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woodturning. I love to watch the Youtube videos of the professionals turning chunks of wood into beautiful works of art. But, I have never been able to justify a lathe until recently. I want to make small knobs and handles to go with the projects I make. So, I started looking at small lathes. One of the first things I noticed was all the machines look alike…just like the Central Machinery lathe but with subtle, small differences. A piece of chrome, a bigger knob or handle but basically all the same. Sooooo, before doing heavy research and spending money I decided I would try to build my own to get a feel for my seriousness level. I didn't want to buy one and then have it end up in the "not used" corner with the scrollsaw that I absolutely knew I needed. The below pictures show the lathe I made. Very restricted since I would seldom need more than the ability to chuck up a 2×2x8 piece of wood. Suits my purposes perfectly.

The only purchase was the cheap set of woodcarving tools from Hobby Town. The kit came with five small chisels of various shapes and sizes, two skews and three gouges. If anyone else out there has made their own lathe tell us about it. Did it convince you to buy one? Are you still using the homemade one?

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Very innovative ,and that Dewalt drill has a variable speed which makes your new lathe variable speed .

I don't know if you have seen this tool called: lathe attachment for drill press ,it turns your drill press into a lathe , has a maximum work-piece capacity of 24" long,I must admit,yours is a lot more elaborate:

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Electric drill kit lathes have been around for a long time, but an inexpensive mini lathe and tools well worth the price. Bully for you got enough gear there to be dangerous! Here is a challenge come back to us with a completed knob with that set up.

Woodturning more than just a lathe, turning tools, sharpening equipment and for knobs a mandrel, collet chuck, or four jaw chuck would not only speed things up but quality of things want to turn. The really expensive part of turning is time required to acquire the skills it takes to turn something nice or useful.
 

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distrbd, I control the variable speed with the hose clamp, I use a square hole punch driven into one end and I put a long point on one quarter, 20 threaded rod. It all seems pretty solid. The small, cheap carving tools seem to work well enough. The only reason I built this was to insure my need for one before spending money. I do understand that for serious turners the costs far exceed those of just the lathe. Lots of money can be involved. So far it's been fun. With the small pieces of wood I'm restricted to and the low torque rpms I don't consider this to be very dangerous. Safety glasses and the tool rest well positioned make it all pretty benign. I probably have a better chance of being injured on my other woodworking equipment. Also, I now understand why turners use wet wood…not as much chip out although that can be controlled by going slow and easy. Anyway, its enjoyable.
 

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Another drive source is an old sewing machine motor as most of those were variable speed. My brother built one before he bought a used Unimat about 20 years ago!

The Zyliss vise system has a mini lathe option but the bed length is very limited.

No that I have that out of the way I think that you have a good tool for the projects you want to do but be warned, this can be habit forming … ask any of the jocks who started the same way!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm pretty excited about having my own small lathe. I've done a couple of more things today that you may be interested in. On the other hand if you're not interested let me know that also. Anyway, I got tired of always looking for a screwdriver to change my variable speed with the hose clamp I was using and made a jig with a knob instead. Now I can adjust my speed by using a knob…just like the expensive setups. Secondly, I am now using a remote AC switch to turn my lathe on and off. Now I can leave it plugged in without pulling the plug if I want to maintain the current speed setting. Lastly, as I was looking at my new chisel handle I thought the end looked ugly with the tailstock hole so I epoxied (is this a verb?) a nickel to the end and covered it up. What's next? Not sure. Stay tuned.

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What did you use for the drill bit.. that looks like a square punch.. I haven t been able to find anything even similar.. The best I can come up with is a spade bit!!

Thx-k.

- KPR
I think that square drive is the outside punch part of a mortising bit.
At least I have a set of those and that sure looks like what I have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The 1/4" square punch I used was hollow inside so I epoxied an old 9/32 drill bit into it. As you can see I pound the square punch into the blank about 3/4" and it holds very well. Please let me know if you need anything else.

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