Simple homemade lathe?? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-10-2010, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Simple homemade lathe??

Tell me what you guys think of this idea for a homemade lathe.
I'm looking to turn bowls, I have a harbor freight lathe and am wanting a more solid and bigger machine. So, here is the idea I'll try my best to explain.
One big block of concrete probably 2' tall and 10"x10" square. Place bolts in the wet concrete to allow me to seat 2 pillow blocks onto the top of the concrete. Bolt down the pillow blocks and put a 1" shaft through them. The shaft will be from the harbor freight lathe so it will be ready to mount a chuck to and pulleys.
This will be more for bowl than anything so I don't need a tail stock. For saftey I would like to add a tail stock and that is what I'm not sure how to make. I'm wanting something really solid. The bed will be square tubing filled with concrete. The tail stock will be another block of concrete, smaller of course, with 2 nuts mounted withen the concrete at the top and have 3/4 inch threaded rod that will screw in and out of the 2 nuts.

What do you guys think?? Will this work or am I spinning my wheels??
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 08:42 PM
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should be ok and will have all the weight at the right places .

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post #3 of 7 Old 09-13-2010, 09:07 PM
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This buy started his large offcenter turnings with a concrete lathe. The tailstock rode on rails on the ground. I tried to find a photo of his lathe but couldn't. As I remember the headstock was about 5 feet tall and probably 3feet square at the bottom and tapered to about 16" or so at the top. He had very large pillow blocks on it.
Another guy who turned very large turnings was Ed Moultrhoup of Atlanta. Ed mounted a pillow block system on the top of an old cast iron table saw. Then he filled cans with lead and placed them inside the saw for weight.
so I believe your method will work. However if you want an easier way just buy this lathe. They have 2 bowl lathes that are priced very reasonably.
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-14-2010, 12:32 PM
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Do a google search for concrete lathe. I found several things including this.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-14-2010, 08:03 PM
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Waddyaknow? For inspirational bathroom reading I have a box of old woodworking mags and I stumbled on plans for a lathe from plywood. American Woodworker, #27 Aug 1992.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-15-2010, 07:51 AM
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Fine woodworking also had an article about home built lathes many years ago. I saved it for a long time thinking I would build one. I did finally build a spring pole lathe that I'm converting to a treadle lathe.
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-15-2010, 08:32 AM
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General lathe ramblings,might help somebody?

Never turned a bowl.But have "turned" some pretty big/heavy column bases.Well over 36" and thats column diam.,mucho larger at base.Anyhowour wimpy lathe would'nt know what to do with it in its wildest dream.So took a que from machineshop world and made a vert. turning cntr.Which consisted of a steel/wood lazy suzan to fit base.Then had a welded up adj circular track(mounted vert) for router.It worked too easy.But that prolly wouldn't work on bowls?Might could have it angled?So,iffin you ever get a ho tub sized bowl.........

I always had acess to some nice old Amurican "Iron" WRT lathes so never needed one here.Then this gotta have job shows up.Litterally went to Sears(20 years ago)one eve. and snagged their pole lathe.Knocked job out,paid for lathe,ect.ect.Its taking up too much realistate now and have a frind with a nice old turning lathe so ours is out the door.

IF,and thats considering all of the above,a lathe proper was needed here.........and this would include some hefty bases or bowls,I'd start with a significant chunk of steel I-Beam.In the 8-10 x 24 and as long as necessary.....prolly 6' long?This would be mounted on some serious skids,8x8 wood sections.Then go find a transmission out of an old truck,mount disc brake setup on outboard end or tailshaft.Then find an appropriate chuck.

Concrete is a wonderful thing.We've added in the last cpl years,several retrofit conc "chunks",precasted to fit several machine bases.It has worked just ok in the damping part.These are just bolted to exst. sheetmetal.Always thought if they were suspended on springs,as low as possible that it might be worth the effort?We've done some pretty gauldang impressive custom cast work with conc.Multi faceted,complex shapes.........So following is just some practical advice/info.

Stress risers really are a factor in conc world.No likey sharp corners.At the very least on iside corners of forms(this results in an outside corner on your cast)add a 45* chamfer pc.It really softens these subsequent outside corners.very worth the effort.We've even gone so far as to use cove mould.Work on trying to see where the conc. is in compression vs tension......where is the potential crack originating from?Radius that spot to move stresses further away.Another way you can approach it is with models.........uh and not computer models.Simply shoot up a real quick scale model,fill it with sackrete and then smack the ch*t out of it with a sledge hammer.Takes only a few minutes to build and pour,might save a little conc. this way down the rd.

You can strengthen key areas of your cast by running threaded rod in as rebar and using big honkin steel plates as wshrs with attendant nuts on outside,usually near tension side.These can also be utilized to hold form together.Gotta go........glues dry,BW

Last edited by BWSmith; 09-15-2010 at 08:34 AM. Reason: spelling
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