Router as makeshift lathe headstock?

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Forum topic by Philip posted 717 days ago 1345 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1099 posts in 1171 days

717 days ago

I have recently been interested in making a few chairs. These designs have spindles that need to be turned on a lathe. I don’t have a lathe and am not interested in using my half finished spoke shave to make a ton of spindles. Is there any way I can make a cradle for my router and turn it into a makeshift lathe headstock? I have seen some where the router is stationary and you spin the wood, can’t you use the router to spin the blank?

Any advice is appreciated, and of this is impossible/ dangerous, then I guess I will try something else.

-- If you can dream it, I can do it!

14 replies so far

View shampeon's profile


1348 posts in 815 days

#1 posted 717 days ago

That sounds incredibly dangerous. 20,000 RPMs is no joke.

You’re better off using a drill or drill press as a makeshift lathe, although the results aren’t going to be as good as an actual lathe. You might look up a local wood turning club to see if you could rent some lathe time from somebody.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Gshepherd's profile


1466 posts in 833 days

#2 posted 717 days ago

Totally rethink this one…... Do not even try it….... Find someone local and maybe post on CL what your needing in the Wanted and Tools section for some help….. Even using a drill press is ok but it will put undue wear and tear on the bearings, IMOP of course…. Worst case check out for used one or check our Harbor Freight for a cheap one. But for your own safety do not use the router….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1601 days

#3 posted 717 days ago

Bad idea, even the slowest speed on a router is way too fast for roughing gouges. Buy one off Craigs List. If you find it doesn’t suit you, you could always sell it on again.

View Philip's profile


1099 posts in 1171 days

#4 posted 717 days ago

Noted. Slowest router speed still too fast. Will re- think.

-- If you can dream it, I can do it!

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1630 days

#5 posted 717 days ago

That would be less than optimum. Unless being impaled by flying shrapnel is the goal.

No lathe? Lots of plans around for springpole / bungee / bow lathes. They are pretty low tech and cheap. One of my very favorite videos to show just how low tech they can be:

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View KOVA's profile


1311 posts in 1010 days



View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

12926 posts in 2615 days

#7 posted 717 days ago

variable speed electric drill could be used for a lathe…

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View KOVA's profile


1311 posts in 1010 days

#8 posted 717 days ago

View Loren's profile


7425 posts in 2280 days

#9 posted 717 days ago

I recommend you don’t mess with trying to make a lathe
unless you have an interest in building machines.

When I was starting out I built a spring pole lathe and
set it up under a plum tree using a bough to power
it. The tool was fun. I got the idea from a Roy Underhill

In any case, you’ll be better off buying a used lathe
and get your parts turned and get on with your project.

You can get lathe jigs that are powered by a corded
power drill, but they are not an especially good investment
considering that affordable and much heavier lathes
are available these days. Machine weight plays a significant
role in successful wood turning.


View lumberjoe's profile


2833 posts in 880 days

#10 posted 717 days ago

If you are really in a bind, have a VS drill and 50$, you can give this a shot:



View Scott's profile


101 posts in 856 days

#11 posted 716 days ago

There’s always the drive axle on the family minivan :)

View waho6o9's profile


4835 posts in 1209 days

#12 posted 716 days ago

Maybe use a drill press?

View Philip's profile


1099 posts in 1171 days

#13 posted 714 days ago

Great advice. Thanks, I have inherited a shop smith, but it’s on the other side of the country right now… In the meantime I will try some of these ideas, maybe a spring pole- Underhill style.

-- If you can dream it, I can do it!

View Infernal2's profile


104 posts in 829 days

#14 posted 714 days ago

If you have the space and even just minor carpentry skills you can modify the Gingery Lathe plans to take a steady rest. We built one a few years back (the machine shop model) and saved a huge amount of time on the bed casting by using metal tubing.

Probably more than what you want since you have a Shopsmith across country but its an easy and cheap way to get what you want on the cheap.

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