All Workshop

Lathe Saga

This is just a post that is a compilation of all the Lathe articles…

img_00000064 Before – – – – – – – – – – -> After img-20121010-00136

After years of searching for the perfect lathe and experimenting with garage sale finds, I was introduced to a guy that was thinking of selling his.  As soon as he said it was too heavy to move, I was interested.

After dismantling into a dozen or so parts, we loaded into my truck.  What I thought were plastic driveway markers, turned out to be rebar…the paint on my 3,000 mile truck was no match for one of them and it left an 8″ scratch right down to the metal.  OUCH!

So after 3 months of sitting in the shed, I finally got around to cleaning it up.  One thing let to another and now I have a pile of parts and a schematic I found on the Internet.

Here are the pics so far.

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Like most of my projects, I am not satisfied with the status-quo.  This usually means the project develops as I am working on it.  After completely dismantling the lathe, I started planning the many upgrades to the original design; some to update, some cosmetic and some better engineering.

  • I was not happy with the fit and finish so the cast iron parts were re-shaped with a grinder and a belt sander.
  • The motor mount was not the original one so I made one to fit.
  • The upper v-belt requires the main shaft to be partially removed in order to change it. Rockler had the link belt on sale so I purchased enough for both belts.  I hope it reduces vibrations like they claim.
  • All the unnecessary holes in the base were filled.
  • The smaller support cabinet was wasted space.  I cut the front off and a metal frame with brackets was welded together.
  • Next: modify the front access panel to be a hinged door.

I still need to pick a color scheme…

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The lathe is finally coming along.  I am now starting to paint the parts.  So far the following is complete:

  • Completely dismantled and inspected
  • Every part cleaned and polished.
  • Cast parts have all been smoothed with grinder and belt sander
  • Center divider for base cabinet(s) removed
  • Holes in motor cabinet welded (thanks Jimmy!)
  • Access door cut into front of the support cabinet
  • Frame welded, rails welded and 100 lb. slides mounted



Cabinet interior



DAP1690 – Self-Etching Primer

2 – 4

DAP1698 – Black Hot Rod Primer

5 – 8

Lathe Body

BNS0570 – Nissan Cherry Red Pearl

9 – 10

Lathe Cabinets

No. 7515-838: Gloss aluminum

11 – 12

Top Coats

No. 249845: Rustoleum  Clear Gloss


Main drive almost fully assembledGetting close to the finish line!  All the parts except for the main body have made it into the shop.  I am waiting for some cooler weather to finish grinding the body and do the paint.

Indexing Knob

I had to repair the indexing knob that broke during dis-assembly.  Such a small part I thought would be cheap to replace.  I checked the Delta parts site and was amazed they were still available…for a small fee of $95 !!!  After rummaging at the local Hector’s, I found a stove knob and a stainless bolt may work.  I cut the head off the bolt and filed a flat spot on the end for the set screw to push against.

Pulley closeupThe variable speed pulley is an interesting device.  After rebuilding the assembly and getting the center section to move freely, it runs smooth and true.  As the center moves left, the motor side increases in diameter and the lathe runs faster.

Fast and locked

The handle was in rough shape.  The center bolt was bent and the cabinet was actually  caved in from excessive force on the adjuster.  After re-tapping the center shaft, painting the speed dial, grinding off the damaged steel and polishing the handle, it adjusts with little effort.  I added some rubber pool liner between the dial and the cabinet for better holding.
So far I have about 6 hours into the main body; the edges were all straightened and then beveled.  The faces were ground flat and the body lines were sharpened.


Start  ———————————————-> Finish (almost)

All the parts have finally made it into the shop.  I still need to work on the wiring, front motor access door and center divider.


Sometimes I think I spend too much time on the details.  After a long day at work dealing with impossible people, demands and projects, I find it relaxing to own a project from start to finish with no limits and deadlines.

I acquired a Dayton barrel switch from a friend which I planned to install on the lathe to add the ability to reverse the motor.  This is usually an option on more expensive models.  Unfortunately, I found that it was a parts unit and half the parts had been removed.  I found another switch and saved it from the trash only to find out it was a much older model and the parts were not an exact fit.  Some work with the band saw and the old and new worked well.

Not wanting to add the switch to the outside of the lathe I made a quick stop to Metal Supermarkets and found some steel and aluminum stock to extend the switch lever.  Replacing the stock screws on the top of the switch with 2″ stainless screws installed backwards made an easy way to mount the switch.  On to the next project… WF


After a week sorting out all the new wiring, i finally got to power on the lathe.  The first attempt, the motor sound labored and after a few seconds, I could smell the heat.  I re-verified the wiring and was confused by the new documentation and the hard to read label on the motor.  After calling tech support, I got the correct information and made a minor correction.

I tested the functions, forward, reverse, speed and all checked out.  Put a scrap of cedar in and turned it on…

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