Building a lathe from scratch

If I had a penny for every time somebody suggested that I should build a lathe, by now I’m pretty.

If I had a penny for every
time somebody suggested that I should build a lathe,
by now I’m pretty sure I’d have like a dollar. I’ve
had the idea to build of building one and for the
bearings, I was just gonna have a steel shaft that rotates and wooden blocks, like this,
and I figure that should work. So, I drew the lathe
up in SketchUp, and I printed out the end profile,
one to one, using my Big Print program.
And, I’m gonna use some used plywood to
try this experiment. The bed of the lathe is gonna be
these two pieces of hardwood, and then the head stock is gonna
be these pieces, like this. And the shaft is gonna mount
on wooden bearings on top, and then the tail stock
is gonna go together almost the same way, For gluing
the head stock together, I scraped off any varnish
off this used plywood where I’m gonna glue it, and
I also made some spacers to hold the middle part
at the right height. And, I almost forgot to
drill a hole, right here. I’m squaring up the hole
for a carriage bolt, which will be for holding
the head stock on. And, now to make the
bearing blocks, first I drill the screw holes
for mounting it, then I cut the block in half, and then I clamp it
back together, and then I drill a hole through it. I round the corners a
bit on the belt sander, just to save my
knuckles on it later. This is transferring the
pilot hole locations. So, I wanna put this on here as a pulley, but I really should
have a bit more thickness so I thought, why not just add
another step-pulley here. I drilled the hole
slightly under-sized but to make sure these
won’t spin on the shaft, I’m gonna cut a
key-way, right here. I’m using a nail as a key,
to keep the pulley from slipping on the shaft. I just realized I forgot to put
glue between those two disks, so I pried them apart again and now just putting
the glue in there. And, I almost forgot
to put the V-belt on. OK, got a clamp down
on the work bench and I’ve got a spacer here to
keep the motor at the right distance. Listen to all those
bearings now. I need a little bit
more belt tension. Now, with the groove turning
the large pulley, I can put the V-belt in that and
work on the smaller one. That’s a much better point.
Now I need a way to spin a work piece that’s up
against this point here, and the easiest would
probably be to just weld a couple of nails
to the side of the shaft but you got to have
a welder for that. Next thought was to
cut a thread on here and then grind some
points onto a couple nut that screws onto here. But,
again you need to have special tools for that,
so my thinking is to put a wooden sleeve on there and
some screws in on the edges to have some prongs here. So, these two washers
here are gonna act as a thrust bearing, and I have
to put those on now, because this part is not gonna come off. I’ve got the hole lined up close
enough, I can see through it, so I should be able to just
drive this nail in there. For the tail stock of this lathe
I’m just gonna have a shaft that’s clamped on here, and I’ll
need to grind a point on here that’s perfectly conical
smooth and centered. And, the way I did that for
the head stock worked out really well, so I rigged up a
temporary pulley on the shaft that’s actually for the
tail stock, so I can grind and smooth that point. Now, I just need to make
it a little bit smoother. Well, that came out nice. So, now I can bring
those points together really precisely. I
drilled the hole in the bearing block, it’s a
little large so I have some wiggle room, so I have
to sand the top block to tighten that up. Now, I just need some
kind of a tool rest. So, I’m figuring a board in here and then a block that
attaches here, and then this goes on here, and
a metal strip in here to protect it against
the chisels. Well, I’m actually ready to
do some wood turning on here.

100 thoughts on “Building a lathe from scratch”

  1. Quick question from someone who's not particularly savy on motors and the like: What kind of motor am I looking for for this project?

  2. All the projects u done are cool. I suggest u do something using the sashimono japanese woodwork techniques(with no nails or screws)

  3. Greetings, great videos, just I miss the plans for the project to know exact mdidas. I hope to do some project like this.

  4. Someone just got a shout out by Adam Savage:

  5. Hallo Matthias, klasse Arbeit – wieder mal – von Dir. Ich habe dieses Jahr vor, eine Trittdrehbank für den Mittelaltermarkt zu bauen. Im Hessenpark steht eine, an der werde ich mich orientieren.

    Dir alles Gute, und dass Dir nie die Ideen ausgehen 🙂


  6. Good evening! really liked your video and design . Would I like to follow their guidelines . I wonder how do I get the drawing with the measures of this project. I thank you!

  7. Didn't you put the two pullies on the wrong way? I would think that the small pully on the motor should be aligned with the large pully on the lathe, and opposite with the other two. That way you would be able to change the speed without having to shift the motor to the side.

  8. Olá Matthias…
    Desculpe, não falo ou escrevo em inglês!
    Admiro seu trabalho!
    Voce tem o projeto deste torno a venda?
    Como faço para adquirir?

  9. You logical, creative approach does wonders in bringing things to a more simple understanding! Nice lathe! All it needs now is a MW label somewhere! 😉

  10. Do you have plans, or even just the SketchUp drawing available? I'll be building a lathe in one week after I purchase the supplies. It's a beauty!

  11. ¿Cómo evitas que el eje de acero inoxidable recaliente y dañe la madera fija que la sujeta?
    How to prevent the stainless steel shaft overheat and damage the wood fixed to the subject?
    Greetings and thanks.

  12. Could you give me some advise on my drill press? The first problem I'm having is when the bits make contact with the work piece, they tend to wobble and create an oblong shape (drilling into copper with average titanium coated drill bits). The second problem I've had, is when I try to use the press and the adjustable table surface moves off to one side with the force of the drill. Regardless, it seems, of the force/ rpm used.

    I'm considering using a thin piece of steel and wedging it into the gap between the side of toothed strip going up the main upright column and the work surface adjustment crank housing. Possibly tac welding the strip in place…

    Advise/ input appreciated from anyone. Thanks.

