Treadle Lathe #6: I'm feeling a little cranky...

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Blog entry by Texasgaloot posted 09-29-2008 03:57 AM 13966 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The Plot Sickens... Part 6 of Treadle Lathe series no next part

Since my last post on the treadle lathe, I was able to get a few things accomplished; some with outstanding success, some with not-so-outstanding… um…

In the last couple of weeks I haven’t really put much time in on this project, but I was able to get the tail stock cut and pared to fit snugly between the ways. I wanted a very snug fit, because I don’t want the tail stock to develop any bias in terms of turning longitudinally to the lathe. I was able to achieve a very snug fit; I need a mallet to slide it along the ways. The tail stock is held in place by a tusk tenon and wedge system. So far, the wedge is the only non-dimensional piece of lumber in the whole outfit that is a permanent part of the tool.


I also installed bearings in both the left and right sides of the tail stock, and hacksawed and shaped some more 1/2” steel dowel to form the center. The pin is held captive by stop collars. Not too slick, but they work.

Tail stock center

My goal for today was to get the treadle framework built and installed so that I could see if the geometry of the crank was going to work. A week or two ago I shortened the throw of the crank by about half, and have spent the ensuing time wondering why the cranks of other treadle lathes I’ve seen have been so short.

I figured it out.

View of crank

Note the Renaissance can of Watco in the background…

In the spirit of a grand experiment, which is what this tool is, I’ve discovered the long crank combined with the ways only being 30” tall makes me feel like I’m riding a bicycle that’s too small for me. I feel like I’m going to belt myself in the chin with my kneecap. (Could happen, I suppose.) I’ve also found that I have hinged the treadle a little too far inboard; the hinge bolts need to be more outboard on the sides. This is as simple as drilling new holes for the hinge bolts and telling everybody the old holes aren’t a mistake, it’s an adjustable lathe.

Treadle hinge bolts.

The important thing is that the tool works. I treadled it and got the flywheel rolling pretty good, even though the treadle creates too great an arc movement, I think.

Lathe assembled

I noticed after a bit that the flywheel really didn’t seem very enthusiastic about flying, and upon investigating I found that the left stop collar which I had JB welded to the left flange had failed—apparently the JB unwelded. I’ll need to remove the left end of the head stock and re-JB weld this, unless I can find someone to actually weld it for me, since I don’t weld.

Insubordinate weld

Next on my agenda is to make the modifications as noted, and try to create a drive pulley from laminating 3” disks. I need to rig up a tool rest, but that shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I also need to shape the head stock center so that it will form a star to grip the subject being turned, in order that I haven’t just created a treadle-powered boring machine. I’m getting closer all the time…

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

6 comments so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4051 posts in 4597 days

#1 posted 09-29-2008 04:55 AM

Can’t wait to see the chips fly!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View moonroc's profile


44 posts in 4221 days

#2 posted 09-29-2008 11:40 AM

Allmost there. Looking Good.

-- Richard

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4694 days

#3 posted 09-29-2008 05:31 PM


-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Hersh's profile


106 posts in 4248 days

#4 posted 09-29-2008 06:15 PM

You have done a good job with building your lathe, and writing the blog. I have been reading each segment with interest. Keep up the good work (writing and building).

-- Hersh from Port Angeles, WA - Gotta Complete That Project!

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4278 days

#5 posted 09-30-2008 08:52 PM

Tex, I was looking at a foot powered lathe in FWW #15. The crank length on this lathe is 2.5” o.c. That’s not much. It has a 24” flywheel. You may have to shorten that thing up again.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4287 days

#6 posted 10-03-2008 04:34 PM


Looks like you got it coming your way now, you will soon be turning on that puppy. Can’t wait to see some of the projects that come off of it.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

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