Lathe: height of centers and distance between centers?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 04-06-2015 05:53 PM 1131 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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661 posts in 2885 days

04-06-2015 05:53 PM

I’m considering building a spring pole lathe.

How high from the ground should the centers be located?

How much is the greatest distance between centers that the lathe should permit to allow me to turn table legs or spindles for furniture?


-- More tools, fewer machines.

2 replies so far

View jdh122's profile


1052 posts in 3019 days

#1 posted 04-06-2015 07:26 PM

I built the one that Roy Underhill popularized (you can get the plans from his The Woodwright’s Guide, they probably have it at your local library). The bed is 42 inches long, which means that after subtracting the thickness of the poppet and the stick-out of the centers, I can turn 36 inches long. I’d be inclined to make it slightly longer than that, I think, say enough to be able to turn 3.5 feet.
Centers are 43 inches off the ground, which seems to work OK.
I’m still pretty new to pole turning, so maybe others will pitch in too.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Woodknack's profile


12431 posts in 2582 days

#2 posted 04-07-2015 06:16 AM

Dining tables are 30” tall, so long enough to fit a leg for that. Taller things like coat racks are usually turned in 2 pieces unless you have a humongous lathe or a heck of a bed extension.

I read once that lathe centers should be about elbow height and that’s how my Craftsman sits. It’s very subjective though. The Delta I just bought came with a factory stand and centers are several inches lower than my elbow.

-- Rick M,

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