well, thank you for posting!

View Underdog's profile


678 posts in 1069 days

#3 posted 10-31-2013 01:25 AM

Pretty good build!

You can usually find a used Jet 1014 for $175-200 if you look long enough. It’s got a small footprint, is decent quality, and has standard features that will allow you buy any accessory you need with no trouble. And it’s large enough so that you can make anything from pens to bowls.

View Oldtool's profile


2147 posts in 1224 days

#4 posted 10-31-2013 02:08 AM

Nice build, great looking lathe. Enjoy.

-- "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 hoss12992's profile


3264 posts in 927 days

#5 posted 10-31-2013 05:22 AM

Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View hunter71's profile


2422 posts in 2220 days

#6 posted 10-31-2013 10:31 AM

You get an A for the build but why? They are so cheep.
I have build so many things over the years with my 10” Penn State lathe and it still works fine. It is my most used lathe.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View 489tad's profile


2804 posts in 2045 days

#7 posted 10-31-2013 12:25 PM

I think that would be a fun build. Great job.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View EnredandoNoGaraxe's profile


41 posts in 1091 days

#8 posted 10-31-2013 01:28 PM

It is the nicest homemade lathe I´ve seen so far.

-- Sergio, Galicia (Spain),

View helluvawreck's profile


18711 posts in 1900 days

#9 posted 10-31-2013 01:37 PM

This will be a nice addition to your shop. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Litrenta's profile


23 posts in 1156 days

#10 posted 10-31-2013 02:09 PM

Thanks for all the comments guys! This actually was one of my favorite projects to make to date.

@hunter71: I live in Canada and unfortunately it would be a bit of a hassle to get either of those shipped here. There is a local store (Busy Bee Tools) which sell almost an identical lathe for around the same price but that’s still 3 times the cost of what I spent on this. I figure I’ll use this one for now and at some point buy one if I really find this peaks my interest!


View Rockbuster's profile


473 posts in 1642 days

#11 posted 10-31-2013 02:24 PM

You Sir are a woodworker! My hat is off to you, for taking on a project like this. Not enough guy’s like you out there, too many people call themselves wood workers, only to find out that most of their projects are made from some supplier getting rich making the kits. Only one thing missing here, along with the daily top three, you should have received Editors choice.

-- Rockbuster,Ft. Wayne,In It is far better to remain silent, and appear the fool, than it is to open ones mouth, and remove all doubt.

View Radu's profile


323 posts in 2077 days

#12 posted 10-31-2013 02:40 PM

That is a really nice looking lathe. Great job. Thanks for sharing.

View PineChopper's profile


176 posts in 1230 days

#13 posted 10-31-2013 03:33 PM

That is an awesome build. I might try to make one for myself later.

View Rick M.'s profile (online now)

Rick M.

5657 posts in 1414 days

#14 posted 11-01-2013 05:37 AM

Awesome job on the lathe. I have that issue of Shopnotes and was planning something like this then happened across some great deals on vintage lathes.

re: bouncing motor. I and many others have experienced the same problem and I do not know how to fix it. Attaching a spring or bungee helps considerably, even a piece of rope helps, anything to tension the motor but they do not stop it completely. My Craftsman has a hinged motor underneath the lathe and it does not bounce, nor did it bounce when fixed to the bench behind the lathe, but hinged on the backside and they will bounce. See my blogs if you want to know how mine is mounted and how I set it up for variable speed.


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