The Lathe


The lathe took me nine months to build. It has a swing of about 7-1/8" and 12" between centers. The carriage is driven by vacuum cleaner belts (shown on left) with a two-stage reduction ratio of 16:1. After building the accessories, change gears can be added to allow cutting threads. The motor is a regular 110-V motor, and the step pulleys allow four different speeds. A lathe this size would have cost almost $2000. By building it myself it was about $230. Plus I learned a lot in the process.

Lathe Headstock

This is the headstock of the lathe. The belt from the motor to the first step pulley is fixed, but the belt between the step pulleys is changed by pulling the handle forward to allow slack in the belt. The main shaft has the face-plate on the right, and a pulley on the left. This is where the first vacuum cleaner belt goes. It then attaches to a reduction pulley (ratio of 4:1), which is attached to the leadscrew pulley (another 4:1 ratio). The carriage is engaged with the leadscrew using a lever mounted on the carriage. The lever can be seen in the next picture.

Lathe Tailstock

The tailstock of the lathe has a shaft that is bored to a #1 Morse taper. This aids in the interchangablity of accessories. The tailstock can be set at any location along the bed of the lathe, and secured using the set screws in the front. A dead center can be used if well-oiled, but I prefer a live center. Especially after I had the end of a dead center melt off into a piece of steel I was turning. Behind the lathe is the chuck that can be used in the tailstock.

Lathe Accessories

Here are some of the accessories for the lathe. Angle plates can be used to attach parts to the face plate to allow shaping and boring parts. Pieces of aluminum angle iron that are drilled and tapped are used to face parts in the lathe instead of trying to do the work with a file. A set of temporary centers was made of steel angle iron with pillow blocks. I saved one to use when working on the end of shafts when the tailstock must be cleared away.

Front of four jaw chuckBack of four jaw chuck

Here are two views of a four jaw chuck that is used on the lathe spindle. The plans for this are in Dave Gingery's sixth book, "The Dividing Head & Deluxe Accessories." The chuck is used to work on rectangular or square pieces, but can be used on round pieces also. The jaws can also grip parts on the inside so that work can be done on the outside of larger pieces. The jaw screws are a left hand thread so that the jaws will go toward the center when turned clockwise. In the picture on the left the black piece is the key. It is a short nipple that has the end forged square to fit the jaw screws.

Side view of chuck

In this view of the chuck you can see how the jaw screws go into the nuts that are attched to the jaws.

Updated June 16, 2002

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