I was inspired to try building a hobby wood lathe when I acquired a 3/4 HP utility motor. It is capable of turning small parts and separates from its rolling base, which can also be used as a workbench.
Hobby Wood Lathe
(Winter 2019-Summer 2019)
Building the Lathe
I started by making a design in Google Sketchup. The motor powers a shaft with interchangible tools. It slides along a set of tubes to accomodate different size pulleys. The tailstock slides along another tube and is secured by a cam.
After setting up a makeshift toolrest, I tried shaping a test piece. It cut, but with a truly unnaceptable level of tearout.
After bringing the toolrest closer and sharpening my dull chisel, I was satisfied with my new results. The piece still had some tearout, but with the setup I had, I was amazed it worked as well as it did.
Designing & Building the Base
At this point, I had a semi-functional lathe, but nothing for it to rest on during use. I was also beginning to realize this project was going to take up a lot of space when it was finally done.
My solution was a multi-purpose rolling base. The lathe securely bolts into the base during use, but when removed, a tabletop, permanently attached by a hinge at the back, converts the stand into a useful work surface.
5 nuts are held captive in the base with through holes on the surface. This allowed me to attach various tools, including my vise, drill press and bench grinder to the surface when desired. All of my mounted tools were attached to 3/4" pieces of plywood with the same hole pattern which allowed me to easily secure them at various locations throughout the shop.
With a functioning stand, I clad everything in plywood to make it safer, protect the workings from debris, and to make it a bit more sightly.
The cart rolls on four locking casters, and features storage underneath for tools. The top panel is hinged, allowing acess to the motor when needed.
At this point, the lathe was almost done, but not quite ready to safely use.
I made a toolrest which adjusts along both horizonal axes. This lets the lathe accomodate pieces of varying length and cross section.
I made some additional headstock tools for different types of work pieces. The screws would allow me to hold very small pieces without support from the tailstock. One day I'd like to use them to make a chess set.
Lastly, I built the hinged work surface I'd designed in Sketchup. It converts the stand into a very useful rolling workbench and hangs off the back when the lathe is installed.
Beneath the 5 metal plates in the bottom image are the captive screws designed for tool mounting. The clamping action of the nuts not only holds tools in place, but also keeps the benchtop firmly against the base for a solid work surface.
To demonstrate, I attached this bench grinder, which clamps into the four outside nuts. With the casters locked and the grinder held by thumb screws, I now have a sturdy grinding stand anywhere I need it in the shop.