Introduction: 3D Printed Lathe

Picture of 3D Printed Lathe

First off, I am a sophomore high school student who actively participates in FTC Robotics representing Shark Beta Team #10088 and FatherBoards Team #10087. The goal of our robotics team is to learn as much as possible before graduating and going off to college. One crucial skill everybody on our teams had the desire to learn was how to manually lathe parts our self instead of sending the files for somebody else to machine them for us. This was where the idea of building my own lathe came in. As our school did not want to purchase a full-size lathe or for that matter allow students to operate a full-size lathe; the only other option was to build a miniature one myself. The major challenge of this project was that because all of our funds go straight into our robotics program and purchasing parts, the lathe had to be constructed out of existing parts in our lab, or the parts needed to be made personally (this is where the idea of 3D printing the lathe itself came into play. Another major challenge of this project was that the lathe needed to be relatively precise and accurate so that the final parts could actually be used on our robots. Those were the main challences I was faced with and I believe I did a relatively good job at solving these. If you do decide to build this you will find how percise and accurite it is despite it being 3D printed. So lets get to building!

I hope you enjoy my instructable and please give it a vote because winning this competition would greatly help our robotics program and further our knowledge in making and engineering. Also, my Engineering teacher promised me a 100 on our final if I win this competition!

Quick Disclaimer: Please read through entire Instructable before beginning to avoid missing steps! Also this will not be a guide on how to do some of the basic skills needed to complete this instructable such as soldering and 3D printing. Also this is NOT a guide on how to use a lathe!

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools

You may not need tools but it sure makes it easier to have them!

  • Mallet
  • Vice
  • Hacksaw (needs to be able to cut metal)
  • Sandpaper (80-120 grit is fine)
  • Grinding wheel (can be substituted for a metal file)
  • Drill
  • Various Drill Bits
  • Hex Key Set
  • Soldering Station
  • Wire Strippers/ Cutters
  • Heat Gun
  • Heat Shrink
  • Box Cutter
  • Super Glue
  • Straight Edge
  • Marker
  • lubricant


  • Dremel With metal cutting saw
  • Caliper

Step 2: Purchase Parts (BOM)

Picture of Purchase Parts (BOM)

This is the complete Bill of Materials to construct this mini lathe. I have attached hyperlinks to the parts I already have and some as which I needed to purchase, I will try to keep these links active as long as I can. Many if not all of these parts can be substituted for alternatives or what you have on hand in your shop with minimal or no modification to my 3D files.

  1. 12V DC Motor (X2)
  2. Wire (one spool should be plenty with much to spare for other projects)
  3. PWM Motor Controller (X1)
  4. Lead Screw (X1 Length- 36")(can be substituted for hardware store threaded rod)
  5. Lead Screw Nut (X4) (can be substituted for matching nuts)
  6. Lead Screw Bearing (X8)
  7. 8mm Shafting (X3 Length- 610mm) (can be substituted for hardware store shafting)
  8. 8mm Linear Bearing (X6 Length- 24mm)
  9. 6mm Shaft (X3 Length- 300mm) (can be substituted for hardware store shafting)
  10. 6mm Bearing (X10)
  11. Shaft Hub (X4 Bore- 6mm) (X2 Bore- .125")
  12. 6-32 Screws (X1 bag Length- 1.5") (you can always cut a screw to fit but you can't add length to one)
  13. 8020 Aluminum Extrusion (X1 Length- 24")
  14. Aluminum Extrusion Mount (X5 bag)
  15. Screw Plate (X5 bag)
  16. Gears (X2 Tooth count- 72T ) (X2 Tool count- 84T )
  17. Lathe Tools (X1)

The total cost for this excluding 3D prints and assuming you have NO parts in your lab, or workspace is about $200. (Don't let this deter you because many of these parts can be sourced for much cheaper)

Step 3: 3D Print Away!

Picture of 3D Print Away!

First you need to download the Lathe Parts and at the bottom of the step and decompress it. All of the files are neatly labeled within. Assuming you do not need to modify the files printing is as simple as any other STL. I have included both the Fusion360 and STL files for anybody who builds my lathe. On top of that, every 3D piece comes labeled with its proper name and a picture of the orientation in which to print (Sorry for the low quality screenshots but the pieces were very small on my screen). The objective of this was so that not only will it be easier for me to point out which parts you will be using, but also is a fast way to teach lathe learners the names of the various parts on the machine!

