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Adapting metal working lathe for wood turning

by Mainiac Matt
posted 08-02-2017 01:24 AM


25 replies so far

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

3180 posts in 2036 days


#1 posted 08-02-2017 02:24 AM

Nice one Matt!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://www.geraldlhunsucker.com/

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2292 days


#2 posted 08-02-2017 04:55 AM

If you were good with an EtchaSketch when you were a kid, should be no problem working the crosslide and carriage hand wheel at the same time to form curves and radiuses on a work piece. Give it a try.

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Woodwrecker

4222 posts in 3964 days


#3 posted 08-02-2017 06:12 AM

Always got the old noodle going Matt.
I like it.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7387 posts in 2587 days


#4 posted 08-02-2017 07:00 AM

Nice work. What model lathe is that (looks sorta like a Shop Fox)? At one point, I did think about doing something similar on my South Bend, but wound up just buying a wood lathe instead :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#5 posted 08-02-2017 01:10 PM

If you were good with an EtchaSketch when you were a kid, should be no problem working the crosslide and carriage hand wheel at the same time to form curves and radiuses on a work piece. Give it a try.

- unbob

Bob,

It sounds like you have “turned the wheels” on a metal working lathe yourself, because the EtchaSketch analogy is spot on. I used to think I was pretty good on the EtchaSketch, and could do fairly smooth diagonal lines… but I have yet to find a way to salvage a botched turning by flipping it upside down and shaking it :^)


Nice work. What model lathe is that (looks sorta like a Shop Fox)? At one point, I did think about doing something similar on my South Bend, but wound up just buying a wood lathe instead :)

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix

Hey Brad, It’s a Grizzly 10×22 (you can see better pics on my stand build project if your interested)

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#6 posted 08-02-2017 01:11 PM

I think I now have a good reason to convert the lathe to variable speed (which I’ve always wanted to do)

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2689 posts in 1611 days


#7 posted 08-02-2017 02:51 PM

Looks totally functional!

My only concern is the cantilevered mounting of the rest. If you get into bigger objects it may become a bit springy.

A metal lathe that size has been on my dream list since I was a kid 8^)

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2292 days


#8 posted 08-02-2017 04:09 PM

I don’t have a wood lathe because I have a metal lathe, I use a couple of pieces of tarp across the bedways to help keep dust from getting behind the carriage apron.
I don’t know how to use the wood lathe tools-I don’t have any. I pretty much cut wood on the lathe using cutters shaped for cutting aluminum, and use the same methods cutting plastic or soft metal.

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#9 posted 08-02-2017 05:45 PM


Looks totally functional!
My only concern is the cantilevered mounting of the rest. If you get into bigger objects it may become a bit springy.
- splintergroup

That is a legit concern and one that I have as well. I made this using the shanks of long 3/4” dia. partially threaded bolts, and the rest is 10” long. It does spring a little, but most of that comes form 1/2” thick the aluminum block.

I’m thinking about machining another one that is not as long, from 3/4” aluminum stock.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5483 posts in 3632 days


#10 posted 08-02-2017 05:54 PM

I’m not so happy with using a metal lathe for turning wood. First, wood chips and dust will get into the workings of the lathe and compromise the accuracy. Second, the speeds are usually not fast enough for turning wood. I have a great old Sheldon metal working lathe, but for woodworking, I bought a wood lathe. I have on occasion, turned a piece of wood on the Sheldon, but I didn’t like the mess it made.There’s a saying; “use the right tool for the right purpose”. That I believe. A metal working lathe is a precision machine and should be treated with respect.

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#11 posted 08-02-2017 07:09 PM


A metal working lathe is a precision machine and should be treated with respect.
- MrRon

I don’t disagree with your viewpoint, but I have limited space and funds and wanted a metal lathe more than a wood lathe, and made sure that I chose a model that went up to 2,000 RPM….

that said, putting a bib around the saddle will go a long ways to keeping it clean and if I fall in love with wood turning, I’m sure I’ll go in that direction.

