Harbor Freight lathe on casters

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Forum topic by solderpot1 posted 12-29-2014 12:47 AM 1368 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 663 days

12-29-2014 12:47 AM

Hello, 1st post of many I hope, but look for more questions than answers. I’m in the process of putting together the HF lathe my kids gave me for Christmas and decided to do a little surfing for hints, suggestions and improvement ideas and it looks like I found it on LumberJocks. Mr. Luv2learn the storage system you built for the in lathe last year is fantastic. My garage and shop are one in the same and living in the Midwest I need to make sure there is always room for at least one car as winter comes calling, so my tools are all mobile. Luv2learn, I noticed in the pictures that you attached a runner between the bottom of the legs and attached locking casters and I’m wondering how or if the casters have any effect on the lathes performance? Thanks ahead of time to all care to respond about casters on a lathe and/or suggestions on making a lathe mobile. As to joining LumberJocks I’m pretty sure it will be… ” do you know what time it is !? come to bed and get off the #$%^ computer it’s after midnight!!” .

7 replies so far

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2093 days

#1 posted 12-29-2014 03:45 AM

I was given a Jet 1236WL. it is much like the Harbor Freight lathe. My lathe had the legs cut off and a 2×4 placed under each end. The castors were put on the 2×4. I broke one of the 2×4’s off its mounting trying to load the lathe to bring it home. I priced new legs from Jet and they were in the $100 each range. I went to Harbor Freight and bought the leg set you have and they cost me $39 for the set of 4. I plan to cut the front leg to accept the switch since Jet placed it there. I can afford blue paint with my $350 savings. One thing I wouldn’t do is try to weld a little rectangle of steel sheet in the bottom of the leg for a place to mount a 2×4. I think I would make a frame out of wood or steel that the legs would fit in. Then you could push the machine around. Look at the carriages used under other tools such as cabinet saws or contractor saws. I personally want my lathe to sit as solid as I can make it.

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2179 days

#2 posted 12-29-2014 09:54 PM

I highly recommend putting machines in a home workshop on casters! I have a sizable home basement shop and even with all of the space, I am cramped. A few years back I decided to put a number of my less used machines on casters and then “park” them compactly in an area of the shop. I can then easily pull one out and plug in in when it is needed. This worked so well i even put heavy duty cast iron casters on my 800 pound Hammer sliding table saw! I can now shift it around to accommodate long boards on the infeed and outfeed. It takes some tugging and hip and body “english” to drag in around though. I have found that locking casters are not necessary for any of my machines. All are heavy enough to stay in one place when using. And . . . all of my casters are from Harbor Freight and work just fine.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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1848 posts in 1553 days

#3 posted 12-29-2014 10:08 PM

Many people put casters on their wood lathes or lathe stand/cabinets. Stand that comes with your lathe needs some beefing up, like a shelf and weight for starters.

-- Bill

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Troy Cleckler

384 posts in 789 days

#4 posted 12-29-2014 10:40 PM

I have the Jet 1236 as well and while it is heavy and would be a pain to have to move, I would recommend that it sit on the floor or as I had to do for height, it sits on 2×6’s. As was mentioned, you want it to sit as solid as possible. I even went as far as to add plywood on the leg stretchers and 7 bags of sand, at about 80lbs each stacked on it. This helps absorb some of the vibrations that you get in these level of lathes. Not putting them down. I’ve turned for 15 years on mine and turned out some nice things. But I did notice a big difference when I added the weight to it. Not saying you can’t add wheels, just saying the less vibration, the better results. Just my 2 cents.
Looking forward to seeing some turnings soon so don’t forget to post.

-- Troy. - Measure twice, cut once and fill the gaps....

View Bill7255's profile


344 posts in 1703 days

#5 posted 12-29-2014 10:46 PM

I’ll go with no wheels camp. If you are just turning small things maybe not a problem. Turning larger things you will want it as solid to the floor as possible. My lathe is 700 lbs so wheels are not an option for me.

-- Bill R

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883 posts in 1492 days

#6 posted 12-30-2014 12:52 AM

use good quality castors but instead of locking the castors or lifting them out of the way use Destaco straight acting barrel clamps with hard rubber “feet” to fix it in location very heavy equipment can be made very stable in this way. this is a table saw, planer, router station, sander and heavy duty work bench grouping. with the storage installed it is HEAVY! two locks and two men cant move one side of it! the planer hangs inverted when not in use so its out of the way and the table is flush.

View solderpot1's profile


4 posts in 663 days

#7 posted 12-30-2014 06:38 AM

Thanks to all for replying. As much as I’d like to keep it stationary and because the space’s primary purpose is garage – for now casters will need to be added – along with some beefing up and weight – thanks Wildwood. I found some pictures of caster systems that can be retracted to allow the tool to sit solid on it’s stand or be as mobile as needed and since I do plan to add a shelf maybe one of those options will work. Here is a Chris Schwarz video showing one of his ideas. But again thanks for your responses and HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR…...maybe I can just move this here, toss this – no not tossing anything…I can put it here and never have to move it.

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