The settings to print every piece are as follows:

  • I recommend ABS as that is the only filament I tried and I know it works (please feel free to experiment and let me know what worked well for you)
  • I printed everything on a Lulzbot TAZ and Lulzbot Mini with a heated bed
  • Print at the highest resolution your printer allows
  • Set infill to 35% (I know this is much higher than normally required but the parts need to be relatively strong)
  • Print with 2.0 mm wall thickness
  • Print with a brim (if you do not have the option a raft will print just fine but will require more post-print cleanup)
  • Supports should not be needed for most of the parts (Use supports on the Pulley 1, 2, and 3) (make sure your printer does vertical cylinders well before printing at super high infill and if not then use supports)
  • If your prints do warp a little bit around the corners it is ok as long as all of the holes are still mostly round and the bottom is mostly flat. (Many of my parts are a little warped).

This is the list of each part that needs to be printed and the quantity you need

  • Carriage (X1)
  • Chuck Grip (X4)
  • Face Plate (X1)
  • Gear Box (X1)
    • Motor Clamp (X4)
  • Guide Way Ends (X2)
  • Handwheel (X2)
  • Handwheel Pin (X2)
  • Head Stock (X1)
  • Tail Stock (X1)
  • Tool Holder (X1)

If you do not own a 3D printer 3D Hubs is an amazing website that offers you to buy your 3D prints.

Step 4: Clean Up the Prints

Picture of Clean Up the Prints
  1. Once the prints are removed from the print bed they will have a brim which needs to be cut off using a box cutter.
  2. The best way to do this is to line up the box cutter with the edge of the print and cut it off.
  3. Once the majority of the brim is removed you will need to do a combination of the following:
  • Try to scrape the excess off with the box cutter and/or take some sand paper and quickly remove the smaller rough edges.
  • The objective of this last step is so that there are no rough edges for things to grind on or sharp edges for people to hurt themselves with.

Preparing For Bearings and Rods

  1. The next thing you want to do is drill out the various holes just so that they are smooth and bearings and rods can be pressure fitted.
  2. If you do not have extremely large drill bits like me a little bit of sanding will ensure a perfect fit.
  3. The objective of this is so that when you move to the next step all of the bearings and rods can be pressure fitted in without cracking the prints and without being too loose that they need to be glued into place.

Step 5: Metal Cutting

Picture of Metal Cutting

This will be a detailed list on the lengths you need to cut out of every part. For many if not all of these pieces it is best to use a vice to firmly hold it but this can be substituted for strong clamps. (For time I will be using a drexel to cut the screws but this can easily be done with a hacksaw).

Rods+ Lead Screw

8mm Rods

  1. (X2) 180mm length
  2. (X2) 610mm length (This does not need to be cut if you use the rods I have listed)

6mm Rod

  1. (X2) 120mm length
  2. (X1) 170mm length
  3. (X1) 60mm length

8mm Lead Screw

  1. (X1) 210mm length
  2. (X1) 650mm length

8020 Rail

8020 rail

  1. (X1) 760mm or 30 in length

After you cut any of the parts I recommend taking a grinding wheel and/ or files to remove the burs and soften the edges

Step 6: Head Stock + Gear Box

Picture of Head Stock + Gear Box

For the first step, we are going to assemble the driving force of the lathe, the Gear Box and Head Stock. I am going to break it down into sections starting with the bearings, then the rods, then hardware, and finally the electronics. This is the only section done in this format because of the number of times you need to jump between parts. So here we go!


  • If at any time you feel like the bearings are too large and may crack the print you have two options and you can do them in whichever order you feel more comfortable with.
  • You can attempt to sand the holes a little larger or take a heat gun and heat the bearing and try to press it in melting the plastic just a little bit (Be careful not to damage or melt the bearing and also try to prevent warping of the print).
  • When attempting to press bearings in you can either use a rubber or plastic mallet (probably the best tool for the job as it is the most forgiving), a hammer (Use a thin piece of cloth on the head of the hammer to prevent damage), or finally a vice and really try to force the bearings into place (once again you may want to use a cloth and be very careful as prints crack easily this way).
  • If you are ever confused about the wording and the order to do things please reference the pictures as may of them are labeled with the order to press things in.

  • Gear Box

    For this step, you are going to need 2, 12mm OD 6mm ID bearing

    1. At the top of the gear box where the largest hole is you need to press a 12mm OD 6mm ID bearing into the front and back of the piece.
    2. Leave the two holes below the top one empty for now we will come back to them later.