I doubt I’ll ever use any of my tools enough to wear them out… (accept for my SCMS… which is 22 years old and has built a house, a barn, a shed and dozens of shop projects…. but it keeps on kicking)

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2292 days


#12 posted 08-03-2017 01:57 AM

Complete nonsense, with reasonable care a metal lathe will not be damaged by cutting wood. I often see amateurs making goofy statements like that. As-metal cuttings are nasty, sharp and hot.

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 892 days


#13 posted 08-03-2017 06:53 AM

Complete nonsense, with reasonable care a metal lathe will not be damaged by cutting wood. I often see amateurs making goofy statements like that. As-metal cuttings are nasty, sharp and hot.

- unbob

I totally agree…if wood dust hurts your metal lathe what exactly do you think metal dust is going to do to it?? Let me say it another way, if a little bit of wood dust hurts your “precision” metal lathe then how much respect does it deserve?? Gimme a break!!!!

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7387 posts in 2587 days


#14 posted 08-03-2017 07:20 AM

Wood chips/dust certainly won’t hurt a metal lathe… but mix that stuff with swarf and oil and it sure does become a mess!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#15 posted 08-04-2017 03:02 AM

My only concern, aside from gumming up the lead screw, would be tannic acid in oak shavings causing rust.

But a good cleanup and wipe down with oil does wonders

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2292 days


#16 posted 08-04-2017 07:43 AM

One of the worst things for lathes is having a grinder anywhere near the machine, even in the same room. Using a grinder, and dressing wheels causes fine abrasive dust to go everywhere. Check it out for yourself, dress a wheel, then turn off the lights, use a bright narrow beam flashlight, the dust can be seen going everywhere in your shop.
To get around that problem, wipe down the machine before moving the carriage or tail stock, that is, before using a machine, clean it first.
I have worked in machine shops all my life, its often a harsh environment with the grinding welding, burning cutting oil and more, I find my little wood shop much more pleasant.

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Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#17 posted 08-04-2017 04:53 PM

Oh…. but I “love the smell of moldy cutting fluid in the morning”

:^p

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2462 days


#18 posted 08-05-2017 03:52 PM

Here is a metal lathe used for turning wood.

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2462 days


#19 posted 08-06-2017 01:20 PM

View xeddog's profile

xeddog

238 posts in 3396 days


#20 posted 08-06-2017 04:45 PM

My only suggestion would be that when finished turning wood, give the metal lathe an immediate and thorough cleaning. The wood shavings, etc, will not harm the machine, but the moisture that the shavings contain certainly will.

Wayne

View unbob's profile

unbob

810 posts in 2292 days


#21 posted 08-06-2017 07:01 PM

That is an interesting vid REO linked to, the fellow disconnected the cross feed screw, and installed a lever to actuate the cross slide in a much faster way then the screw feed can-that is pretty slick!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9128 posts in 2717 days


#22 posted 08-07-2017 08:40 PM

at that point, I’d call it a dedicated wood lathe

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2462 days


#23 posted 08-07-2017 11:24 PM

you might be interested in others Unbob…....Search for vids by oreos40 on you tube. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1406 posts in 3149 days


#24 posted 08-08-2017 02:56 PM

Been there, done that.

The wood dust doesn’t harm a metal lathe but wood dust mixed with oil will surely gum up the works! It gets into things like the half nut and eventually you find it will begin to pop out while following the lead screw and mess up a cut. I had to disassemble my lathe carriage to clean out my half nut because of this. It also builds between the carriage and the lathe bed and the carriage movement stiffens. Not to mention oily wood dust is a mess to clean up!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2462 days


#25 posted 08-08-2017 10:06 PM

Well you did say adapting a metal lathe to turn wood maniac matt lol. I have a five quart ice cream pail of worn out split nuts. On the Atlas they are easy to change. use dry lube for feed works (they are not oil bathed) and paste wax on the ways. This particular lathe was bought in1949 to convert and turn Fishing bobbers….....Five million of them among other things. Last order for bobbers in 1965. it still ran 20-40 hours a week until 1998 when dad retired and I got the machine. I needed to put new bearings in it a couple years back so I converted it to 12” Never had a problem with gumming up the works. The ways show a little wear.002-.003 near the head stock but you certainly cant see it in the product lol It runs so smooth that on certain jobs we pull the apron back by hand instead of cranking it back!

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