Lathe placement in the shop?

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Forum topic by brownred posted 11-22-2012 02:51 PM 2824 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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34 posts in 2016 days

11-22-2012 02:51 PM

I feel kinda stupid asking all these seemingly silly questions but I want to do things right this time around. I will be purchacing a 3520B soon and maybe eventually the 50” bed extention and possibly the 18” tool rest extention for the other end. The Powermatic 3520B footprint is, Overall Dimensions: 75” L x 27”W x 58”H.
My shop is, 15’ 2” by 20’ 6” and Im wondering from some of you that have this size lathe how far out from the wall or corner walls should this lathe be placed.


-- Phil in Sutallee Georgia

18 replies so far

View Biff's profile


126 posts in 2014 days

#1 posted 11-22-2012 03:58 PM

Kind of hard to say without seeing a photo or drawing. Don’t be tempted to put it up against a wall for space. Leave lots of room around it for access.

Think about how dust collection can be attached.

Where will your lathe tools sit while you are working?

Will you do any outboard turning and need room at the ends/

Can you place it near a natural light sourse?

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2286 days

#2 posted 11-22-2012 04:07 PM

I put mine on a one inch oak bench a couple feet high and keep it by the garage door so on nice days I can take it outside where the light and dust is better. In the garage I lean sheet rock up against the wall on a couple sides so the chips don’t cause a mess. You can collect the fine dust with a DC but not chips and there really isn’t that much dust. A fan will keep it out of your face. I have a couple lights that attach to the bench and hover where I put them which really helps me out too. I’d like a fancy rack for tools, but I dont want to prevent myself from both sides, so I’m thinking of a portable tool rack just for lathe stuff which is my fastest growing tool collection.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View MrRon's profile


4770 posts in 3243 days

#3 posted 11-23-2012 10:21 PM

I would place it reasonably close to the wall at the back; at least one foot at the right from a corner or other obstruction ( elbow room) and enough room at the tail stock end for the future extension. Add a good light directly above the lathe.(You don’t want shadows)

View hairy's profile


2704 posts in 3532 days

#4 posted 11-23-2012 10:41 PM

I have my lathe situated so I can work from both sides. Sometimes I will stand on the other side and run the motor the other way. I like room on all sides.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2985 days

#5 posted 11-23-2012 10:55 PM

I personally only work my lathe from one side, so I have always worked with it up against the wall. I like to have the chisels hanging up on a rack above the lathe on the wall within easy reach, though don’t go reaching for them while the machine is running! Then again, my lathe is much smaller and is more portable.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2961 days

#6 posted 11-23-2012 11:11 PM

The only stupid question is the one not asked. I put my lathe about two feet from the wall, measuring to the center of the bed.

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2099 posts in 2188 days

#7 posted 11-23-2012 11:23 PM

Lathes pitch a lot of debris about, depending of course on the type and nature of the turning. A nearby wall can help to contain this debris a bit. If you do any wet turning (green wood), trying to contain the spray off that is another thing to consider. If you are going to do any outboard turning, you’ll want room for that too.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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117094 posts in 3577 days

#8 posted 11-23-2012 11:29 PM

It depends what else you do in your shop if you only turn put it in the middle of the room and place the supporting tools where they are convenient .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View MrRon's profile


4770 posts in 3243 days

#9 posted 11-25-2012 10:55 PM

Correction to my initial reply. I meany LEFT, not RIGHT.

I would place it reasonably close to the wall at the back; at least one foot at the LEFT from a corner or other obstruction ( elbow room) and enough room at the tail stock end for the future extension. Add a good light directly above the lathe.(You don’t want shadows)

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2201 days

#10 posted 11-26-2012 07:01 PM

Hairy, that is a sweet lathe you got there…... Robust Sweet 16…....

Brownred, tons of good advise already mentioned here, the PM3520b is a fairly large lathe, complete access all the way around and you know shavings wet and dry will be flying around like mad. You rough out the big wet bowl it will look like you just got done water skiing and so will your other tools….. In my old garage I bought some of those cheap White window shades I would mount on the ceiling and pull them down to help contain some of the shavings and limit the water spray…... Pretty handy…. I sorta boxed myself in with those things and it did help a lot. If you ever go to garage sales you can usually pick them up really cheap…..

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

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2147 days

#11 posted 11-26-2012 07:41 PM

One thing I would definitely recommend with your lathe placement is to have nothing hanging over it within 3 feet and nothing in front of it about 6 or 7 feet if you intend to turn green wood. I did that for the first time not too long ago and shavings got flung all over the place. They got flung on the shelf that’s above and to the left of my lathe and on my other workbench about 5 feet in front of the lathe. It was a huge mess.


View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2218 days

#12 posted 11-26-2012 09:05 PM

I have fastened clear plastic sheets (overlapped by an inch and taped together) from the ceiling down to within one inch of the floor behind my lathe. This stops chips and shavings from sticking to the wall behind the lathe. The clear plastic curtain is nearly invisible and therfore not a detractor to the work area around you. If you are going to use spot lights close to your lathe work make sure the lights have plastic covers to prevent the wet shavings from coming in contact with the hot bulbs.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

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1452 posts in 2147 days

#13 posted 11-26-2012 09:28 PM

That’s a good idea, TorqNut. I’ll have to try that. I’m working on a shaving deflector that I can mount on my lathe chisels that I hope will help too.


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127 posts in 3417 days

#14 posted 11-26-2012 09:45 PM

Mine is a small toy. I made an “A” frame with casters at one end , I lift the other end to move it around. this way I can access both sides and place it at the wall when not in use. keep smiling John

-- retired and smiling

View brownred's profile


34 posts in 2016 days

#15 posted 11-27-2012 04:38 PM

Thanks everyone, lots of good ideas here and it looks like i have a very small space for the 3520B I’m getting. I was originally thinking I could have one of everything but doesn’t look like that now. ill will try to post some sort of picture or drawing to give a better idea.


-- Phil in Sutallee Georgia

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