    • Head Stock

      For this step, you are going to need 2, 12mm OD 6mm iID bearing

      1. Just like the Gear Box you need to press a 12mm OD 6mm ID bearing into the front and back of the piece.
      2. Leave the two holes below the top one empty for now we will come back to them later.


      • Just as before if at any point you feel as though the rods are too large and may crack the print don't be afraid to drill out the hole or heat the print or rod to melt the plastic a little bit.
      • The same rules apply as the last step of bearing pushing.
      • If you are ever confused about the wording and the order to do things in please reference the pictures as may of them are labeled with the order to push the rods and parts into place.

      • Gear Box

        For this step you are going to need 2, 6mm 120mm length rods

        1. The two holes below the hole with the bearing is where the first rod is going to be pushed in.
        2. Take one of the 6mm 120mm length rods and mallet it all the way through the Gear Box as to where it is flush with the opposite side.
        3. Repeat this for the second hole.

        • Head Stock

          For this step, you are going to need the previously assembled Gear Box

          1. This is where we bind the gear box to the Head Stock piece. you need to take the Gear Box with the two rods sticking out and line the rods up with the empty holes that should line up with the Head Stock.
          2. With the holes lined up carefully mallet the top of the GEAR BOX into the Head Stock. The final result should have the Gear Box and Head Stock lined up perfectly so the rod that will be used for the chuck can slide all the way through and rotate smoothly (This means please test the alignment with another 6mm shaft).


          • This step is relatively easy but you need to be careful about the length of the screws (You will be cutting your screws so remember cut once measure twice).
          • There should be very few clearance issues if any at all and if there are just keep screwing through to tighten the screw and ignore the issue everything should still work fine.
          • As there are multiple components being made here I will break each part into sub-assemblies.

          • Gear Box

          • Motor Mount

            For this step you are going to need 8 screws

            1. The motor mounts should form a complete circle with each side to make a clamp to hold the motors.
            2. With your screws now cut shove them through the two holes on the end of the clamps with the excess threads sticking out.
            3. Now you are going to take the mount and line it up with the gear box body
            4. Take the Hex Key and screw it part way into the Gear Box with enough space to slide the motor through.
            5. Repeat this 3 more times for the rest of the clamps.
            • 8020 Mounting

              For this step, you are going to need 4 screws and 4 8020 mounts

              1. There are two holes on each side of the Gear Box that run all the way through to the center square.
              2. You are then going to drop the screws through and loosely screw on the 8020 mounts. Please make sure the side with the ridges are facing towards the outside (If you are unfamiliar with 8020 mounting systems please reference the pictures very closely).

              • Head Stock

              • 8020 Mounting

                For this step, you are going to need 2 screws and 2 8020 mounts

                1. There is one hole on each side of the Gear Box that run all the way through to the center square.
                2. You are then going to drop the screws through and loosely screw on the 8020 mounts.
                3. Please make sure the side with the ridges are facing towards the outside (Once again if you are unfamiliar with 8020 mounting systems please reference the pictures very closely).


                • The electronics are relatively simple for this step, we will get into powering up the electronics and completing the wiring later.

                • Gear Box

                  For this step, you are going to need your spool of wire, 2 motors and shrink wrap

                  1. You are going to need your solder station ready for this step. You are going to take both of your motors and identify which lead is the positive lead (there should be a red dot distinguishing which lead is which, please reference pictures).
                  2. Then cut about 30cm of red and black wire for each motor.
                  3. The red wire is going to be soldered to the positive lead and the black to the negative lead.
                  4. Once you finished soldering the wires place some heat string over the leads to protect them from metal shavings.
                  5. Once you have both of the motors soldered you are going to take them and feed them wires first through the motor mounting clasps so the shaft is sticking out the completely open end and the wires are in between the Gear Box and Head Stock piece.

                  Congratulations you have completed the Gear Box! We will come back to this at the end when we mount the face plate.

                  Step 7: Tool Holder

                  Picture of Tool Holder

                  This complete assembly can be very difficult if not followed in order. I have refined the steps to do this in the simplest order as possible to avoid struggling to fit things, so please follow the directions and pictures very closely and everything will fit together smoothly. The Tool Holder has 2 steps that need to be completed relatively accurately so that the tool will run straight and true it is divided into the two sections for the parts that will be used.


