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post #1 of 10 Old 02-02-2009, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Building a workstation

Rockler had a sale on this weekend and one of the prizes I came home with was a solid little mini lathe with extension bed for a little over $200. Looks a lot like a Jet but it's branded Excelsior http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=21524

Now I need to build a workstation for it and was wondering if there were any plans floating around suitable for this wee beastie. Any comments are welcome, I'd love to learn more.
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-02-2009, 08:45 PM
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Gary,
This is the bench I initially made for my jet midi, since then I have bought the metal square tube steel stand from jet. I built a bunch of cabinets for my shop and this bench is made from the last two. Instead of putting doors on them, I made up the drawers and decided to turn it into a bench. It is basically two 30" x 30" boxes 18" deep. They are made from 3/4" maple plywood from home depot. The faceframes and drawer fronts are ash. The top is made from some 2 x 10's and 2 x 6's layed side by side, covered with a piece of the 3/4 maple plywood. The edge going around is piece of oak, ripped to cover the edge and routed to round it over a bit. There's a couple of 2 x 4 braces under the top at each end. The base is made from 2 x 10's braced with treated 2 x 4's with wheels attached. This thing weighs a ton. It is easy to move but doesn't really move on its own, even with the wheels unlocked. This bench was made with mostly leftover wood lying around the shop. I also put pegboard on the two ends and some 1 x 6 T&G wood on the back vertically. I now use it to hold my tormek and wolverine grinders on top.
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-02-2009, 09:19 PM
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Gary when I built my work station I knew I wanted it to be mobile. I built the frame and legs out of 2x4's and 5/8" plywood for the top. I initially built it for a Sears lathe I owned and I replaced it(this past June) with the Jet 1220. It is probably close to the size of yours. The dimensions of my table are L-53"xW-28"xH-30" and I put two 6" wheels on the two legs at the end. Never know when you might want to roll it outside to work,as I often do. I also drilled several 1 1/4" holes at the head stock end to accommodate my turning tools. You can add the holes as needed. It works for me and maybe this will give you some ideas in what you would like. Good luck !
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-02-2009, 10:41 PM
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Off your original topic a bit but what are your initial impressions of the Excelsior lathe? I saw that in the Rockler ad but we don't have a store close around here. Looks nice. I'd be interested in what you think of it as well as what your impressions are after turning on it a little bit. Sounds like a great deal!

Nice cabinets Mike!

John
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-03-2009, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't used it much yet but my initial impression was fairly precise machining. The extension bed did not have any centering pins so when I bolted it on with the two allen bolts I needed to do a bit of rapping with a ball peen to get the alignment right for the tailstock to pass. It sounds very smooth and quiet when running. The lockdown for the tool rest is an eccentric, so it is fast to undo and move. I ran the tailstock up to the headstock and got a perfect point to point alignment. It uses multi groove belts and pulleys so it gets a pretty good grip on the motor.
It feels way more solid than the Central Machinery lathe it replaced, that thing bowed on cranking the tailstock tight on the wood.
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-03-2009, 10:19 PM
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Gary, One thing with your work station that is important is the height. You don't want to make it too high. That is a mistake I made on the first one I built. It makes a big difference with tool control. My stand is about 30" tall, and it works great. The first one was 36" tall, and it made it hard to use your body to stabilize the tools. I hold the handle of my tools against my hip while I am turning, it makes it easier to control.

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post #7 of 10 Old 02-04-2009, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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I suppose your 36 inch stand would have worked for my 6 1/2 foot frame.
Thats a good point to make. Another thing I would like to know is where tool storage, etc. works the best. I'm not too familiar with the usual workflow that experienced woodturners employ. I like the idea of cabinets underneath for storage.
How about waste extraction systems? I've seen oversize funnels for hooking up to vacuums that were behind the lathe. That don't make a lot of sense to me as most of the shavings fly out the front. That would have to be one powerful sucker to grab chips from back there.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-04-2009, 06:28 PM
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Gary, You are probably right on the height. I am only 5'10" so that would definitely make a difference. As for tool storage, I built a rack that hangs on the wall above the lathe that all my tools hang in. If you look in my photos under shop, there is a picture of my lathe and the tool rack. I also like the idea of storage underneath, my stand is open and I find that it becomes a catch all. I do not have dust collection at this point so I just sweep up the mess when I am finished. I have heard the funnels work good for sanding, but not sure about the rest. The main thing is to make something that is functional for your needs.

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post #9 of 10 Old 02-06-2009, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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One problem I see with a rack on the wall is you would be reaching over the lathe to get the tools. The users manual specifically states do not place your tools where you have to reach over or behind the machine to get them. I can see forgetting to shut down the machine and grabbing a gouge and getting your shirt tangled in the spinning work. A lathe setup I saw at the wood show had a rack behind at the tailstock extension end and I guess it worked well, the guy was good at his craft. I guess the ideal location would be in front somewhere but it seems that might get in the way too and be a shavings trap as well. What do you think?
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-06-2009, 08:10 PM
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I have that rack set at eye level so it really doesn't pose much of a risk. It doesn't collect shavings that way either. It is all about being functional for you. One thing you could do if you are going to build a cabinet is hang a rack on the side. It will be out of the way, but may make getting the tool you want a challenge. You could also mount it on the face of the cabinet on the right side of the tailstock, it will be out of the way and will not catch many shavings, it will make tool selection easier. Good luck and have fun with it.

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