Picture of Bench Lathe 3 in 1 (Lathe - Sander - Grinder/Sharpener)

When I submitted my instructable "The smallest workshop in the world" a lathe latter addition was presented as an add-on idea to the tool bench, after someone asked me... "Where is the lathe?"

At first I did a quick sketch lathe idea using a power drill for motor, just to show that a lathe was possible also to be added on that tool bench.
But then my visitors started trying to perfect the design idea with many positive comments.
It was on popular demand that I ended up sketching a woodworking Bench Lathe, as many visitors to my instructable where asking me for it.

There positive comments, feedback and rating votes, encourage me to publish this
"Bench Lathe 3 in 1" instructable.

So I started a research on how a lathe should be. I search for different ideas, for various parts of it and studying the mechanisms of other lathes in the market, as I wonted the bench lathe to be completely made out wood.

I was not ready to build the real thing as I have not the time at this moment, but I decided to give a workable 3D design that is easy to follow and to be build.

There are no exact measurements in the drawings firstly because I work in metric system and we all know how frustrating is to convert it to imperial (fractions do not much up, plywood thickness is 18mm for me but in U.S. is 19mm 3/4), and secondary because you can build it to measure your own space and needs. I will provide though the general measurements of this project.
I think that the 3D images I provide with the instructable are detailed enough to give you an accurate account of what is going on, how to build it and how to change its measurements.

The trick as I see it, is to find the right components that fit together to build the lathe's headstock turning mechanism. It should not be expensive, so everyone can build it, should be very safe, be solid and sturdy and with very good turning results.

I ended up designing a lathe that has also some add-ons like a faceplate to turn bowls. Has also the versatility to be used as a grinder/sharpening station and as a sanding station with its attachable disk sander and table.
The lathe I design is big enough to turn an 80cm (31") leg on it, but it could easily be extended either with a bed extension or by simply build longer.

So here it's what I came up with, I hope you enjoy and be inspired from the instructable.

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dragonem1 month ago

Nice, absolutly Brilliant. I need a cheap solution and this might do the trick.

spikeseller4 months ago
Great Instructable. I have my motor and will be getting the remaining materials together to build my lathe. I will most probably use some of you ideas found here and some of my own. Your hing on the motor mount as a belt adjustment is pure genius in my book. Thank you so much for taking the time to put your plans on this site.
stamatelos7 months ago

A great instructable brilliand

Thank you my friend
you have a Greek name so καλησπέρα από Αθηνα και να ειστε καλα .
rjcullis9 months ago

absolutely, bloody, marvelous I have looked at your workshop as well as your lathe. Brilliant. I may be moving my worshop onto a houseboat and this would be perfect.

mmcgregor410 months ago
How much time did you spend constructing this project? I am attempting to get approval to build one of the for a small prototyping workshop, my boss likes the component cost but wants to know how many labor hours I would spend building it.
domino881 year ago
As usual you make excellent Instructable. A lot of good ideas. I really like the way you make the bed of the lathe. More simple than the angled parts. Making a Lathe based on the Shop Notes Issue 73 plans has been on my plans for a while. Finding the hardware is the hardest part. You mention using a drill press for parts, I saw this homemade lathe based on the Shop Notes plans where almost all the drill press is used for the tail stock: 

rhino1 year ago
Such a great instructable! I hope at some point to have enough space cleared out in the garage to be able to do this. I keep cleaning out the garage and somehow it keeps filling up with junk again.
I will be starting this project with a variable speed 1/3 hp GE motor, I'll post pics!
Hoping you still get these. For the speed control could you use a router speed control like this ?
I am not sure as that is a 120V and me I'm using 240V, but I can't see why not, you better ask someone more knowledgeable in electronics.
arkan033991 year ago
Μπράβο πατριώτη , πολύ καλό ...συνέχισε έτσι...χαιρετίσματα από Κρήτη.
rondacosta2 years ago
thanks for this great instructable.
Several readers have asked for the SketchUp file(s).
I would also like to have the ones for ""The smallest workshop in the world"" instructable, if any. BTW, one of the most awesome Instructables ever posted!!!
So, could you please answer if such SketchUp files are available?
Thanks again,
zenbooter2 years ago
Hi Stelios. Coming here has provided me the impetus to get going and build this. I'm running out of steam and need the minds of others like yourself to accomplish woodworking needs. Big thank you.Tom.
KenHMT2 years ago
Very cool design & a great set of instructions!!