  13. Wow. the fact that you don't have a lot of tools makes this more inspiring! I think I'm gonna try this out myself!

  14. I've built a smaller version of this with similar basic ideas but I get a lot of heat building up on the shaft, so much so that the bearing blocks became quite charred before I noticed. Do you think it is just an issue of lubrication (i'm just using some bike oil) or maybe I am running it at too high speed?

  15. Thank you for your video Matthias! Very important for the expensive equipment now. I'm from Russia, here today, the machine costs a fortune. Your machine is easy at a minimal cost, and everything works. Thank you for your work and the ability to share the experience!

  16. Would 2×4's work for the bed? I'm looking at some oak 2×4 pieces, looking at getting 6ft pieces so I can have a 40 inch working area. I need to make railing spindles to match existing spindles.

  17. Just discovered you and your channel. Amazing craftsmanship Sir, very well done!
    I wouldn't have thought this project had validity, but you've proven that wrong. I think I'll have to build one myself. One (unrelated) question for you; What's the little hinged compartment on the back of your table saw sled?

  18. Great project, I've wanted a lathe for a long time now I've seen what you have done I will have to give it a go when time permits. Have put it on my 'to do' list. Keep up the good work Matthias I really enjoy watching your videos. Thanks for posting them.

  19. 2:26 "I don't have specialized professional tools like screwdrivers, so I'll use this mallet instead."

  20. What type of belt do you use for the motor. Just bought a motor at a garage sale but don't know which type of belt to use. The motor looked just like the one you have

  21. Hi, have you tried the Korean joinery before? i have sean almost all of your videos but i did not see Korean joinrey

  22. I rly like your Videos, I learned so much! But could you tell me something about your rpm? How fast can your lathe run and what is your minimum rpm. What is on your opinion the fastest rpm with which you can run your construction Safely? would be 3000 rpm possible? And my final question: what is the appropiate torque needed to turn something? Are 3 NewtonMeter enough? I know these are many question, it would be great if you have time to answer me.

  23. my lathe is a drill with a modified bit and a block of wood with a nail in it all attached​ to a work mate so this is awesome!!!

  24. I love the fact that while most channels are like "Heres a thing…. Heres 15 minutes of me talking about the thing… Heres 5 minutes of build (or less)" Whereas this guy just goes "Ok, heres the thing I'm gonna build, the rest of the video is the build process"

  25. I think I'll end up watching all your videos eventually. I think they are brilliant. They contain basic woodworking skills, problem solving, engineering challenges, thriftiness, and they are entertaining even if none of those things interest the viewer. As a beginning woodworker, I find them very inspirational. If I'd only had the space for it, I'd get through many of your project builds some day. As it is, I have a tiny British garage (the kind that doesn't really fit a car – at least not if you're planning on getting out of it or into it while it's in the garage), so there is only space for a workbench, a little bit of building material storage, and some tools. I want to squeeze in a lathe and a table saw too, but anything else would have to be collapsible to be tucked away when not in use.

  26. U Need To Put A Belt Tensioner Wheel Under The Belt So It Pushes Up & Down On The Bottom Of The Belt, So It Keeps It Tightness, By Using A Spring Attached To The Wheel Mount And Bench / Bottom Board.

  27. The best part is, you can use your lathe to either make another lathe, or improve this one. It's the tool that can make itself.

  28. Could this be improved with very little price difference by just adding ball bearings in the support brackets? You could get cheap threaded end ball bearings and just bolt them to the bracket

  29. I wish someone would show making a precision equipment how our anscestors wold have first started. Everyone is just regurgitatingbtheir the same shit. Not once have I seen anyone show from primative under sick Conditions on the run how even a uniform hole could have been drilled and a straight saw cut. How was even a saw made when they had no metal. Or a drill bit. I could only get as far as compensating the head and tail stock for allingment but not the whole envisionment. And that was theoritically with metal saw, and a metal bit. I am asking everyone's help to get a land grant. 347-794-4124 the land I am on is up for immediate destruction and I didn't get a notification or buyout offer. HELP!

  30. I have had this lathe for a few months.>>>   It is a great lathe for someone that wants to try turning but does not want to spend the money for a larger lathe. I have turned out 35 tops, 5 hair pins, 4 small vases and one ring bowl. I had to force my self to walkaway with all the time I was spending in the garage. I would recommend to all my friends and family.

  31. Es wäre doch mal Interessant, eine mittelalterliche Drehbank mit der Mechanik von heute zubauen. Statt eines schwingenden Stamm, mit Fahrradkette und Gewichten zuarbeiten….

  32. Nice project. Please Sir DESCRIBE, Is motor AC/DC. What's motor house power and single phase or three phase motor Please Reply it.

  33. Matthias, if you see this message… I sure would be interested to hear an update from you about how well the wooden bearings have worked out over time. Thank you!

  34. I enjoy spending time on their website. Aside from the wide range of boats to choose from [ Check Details Here=> ] there is so much back up information on the actual construction as well as the ancillaries required to complete that how to make a boat entirely. Great site.

  35. how much would you pay for a motor? Most of the ones I see on ebay are well over $200. Where can I pull one of these out of?

  36. This has given me some good food for thought, I'm currently designing a lathe for my own shop and there are some good ideas here. I don't want to tell my grandmother how to suck eggs but please close your shirt cuffs when at the table saw, it made me cringe every time those flaps of cloth came close to the blade…
    Keep up the good work

  37. yeah so
    since I'm not a wizard
    I guess I will just buy one lol
    Or when you are on this level only then are you ready to lathe

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