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Completed Homemade Lathe

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Completed Homemade Lathe

Unread postAuthor: skyjive » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:39 pm

So unfortunately this post comes right after inonickname posted his pics of his awesome actual lathe, but here it is anyway. I just finished this after about 4-5 days using no precision tools, or power tools apart from an 18V hand drill. Some pics:

Here is the full lathe, with a yardstick on the workbench in front of it for scale

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Here is the headstock. I used a 1/4 HP motor I scavenged from an old fan. The spindle is a 5/16 threaded rod. The wood block on the spindle near the motor is a sort of thread converter, which attaches the stubby little worm gear sticking out of the motor to the spindle rod.

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Despite my lack of any precision tools a combination of being very careful lining things up and scavenging useful parts allowed precise construction (well, mostly). The spindle rotates inside bearing stolen from skateboard wheels, which are a perfect fit for 5/16 rod. This allows the spindle to rotate without any perceptible wiggling or vibration, since it goes through two bearings embedded about 6 in apart in the two wooden supports.

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Here is the faceplate, with my extremely ghetto attempt at a system for gripping and centering workpieces which uses the ability of the screws to be tightened to the same distance from the axis. Same idea as a christmas tree stand.

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At the other end, we have the tailstock, which slides along the wooden rails which it grips using pieces of aluminium angle. The chuck is stolen from a broken hand drill and has 3/8" capacity to hold a center or a drill bit.

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Since some things are still marginally out of alignment despite my best efforts the precision I can get is somewhat limited, but it is certainly capable of handling coarser operations, although I'm limited to wood and pvc for the most part due to the low HP of the motor.
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Unread postAuthor: CpTn_lAw » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:05 pm

VERY impressed :o
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Unread postAuthor: jonnyboy » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:37 pm

That's really cool could be a good project for later. How much did this cost you?
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Unread postAuthor: skyjive » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:50 pm

Only cost me about $20 worth of wood, screws, rods, aluminium angle and so forth, because I was able to scrounge the motor, chuck, and bearings for free.
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Unread postAuthor: inonickname » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:44 pm

Don't be too jealous, I'm about to go spend an hour (more..) clearing packing grease from absolutely everywhere.

Though seriously, quite cool :wink: homebuilding a lathe has always been something I'd like to do..but now that I have a big metal one there's little reason to do that. Though, I could make a wood turning one to make wood parts to complement metal things I make to sell..

I had foam blocks (for lost replacement casting) made up to make a comm lathe (to turn/touch up commutators on RC cars) but I decided to pay up and go brushless in every car. Anyway..

Excellent, some packing grease and turps is calling me..
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Unread postAuthor: far_cry » Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:21 pm

good work dude

it will take some time to center the part you want to work with

and don't try work with steel stuff with it
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Unread postAuthor: Mitchza89 » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:07 pm

Outstanding mate! I love it. Your best bet is to stay with materials that are easily workable like Nylon, HDPE and good old PCV. Anything else may be a bit much for the motor.

I'm so making me one of those!
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Unread postAuthor: inonickname » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:11 pm

I think the construction will begin to chatter before the motor can't turn the work. Hell, anyone who's used mini/micro lathes often has problems with the things shaking themselves to death if they aren't bolted to a benchtop, as the benchtop is significantly stronger than the beds..

Sticking to easy to machine plastics and wood spinning may be a good idea.
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Unread postAuthor: skyjive » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:01 pm

Thanks for all the kind words everyone.

I have clamped it down to the bench so it stops vibrating so much, but there is still a bit of chatter due to the inevitably imperfect alignment of the axes of the headstock and tailstock. That being said, it still works ok.

And @ inonickname, if you want to make a wood lathe, I'm sure it will be a breeze with your metal lathe. You really need precision tools to make precision tools. During the construction process I was ready to kill for 5 minutes with a drill press, it took me three hours to bore the hole for the chuck in the tailstock in a way that lined up with the axis of rotation very closely.
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Unread postAuthor: POLAND_SPUD » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:01 am

a good electric drill can be used as a kind of ghetto lathe...

if the chuck accepts the part you want to machine it should be ok.. that's how I cut o-ring grooves

@skyjive
nice work... but I think you'd be more satisfied more if you would use more metal patrs in the construction but still I am impressed
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Unread postAuthor: ramses » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:14 am

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Unread postAuthor: inonickname » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:32 pm

@ ramses, casting a lathe like that would be fun, but with the amount of time it takes you could be doing very, very basic work and be able to afford a generic mini lathe easily, which could well be more accurate.
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Unread postAuthor: ramses » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:39 pm

Yeah, but this way you get an excuse to play with fire and build a foundry. I don't have the patience for that kind of casting; when I HAVE to have a cast part (like my metal 2 liter bottle cap), I make a plaster mold and pour pennies melted on my grill into that. the bottle cap cost me around $1...
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Unread postAuthor: maverik94 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:08 pm

I must say... 'uber-cool'
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