How to Build Your Own Hobby Lathe

Written by hubbelp
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A lathe is a basic machining tool that functions by rapidly rotating a workpiece. This consistent rotation aids in cutting, sanding, shaping and drilling. Crude lathes have been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt. The modern lathe is extremely efficient but may be out of the price range or comfort level of the amateur hobbyist. Luckily, you can build a hobby lathe for simple projects using easily available parts.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Steel square (4 inch)
  • Steel rod
  • Welding torch
  • Two pillow-block bearings
  • Block of wood
  • Hand drill

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  1. 1

    Cut a square of steel for your faceplate. You can use a salvaged piece, but make sure that is free of blobs and blemishes. The exact measurement is up to you (4 inches should be fine for most jobs). Most important is that the piece be exactly square. For safety, file down the corners and sharp edges.

  2. 2

    Score your square with an "X" to prepare it for drilling. Finding the exact centre is crucial to the proper functioning of your lathe.

  3. 3

    Drill a hole in the centre using a 12mm bit. Go slowly and use cutting fluid to preserve your drill.

  4. 4

    Place the metal rod into the hole of the square. Weld it into place.

  5. 5

    Slide two pillow-block bearings onto the rod at about one third and two thirds the length.

  6. 6

    Drill four even holes into the faceplate 3/4 inch from each corner. This will enable you to screw your workpiece into place.

  7. 7

    Bolt the bearings onto a block of wood to hold the rod in place.

  8. 8

    Lock the rod into the base of your hand drill. The drill will be the motor that spins your lathe.

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