1940 Craftmens Lathe

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Project by Chsalas posted 04-21-2014 12:47 AM 2703 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

my Good Friend Captain Bob had this old relic sitting in his workspace, not doing anything. So he said if I could get it up and running I could use it for as long as I wanted. Since he has had it doing nothing since 1985, I figure that I may inherit this one day.

It’s a 1940 Craftsmen Lathe made by Atlas tool of Kalamazoo Michigan.

A few weeks building the stand (all wood) and a few trips to WoodCrafters for tail stock, 4 jaw chuck, lathe tools and other MT2 accesseries,and bam, UP. It runs good, little lube on the bearings and woop woop i’m turning wood. It works great. I’ve made 4 bowls so far, and will post pics next. I used an old motor from a table saw, I just orderd a 4 step pulley for the motor so I can control speed and actually slow it down.

I will post my first 4 pieces next.

First time turning on (and really worried) video

First laminated piece mounted, and once again worried it was gonna come screaming off


please comment, I have 6 peices total on this so I have 6 turns worth of knowledge. If anyone has any tips for me, please speak up.

I’m using Easywood tools, love’m. They are easy compared to the actual tools you have to sharpen, I spent 2 days on sharpening my original tools, so F-that. I want to turn wood, not sharpen tools.

-- I make the best sawdust!

5 comments so far

View jeff's profile


1403 posts in 4748 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 02:22 AM

Looks like a solid lathe,congrats…Slowing down your work piece with a step pulley was a good and safe idea…I sharpen my tools but many folks seem to really like those carbide tools…I started off turning pens probably like so many other beginners and recently turned a dozen or so bottle stoppers…Looking forward to start turning larger projects like bowls and peppermills…Have fun…........

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View doitforfun's profile


199 posts in 2890 days

#2 posted 04-21-2014 12:27 PM

I’m stealing your motor mount plan for my bandsaw. Hinges. So simple and perfect.

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

View TechTeacher04's profile


478 posts in 2814 days

#3 posted 04-22-2014 12:52 AM

I agree with doitforfun. Slow down. Once the turning is round and balanced you can increase speed. Rough can be done at a slow speed. Refining the shape at a higher speed and faster yet for sanding and finishing.

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3663 days

#4 posted 04-23-2014 05:10 PM

Looking good. I have a ‘58 Craftsman lathe. Snag a cheap used treadmill and convert to variable speed, it’s worth it. I tried the motor on a hinge and never got around the vibration issues. I moved the motor below the lathe with the belt coming straight up and it runs much smoother. Check my blogs if you want to see what I did. Also I cringed when that tool fell point first onto concrete, ouch.

-- Rick M,

View woodshopmike's profile


226 posts in 2946 days

#5 posted 04-23-2014 06:33 PM

Carbide tools are great for getting you comfortable at the lathe no doubt. I’d like to correct one thing that has been suggested to you. Do not turn your lathe faster to sand than you do for you’re final shaping.

Here’s why, higher speed creates more heat which does 2 things. One, greatly increases the likelihood that the wood will develop cracks due to a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the bowl. Two, that extra heat will degrade your abrasives very quickly. Sandpaper is expensive enough as it is without just wearing the stuff out prematurely.

So really, you want to be running in the 300 range for stuff you’ll be making on your lathe. If it’s spindle work you’re making, then go faster than that because the surface speed is slower on a 2” diameter spindle than on a 9” diameter bowl.

BTW, I have an old craftsman lathe in addition to my bowl lathe. Your model is the one I’d prefer over my 50’s era.

Good luck!


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