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Want a lathe? Make one from junk

Want a lathe?  Make one from junk

This project is kind of mad, but the results could be pretty useful. Instructables user catwood guides you through the process of building a wood lathe from mostly discarded parts. Along the way you will need things like the motor from a washing machine and the frame from a bike. It might make sense to buy or construct a more sturdy piece of equipment if you plan to make wood turning a full time hobby, but for light duty projects I could definitely see this coming in hand.

16 thoughts on “Want a lathe? Make one from junk

  1. Dave says:

    I hope anyone who makes one considers the safety aspects. I’d definitely want an EPO (Emergency Power Off) button, as well as a way of ensuring that power is cut if the work piece becomes unbalanced or flies off the spindle. There may be other safety features to consider, too.


  2. docree says:

    I remember a simple lathe on tv.
    It involved a flexible piece of wood on top attached to a strap of leather that was then attached to a board on a hinge at the base. The flexible wood acted as a spring the leather as a grip and the hinged board as a foot pedal. When a person stepped down on the pedal the leather would have enough tension to grip and turn the object. And when the pedal released the tension was loose and would not grip the object. Thus the turned object only spun in one direction.

  3. Chris W says:

    That was probably Roy Underhill on the Woodwright’s Shop. I remember him showing how to build one.

  4. John says:

    Yeah, he does actually go into quite a lot of depth to do with safety aspects – building in an emergency off, no volt release switch, and even a rapid stop electronic break! Woodturning is generally quite dangerous the way most people do it though.

  5. cranky_EE says:

    All being equal, it’d be cheaper & quieter to make one like this:

    1. Brady says:

      Well I give 95 for creativity!:) I bet the folks over at would love to discuss this contraption! Safety is a huge concern on projects of this nature, especially when the blade with be turning at such a high revolution.

  6. says:

    been cutting wood for over 35 years still got all my fingers

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