Just bought a homemade lathe for cheap - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-29-2010, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Just bought a homemade lathe for cheap

Today I bought a homemade lathe on Craigslist for $30. The idea was that even if the lathe turned out to be totally useless the electric motor was worth more than the $30. Some pictures attached. It came with a screw chucked in which acted as a drive spur, but the screw broke on me and I replaced it with one of my own, but that sheared too. The chuck is mounted on the motors 1/2" shaft. I was wondering if anyone knows of something a little more suitable for a drive spur? Any other thoughts? A lathe wasn't at the top of my tool buying list, but I think they're interesting and figured I'd jump at this. If this machine doesn't work out I figured the motor can be used for another home built woodworking machine.
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-30-2010, 10:24 AM
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Might be fun to fool with. I sometimes go to local farm auctions, where I often find woodworking equipment in somewhat "distressed" condition. These things go cheap, but a little elbow grease and some replacement parts usually bring 'em into good working condition. For example, I got a 4-1/2" Duro jointer for $7. A little cleaning up and repair of the guard and it works like new; I downloaded an owner's manual for free. The blades are sharp and un-knicked. I very recently found a bench-top ToolKraft bandsaw, complete with original stand and original owner's manual, for $3. It needs new tires and a belt -- about $30 for parts. I spent an hour cleaning it up, remounting the on/0ff switch, and properly adjusting the bland guides (which will hafta be redone when I get the new tires) and it'll work fine. A little research on-line and you can find manuals, parts, forums, etc. to help you find whatever you need to bring these things into working order. I have a 36" lathe I need to start on soon -- $2! -- good motor, solid bed, and headstock. Missing only the live center for the tailstock! Try the auction route. Most bidders aren't interested if the item is partly dissassembled and/or dirty/rusty.

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post #3 of 17 Old 08-30-2010, 10:35 AM
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A motor with oil caps no less...
I havent seen one of those in a long time. havent been to garage/fleamarket sales either...

I just might try making one of those myself.
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-30-2010, 11:07 AM
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What about something like this? http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCENTQC58.html
Neat idea for a simple lathe, and that motor is sweet .

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post #5 of 17 Old 08-30-2010, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Jeffreythree - I was very excited about your suggestion so I called Penn State Industrial to make sure. He told me that this part is for a lathe chuck and if you look the shaft where the chuck grabs has channels cut into it - between the channels it goes down to 1/4" diameter (which would have been perfect), but the wider part is too thick to fit in a drill type chuck. THAT WAS SO CLOSE!!!! Would have been perfect and I liked the price. I think for now I'm going to try drilling a hole in the end of my work piece and gluing a small section of dowel to chuck onto.

I'm trying to be careful not to have this lathe turn into "stone soup". For those who didn't read the book when they were kids to make stone soup you start with boiling water and a rock as your base, then you just add extra touches like carrots, onions, potato, beef, then take the stone out and you've got stone soup...
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-30-2010, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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The dowel into the end of the wood chucked into the chuck didn't hold up - it had to be 5/16" or less to fit. The other option would be to find a spur drive which could fasten right onto the 1/2" motor shaft (which has a flat on it to take a tightening screw on what fastens to it.

I was also having trouble with the dead center on the tailstock slipping, but when I used a bar clamp to hold it the wood started to smoke - oops.

Any more ideas/sources for a spur drive to fit?
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-31-2010, 12:51 AM
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if you can find someone with a metal lathe, have them turn one for you to the specs you need.
I've had a machinist turn a stainless bolt into a plumb bob tip... cheap.

The Pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity while the Optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty...
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-31-2010, 07:30 AM
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I think you are throwing away time and money on this. Just keep the motor and scrap the rest out. What you have, at best, will only be able to make small crude objects. You definitely have stone soup in your pot.

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post #9 of 17 Old 08-31-2010, 03:47 PM
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Guys, I kinda agree with Tony. That's why I was mentioning how I get some equipment at auctions (particularly farm auctions, in my experience). For a coupla bucks and some elbow grease, you can come up with some pretty useful equipment. And if you're like me, and money is an issue, this is a great way to equip your shop.
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-31-2010, 04:30 PM
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I'd have to agree with Tony, you could be wasting allot of money on this. Just my .02
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post #11 of 17 Old 09-05-2010, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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Just an update... After last weekends failures with using a dowel and a screw, and the general advice here to just junk it I was pretty close to giving up. I was looking in catalogs at lathes that were more than I want to spend right now.

But I've had an unexpected bit of success today. I found an old slightly rusty 1/2" spade bit in my workshop junk pile and using a Dremel tool cut off most of the shank. I then chucked the rest into the lathe chuck and used it as a drive center. This worked pretty well and hasn't come loose or started to spin in the wood. So I was able to spend over a half an hour torturing that piece of maple I was playing with last weekend.

So my total investment now comes to $30 for the lathe itself and about $120 for two chisels and a center finder - which of course I get to keep using with whatever lathe I eventually upgrade to, but for now I've got something to at least practice with.

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post #12 of 17 Old 09-08-2010, 06:20 AM
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OK, I'll admit when I am (possibly) wrong (dammit, I hate that). The August 1992 issue (#27) of American Woodworker features an article on building and using a plywood lathe. Although American Woodworker's version appears somewhat different than Spior's, it is still a plywood lathe. So go to it, big guy!

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post #13 of 17 Old 09-08-2010, 07:30 AM
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When you retire it you can alway make it into a coffe table.
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post #14 of 17 Old 09-08-2010, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for mentioning the article. I'd love to see a copy of that article and what they came up with for a headstock and drive center.

The spade bit did a lot better, but still started to slip when there was too much turning resistance. Then I used a Dremel tool to grind the bit into more of a trident shape so the outer spurs bite in and now it works even better.

The dead center on the tail got quite warm after turning a bit so I pressed a block of paraffin onto it which melted on. Now it works much better.
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-09-2010, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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I found that American Woodworker article on Google books, the concepts are the same as the lathe I bought. I did some research on the drive center they mentioned and it turns out the company they mentioned was in the business of making Shopsmith knockoffs. I then looked on the shopsmith site and they made a drive center that fits on a motor shaft, but for a1/2" motor shaft like mine that bushing would still be necessary. Those drive centers are selling on Ebay for around $10. I'll consider it if my spade bit drive center develops problems. Right now I think my biggest issue is that the motor shaft has a little play in the in and out direction so if I'm pushing too hard with a chisel the wood spindle may shift a little along its axis. I'll have to try to make sure it's shifted as far in as possible before I adjust the tailstock and see if that helps.
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-29-2010, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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I'm now trying to retrofit that old GE electric motor onto a newer lathe, but to do so I need to reverse its rotation direction. Does anyone know if this is possible? I'm hoping I just need to swap wires somewhere.
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post #17 of 17 Old 10-02-2010, 05:43 PM
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Years ago, I made a lathe using 2X8s for the bed rails. IMO, I'd use that same motor but make up a longer, bigger bed.

The more massive a lathe is, the easier to get a smoother cut.


Here's a pic of a Chinese lathe I bought for the wife, I used heaver square wall tubing for the bed and had to make a new drive spindle because the runout was .012 radially and axially.

Still have to fabricate a new tailstock and T-nuts.
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