How to make a homemade wood lathe

Written by ezmeralda lee
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A woodworking lathe is the perfect tool to turn square and rectangular pieces of wood stock in to turn round wood pieces. These pieces can be used in furniture and wood projects that require a round edge to parts which will make up the wood piece you are creating. If you do not have a wood lathe in your workshop to create these turned pieces into what you need, consider an easy to build homemade wood lathe that will work perfectly for small jobs that need to be turned out quickly.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Adjustable speed hand drill
  • Drill
  • Stock metal 4-inch by 4-inch by ¼-inch thick
  • 30-inch Steel dowel rod ½-inch diameter
  • 2 Pillow block enclosed bearings with ½-inch diameter centre opening
  • 1-inch x 6-inch by 36-inch Pine board
  • 4 2-inch Wood screws
  • 4 ½-inch diameter Nuts and bolts
  • Welder
  • Chisel

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut and weld the stock metal 4-inch by 4-inch by ¼-inch thick metal base plate where you will attach your woodworking piece for turning. Find the centre of the metal plate by running straight lines from corner to corner, creating an "X" in the centre of the piece. Be sure to weld the plate onto the 30-inch steel dowel rod ½-inch diameter so that it is square and true, so that it will turn without any wobbles during use.

  2. 2

    Drill holes through the metal 4-inch by 4-inch by ¼-inch thick metal base plate around the centre weld and dowel so that you can attach your stock wood piece to the base plate passing 4 two-inch wood screws through the holes in the base plate and into the stock wood piece to be turned with your new homemade wood lathe.

  3. 3

    Secure the pillow block bearing onto the 1-inch by 6-inch by 36-inch pine board with 20 inches in between the two. These pillow block bearings will support the lathe shaft so that it turns level and flat when in use.

  4. 4

    Pass the end of the shaft and base plate fixture through the pillow block bearings so that you can attach the end of the shaft into the hand held power drill which rests on the baseboard of your homemade wood lathe. Secure the shaft into the drill and turn the drill on. Now that the pieces are all connected, when the drill is activated, it turns the shaft in the pillow block bearings, which turns the lathe base plate round and true when in use.

  5. 5

    Secure a stock piece of wood to be turned onto the lathe base plate using 4 two-inch wood screws through the back of the lathe base plate on the end of the shaft through the 4 holes you drilled into the base plate. Secure the stock piece of wood onto the lathe securely, which will allow you to turn the lathe on and cut the square or rectangular stock pieces of wood into lathe-turned woodworking pieces for construction or art.

Tips and warnings

  • Lubricate the Pillow Block Bearing before each use to be sure that your lathe shaft turns true and round without wobble.
  • Always wear safety equipment when building and using this homemade wood lathe. Because of the metal chips created during drilling of wood pieces created during turning of wood, always wear safety glasses and protective gear to stay safe during operation and construction of this homemade wood lathe.

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