I love working outside. Fresh air and birds chirping. The dust flies away and the shavings don't bother anything until I feel the urge to shovel them into the wheelbarrow and spread them under the trees where they can help grow some more wood. But in the Canadian winter I have to move inside, so production moves to other things.

Improvements added to the lathe more recently.

1. reverse switch

2. extra cantilevered weight

3. extra large pulley for slower speed

4. a thrust bearing to reduce chatter

Total cost of large capacity 24" diameter bowl lathe:

Pipe, bearings, shaft, belt, All no cost scrounged materials.

Machining the shaft (1 inch 8tpi threads) - $20.00

Welding rod - $17.00

1 HP electric motor and pulley - $120.00

Electrics: on/off and reversing switches and boxes about $20.00

Large diameter (8 inch) pulley - $26.00

Total about - $200.00

For more pictures of my self made lathe click here.

Here is a picture of the lathe I welded together from galvanized fence posts. The arbor is from a defunct custom made lapidary grinder-sander that was assembled in South Africa, it has a one inch thick solid shaft which cost me $20 to have threaded and have a nut installed. The motor is one horsepower and the most expensive item on the lathe. The rest of the bits were scavenged from discarded metal. The cost of this lathe was minimal due to using scavenged parts. Instead of the banjo sliding on the lathe bed it is simply held in place with a bolt through the 4inch angle iron "bed" which has holes drilled at 5inch intervals. Though it does not show in this picture the lathe does have a rudimentary tailstock which can be used to apply pressure to the face of a bowl or platter that is held in the chuck to prevent unwanted fly-offs. The base is not visible here due to the shavings and logs piled on the base to give the lathe some mass, but the base consists of two 2inch pipes welded in a T shape so that the footprint is triangular. The T can be made quite large by inserting one and a half inch pipes into the base pieces thus allowing the size to be increased to the length of the pipe I have in hand.

Other specifications. The main posts are 4inch diameter with 3/16 inch wall thickness. The banjo is 2 inch angle iron with 1 1/4 (1 inch ID) inch pipe ends, one long and the other short. To tighten stuff I welded a bolt over a hole and used bolts with handles welded on the head for convenience. The banjo slides on a bolt, thus allowing easy adjustment of the toolrest. Mail me if you want more information. It is a simple machine to build and works well.

John Williams Wood Turnings for Connoisseurs

My self-made lathe outside under a lean to in the backyard

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