                  You are going to need 2, 15 mm OD 8 mm ID linear bearings

                  1. Take the tool holder and 2, 15 mm OD 8 mm ID linear bearings and push them into the outer 2 holes of the print.
                  2. Once again the same rules apply to pushing items into the 3D print; force items in very carefully and don't be afraid to sand or heat the inside of the hole to make it fit easier.
                  3. I recommend doing this either with a vice or placing the tool holder vertically with the holes and overhang facing straight up and carefully mallet the linear bearings in.

                  Lead Screw Alignment

                  You are going to need 2, 8mm lead screw nuts and the 210 mm lead screw

                  1. The next step is to ram the nuts of the linear screws in. This needs to be done very carefully to ensure proper alignment.
                  2. The first step to doing any of the linear screw parts is going to be aligning the 2 nuts.
                  3. You are going to need to take out 2 of the lead screw nuts and screw them onto the lead screw.
                  4. Then you need to screw the nuts so that the outside is flush with what would be the ends of the tool holder.
                  5. You are then going to take a marker with a straight edge and make a mark a line on both nuts (Please reference the pictures for exactly how to do this or it will not run properly).
                  6. Take the nuts off of the rod making sure not to accidentally remove the maker.
                  7. Now take one of the nuts and mallet it into the middle hole with the marker facing upwards.
                  8. Next, take the second nut and do the same on the opposite side being very careful to ensure proper alignment of the marks.
                  9. This will ensure that that the tool holder runs smoothly with very little wobble.

                  Step 8: Carriage Assembly

                  Picture of Carriage Assembly

                  Completing the carriage can be very complicated if not completed in the proper order filling the directions to a T. Please reference the pictures often because messing up requires a lot of reworking and difficulties. This will once again be broken down into steps for the parts that will be required.


                  For these steps you are going to need 2, 22mm OD 8 mm ID Bearing

                  1. For this step you are going to need to identify the side of the 3D print that will be closer to your work piece.This is easy to identify because it is the end that is closer to the side with the rectangle missing.
                  2. You are going to need to take the bearing and ram it into the middle hole.
                  3. This is the best time to use a vice if you have one to prevent breaking the print and if you don't own one now you have an excuse to buy one. Or you can keep reading to do it with a hammer. (For this just open the vice just enough for the bearing and 3D print to slide between the jaws then force close the jaws pressing the bearing into place) If you are not fortunate enough to have a vice this can be done with a mallet very carefully as follows, (The best way to do this is stand the carriage up so it looks like a C place the bearing on top of the empty hole and mallet between the top overhang and the bottom overhang to prevent breaking them).
                  4. Once again there is a picture of me doing this step if you are unsure)


                    For these steps you are going to need 2, 8mm Rods cut to 180mm

                    1. Take two of the 8mm rods cut to 180mm length and you are going to need to ram them into the holes next to the bearings.
                    2. The best way to do this is to sand the holes so you can manually force the rods through (it should still be difficult to do)
                    3. Force the rods through half of the carriage (there are pictures, please look at them because messing up is difficult to fix).


                      For this you only need the Tool Holder and Carriage assembly.

                      1. Now is the fun part where you get to see some of your work really come together.
                      2. Take the Tool Holder and find the side with the overhang.
                      3. Next align the linear bearings with the 8mm rods and push it on so the overhang is facing toward the other inserted bearing (again there are pictures, please look at them because messing up is difficult to fix).

                      For this you are going to be modifying the 8mm Rods in the carriage

                      1. Now you are going to finish ramming the Rod all the way through the Carriage.
                      2. To do this you need to manually force the rod all the way to the other side of the carriage while keeping the tool holder on the rods.
                      3. Once the Rods are all the way to the next set of holes you need to mallet them into the next set of holes and keeping them flush on both sides (keeping them flush should be easy because they were cut to the exact length).

                        Lead Screw

                        For these steps you are going to need the 210 mm lead screw, 2, 8 mm lead screw nut, and 1 screw

                        1. In order to assemble the lead screw you are going to need to take the 210mm lead screw and sand about 1 inch at the end of the lead screw in order for it to fit into the bearing.
                        2. What you need to do is to feed the rod through the middle hole without the bearing and screw it through the Tool Holder
                        3. Then force it through the bearing at the other end while ensuring you don't push it to far because you want to keep it flush with the end.
                        4. Now take the excess lead screw on the side without the bearing and sand it lightly so you can force the bearing onto the lead screw and into the carriage with a mallet.
                        5. Now you are going to take the Handwheel and the side with the rounded edge is going to be SCREWED on to the lead screw. Make sure you screw the hand wheel do NOT push it on!
                        6. Finally, take the Handwheel Pin and screw and feed it through the Pin and into the Handwheel.

