Alchymist's pen lathe build (pic heavy) - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Alchymist's pen lathe build (pic heavy)

Starting a new thread relating to the actual construction of the pen lathe, will take quite a few posts to cover it. Feel free to jump in with any questions/comments.

Disclamer: Not claiming this is the best way to build a lathe, the criteria was to use whatever was at hand, buy as little as possible, and looks were secondary to performance.

1st pic:1-1/8 brass bar stock, old and tarnished. Used for spindle housing and tool rest holder.

2nd: Spindle housing cut to length and flats being milled. Top flat is narrower than the bottom flat. Flats serve two purposes, to allow chucking in a 4 jaw chuck, and to seat in headstock and take the mounting screws from the headstock hold downs.

3rd: Spindle housing drilled for spindle.

4th: 3/4-10 bolt 6" long for spindle, on e of the few purchased parts, $6.00.
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post #2 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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1st pic: cutting the slot for the tool rest and tailstock in a piece of salvaged aluminum C channel.

2nd pic: Completed slot. Slot is approx .280" wide to clear 1/4 -20 bolts.

3rd pic: Setup to mill the retainers that tighten down the tool rest and tailstock.

4th pic: One of the retainers.
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post #3 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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1st: Setup to mill the slot for the spindle housing.

2nd: headstock milled to receive the spindle housing.

3rd: Boo Boo bushing. Discovered I had cut the spindle undersized for the housing, and found that a piece of 1/2 inch copper tubing was a press fit into the spindle housing. Really wanted the spindle running in brass, but wasn't about to make a new housing. Turned the spindle to match the copper id, all is well.

4th: 6" bolt turned to fit housing, part of the threaded portion cut odd.
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post #4 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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1st: Spindle housing to headstock test fit.

2nd: Aluminum stock for spindle hold down spindle bridge).

3rd: Layout and drilling bridge, then milled out the excess stock. (2 pcs).

4th. Bridges installed. !/4-20 hold down bolts, 1/4-20 set screws to secure spindle. The bridge setup allows shims to be inserted under each end of the spindle housing as required to aligh the spindle with the bed vertically.
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post #5 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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1st: Swivel mounting setup for the headstock. Headstock pivots on bolt toward center of lathe, and the two outer bolts lock it in place. This allows horizontal alignment with lathe base.

2nd: Bottom of headstock showing matching bolt holes. These were drilled and tapped 1/4-20.

3rd: Putting the flat on the spindle for a retaining ring and the pully setscrew.

4th: Drilling and tapping the spindle for 1/4-20 for the pen mandrel and/or center spur.
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post #6 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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1st: A 1/4-20 bolt was screwed into the spindle, and a point turned to form the removable center spur.

2nd: Small flats milled on 2 sides of the spur to facilitate removal.

3rd: Laying out the tailstock base.

4th: The upright and stabilizing block clamped in place for drilling pilot holes to attach upright and block to base.
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post #7 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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1st: Drilling and tapping the mounting holes for the upright portion of the tailstock.

2nd: Drilling holes for the slot in the tool rest. A series of pilot holes were drilled and opened to 1/4" to remove most of the stock before milling the slot in the tool rest base.

3rd: Milling the tool rest base, stock between the holes removed, then slot widened to .280" for bolt clearance.

4th: A section of the brass hex stock was drilled and reamed to hold the tool post.
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post #8 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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1st: The demon face of the bottom of the tool post holder. Again drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 screws.

2nd: Base of the toolholder showing the recess to allow the tool holder to drop down into the base itself. The back side of the base was countersunk for 2 flat head screws to mount the brass tool rest shaft.

3rd: A trial fit of headstock, tailstock and tool rest.

4th: Tailstock rest drilled and tapped for a 1" bolt. Originally planned to tap it for the 3/4-10 bolts to bu used as centers, but the drill & tap resulted in a hole that was not perpendicular to the surface. Fix was to open up the hole and tap for 1". The one inch bolt was then drilled and tapped for 3/4-10. Advantage was the tailstock centers now screwed into a steel thread rather than the aluminum.

