Can anyone tell me about this lathe and what I can/can't do with it?

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Forum topic by Tony1212 posted 02-04-2019 03:05 PM 1859 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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511 posts in 2787 days

02-04-2019 03:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: woodturning lathe newbie

Digging around for some wood in my shop, I found this lathe that I had completely forgotten about. I inherited it from my grandfather about 11 years ago. I don’t do woodturning, but now that I found this lathe, that might change.

The sticker on the tailstock says “W.W. Grainger Inc.” but I do not see any model number or any other type of identification anywhere. Googling around, the results all show much newer lathes.

Beyond figuring that out, do I need anything (other than a motor, matching pulley and turning tools) to start using it? I have a motor that in a cabinet that probably came from this.

Would I be able to mount any 3 or 4 jaw chucks on this, or is it pretty much “what you see is what you get”?

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

20 replies so far

View LeeMills's profile


702 posts in 2354 days

#1 posted 02-04-2019 04:04 PM

For a chuck you will want a woodworking chuck. All three jaw I have seen are for metal working and do not work very well with wood. You need to determine the spindle size. Most chucks use what is called an “insert” which allows you to use the chuck with most any lathe. If you ever changed to a different size lathe you just change the insert, not buy a new chuck. I use Nova but there are several good brands of chucks.

Depending on what you want to turn your largest problem may be spindle speed. Many older lathes were made for spindle turning (usually less than 4” diameter). Yours may have a slow speed of around 1000 which is too fast for a bowl of larger size. You can add a jack shaft between the motor and lathe to reduce the speed to a reasonable rate for larger items. Probably cost around $80 for the pillow blocks, additional step pulley, and shaft.
I would try it as is and make sure you want to turn larger items before spending any $$$ on it. There are hundreds of different items to turn where a higher low speed is just fine.
Most spindle orientation items can be turned without a chuck but they are nice.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Wildwood's profile


2954 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 02-04-2019 05:06 PM

Look at page 7 of this catalog, may have made this lathe asking about for W.W. Grainer Inc. Not much info am assuming head/tailstock MT1 cannot tell. Hope someone has more info for you.

-- Bill

View LesB's profile


2950 posts in 4496 days

#3 posted 02-04-2019 06:30 PM

I would just put it on display as a collectors item.
Down load the catalog Wildwood posted to go with it.

-- Les B, Oregon

View MrRon's profile


6006 posts in 4296 days

#4 posted 02-04-2019 07:06 PM

Interesting to view the catalog. The motors had a screw plug on the end of the cord so it could be screwed into a light socket, Most houses back in the day didn’t have wall receptacles.

View mike02719's profile


300 posts in 4839 days

#5 posted 02-04-2019 10:28 PM

What a terrific find. Your grandfather must have been an interesting person. If it were mine, I would treat it as a project of discovery. It would be satisfying to research all of the history and utility of this lathe. All this being said, if you want to try wood turning, this is not the way to go. You can buy new for less than it would cost you to revive this antique. If you love it, you will have something of value to sell and upgrade, if you hate it, same result. You may also try the Turning Club route or some of the big vendors have courses just for this purpose. Whatever you do, good luck.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View MrUnix's profile


8510 posts in 3252 days

#6 posted 02-04-2019 10:50 PM

Looks to be complete, and if that motor in the cabinet is the match to it, then you could be up and turning easily and inexpensively. Figure new bearings and a belt as a minimum (~$20). Maybe another $15 or so if you need to find a matching pulley. I’d give it a good cleaning, but leave the paint original along with the original decal just to maintain that nostalgic link to the past :)

As to what you can use it for… pretty much anything you want other than large bowls (or anything that is too big in diameter) due to the small swing on that lathe.


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

View LeeMills's profile


702 posts in 2354 days

#7 posted 02-05-2019 02:48 AM

For the “what can I do”... take a look here.
Over a hundred categories, probably 80% doable on your lathe as is.
You can also look up techniques for individual tools, who has the largest subscribers, etc. in other drop downs.
Wanna turn a fishing lure, a light/fan pull, make a whistle….. learn to use a skew,....
Rick does not rate them in any way, that is up to you. As with all youtube; some good some not so much.

