Lathe Setup #1: How am I gonna fit this Lathe in my workshop?

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Blog entry by Steve posted 05-22-2012 04:15 PM 3289 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I recently inherited my fathers tools and just moved his lathe to my workshop. My dilemma is that the lathe is about 6 feet long, and I really only want to make small things like pens, goblets, etc, so I don’t need such a long lathe. I would like to keep it though since it was my dad’s. He used it to turn all the spindles and columns on his front porch shown below and I remember watching him do it.

The lathe is a KFF model WL-6N and it runs fine. He painted it blue and I’m not sure what the original color was, but I’ll probably just leave it that color. Here are some pictures.

He also had a set of turning tools and an extra tool rest shown below. I’m sure they are just a basic starter set since my dad was not one to buy high-end stuff. I’ll probably clean these up and sharpen them to get me started. The tools have some black stuff on them below the handles. I’m not sure what that is or why it’s there, so I was wondering if someone might have a clue about that.

I do have some ideas to deal with the excessive length of the lathe. If anyone has any other suggestions, I’d appreciate any input.

Option 1 – Remove the support at the end of the lathe bed and cut the bed (gasp) to a shorter length, then re-attach the end support. I could keep the cut-off piece in case I ever wanted to try to re-attach it to turn something longer, but I doubt I will ever do that. I wonder what would be an optimal shorter length…maybe around 32” in case I want to turn table legs. Also would cutting the bed affect the performance or the alignment of the centers? Maybe not since the tailstock will still be on the bed. hmmm

Option 2 – I will be building a rolling cabinet to mount the lathe on. I also need a cabinet for mounting a bench top drill press and belt/disc sander. If I build a long cabinet to hold the whole 6 foot lathe, I could cover the unused end of the lathe bed with a second level of table top where I could mount a bench top tool or two. I think this is the way I will go so as not to have to cut the lathe bed shorter. I will have to try to optimize the height of the lathe and the bench top tool(s). Here’s a quick sketch of what I’m thinking…

-- Steve in Lawrenceville, GA -

18 comments so far

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

3158 posts in 1595 days

#1 posted 05-22-2012 04:41 PM

That looks like you have a good plane there. Once you start turning you will quickly find that O that looks neat I should try that or O I seen that on LJs and I will try that out. Turning is something you have to try everything at least once.


-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View lew's profile


10607 posts in 2789 days

#2 posted 05-22-2012 04:51 PM

I don’t think I would shorten the lathe. Even if you only use the full length occasional it will be worth having it ready to go.

For me, the second option is more attractive.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bertha's profile


12981 posts in 1727 days

#3 posted 05-22-2012 04:54 PM

I’d NEVER cut the lathe bed. Store this one somewhere and buy a mini before you do that. All those beautiful spindles your Pop turned…don’t cut that bed. The table-on-top idea isn’t a bad one at all. You could mount the tools then put some handles on there to move them when you DO need the lathe length. Great lathe!!!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View hairy's profile


2202 posts in 2566 days

#4 posted 05-22-2012 05:56 PM

You want the lathe centers to be roughly elbow height. That would likely put the sander too high, possibly the drill press too.At least for me. I had a belt/disc sander on a stacked cart, it didn’t work out for me.

That is a good idea. Maybe you could use that covered area as a flat work surface , there’s never enough of that.

-- on Wednesday's I go shopping, and have buttered scones for tea...

View xwingace's profile


204 posts in 1622 days

#5 posted 05-22-2012 06:32 PM

Option 2 definitely looks like the way to go. It’s easy to use a long lathe for short stuff, but it’s reaallll hard to use a short lathe for long stuff!

-- I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was.

View stefang's profile


14699 posts in 2368 days

#6 posted 05-22-2012 06:43 PM

Option 2 looks good for sentimental reasons and also because you never know what you might want to turn in the future.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Infernal2's profile


104 posts in 1231 days

#7 posted 05-22-2012 08:54 PM

Option 2 seems like your best bet in my opinion. If you were so inclined, Dave Gingery books has the “Home Metalworking Shop” series which can show you how to make a lathe bed from a flowerpot style casting furnace.