                        Congrats You have now finished the hardest part of the build!

                        Step 9: Guide Ways Assembly

                        Picture of Guide Ways Assembly

                        This is where we are going to finish the difficult parts of the construction. After this step is just tying things together so power through and finish the last step. So here we go! Once again the build process is going to be broken down into subsections in order to keep is as easy as possible to assemble. For these next steps, you are going to need the Guide Way ends.


                        For this step, you are going to need 2, 22mm OD 8mm ID and 4, 15mm OD 8mm ID linear bearings

                        1. You are going to take one of the Guide Way ends and press one of the bearings into the middle hole on one side trying to keep it flush with the end.
                        2. Next, you are going to flip the piece over and do the same for the other side.
                        3. You then need to repeat this for the other Guide Way
                        4. Now you are going to set the Guide Ways to the side and grab your carriage assembly
                        5. With the Carriage assembly, you need to press the linear bearings into place in a specific order
                        6. First, pick any of the outer circles and press the bearing in
                        7. Then press the bearing for the opposite side of that bearing
                        8. Repeat that for the next two bearings on the other side

                        For these steps, you are going to need 2 8mm lead screw nut

                        1. Then you need to take the same steps for aligning the nut of the linear bearing
                        2. First, you need to screw on the two nuts and align the ends so they are flush with the carriage
                        3. Next, take your marker and straight edge to make lines on the nuts
                        4. Then just as before you need to ram the nut in ensuring the line is facing upward
                        5. Finally, ram the second nut into the opposite face ensuring the line is facing directly upward
                        6. being very careful here ensures proper alignment and smooth running of the tool
                        7. Once again all of the same rules apply where if you feel that it might crack the print please sand the print or heat the bearing up to fit it in properly.


                        For this step, you are going to need 2 8mm rods at 610mm length, 650mm lead screw, the previous Carriage assembly, and 1 screw

                        1. First, you need to take one of your Guide Ways and make sure you have the proper orientation of the Guide Way end with the bearing in it.
                        2. To do this you will need to take the side with the rectangle cut out and make that end face away from you (just like in the picture).
                        3. Then turn it on its side so that the labeling is facing upwards.
                        4. once you have done that you need to mallet the 8mm rods into the piece very carefully to avoid bending the rods or once again cracking the prints (These holes are much more forgiving and can take much more force).
                        5. Now that the rods are set into place, take your carriage assembly and slide it onto the rod making sure that the rectangle of the carriage lines up with the
                          Square on the Guide Way.
                        6. Next, you need to take the 650 mm length lead screw and sand the 2 inches at the end to ensure it slides into the bearings.
                        7. then feed the lead screw through the nuts of the cartridge and then into the bearings trying to keep it flush with the end of the Guide Way.
                        8. finally, sand roughly 4 inches of the lead screw on the opposite end so the bearings will slide onto the opposite end.
                        9. Next, you are going to take the second Guide Way end (ensure it is in the same direction as the opposite side) and mallet it on top of the other rods after feeding the bearings through the lead screw.
                        10. You will need to mallet this very carefully as not to bend the rods so every time you hit the print you need to alternate which rod you are hitting above.
                        11. Then just as you did for carriage you will SCREW on the Handwheel with the rounded edge toward the Guide Way.
                        12. Finally, you are going to the Handwheel pin and feed the screw through the hole and into the Handwheel screw hole.


                        For these steps you are going to need 8 screws and 8 8020 mounts

                        1. There are 2 holes on the side and top of the Guide Ways that run all the way through to the center square.
                        2. You are then going to drop the screws through the side holes and loosely screw on the 8020 mounts.
                        3. You are then going to drop the screws through the top holes and loosely screw on the 8020 mounts.
                        4. Please make sure the side with the ridges are facing towards the outside (Once again if you are unfamiliar with 8020 mounting systems please reference the pictures very closely).

                        Step 10: 8020 Mounting

                        Picture of 8020 Mounting

                        This step is relatively simple it just requires you to check your work and ensure the 8020 mounts are facing the correct directions and then placing the parts on in the correct order (If every confused there are pictures of the order in which this step needs to be completed).

