How to Make an Antique Manual Lathe How to Make an Antique Manual Lathe

What You'll Need
24 inch iron bed
Bolts and nuts
Aluminum spacer blocks
1/4 HP or larger motor
1/4 inch or larger tool bits
#2 and # 3 Morse tapers
Bored through spindle
Spur drive
Tailstock center
Several sizes of faceplate for bowl turning
Protective overalls, eye goggles and working gloves

A manual lathe is useful and versatile equipment with the capability of producing high quality work. Before starting to make one, consider setting aside a considerable amount of time for the project. It is possible to make one and it can be used in different applications as desired. The scope of the type of duties to be performed by the machine can be a basis for design considerations.

Step 1 – Buy Necessary Materials

Obtain the materials from hardware store or lumberyard supplies. Make sure to get a ¼ inch HP or larger motor with V-belt cone pulley. This is important for speed selection as it gives more precise speed control.

Pay maximum attention while working with power tools so as to avoid injuries or accidents. Clear enough area to provide a comfortable working space.

Step 2 - Make the Bed

Obtain rails by cutting from the bed frame; these will be used for two lathes. Cut the longer pieces to be 1 ½ inch wide and 3/32 inch thick while steel fold the shorter parts to be 1/16 inch thick. The steel folded parts are to be used for the bases.

Use aluminum spacer blocks to bolt heavy gauge steel tubes together to make the cantilevered bed assembly. Leave a 1 inch space between them and check the tubes are perfectly straight when belted up. 

Weld the shorter pieces of tube together across the bed tubes at each end to provide the feet.

Step 3 – Make the Headstock

It should be made from heavy cast iron, with a 1 inch shaft and large sealed diameter bearings. Cut the base and vertical sections from 1 inch steel plate. Mill a slot in the base plate; this will be used to fit in the vertical plate. Make sure to jig up clamp and weld it.

Turn at each end the heavy steel tube and insert the bearings. Mill out a slot in the bottom of the tube and fit it to the vertical section, finish by clamping it up and welding. Turn the shaft to the bearing size and turn a 1 inch B.S.F thread on one end. Turn the other end to 1 inch to and fit a 3 – ring pulley.

Drill a hole and tap it to the business end of the shaft and put in the spur drive.

Step 4 – Construct Tailstock

Use heavy cast iron with a 1 inch shaft and large diameter sealed bearings. Slot mill the base, fit the vertical section and weld it. Align two heavy metal threaded blocks on the vertical section and fit a threaded shaft.

Fit a handwheel to one end and a live center with a number of replaceable center shells on the other.

Step 5 – Join the Parts

Obtain the bottom of the body which was rested on the bed and relieve on the milling machine to leave a 1 inch section. This should fit in between the bed tubes by clamping its bottom with a milled steel plate.

Loosen the clamp and slide the tailstock along the bed and clamp it to working position.  Obtain five banjo casting, bore and thread them at the ends. Use a clamp to lock the banjo in position on the bed.

Make levers from ¾ inch round bar steel and thread them at the ends.

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