Sewing machine motor lathe

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Project by Bearpaw posted 03-09-2014 02:35 AM 8004 views 8 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have tried to make bent wood rings, but in sanding I end up with flat spots. I thought that if I could find a small CHEAP lathe to spin the ring while I sand them, I would be able to have a more uniform shape and finish.

It is hard to find an old fashion sewing machine motor CHEAPLY. (Yes, I am cheap.) A friend gave me a more modern sewing machine, but the motor is much different. This really made things easier. There was a gear to be removed and shaft cut to length. To attach the turning to the shaft I took a threaded rod coupling nut to fellow Lumberjock Rufus Carswell to drill out one end of the nut to match the shaft diameter. It was then epoxied to the shaft. In the other end I attached a hanger bolt with one end with machine threads and the other with wood threads. The turning was then attached to the shaft. This turning is a tapered rod that I can put a ring blank on and hold in place by pushing it until there is a tight fit.

The shaft housing was 1 1/4” diameter. I drilled a hole in a block of wood. Then I ripped it to create a cradle to hold the shaft. It is held to the wood base by hose clamps cut in half then attached to the side of the block. Then it is attached to a plywood base.

A tail stock was made from a 3” x 3” x 3/8” aluminum angle. I drilled and tapped a hole for a bolt that I had tapered one end. This supported the other end of the turning.

The original sewing machine had a knee controlled speed controller. I replaced that with a push on/off variable switch normally used for household lights.

I tested it and it really works. It will not take a heavy load, so you have to be light with your touch.

This should make it easier to make groves for inlays.

Hoping that it will not be long before I can post my first ring.

-- "When we build, let us think we build forever." John Ruskin

13 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


5701 posts in 3234 days

#1 posted 03-09-2014 02:39 AM

That’s cool and I am waiting for the results .

-- Kiefer

View robscastle's profile


6580 posts in 2772 days

#2 posted 03-09-2014 03:20 AM

Lets hope we get to see your first ring before the wife find her machine missing a motor or tries to dim the Lounge room lights!

A very clever project !

-- Regards Rob

View realcowtown_eric's profile


619 posts in 2504 days

#3 posted 03-09-2014 03:26 AM

neccesity is the mother of invention.

Good on you!


-- Real_cowtown_eric

View Oldtool's profile


2797 posts in 2758 days

#4 posted 03-09-2014 04:14 AM

Very interesting, and really a cool idea. Great project.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Woodknack's profile


12950 posts in 2948 days

#5 posted 03-09-2014 08:12 AM

Good American ingenuity!

-- Rick M,

View 489tad's profile


3687 posts in 3579 days

#6 posted 03-09-2014 12:02 PM

Thats is a great way to solve a problem.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5975 posts in 2976 days

#7 posted 03-09-2014 04:39 PM

Nice work Bearpaw, guess I need to get shaking and get the extra lathe motor replaced so you can borrow it. I was at the Woodworking show and saw a new JET for about 700 USD, looked nice, may have to do some horse trading for that one!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View nayo's profile


294 posts in 2460 days

#8 posted 03-09-2014 05:32 PM

my kind of project!
i have a sewing machine motor as my drill, i do have a dremmel one but that’s mostly used in the shop, here in my house i needed something to drill holes for the scroll saw.

hope that works for you!

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3529 days

#9 posted 03-09-2014 08:35 PM

Great project. Bearpaw, I’m so cheap, they have my picture next to the work in the dictionary!

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5975 posts in 2976 days

#10 posted 03-09-2014 09:22 PM

Kinda reminds me of the Canadian Comedy The Red Green Show.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View jeffswildwood's profile


4195 posts in 2545 days

#11 posted 03-09-2014 11:17 PM

Nice. I have wanted for quite a while find a small motor that I could make something like this. It would be used to make (small) chess pieces. Even thought of trying a dremel.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View hunter71's profile


3469 posts in 3754 days

#12 posted 03-10-2014 11:27 AM

Where’s the duct tape?

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View dustyal's profile


1312 posts in 4043 days

#13 posted 06-06-2016 12:24 AM

Also try the motor from a beater bar head of canister vacuum sweeper. It out torques a Dremal. Or, the vacuum motor itself—but may be too strong and heavy.

I like the idea here… Making small parts for toy making…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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