                        This step is going to require the 760 mm 8020 rail and a hex key to tighten everything

                        1. First, ensure all of your 8020 mounts are facing the right direction (there is a picture if you are unsure if you did this correctly)
                        2. Slide the Gear Box and Head Stock on the right end of the 8020 having the motor mount sit flush to the end of the 8020.
                        3. Tighten all of the screws to secure the assemblies to the 8020 mount
                        4. Take the right side of the Guide Ways and slide only the first Guide Way one onto the 8020 mount.
                        5. Slide on the Tail Stock following the first Guide Way
                        6. Then slide on the second Guide Way following the tail stock and ensure the Guide Way all the way to the right is touching the Head Stock.
                        7. Finally, tighten all of the screws of the Guide Ways while leaving the Tail Stock loose because it is designed to be adjustable.

                        Step 11: Face Plate Assembly

                        Picture of Face Plate Assembly

                        This is a super simple step of just screwing things together.

                        You will need a 6mm bore shaft hub, 6mm 170mm long shaft, and 4 screws

                        1. First, you need to take the very end of the shaft and slide the 6mm shaft hub as to where the extra piece of metal is facing inward toward the rest of the shaft.
                        2. Tighten this extremely tight so it will not come loose
                        3. Take the faceplate and make sure the side with the lip is toward the shaft and screw in the 4 screws into the hub

                        Congrats You have finished the face Plate!

                        Step 12: Gear System Construction

                        Picture of Gear System Construction

                        This is also relatively simple of just screwing things together. You will be mounting the faceplate assembly to the Head Stock and then fasting all of the parts to attach the pulleys to the motors.

                        Face Plate Installation

                        For this, you are going to need the face Plate assembly and another 6mm Shaft Hub

                        1. First, slide the Face Plate into the Head Stock from the left to the right while going through all of your previously installed bearings.
                        2. slide another 6mm shaft hub all the way until it is loosely touching the bearing of the motor mount and then tighten the set screw to firmly attach it.

                        Gear Installation

                        You will need the 1/8 inch shaft hub and 12 screws

                        1. First, you will need to slide the 1/8 inch shaft hub onto the motor shaft as far as there is still a slice in the shaft so the set screw will fasten properly (have the extra piece of metal facing away from the motor so the flush side is facing inward)
                        2. Then, you are going to take the larger gear and attach it to either motor securing it with the screws
                        3. Next, take the second larger gear and attach it to the remaining motor securing it with screws
                        4. Finally, take the smaller diameter gear and attach it to the 6mm shaft hub with the screws
                        5. This will cause all of the gears to touch and be the perfect fit to run properly


                        Step 13: Electronics

                        Picture of Electronics

                        Because this is a portable lathe and whenever I travel with my workstation a permanent staple is my mini benchtop power supply so I will not be going over how to power this from a wall outlet but rather from a pre-existing 12v DC system.

                        Final Wiring

                        1. First, strip about 1 cm of wire from every pre-soldered lead from the motors
                        2. Twist, the two reds, and two blacks together.
                        3. finally, wire the two leads to each of the motor terminals on the PWM motor controller.

                        All you have to do is hook up the positive and negative to your power supply and rotate the knob to control the speed. I did not create a designated place to mount the motor controller because I thought many people would opt not to include one or use various types so I figured you could figure how you would like to mount it.

                        Step 14: Finishing Up and Basic Use

                        Picture of Finishing Up and Basic Use

                        These final steps will be tieing everything together and basic setting up to use the lathe.

                        Tool Mount

                        For this step, you will need a screw, the tool of choice, and 2 mounting plates.

                        1. First, take one of your mounting plates and de-tap the center hole by using a 1/4 inch drill bit.
                        2. Take the screw and feed it through the de-taped plate through the hole in the tool holder and into another plate (this one should have a taped hole) (Reference pictures if you are unsure).
                        3. Finally, place one tool facing forward and another facing backward and tighten the screw extremely tight to prevent the tool from coming loose.

                        Face Plate Mount

                        For this step, you will need 3 Face Pate mounts, and 3 mounting plates with 3 screws

                        1. To use the face plate with 3 Face Plate Mounts you will feed each of 3 screws through the mount, then through the face plate, then into a mounting plate on the rear of the Face Plate.
                        2. You will need to be extremely careful to ensure your material is centered with this method.
                        3. If you want to upgrade to a self-centering chuck there are some you can purchase or build on your own.

                        Step 15: Oil Your Machine Before Use

                        This is a very basic guise on how to oil your lathe before using it. I use Silicon Lubricant but any other lubricant will work just fine (I do not recommend using WD40, you are probably better off just leaving the oil the bearings come with then using that.)

