My First Lathe

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Blog entry by ChuckV posted 04-20-2013 08:57 PM 3430 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I would like to be able to incorporate turned pieces into my projects. About a month ago, I attended a three-day spindle turning workshop at North Bennet Street School in Boston. The workshop was great and I came away with some good ideas about what I should look for in a lathe to get started in spindle turning. I also came away with my first useful turned pieces:

After a few false starts, I connected with the type of lathe I was looking for about an hour’s drive from my house. It is a Rockwell International model 46-111. Based on the serial number, the machine was manufactured in 1974. The lathe is mounted on the metal stand that was sold as an option. It has a great GE 1/3 HP motor – from the days when a horsepower meant something.

The stand was the part that needed the most work. One of the angle iron cross pieces was bent, there were some missing connectors, and it needed to be painted.

Here are some pictures of the original condition:

There was quite a bit of vibration, especially at the lower speeds. I did a few things to try to fix this. I installed a link belt, replaced the bent angle iron on the stand, made a plywood shelf for the bottom, and added some steel sheets above and below the stand top where the motor hangs. The vibration is greatly reduced. Now it is only noticeable at the lowest speed, and it is much less than it was. If I decide to try to reduce the vibration even more, I will attach a piece of MDF to the underside of the stand top. The user’s manual that I downloaded from shows that there was some sort of board on the underside of the stand top that mine no longer has:

Other than that, I just cleaned things and waxed the bare cast iron. I want the lathe to work well and look decent. The bed cleaned up nicely and is dead flat. The centers align correctly, the bearings are fine, and the tool rest and tail stock work as designed.

Here are some recent pictures:

There was a box of “extras” included.

Some if it is junk, but there is some good stuff too. There are the other two tool rests that came standard when the lathe was new. There is also a 24” tool rest that was sold as an option.

These rests all look like they were not used. The 24” rest requires a second support base. I got a second one in that box, but there are some parts missing. Between eReplacementparts and the hardware store, I was able to find them all. The parts from eReplacementparts should be here in a few weeks.

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

11 comments so far

View clieb91's profile


4215 posts in 4948 days

#1 posted 04-20-2013 09:14 PM

Nice looking score on that Lathe. Looks like it cleaned up nicely. That 24” tool rest is something neat.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View alph's profile


11 posts in 2876 days

#2 posted 04-20-2013 09:28 PM

AWSOME! i love lathes so i can relate to your project!!

great job!

-- alberto angelo

View punk's profile


181 posts in 3429 days

#3 posted 04-20-2013 10:56 PM

looks good i bought one a lot older and love it, the next thing you might want to do buy a nice used dc motor with varible speed fairly cheep on ebay, its like going from a yougo to a cattie it saves a lot of belt changeing for differnt speeds you have one of the better old deltas you will realy like it.i notice in your box of parts a old style tail stock wondering if you might want to sell it thank you

-- Punk in PA

View ChuckV's profile


3359 posts in 4541 days

#4 posted 04-21-2013 12:20 AM


Unfortunately, that old tail stock is part of the junk. It is broken, as you can see here:

If you just want it for some of the parts, send me a PM.

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 3511 days

#5 posted 04-21-2013 12:30 AM

If you want zero vibrations and really smooth turning then lay several sandbags on that lower shelf. You’ll be amazed at the way they soak it up. 2-3 hundred pounds is good.
Happy turning.

-- [email protected] : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3817 days

#6 posted 04-21-2013 12:43 PM

ChaChing…. looks like a gr8 score. You’ll be havin much fun with this baby. How did that link belt perform for ya? Thnx in advance.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View ChuckV's profile


3359 posts in 4541 days

#7 posted 04-21-2013 12:55 PM


The link belt really seems to help. The motor hangs from the top by a hinge. This provides the belt tension as well as making it easy to change the belt to another set of pulleys. With the original belt, there was a lot of bouncing of the motor on startup. Now it works much more smoothly.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had to use a 3/8” link belt to replace the 1/2” rubber belt. A 1/2” link belt rides too high in the pulley and rubs on the top guard when in the position shown in one of my photos above.

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

View Roger's profile


21051 posts in 3817 days

#8 posted 04-21-2013 01:28 PM

Thnx Chuck. Very good. Appreciate the reply and info. My old ‘50’s Craftsman TS runs very good, but, I’ve been thinking of putting one o these link belts on it to help it along even more. I look at them every time I’m in the HF store here.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Porchfish's profile


862 posts in 3546 days

#9 posted 04-21-2013 01:45 PM

Chuck V ,the lathe is looking good, and you are off to a good running start turning ! Keep going !

don s. Porchfish @ Porchfish studio , Havana (florida)

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View Bluepine38's profile


3388 posts in 4099 days

#10 posted 04-21-2013 06:10 PM

Good lathe, I have a slightly older model and really like it. The only thing I can suggest is that you raise
the lathe bed above the bench top with some sturdy spacer blocks. It will make it a lot easier to mount
and remove the banjos/tool rest supports without having to slide the tailstock on and off the bed. I have
rather large hands, so you may not need the extra space for access, but it does make it easier to clean under
the bed. The nice thing about link belts, you can just add a few more links, you will not have to buy new

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3853 days

#11 posted 04-23-2013 01:05 AM

Looking good Chuck!
I like it.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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