Please help!! Lathe motor Boggs down with forstner bits!

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Forum topic by TonyArru posted 04-21-2018 03:46 PM 6650 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 2991 days

04-21-2018 03:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry lathe turning traditional

I am trying to make a hollow form and as I hog out the inside, or try too, with my brand new Woodcraft forstner bits, the motor bogs down and stops. I can’t even make a hole 1/8 of an inch deep!
Obviously a more powerful lathe would be the easiest answer, but aside from spending 2000 on a new lathe what am I doing wrong?! I can’t imagine that everyone who uses mini lathes does not make hollow forms…

Do i need a new belt perhaps? I’m using a Steele City mini lathe middle no. 60170. It’s a 5 speed, and this happens at every speed. 500, 1300…and up.

I am turning a piece of cherry and drilling into end grain.

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

27 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3145 posts in 2950 days

#1 posted 04-21-2018 03:53 PM

You don’t say what size bit. I would check for a slipping belt first. I have a 1/3 hp motor on my lathe and have no problems with up thru 3” forstner’s haven’t tried any larger.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4425 days

#2 posted 04-21-2018 03:58 PM

Have you tried a spade bit?

They don’t make as nice a hole but they
cut easier.

View TonyArru's profile


91 posts in 2991 days

#3 posted 04-21-2018 04:12 PM

Sorry, I am trying to use my largest bit which is 1 1/2 inches. My hope is that it’s the belt…I certainly can not afford a new full size lathe.

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

View thimmaker's profile


17 posts in 898 days

#4 posted 04-21-2018 04:31 PM

Is the motor stopping? or is the belt slipping? If its just the belt slipping put more tension on it or rub on a little belt dressing.

-- thimmaker

View Rich's profile


5621 posts in 1366 days

#5 posted 04-21-2018 04:50 PM

I assume you’re trying to drill into the end grain. That’s the toughest to do because you’re cutting across the wood fibers. I’d also guess that Woodcraft Forstner bits aren’t the sharpest out there.

Try the spade bits that were mentioned. Less friction, but you’re still dealing with the grain issue.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1676 days

#6 posted 04-21-2018 04:51 PM

Might try using smaller bits and working your way up.

View johnstoneb's profile


3145 posts in 2950 days

#7 posted 04-21-2018 04:54 PM

Try tightening the belt first then replace it. That is a poly v belt, belt dressing only makes a mess on v or poly v belts.
I’m using a 1/3 hp motor on a 4 speed lathe and have no problems running a 3” wood river forstner bit if I keep the belt reasonably tight.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3540 days

#8 posted 04-21-2018 04:57 PM

Sharpen the bit ? Capt Eddy will show you how.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View TonyArru's profile


91 posts in 2991 days

#9 posted 04-21-2018 06:19 PM

I’m glad to hear that some of you are having no trouble with similar tasks on your smaller lathes as well…my wife would not be happy if I told her I need a new lathe already.
And thank you for all of your thoughts so far…
The problem with the belt tentionnis that the motor moves up and down, as some of you may know, to make the belt looser or tighter. Well, I’m my case the motor is as far down as it can go. Meaning it’s resrinf on the table already. Does this mean my belt is too big? Or stretched over time? Also, if I made foot pads for my lathe, raising it up and inch or so…perhaps I could get more tension that way…does that sound like a viable option to anyone? Thanks again!

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

View bigJohninvegas's profile


776 posts in 2239 days

#10 posted 04-21-2018 07:10 PM

I had that Rockler excelsior mini lathe to start with. So that is what I have to compare your lathe too. Same style belt adjustment. I would first say that yes your belt is stretched out. With my rockler lathe, and my newer Jet 16X42. The belt is not much tighter than the weight of the motor put on it. And I was never close to the travel limit on the adjuster. I would also use a slow speed like 500 rpm, and feed the bit very slow backing out often to clear the chips.
I need to give the spade bit a try too. Much cheaper than a forstner, so if it works go for it.
good luck.

-- John

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8909 posts in 3354 days

#11 posted 04-21-2018 07:13 PM

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2868 posts in 2912 days

#12 posted 04-21-2018 07:23 PM

You can try slowing down your rate of speed stop before motor stalls and back out more often.

Using this procedure my change geometry of the drill bit.

I am like Eddie only touch up those edges he is showing even if have a tooth bit. I use a diamond file or card to tough up my bits only takes couple seconds.

-- Bill

View johnstoneb's profile


3145 posts in 2950 days

#13 posted 04-21-2018 09:03 PM

Yes your belt has stretched to much from age or it is the wrong size. You might be able to get a little more adjustment by raising the lathe. That might give you some time to use the lathe while you are getting the right belt. ply v belts don’t need a lot of tension when they are in good shape because each v is pulling down into the groove giving you a lot of surface tension for friction. When they wear they slowly get narrower and eventually just the tip of the v is making contact and you loose all that surface and you have to replace the belt.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View TonyArru's profile


91 posts in 2991 days

#14 posted 04-21-2018 09:41 PM

Hello everyone and thank you for all the feed back. So here’s an update…
I did not try the spade but because why did I spend all this money on forstner bits! Lol! But I did try starting with a smaller forstner bit and working my way up…that worked okay until I got to about a 1 1/4” bit. Then all I was getting was dust and smoke…so i lowered the speed to 500 rpm. Then I got less smoke and less progress into the piece. BUT at this speed it was safe to check the motor which was indeed still running while the belt stayed stationary!! So, I will be ordering a new belt ASAP and hopefully these turning troubles will be in the past to make room for more troubles!
Thank you to Bruce, for all the v grove info, it easy to understand now how a belt would wear out over time….I probabaky have the original belt on this lathe from 10 years ago.

-- Tony S. Arru, Connecticut

View jonal's profile


7 posts in 1066 days

#15 posted 04-22-2018 12:25 AM

I recently purchased a 2” Woodcraft fostner for a project I was working on. Brought it home, chucked it up in the drill press and man was I disappointed. Would not cut through the maple I was working with. Switched to pine, almost as bad. I looked closely at the cutting edge and it was literally chipped and burred. Took it back to Woodcraft and we looked through all of their Woodcraft branded forstners…almost all were so poorly sharpened that even the sales guy was shocked. Literally through the packaging you could see the chips in the cutting edge. Taking some out of the packaging they all had burrs and were dull as hell. They gave me my money back, I went to HD, bought a 2” Diablo and it cut perfectly – as a forstner should.

I suggest you try a different brand. While the diablos are not the premier bit, I think it is more the poor quality of the Woodcraft bits.

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