                        1. Lubricate the Guide Way first. This involves lubricating the 2 large rods and then the lead screw (do not forget the lead screw bearings)
                        2. Next lubricate the carriage and tool holder rods and lead screw just as the Guide Way
                        3. Finally lubricate the entire Gear Box Head Stock and Face Plate assembly (This includes the gears and bearings)
                        4. The lathe should now run extremely smoothly if not check the alignment of your rods then check again.

                        Step 16: CONGRATS!!!

                        You now have a completely working desktop portable lathe. The best of all of it is that you made a tool that can now make many other tools. Congratulate yourself and now master the use of the lathe :) Please remember to always tie hair back, remove jewelry, and ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES while operating.

                        Please Remember If you enjoyed this instructable to Vote for the In Motion Contest. It would help me and my teammates very much and help us improve our robotics and making skills. Also as I said before my teacher promised a 100% on my final if I won so please vote and thank you for reading!

                        P.S. If you notice any issues with the instructable please comment so I may fix them ASAP as I will be reading every comment. Also if you would like to share the files elsewhere please give me credit for the designs because I worked very hard on making this perfect and would be really upset if I were not receiving the credit I deserve. Thank You!


                        Jtt13 (author)2017-11-10

                        That lathe looks like it would be really easy to use as a cnc lathe. The leadscrew is the same as used in 3d printers.

                        pbickwermert (author)2017-09-23

                        Hi, one question. Why two motors and wouldn't they need to be turning in different directions? In your instructions you say to twist both positives together and both negs together, but in the picture it shows a POS and neg on the same terminal. Thanks and by the way, great job!

                        Slashaar (author)2017-06-20

                        Is this rigid and powerful enough to turn aluminum or steel?

                        corriecjc (author)2017-05-19

                        Really great instructable!! I intend to try making it.

                        iccycold3000 (author)corriecjc2017-05-21

                        Thank you very much!

                        geekswoodshop (author)2017-05-18

                        A fantastic bit of engineering and very cool project. So impressed.

                        As others have already echoed, I very much look forward to videos or images of work done with this. Congrats as well on the prize!

                        Thank you very much!

                        HendoJ (author)2017-05-17

                        Congrats! still counts as an A right? :)

                        iccycold3000 (author)HendoJ2017-05-17

                        It sure does and you too man!

                        brettt3 (author)2017-05-17


                        iccycold3000 (author)brettt32017-05-17

                        Thank You so much and the same goes for you!

                        RobPaige (author)2017-05-12

                        While I love Skycraft Surplus, they're out of stock on the motor. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative?

                        iccycold3000 (author)RobPaige2017-05-13

                        I believe this motor should work just fine


                        It has very close if not identical dimensions to the motors I used. And you are absolutely right many of the parts I scavenged for and did not need to purchase myself. And thank you very much!

                        RobPaige (author)iccycold30002017-05-15

                        Thanks! At some point I fully intend to tackle this project. Will be printing the parts with PLA, so I'll let you know how that turns out.

                        RobPaige (author)2017-05-12

                        I'm also intrigued by your mention of sourcing parts cheaper. I'm assuming you could probably get a few items by scavving out printers/scanners.

                        Timothee Gillier (author)2017-05-07

                        Have you ever carved any thing with it?

                        Yes I have carved plastic and a little metal but nothing too serious.

                        TinTxt (author)2017-05-05

                        First of all, very good instructable. I'm definetly going to build one.
                        Please bear with me, my enlish is a bit rusty. I've a question regarding the Head Stock and Gear Box.

                        The holes where the 12mm OD bearings should go are too big (13.7mm). Is that ok? Only the flanges are supposed to make contact with the printed parts?

                        If so, why? why not use non-flanged bearings?

                        btw, just voted for you :D

                        iccycold3000 (author)TinTxt2017-05-05

                        The reason why those holes are larger is because on my printer to print seem to shrink a little bit (and the printer has its sizes a little off) so when I press the bearings and even though in cad they are a little larger they still have a very snug fit. You might need to adjust those on your printer depending on how much your prints shrink and or your print dimensional quality. And thank you very much I really appreciate it!

                        sdw_nj (author)2017-05-04

                        I would love to see video of the lathe in action.

                        iccycold3000 (author)sdw_nj2017-05-04

                        I am working on a video right now as we speak!

                        Yonatan24 (author)iccycold30002017-05-05

                        Please do update us once you do!

                        iccycold3000 (author)Yonatan242017-05-05

                        I absolutely will!

