Bowl turning lathe

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Project by generic posted 09-19-2014 01:27 PM 7858 views 25 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I come from that school of try to make it first..
I wanted a lathe for turning bowls that are made from pieces of my scraps. ( segmented bowls I believe )
I figured, what the heck, they made bowls on homemade lathes 100 years ago that ran on foot power so why wouldn’t mine work.
It will turn up to a 25 inch bowl and it has a variable speed 2HP motor on it. Wish me luck!!

I don’t know if it’s my camera that stinks or my photographic skills? sorry about the blurry pics..

-- TMF

22 comments so far

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 4428 days

#1 posted 09-19-2014 01:33 PM

Well, it could be both your camera and your skills. 8-) But your woodworking skills are premium!

Let’s see what this puppy will do. Might have to make me one of these also. I have a treadmill motor and controller that will be right at home running one of these. Variable speed and electronic speed control.

Thanks for the post.

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

View generic's profile


83 posts in 2148 days

#2 posted 09-19-2014 01:44 PM

DO IT!!!! I applaud your goforitness ( if that’s a word )?
I will try making anything in my shop with the attitude of the model you would buy wouldn’t exist if someone hadn’t gone for it and made the first one!! Life is a gamble.. Make the lathe and use it with a big grin on your face knowing it is a part of you!! Anybody can buy the tool.. To make it sets you on a whole new path !! Tom

-- TMF

View BigDawg's profile


52 posts in 4520 days

#3 posted 09-19-2014 02:21 PM

I would LOVE to see build details, plans more photos. That is REALLY cool.

-- Shawn DuGay, Wallingford, CT

View generic's profile


83 posts in 2148 days

#4 posted 09-19-2014 02:32 PM

I don’t really have any details for it. I tend to make it up as I go along.. I try a part and if it fits, great, if not I just cut another one.. Very trial and error. I do a lot of my work on the computer to see how each part fits into another and save a lot of mistakes that way. There are free CAD programs out there if your interested. ( Google it ) The parts all interlock int each other with tennons for strength and I used 3/4” Baltic Birch for the parts because it is super strong and has proven itself in past projects. I say, just go for it and you’ll be fine!!

I would LOVE to see build details, plans more photos. That is REALLY cool.

- BigDawg

-- TMF

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4444 posts in 3361 days

#5 posted 09-19-2014 02:38 PM

If you turn anything over 4” make sure you have a lot of weight in the headstock area and underneath it too or it will shake rattle and roll all over the place.

Very nice job on the making of it. What kind of saddle blocks did you use for the shaft?

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2794 days

#6 posted 09-19-2014 03:09 PM

Wow. Great job. Hope to see the work

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View waho6o9's profile


8917 posts in 3377 days

#7 posted 09-19-2014 03:43 PM

Your exceptional goforitness will yield some beautiful turnings.

Good job!

View bonobo's profile


304 posts in 2856 days

#8 posted 09-19-2014 04:01 PM

Wow! THATS BEAUTIFUL! It reminds me of those wooden dinosaur kits for sale in museum gift shops.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View woodshopmike's profile


226 posts in 2464 days

#9 posted 09-19-2014 05:19 PM


You really did an exceptional job on this. It does look quite nice. I will second what Arlin said, make sure there is plenty of weight in it. I’d hate for you to get hurt or break your new lathe.

Out of curiosity, how are you controlling the motor speed? It appears that your motor isn’t 3 phase, I wasn’t aware that you could vary the speed (in a “good” way) electronically of a non 3 phase motor.

I want to be clear that I’m not knocking what you’ve done here… Indeed, your lathe is quite unique and if it works just fine for ya, the great! Having built my own bowl lathe with a 54” swing, I was super excited when I first cranked er up, but was cautious to only put a small piece on. I would encourage you to start small and get a feel for the machine.

You know you’re obligated to post the first piece you make right?

Kind Regards,



View generic's profile


83 posts in 2148 days

#10 posted 09-19-2014 05:28 PM

Mike, Thanks for the input! A 54” bowl would be just about big enough to hold my breakfast cereal !!
I plan on making segmented bowls from the scraps I get processing wood for my wallplate business.. I have cnc machines in the shop and my plan has always been to round out the bowl on a cnc and even remove some of the center before mounting it on the lathe.. I consider it to be light duty and everything should be pretty balanced when it starts turning ( slowly at first ). I have a mechanical drive that is not in the picture that works somewhat like a snowblower wheel drive. Two friction wheels at 90 degree angles to each other ( one steel, one rubber coated for grip ) so the father out you are on the drive wheel the faster it spins and the closer you are to the center shaft the slower it spins. Thanks again, Your lathe looks great !!

-- TMF

View woodshopmike's profile


226 posts in 2464 days

#11 posted 09-19-2014 05:34 PM

Thanks for the complement, I’m glad you like my lathe :)

Gotcha, ok. I feel less scared for you now! I knew you said you would be doing segmented turning, but that can still start out a little iffy. I look forward to seeing what you create!


View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3339 days

#12 posted 09-19-2014 06:52 PM

impressive, look forward to see what you make

-- I never finish anyth

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1343 posts in 2513 days

#13 posted 09-19-2014 07:12 PM

Interesting design. Looking forward to hear about how it is to work with.
Thanks for sharing

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4385 days

#14 posted 09-19-2014 07:42 PM

Wow a great idea I hope you get lot’s of fun with it too.Why not try another with a direct drive from asuitable motor using metal instead of wood,it might work out good too although all the early wood lathes were made out of wood. Wood you believe it I wood LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View bobasaurus's profile


3644 posts in 3984 days

#15 posted 09-19-2014 08:04 PM

That looks amazing, wish I had that large of a swing on my lathe. As others have said, maybe add some weight to that sucker for bigger pieces.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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