"Snappyass" Tool Co. Lathe Model #1

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Project by Porchfish posted 06-29-2011 06:49 PM 3528 views 9 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This post is for “BluePine 38” to help clear up the questions about the “Snappyass” Tool Co. Lathe model #1 The lead picture here is the one that appeared with some turnings earlier…I asked my i-photo program genie to please clear it up a bit. Hopefully you can see the fancy(hah hah) tool rest a little better. These photos were taken at the Tallahassee C.C. cabinet making shop where I demonstrated vessel turning to students in the program. I took 2 pcs of 1/4 ” steel plate 4” x 24” and with the help of a good friend and his acetylene torch, bent them into 2 cubes that would slide along the 6×6 piece of heart pine you see that I used as a lathe bed. To one of the cubes we welded pieces of iron pipe and added elbows etc. to fashion the tool rest apparatus you see in the photo. To the other cube we welded 2 , 1/4” steel pieces of the same basic dimensions (4X24), bending them into a rectangle before welding them. We measured and adjusted continually until able to center a ram with #2 morse taper head which was welded to the steel box and the cube below. I used the ram only occasionally to help steady larger (24” and up diameter) chunks for large vessels. I never turned anything between centers on this lathe, although it is quite capable of handling such tasks with capacity of 6’ between centers. You can see that the 6×6 beam slid in and out of the body of the lathe and was held snug with wooden wedges driven into gaps at the sides of the opening. The beam also functioned as a handy dandy seat. The business end you can see above is a 1and1/4” HSS rod threaded @ 8 TPI so as to accomodate accessories that were readily available. I used my neighbor John Read’s (now deceased WW2 vet/engineer turner etc.) invention of interchangeable 3” and 6” face plates which screwed onto a central hub. (sold at one time by Woodcraft). The other pictures give a better picture (sort of) of the 4 speed transmission which was borrowed from a defunct Monkey Ward riding mower found along side of the road near Midway Fl. With the addition of a drive pulley that would match up with my system It is capable of speeds from 300, 600 1200, & 1800+ RPM.

You should be able to tell that the body of the lathe was laminated out of MDF. I sarted with a 48” square piece to which I glued five maple blocks . I then turned it over and added MDF one layer at a time screwing and gluing each laye rtill I reached 3’ then I cut subsequent layers in half and left a seven inch ” square” hole for the “ways”. I continued layering for another six inches inches then cut u shaped pieces with the gap in the rear tall enough to accomodate the 1 and 1/2 hp elec. motor wired for 110. I left space for the belt to pass through with subsequent layers then another U shaped cavity was left open to hold the transmission. Then 6” more layers to be finished with a laminated top of walnut and holly (it’s what I had available). And that is it. Oh and I left a slight “play” in the belt to allow for slippage as a “safety” factor on the recommendation of an engineer friend. The “Snappyass Tool Co. Model # 1 was born, and it is still operable after 20 years. I will have to replace the transmission soon because it is getting very tired and it’s age shows. The final photo is of the lathe at a craft fair in Jax Fl.

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

8 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8560 posts in 3574 days

#1 posted 06-29-2011 07:04 PM

What a great tool and what a great story.
I do love ingenuity.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Nick's profile


87 posts in 3629 days

#2 posted 06-29-2011 10:00 PM

that is a nice lathe. It has to wieght a ton.

-- Nick, AZ. Wood is a canvas for God's art work, it is our job as woodworkers to figur out the best way to display it.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3469 days

#3 posted 06-29-2011 10:51 PM

The Snappy ass is a looker! I’m eyeing those pillowblocks, just thinking of the possibilities.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1126 posts in 4208 days

#4 posted 06-30-2011 03:34 AM

Beautiful piece of equipment and quite an accomplishment. I get excited just creating a 4.5” hole in MDF on the lathe so I can use it as a router template….I can imagine the excitement you had when you turned your first piece on the SnappyAss. Should be in a woodworking museum just to get other LJ’s jig building juices flowing. Thanks for shariing.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3861 days

#5 posted 06-30-2011 03:08 PM

Thank you for showing the Snappy Ass #1. Are you contemplating a series of these wonderful machines, or
are you going to rest on your laurels? The building explanation and story explains why I was able to trace
the pedigree of this wonderful machine. I like the idea of the transmission, it beats having to switch belts
on pulleys, now I wonder if I can find one that will fit on my old Delta to replace my jack shaft and reducing
pulleys? Thank you for sharing both your turnings and your lathe.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View drbyte's profile


844 posts in 4838 days

#6 posted 06-30-2011 03:18 PM

Great project, looks like it has served well thru the years. I saved a variable transmission and drive system, including reverse from a lawn tractor, wanted to mount it on my bowl lathe (someday). I also thought about using a motorcycle transmission, some of them are 6 speed even. It’d probably be noisier than the other though.

-- Dennis, WV

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3469 days

#7 posted 06-30-2011 03:48 PM

LOL with Dennis and his Harley bowl lathe;) I’m considering adopting the Snappy Ass pillowblock technology to a homemade buffer station with a variety of wheels. It’s a pretty compelling project that could lend itsself to countless applications.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View DSnyder's profile


25 posts in 4445 days

#8 posted 08-12-2011 08:44 PM

Yet another great example of woodworker ingenuity! I noticed a large, empty cavity in the base. What’s it for? Were you thinking you would need to add weights?

-- “I am a soul. I have a body.” Lloyd C. Douglas

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