Anyone here ever make a lathe?

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Forum topic by Marcel T posted 05-02-2008 10:57 PM 15785 views 2 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

05-02-2008 10:57 PM

I’m thinking abut building a lathe to turn pens. Has anybody ever tried something like this?

25 replies so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3696 days

#1 posted 05-02-2008 11:14 PM

Not me, but good luck.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

#2 posted 05-02-2008 11:15 PM

Thanks Trifern :)

View jjohn's profile


390 posts in 3642 days

#3 posted 05-03-2008 12:09 AM

I did make a very small lathe using a regular drill. Mounted the drill up side down in a wooden holster. (Had to design the holster to fit the drill). Clamped the holster on a 1×6 about 1 ft. long. drove a small nail on the opposing mounted wooded chuck. (The wood spun in the nail).

Don’t know if I explained that well enough to be any help. It did work well enough to lathe 4 legs for a nick/knack table.

necessity is the Mother of invention.

-- JJohn

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3697 days

#4 posted 05-03-2008 12:38 AM

i did and i have a small motor that i use with the tail stock as a bolt that i ground the tip into well i tip. i just cant figure a good spur yet.

View Marcel T's profile

Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

#5 posted 05-03-2008 02:47 PM

Thanks guys!
I have a question about pen mandrels…are they just a piece of metal rod, with threads at the end and a nut? I don’t see why that costs $20+shipping. Ok, so you get a Morse Taper, but I don’t need one. $15 for a drill mount?

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4329 days

#6 posted 05-03-2008 03:59 PM

Yes a metal rod. It has a jam nut to hold all of the pen pieces tight so you can turn them but should not be a problem to make one. Getting the correct size might be a problem. You will want it to fit tight inside the pen blank. Probably metric size rod.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View moonroc's profile


44 posts in 3616 days

#7 posted 05-03-2008 05:12 PM

There is a easy way to build one just by adding an adaptor to a drill press. You can find it here at around $20.00 I have not used one but maybe someone esle in the forum may have. Good Luck

-- Richard

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

#8 posted 05-03-2008 05:45 PM

Allrighty Karson, thanks. That helps a lot!
Thanks for the suggestion moonroc, but I do not have a drill press.

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3643 days

#9 posted 05-03-2008 06:36 PM

I started to build a full size lathe a year or so ago. I got the idea from shopnotes. I finished the body and had to quit to get caught up on other things. To be honest, I forgot all about it until you brought up this thread. It didn’t look too hard to make in the shopnotes mag.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

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Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

#10 posted 05-04-2008 04:45 PM

Good luck with that Steve, a full size lathe might be a pain to make.

View Grumpy's profile


23633 posts in 3780 days

#11 posted 05-06-2008 05:03 AM

Yes for turning billiard table legs but it was a bit risky. I was just a power drill chuck with belt drive on a washing machine motor. nothing compared to a modern lathe but for pens you could use anything. you don’t need a large lathe but you need to control the main enemy thats vibration. An old drill press could have a lot of the components you need. But I would look out for a second hand lathe, there are bargains around.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View MrToolHunter's profile


82 posts in 3603 days

#12 posted 05-06-2008 05:12 AM

Yes, I made two over one weekend when I had a one-time need during a turning class I was teaching. I believe I still have one of them in my garage and will post a pic if I can dig it up.
I used a 5/8” steel rod in bearing blocks for the headstock so I could use Shopsmith lathe accessories, which were easy to obtain at the time.

-- and

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3641 days

#13 posted 05-06-2008 05:49 AM

I’ve been looking around for the bits needed to convert my King DP into a lathe, but the biggest morris taper I’ve seen used in lathes is 2 and my DP has a MT4. Maybe there are stepping adapters? to use the more readily available MT2 lathe parts?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Marcel T's profile

Marcel T

146 posts in 3655 days

#14 posted 05-06-2008 12:10 PM

Billard table lags…wow! If I had a drillpress, I’d have this whole pen thing made! I’ll keep an eye out for lathes, but I really want to make the lathe myself, I really enjoy making things, figuring out their weaknesses and keep on revising.

A picture would be fantastic, TDJ!

I’m sure there is a stepper or something of the sort SOMEWHERE one the great, vast internet Mark.

Thank you all! :)

View tjocpa's profile


26 posts in 3626 days

#15 posted 05-07-2008 08:55 PM

ShopNotes number 73 has plans for a shop-built mini-lathe and accessories.

-- Tom O'Neil, Celtic Saw Guy

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