My New (old) Lathe

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Blog entry by milbert posted 11-22-2012 10:29 PM 1859 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

With a lot of free time on my hands these days I decided to move into the dangerous and addictive land of woodturning. I’ve been dying to get a lathe now for about 3 years and trolling Craigslist (I’m on a college budget). I finally found a great deal on an old Craftsman so I decided to jump on it!

After I got it, I spent a couple hours cleaning and making sure everything moved like it was supposed to. I ran into one problem which was the motor has a slight bend in the shaft which makes it vibrate a little more than what would be ideal. Combined with the fact that it was mounted on one side with with a metal bracket (the other side was free floating, pictured above) I decided I needed to secure the motor to the table better and find a way to reduce the vibration. My solution was a double layered base with rubber feet (“shock absorbers”) sandwiched between.

Next up on my purchase list you ask? Turning tools of course! In an incredible stroke of luck I found a lady on Craigslist the next day that was selling many of her late husbands tools. I was able to pick up a set of 6 Robert Sorby turning tools in barely used condition! The lady had done her research and knew what they were worth… after talking with her for a while and showing me some of her husbands pieces, she told me she was pleased to see the tools go to someone who was just getting into turning and gave me a better deal than I could have dreamed of :-)

After only 4 days I feel like I’m getting a great handle on how to use all of the tools (I had only used a lathe a couple times before). Here are some pictures of some of my first turnings on some spare wood while I was getting used to the lathe and tools… the first are some things resembling chess pieces and the last two are a french rolling pin.

I’m already addicted! Feel free to leave me any good starter project suggestions in the comments. I am thinking about making a set of custom handles screwdrivers. Also I’m sure a lot of family members will be receiving Christmas gifts from my lathe this year :)

7 comments so far

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

558 posts in 5011 days

#1 posted 11-23-2012 12:23 AM

Christmas ornaments make great gifts. Allen wrenches can be modified to hollow them. Google and you tube are great friends. And this guy here tells you all kind of tricks.

Good luck.

-- jstegall

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3854 days

#2 posted 11-23-2012 12:43 AM

Great find!

I like your creative solution to reduce the vibration. You should find the model number and search the internet to find the manual however. Some older craftsman tools were actually designed for those ‘free floating metal bases’ The weight of the motor ‘floating’ is what give the belt the correct tension.

-- Steve

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4498 days

#3 posted 11-23-2012 03:20 AM

Great purchases practice will greatly improve your abilities

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View tomd's profile


2232 posts in 5265 days

#4 posted 11-23-2012 04:27 AM

I can hear the vortex sucking you in, happy turning.

-- Tom D

View murch's profile


1380 posts in 4119 days

#5 posted 11-23-2012 04:00 PM

Welcome to TA (Turners Anonymous). You’re in the right place for ideas about getting started already.
I started wood turning about 2 yrs ago and found this site to be a great resource.

Just a small bit of advice – wear safety glasses and stay out of the line of fire if you can.

Hope you have a great time at your new lathe.


-- A family man has photos in his wallet where his money used to be.

View Vince's profile


1334 posts in 4924 days

#6 posted 11-24-2012 07:10 AM

I had an old Craftsman lathe and I suggest you do two things. One – keep it clean and waxed and number two is change the belt to a link belt. It made a world of difference.

-- Vince

View Christophret's profile


150 posts in 3496 days

#7 posted 12-08-2012 03:38 AM

Nice work! Your obviously off to a good start. I’m pretty new at turning as well.
But I’ve restored a few machines along the way.
Do yourself a favor and try to find another motor.
It will make a big diffrence, trust me.
The link belt would be a help but a smooth running motor would be the ticket.
look for a 1/2” shaft, 1/3 HP @1725 rpm and your golden.
Hope this helps

-- I cut it twice and it's still too short!

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