View Bearpie's profile


2597 posts in 2052 days

#8 posted 05-22-2012 11:31 PM

If you should go against the consensus here and cut the lathe shorter, Murphy’s Law will come into effect and you will surely need the full length probably soon after you cut it! I raised my lathe 5 extra inches cause at the normal height, I have to work stooped over a bit and it hurts my bad back. At the raised height I can stand straight and almost work all day.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View kenn's profile


804 posts in 2754 days

#9 posted 05-23-2012 12:49 AM

DON’T CUT OFF THE LATHE BED!!!! There, I had to scream that or it was going to kill me. You’ll never be able to add the length back and turning gets very addictive so you might want the length in the future. Enjoy the heirloom.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View hhhopks's profile


610 posts in 1411 days

#10 posted 05-23-2012 01:27 AM

I agree with Kenn. Don’t cut it off! How about buying a new short metal block instead? Have the hole drilled to match.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View robscastle's profile


2522 posts in 1238 days

#11 posted 05-23-2012 01:34 AM


I can solve all your concerns in one go,

Just ship the lot to me here in Brisbane QLD and I will cherish it forever,

You can always come visit and cuddle the gear whenever you want,
I have a spare room which you can use and stay as long as you want in return for your generousity.
We live in the house on my profile its whats called high set, the room is the complete width of the house at the back, it has its own entrance, toilet shower, big projector TV heaps of DVDs and is a nice comportable hide away.

As for shortenning the lathe bed dont do it, you may of heard about Kama?


Robert Brennan
(in humour)

-- Regards Robert

View Steve's profile


156 posts in 1230 days

#12 posted 05-23-2012 01:47 AM

Wow, thanks for all the comments, suggestions and offers! I’m not going to cut the bed…I agree, bad idea. I didn’t think to look to see if it would come off (duh), and if a shorter bed is available out there somewhere. I will probably go with option 2 and just cover the unused section with a removable work surface. Will post a picture of whatever I come up with.

-- Steve in Lawrenceville, GA -

View BigTiny's profile


1667 posts in 1922 days

#13 posted 05-23-2012 01:54 AM

Option 3: buy a shorter piece of the “U” channel that the bed looks like it is made from and store the long one for when it is needed. (it will be I assure you)

Option 4: make a “flippy” stand for the sander and drill press. That will free up the room one of the tools takes leaving more room for the lathe. I’m in the process of building a few of these stands to make room in my shop for the tools I have accumulated over the years. I keep watching the “for sale” ads, but never seem to find a room stretcher…


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View ihmserv's profile


34 posts in 2804 days

#14 posted 05-23-2012 01:58 AM

go for option 3… figure out which tools don’t compliment the lathe and sell them now.
turning is a vortex that pulls you in.. you will find that the other tools just become storage areas for the turnings. DAMHIK

last comment, when I bought my 3rd lathe, i called it the mustard monster, my wife called her my mistress. lol


-- woodturners keep things spinning.

View dbhost's profile


5386 posts in 2266 days

#15 posted 05-23-2012 03:30 PM

I would go with option #2. Do not cut that lathe bed. You would radically impact its value, and functionality. In all honesty, you might just end up catching the spindle bug, or decide you want to take a crack at turning spindles for chairs, or the front porch or whatnot… You never know… Bridging the bed like you show would be a great way to be able to keep the longer bed while maximizing your use of space…

My dad is still with us, but he sold off all of his woodworking stuff decades ago, and I really wish he hadn’t. While his equipment was not much better or worse than what I have now, for the most part, he did have some OLD iron that I learned on as a boy… A 1960s Craftsman contractor saw, similar vintage jointer, Good Lord only knows how old Rockwell drill press and lathe… All of them may lack some of the nicer features of my newer counterparts, but they were dead on solid, and the family history is well worth it…

I honestly wish I could afford to outfit my shop with nothing but top end equipment, because if God decides LOML and I can finally have a kid, I am hoping that youngster would learn to love woodworking, and nature as much as I do… and I would love to pass not only my passions, but also my equipment along as a legacy…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

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