Tools have a mind of their own. #1: Now, Boys! No need for jealousy.

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Blog entry by Sawdustonmyshoulder posted 02-18-2015 04:11 PM 2124 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have owned a Delta Midi Lathe for several years… I mean maybe decades. Turned lots of pens, table legs, peppermills, chair rungs, and such. We’ve had our fun times and we’ve had our little spats, of course. Not going to mention that piece of maple you threw at me in ‘99. I’ve had very little trouble from this lathe. I did have to replace the tail stock thrust handle but that was my fault. Heavy-handed that day.

Now, and only now this midi lathe has starting giving me trouble. Could it be the ‘new’ lathe on the block? I recently took in a wayward Delta 46-715 full size lathe. It had been abused by it’s former owner (speculation on my part, of course). Its drive mechanism was gone! I mean ripped out by the roots. Not even the speed handle was left without damage. This poor lathe was in pitiful shape. It didn’t show any outward signs of abuse. No rust. But once you got to know the lathe… well, the deep down damage could be seen. A treadmill motor and controller added to a few parts from Radio Shack was all it needed. Now there is a very large pile of mahogany chips on the floor around its legs. I can faintly see a little gitty-up in its step. How touching, right?

Well, enter Mr. Midi. I was using it to turn four finials over the weekend when I detected a little bumping. I didn’t give it much thought. I just chalked it up to my imagination. I went to change speeds and what to my eyes did I see but a loose thread in the headstock. What? Could this lathe be chewing on its drive belt? I pulled the thread thinking that it was loose. No, it was attached! The drive belt was toast. Cracked. About to break!!!

I had a little talk with the midi and assured it that it was not going to be the next eBay victim at the Sparks’ house. I planned on using it for all my small projects because that was what it did best. And I detected a little smile on its face and a tear in its eye when I told midi about the new belt I bought yesterday.

I hope happiness and harmony is coming back to the shop by the weekend when that new belt arrives.

Take care of your tools, guys. Both physically and spiritually. A little oil and a kind word goes a long way.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

5 comments so far

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4249 days

#1 posted 02-18-2015 04:54 PM

I have tolded you and tolded you, do not anthropomorphise your lathe, it will walk off and leave you.

-- As ever, Gus-the 82 yr young apprentice carpenter

View MrsN's profile


988 posts in 4690 days

#2 posted 02-18-2015 05:00 PM

Thanks for the smile!

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 02-18-2015 05:30 PM

I am keenly interested in how you modified the broken lathe to accept a treadmill motor and controller. What are the speed ranged you can get? How much torque do you get? Can you give details no how you did it?

It seems that to get a lathe with a variable speed motor, you have to spend over $1,000. Anything less and you get the Reeves drive, most of which only slow down to around 600 rpm. So I thought I could get an inexpensive lathe and add a variable speed motor to it.

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 4792 days

#4 posted 02-18-2015 07:31 PM

LJackson, I did a LJ blog about my lathe refurbish project:

Here is the starting entry:

I get from 0 – 2800 rpm out of my lathe because of the pulley sizes and the motor controller settings. The torque is great because the motor controller keeps the lathe running at a constant speed so as it tries to slow down, the motor controller sends more voltage to the motor to keep the pace. Sweet!

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2758 days

#5 posted 02-18-2015 09:05 PM

Seeing what you have done to the bigger lathe, I can relate to the jealousy of the midi.

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