Troubleshooting a Mini Lathe

woodworker using a lathe
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-300

A mini lathe is a great tool to have if you have limited room, but would like to pursue a woodworking hobby such as lathe turning. As with any other kind of power tool, the lathe can stop working at any time due to problems with the machine, and you may find yourself unable to turn the lathe back on in the usual manner.

Often with a very small lathe, it can take an expert to repair the problem, but there are still some basic things you can do in order to avoid paying for a professional. On a mini lathe, this is much more complicated than with other lathes, as it is so small, but if you have the time to follow a few quick troubleshooting tips, then you will be able to fix your mini lathe in no time.

1. Check the Motor

If your mini lathe runs on a powered motor, then if the lathe stops working, you are likely to find that the problem is caused by this motor. There are a number of things you can do to get the motor going again, including adding lubricant to the engine, and replacing the drive belt of the motor. In a mini lathe, these things can be very small, so take the time to find suitable replacements before you begin removing any of the parts. Examine the motor regularly for signs of wear and tear which could cause breakdown in the future.

2. Check the Blade

The blade on a mini lathe may be much smaller, but it can still become blunt through constant use. If you put a lot of wood or metal through the mini lathe, then you are likely to find you have increasing problems with the cutting process, including pieces which are not properly cut, or which become jammed against the blade.

This is usually a sign you need to replace or sharpen the blade, so look for a replacement which is small enough to fit on your lathe. Replacing the part should not be too difficult, although if the blades are very expensive you may consider sharpening the existing one.

3. Check the Chuck and Spindle

Other parts of the lathe may also be problematic, such as the spindle, which can become broken or lose its teeth. When you are doing repairs, make sure you have the spindle in a good grip, either securing it using a specialist spindle device, or keeping it in position in another manner. This will help to prevent the spindle from breaking at a future point.

You should also check the chuck part of your machine is not stuck. This part can easily become jammed after it has been used for a while, and one solution is to force the chuck out of the mini lathe using a pry bar, or similar. The chuck will then need to be replaced.