Added to the database at

ryanbou2 years ago
There is a classic book on building a (metal) lathe from scratch, using only hand tools, available from Lindsay's Technical books:
This is a must-have for anyone seriously considering this project.
I agree, the grinder is way too fast and expensive; use a 1750RPM appliance motor instead, you can get one from a repair place for around $30.
rasc00302 years ago
Great job, congratulations.
Thanks for the beautiful instruction!
What is missing for you to try out for your project?

Any restriction on sharing your Sketchup file?

gcook122 years ago
I would like to build one of these with my son as a homeschool project. Do you have a sketchup file of it?
wrsexton2 years ago
And an excellent project. My question is, how are you going to mount it on that fantastic small workbench you use that Fine Woodwoking Magazine published? Not sure you have enough room left there, although I guess it could be temporarily mounted atop the bench, then stored down below on the bench.
You have answered the question your-self :)
In my instructable The Smallest Workshop in the World you can see how and where is supposed to be stored on the multitool bench.

Thank you for visiting and commenting
bruji2 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
??? :)
English or Greek please
Hello, a question which I know used to winch motor bank 3 in 1 (Lathe - Sander - Grinder / Sharpener) if I have no right, is that really caught my attention thanks
some motors will work with motor speed controlers. this is i belive a reostate essentiall you dial in the speed you want from high speed to low speed I had one for my dremel tool. Motor speed controlers are available for routers as well so if that will work for some one with a router. I bought one combo mini lath at good will it ran for while then motor desenegrated so i took it apart and built similat pully arrangment to replace motor after finding the machine tool compay went out of business. the usable parts or a similatr lathe are the shaft bearing face plate tail stock and tool rest. always wear full face mask when turning on lathe.
I believe there many other ways to do a lathe and controll its speed. I just try to show one way of doing a low cost lathe. I am not a lathe expert put I beleive that the type of speed controll you will need it depence on the motor you will use. As for the full face mask... I totaly agree with you. Thanks
I think it is way cool and I totally get what you are trying to do. Thank you it is not for the professional but it is for the DIY'ERS. Thanks again
You are very welcome
charles5434 years ago
 A grinder is too fast for a power source for a wood lathe using identical step pulleys.  A grinder runs around 3000 rpm or more (in the US).  This is about the maximum speed you want for a lathe, and you want to be able to get it down to about 500 rpm.  With equal pulleys your motor speed would be about the midrange of your lathe speeds making the top speed about 6000 rpm.  To use the grinder you would need step pulleys of unequal sizes so that the largest step on the grinder pulley would be about the same diameter as the smallest step on the headstock pulley, or you would need another set of pulleys to reduce the speed down.
Thank you very much for your points.
I am not a lathe expert, and this is why at the end of my instructable I welcome every comment, suggestions, information and ideas.
Also this is why I was saying in my instructable that the difficult part is to find the right hardware for this project.
The information I found on this, it used a 1/4 HP (1725 RPM) and identical 3 step pulleys and by crossing the belt you get speeds from 4150 to 700 RPM. My grinder is double that speed as you said 2950, so yes it seems that it needs to be reduced either with unequal size of pulleys or another set of pulleys to reduce the speed down. I will look into this.
Anyway because I had my doubts, this is why I came up with the drill press dismantling idea which will give you speeds from 2650 to 580 RPM which I believe might be a good solution to the hardware problem.
I will have to correct the instructable according to your remarks.
Thank you very much for the constructive comments on this project
how about using a washing machine motor instead of the grinder?
Yes that can also work as long as you can control your speed. Please have a look at step 3.

Thank you for visiting
Thank you for your comment.
If you have a look at step 3 that's what is about exectly, pulleys of unequal size.
It all comes down to what can you get to build this. As I say in the instructable is even better if you can get a low speed motor or if you have a look at step 11 you will also find an alternative solution using an old inexpensive drill press.

Thank you for visiting
Option B is to get a grinder with variable speed already built into it. I bought an inexpensive grinder at Sears that would work pretty good for this project. The only drawback I see is that the speed control is on the front of the grinder, so you would have to set the speed prior to starting your work, unless you feel comfortable doing some work on the grinder and relocating the on/off - speed control face plate to a safer location.
I really like how you hinged the grinder to act as a tensioner for the belt.

Quite the engineer good sir!
thank you for visiting and commenting
Dumchicken3 years ago
did you make that in google sketch up
Yes V.7pro
Although I already have 4 lathes, this project is very tempting to build, just to show off at my woodturning club. "Hey, Donna, bet my whole lathe cost less than your Oneway drive spur."
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