                        efoster6 (author)2017-05-04

                        I'm green with envy. Have you thought about adding a tailstock giving you a safer method to do longer than the 15" you mentioned

                        iccycold3000 (author)efoster62017-05-05

                        I have a tailstock in the files but it requires slight modification to be used so I do use it but it is not perfect.

                        JerryF9 (author)2017-05-04

                        Nice design. Good luck on the contest. I'm an FTC Mentor (Team #10138 Newton Busters).

                        Ftcmentor (author)JerryF92017-05-04

                        Hey, we played with you guys at worlds (5414 TRI Robotics). Still can't believe you guys didn't get picked for elimination rounds.

                        iccycold3000 (author)Ftcmentor2017-05-05

                        I also don't think we competed with you guys at worlds but I hope people think we made it lol!

                        iccycold3000 (author)JerryF92017-05-04

                        Thank you so much and FYI this lathe is perfect for FTC we now use it all of the time!

                        ElectivoJr (author)2017-05-04


                        Can you post one video with it working?

                        Congrats by the excelent job.

                        iccycold3000 (author)ElectivoJr2017-05-04

                        I am working on a video right now as we speak!

                        ElectivoJr (author)iccycold30002017-05-05


                        Excuse me. When I read the posts, there was no mention of videos.

                        Anyway, here is my thanks.

                        iccycold3000 (author)ElectivoJr2017-05-05

                        I don't understand what you mean by no mention of videos? I cam currently working on one if that was your question

                        codegeek (author)2017-05-05

                        This is by far the most well-written and documented project I've ever seen on this site. Kudos!

                        iccycold3000 (author)codegeek2017-05-05

                        Thank you so much!

                        relbatto (author)2017-05-04

                        really imaginative and illustrative of how easily patterns for casting can be made.once you have the patterns , of this accuracy you can turn out finished product for dozens of reclaimed metal duplicates, you deserve a dave gingery award for concept and execution, thank you for a great instructable.

                        iccycold3000 (author)relbatto2017-05-04

                        Thank you so much and another user commented he is attempting to make one of these machines out of aluminum and I am excited to see how it goes!

                        M2Field (author)2017-05-04

                        The best documented build I have seen on this website. Well done young man. You got my vote.

                        iccycold3000 (author)M2Field2017-05-04

                        Thank you so much!

                        thekarlmiller (author)2017-05-04

                        Very nice work. I knew that I liked it when I saw you bought the motors from Skycraft (the most awesome store on earth)

                        Sky Craft is an amazing source for everything and anything we use them for a ton of our parts!

                        hajosmulders (author)2017-05-04

                        Tell your teacher I said that this project deserves a 100 regardless of whether you win a silly competition or not. I'd give it a 100 in an early college class... and still a very high grade for a senior in college...

                        Thank you so much! This means a lot to me because of the hard work I put in. I will definitely let my teacher know lol!

                        setsunakaede (author)2017-05-04

                        While I still have my doubts as to how rigid this homebuilt lathe is (owning a cast-steel mini-lathe myself and finding too much flex in that already), I must congratulate you on your marksmanship and perseverance, and of course the result! It is a remarkable piece of creative marksmanship and if it works for what you intend on doing, so much for the better!

                        You actually inspired me for a solution for my own lathe; I still need height adjustment for my milling attachment, never thought of designing and printing it myself... *heads for the 3DCAD program, with some chips&cola...*

                        Yonatan24 (author)setsunakaede2017-05-04

                        Same thoughts about flex here too. Still voted!

                        Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242017-05-04

                        And by the way, you can get the same exact dimmer for a 4th of the price on eBay!

                        iccycold3000 (author)Yonatan242017-05-04

                        I know there are much much cheaper options but I happen to have this on hand and because we can drive to sky craft (a surplus store) we receive extreme discounts.

                        iccycold3000 (author)Yonatan242017-05-04

                        The machine does have what you would consider a lot of flex but for the projects we are using it for (mostly diy pens and cleaning shafts) it works just fine.

                        The machine does have what you would consider a lot of flex but for the projects we are using it for (mostly diy pens and cleaning shafts) it works just fine. Also thank you so much and I hope your part works just as planed!

                        ViliusC4 (author)2017-05-04

                        Great project! Let me know if you post it in action on youtube! Would love to see that

                        About This Instructable




                        Bio: I am a Junior in high school who actively participates is FTC, Mate Underwater Robotics, and TSA. Making is not just a hobby for me ... More »
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