I have nothing to do with the site and this is provided by Rick Morris.
I would think he has to put in a lot of hours to keep it up. In the last 30 days alone he has caterogized 417 new videos. He gives a summary at the end of each month of new videos.
He also has a youtube channel and post a video about once a week himself.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Tony1212's profile


511 posts in 2787 days

#8 posted 02-05-2019 02:18 PM

Wow! So much information. I doubt that I’m even through a quarter of it.

That said, I did take apart the headstock last night. I don’t think there are any chucks that will work. The pulley is attached directly to the spindle with a set screw. It kind of looks like the head should come off, but I put all my force into it last night, and it didn’t budge.

So it looks like I’ll only be able to turn between centers. No bowls or pens on this lathe. I’ll see if I can find a cheap set of tools on craigslist and maybe give it a try. If I really like it, I’ll probably sell this one off. No room for shelf queens in my shop.

However, I do have an old Atlas metal lathe that needs to be restored. Maybe I can use that to make a new spindle that will accept a chuck. Or would that not be safe?

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3349 days

#9 posted 02-05-2019 02:28 PM

That looks like a driver line type of lathe that Sears sold as well. You could mount the whole thing on a board and hang it on the wall to get it out of the way. Just oil cups on the headstock, right? If they weren’t oiled on a regular basis and have any slop than it really is just ornamental. It’s the kind of thing that would look nice in the house on a shelf as well (my wife is cool with that sort of stuff – ymmv).

View Tony1212's profile


511 posts in 2787 days

#10 posted 02-05-2019 03:01 PM

Looking at that catalog, it mentions that it has a faceplate and a 3” chuck (a whopping $4.50) available that screws directly to the spindle. But otherwise it looks nearly identical. I may need to soak the spindle in some penetrating oil and see if I can get head off.

dhazelton – There are spring loaded ball bearings on the top of the headstock that look like they might be oil ports. Not sure what kind of oil to use there, though.

I’ll check tonight to see how much slop there is in the bearings. How much is too much? I don’t think my grandfather used it too much. I don’t remember ever seeing him use it.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View GrantA's profile


3104 posts in 2460 days

#11 posted 02-05-2019 03:03 PM

So it looks like I ll only be able to turn between centers. No bowls or pens on this lathe.
- Tony1212

Don’t get hung up on a chuck, check this out – just have to figure out if you need MT1 or MT2

View LeeMills's profile


702 posts in 2354 days

#12 posted 02-06-2019 02:26 AM

Only some thoughts and none may be worthwhile.
Since you know the drive will come off I would soak with penetrating fluid, clamp one of the hex nuts (it looks like two are there), heat it with a map gas torch and then try to remove the drive.

I would have thought that it would have bushings rather than bearings but they are probably a standard size and you may be able to replace them with sealed bearings and not have to mess with oiling them.

Depending on the size of the spindle you may be able to use a chuck. Guessing it ’s maybe 5/8” or 3/4”?
You may be able to get an adapter to go from your spindle size to a chuck size if it is odd.
This list the size inserts available for the Nova line of chucks.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View ibewjon's profile


2348 posts in 3846 days

#13 posted 02-06-2019 01:37 PM

Looks like the lathe I started with in ‘73, and worked fine to learn with. The dead tailstock center needs a little grease on the wood, the drive spur should come off, but I have not seen this type of lathe with a Morse taper, only threaded headstock. With an adapter, you might be able to put on a chuck. Penn State has some cheaper chucks. I have one on my powermatic 90 due to needing a 1 1/2×8 chuck, not many out there. I am sw of Joliet, so I go to Woodcraft in Woodridge for advice and parts sometimes. You can put a three step pulley on the motor as well, and get more speeds.

View Tony1212's profile


511 posts in 2787 days

#14 posted 02-06-2019 03:58 PM

Success! I got the spur off and I do have some threads. How do I tell which size it is? Should I take it to Woodcraft (ibewjon – I go the same one often) and see what it fits? It looks about 5/8” or 3/4”, but not sure of the thread pitch.

I’m also including pictures of the oil ports on the top of the headstock and it looks like bronze bushings for the spindle. There isn’t much play at all between the spindle and bushings.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View ibewjon's profile


2348 posts in 3846 days

#15 posted 02-06-2019 06:32 PM

Pretty small for a chuck. Might just be for spindle or candlestick turning, like I used mine. Still have the old girl, but even if I could put a chuck on it, I think it would be overloaded. Use yours to get started, if you like turning, move up. I now have a pen lathe and a 1973 powermatic 90. See you at Woodcraft.

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