Bungee Cord Lathe under $10

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Project by swirt posted 08-25-2010 09:06 PM 7115 views 22 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally got around to building this quick and easy bungee lathe. I’ve had this idea kicking around in my head for a while based loosely off of others I’ve seen on the web. My take on it is a lot simpler and has almost no footprint when it is not being used (looks like 3 2×4 scraps leaning in a corner).

The cost of the parts is under $10 if you don’t include the 4 F-clamps and the 2 and a half pipe clamps. It’s length is limited only by the length of your bench or your pipe clamps. It works pretty well, and doesn’t make you as tired you might think. After a bad first start, I was able to turn a 2×2 piece of scrap into a curvy drumstick with a firmer chisel. The proof of concept passed, and now I need to get a couple of “proper” lathe tools. I guess I’m hooked. Turning is a bit of fun and with this version I don’t have to make sure shirt is tucked and my sleeves rolled up. It is pretty safe. I even had my 2 yr old shaping a piece of wood with a rasp while I pumped the treadle. He had a blast.

Full details and a lot more photos and diagrams of my Bungee Cord Lathe appear here.

-- Galootish log blog,

24 comments so far

View AaronK's profile


1508 posts in 3974 days

#1 posted 08-25-2010 09:12 PM

dude. you are my hero.

View SteveMI's profile


1141 posts in 3804 days

#2 posted 08-25-2010 09:29 PM

I have a pile of recycled balusters that I need to get layers of finish off of. I thought only a “proper” lathe would do it, but I am going to give this a try to turn them while using files and sand paper to clean them.

I will be tempted to apply some power to it since there are 25 balusters with lots of crud on them.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3625 days

#3 posted 08-25-2010 09:39 PM

isn´t footpower under handtools…......LOL ….then ad a HT….:—))
I think the vidio of the guy that use his feet has started something
here on L J
no it´s deffently fantasstic so many there restore and build powertools
and not forgetting people who makes/restore handtools
and even build powertools in wood :-)

and now you Swirt coming up with a new innovation of a Lathe :-O

thank´s for sharing it

View swirt's profile


4231 posts in 3482 days

#4 posted 08-25-2010 09:41 PM

SteveMI I think it would work pretty well for that. My guess would be that some kind of blase would remove the finish faster than sand paper. I think the limiting factor would be what tool(s) would get into the shapes of the existing ballusters. I’m still sorting out what lathe tools do what so I am not the person to offer those ideas.

-- Galootish log blog,

View swirt's profile


4231 posts in 3482 days

#5 posted 08-25-2010 09:52 PM

Thanks Dennis. And once I get a little better at turning, I’ll be using it to make some new handles for my old chisels. So it becomes a tool to restore old tools. ;)
The design is so simple I kept thinking that I would run across somebody that made one the same way. As far as I know, this is the first pipe clamp treadle lathe

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3625 days

#6 posted 08-25-2010 10:07 PM

yes I think you are right about that

did you saw that vidioclip :-) he only used a skew
well I look forward to hear how it turns out…lol

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3450 days

#7 posted 08-25-2010 10:20 PM

swirt, definitely the first pipe clamp lathe I’ve seen! Very innovative of you, love it. Isn’t it amazing what pipe clamps can be used for. Wish my days were longer, would love to try this!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View mafe's profile


12110 posts in 3599 days

#8 posted 08-25-2010 10:37 PM

swirt, you are a king!
I love it, no less no more, and I was just so proud that I was using my lathe today for the first time really…
Now I feel like a space invader!
Thank you man, I think I’ll make the bearings, to bring in my toolbox.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3705 days

#9 posted 08-25-2010 10:48 PM

That looks like fun. Can you do faceplate work on it yet lol? Great little lathe though and that price is amazing!

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Bluebear's profile


417 posts in 3406 days

#10 posted 08-25-2010 11:06 PM

HA!!!!! thats a fantastic project!!! and looks like loads of fun to turn on that :)

-- -- It's only a mistake if you can't fix it.

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 3375 days

#11 posted 08-25-2010 11:45 PM

I like the plastic storage containers under the workbench. Snap on lids keep the contents clean. Great idea!

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3751 days

#12 posted 08-25-2010 11:59 PM

Amazing! The mind comes up with straight forward useful tools that don’t break the bank! Good for you!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View David's profile


172 posts in 3352 days

#13 posted 08-26-2010 12:10 AM

very cool, I love the ingenuity.

-- “Don’t tell me what can’t be done, tell me what you want done then shut up and get out of my way and let me do it!”

View mrbentontoyou's profile


25 posts in 4095 days

#14 posted 08-26-2010 12:42 AM

This requires video.

View swirt's profile


4231 posts in 3482 days

#15 posted 08-26-2010 04:01 AM

Dennis, yes I saw that video it is pretty amazing.

Div, I hear you, so much to do. So little time. Though this one takes less than an hour to make. ;)

Mafe, being called a king by a true king brings a large smile. Thank you.

Eric_S, I think I saw Roy Underhill do some kind of faceplate on a spring pole lathe. I think it involved some kind of mandril attached to both faces. In this case the fixed toolrest/pipe clamp would limit the faceplate to 7” in diameter…this is probably not the right tool for that job though. ;)

Dyno360, those plastic containers are actually plastic drawers. That way I don’t have to deal with moving the lids They work pretty well for keeping the dust and shavings out but still allow clamps to touch the underside of the bench.

mrbentontoyou, I was thinking the same thing. Video would help show it working and really the cool sound of it, but I am afraid my current horrid technics would cause too much laughter and eye rolling. Maybe after I improve my skill a little more. I wouldn’t want my lack of skill as a turner to reflect badly on the lathe :)

-- Galootish log blog,

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