More to follow......
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post #9 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 12:12 PM
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quite the metal fabricator you are. nice pics. thans for sharing.
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post #10 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 12:57 PM
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Dang, you're doing a fantastic job on this! I'll be following along for sure. I'm curious, are you using aluminum that was previously anodized? In no, what is the blue coating I see in various places?

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post #11 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 01:20 PM
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From the pics in post #5, it looks like you have another lathe ... is that a metal working lathe?
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post #12 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 01:20 PM
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Dye, useful for layout.

The tools don't make the craftsman....
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post #13 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, the "other lathe" is a South Bend 405 metal lathe. (9" swing, 36" bed, mfg in 1934). Must be the 4th or 5th owner. The other machines are a Horrible Fright Micro-mini lathe (too small) and an old Craftsman 150 drill press.

And yes, the blue stuff is "Dykem" blue layout dye. I didn't bother to remove it, like I said, looks were secondary to function!

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post #14 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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More pictures.
1st: Turning down a 1" nut for the tailstock. Only nut available was a lock nut, so just turned it down to a thin jam nut. It locks the 1" bolt in the tailstock.

2nd: Drilling the 1" bolt for the 3/4" tap.

3rd: Piece of round aluminum stock being centerdrilled before boring for spindle stepped pulley.

4th: Turning the spindle pulley.
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post #15 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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1st: spindle pulley complete. The drive pulley for the motor was made in the same manner.

2nd: Faceplate start. Tried to cut it out with a hole saw, but too much vibration and chatter, so resorted to hacking it out by hand and turning it down in the lathe. (Lots of hacksaw work in the build).

3rd: Faceplate complete, with counterbore for wood screws.

4th: Trial fit to table. Table was one of two that I built 20 some years ago, one has disappeared, and this one was stored in the barn for the last 4 years. A little clean up, a fresh coat of poly, and some new casters put it back in service.
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post #16 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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1st: Trial fit of motor. This motor was salvaged from an old key making machine, totally enclosed 1/4 HP continuous duty rated. The mount is an old brass hinge, only had one of them, so didn't mind using it.

2nd: The pen mandrel. 1/4-20 threads both ends, jam nut locks the mandrel to the headstock, the other end fits into a brass fitting in the tailstock insert. The second hex but on the right tightens the pen blanks on the mandrel.

3rd: Tailstock insert with bearing for pen mandrel.

4th: Tailstock dead center. Large hex nut is used with both inserts, I plan to drill a couple holes in the flats for a tommy bar to loosen & tighten it rather than a big wrench.
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post #17 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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1st: 3/4 hex nut with 3 holes drilled for welding rod points to spur drive. Used in conjunction with the spur center.

2nd: Spur drive and center installed.

3rd: Set up for pen making.

That about sums it up. Any one with questions post here or PM me, be glad to take measurements and/or more pics if anyone wants to build one.
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post #18 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:38 PM
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well done -- you deserve at least a standing ovation for this

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post #19 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 02:59 PM
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Well, I'm impressed. I have a question though. Since you have a metal working lathe, why not just make a chuck for that and use the metal lathe for turning the pens? I don't know much about metal lathes, so the answer may be obvious. Hopefully it's not too obvious.
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post #20 of 34 Old 07-02-2013, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Itchytoe View Post
Well, I'm impressed. I have a question though. Since you have a metal working lathe, why not just make a chuck for that and use the metal lathe for turning the pens? I don't know much about metal lathes, so the answer may be obvious. Hopefully it's not too obvious.
Biggest drawback to using a metal lathe for woodworking is the mess the sawdust and sanding dust makes. Metal lathes are quite heavily lubricated, and cutting oils used liberally. The resulting mix gets into everything and is a bear to clean. Even when turning cast iron most machinists cover the ways and take great care to confine the dust, as it raises hob with the bearings and machined surfaces.

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