Introduction: Homemade Woodworking Lathe

Picture of Homemade Woodworking Lathe

This My Homemade Lathe I made Last year. It consists of An old drill press and Off cuts I had Leftover in the shop. Rails are from An Old louvre door some pine and for the rotating centre I used the bit/ collet end from an old router that was broke. I use this quite often and it still works great.

Step 1: Tail Stock.

Picture of Tail Stock.

This made from An Old router I had Laying around that was broken, I cut it down to use as the rotating centre. The push in shaft lock button is also in use and makes it easier to change the bits for different projects.

Step 2: Head Stock

Picture of Head Stock

Just A simple setup Using an old drill press mounted to the bed. There was quite a few measurements to get this right and true. I mounted a steel pin in the chuck so that I could line up the Tail stock for The right Centre line and it worked out perfect I also used a laser just to be 100%

Step 3: The Bed

Picture of The Bed

The Bed was made from leftover 2x3" lengths of pressure treated stock I had .glued and screwed together. I let it dry over night. Following day I mounted the rails used from a used louvre door. as the wood was good and strong and true. They were glued and screwed to the bed using a off cut of wood cut to the size I needed for the channel gap, Screwed one end then moved the block to opposite end and repeated the process. all checked out with squares and measures.

Step 4: Tool Rest Bed

Picture of Tool Rest Bed

As I was only using pine for this as at the time that's all I had, I thought I would make it stronger by adding some steel to the underneath fixed into two routed grooves. This worked out well as it is very strong

Step 5: Tool Rest

Picture of Tool Rest

This is also made from Pine. Can be Moved to 3 different positions by moving the nut and bolt to the 3 different points, Can also swing any position left and right and forwards and backwards.

Step 6: Head and Tail Stock

Picture of Head and Tail Stock

Both head and Tail stock are both made very much alike. As you can see from the pics they both have the floating block that moves up and down the bed and when you tighten up the nut it locks it into place

Step 7: On Off Switch

Picture of On Off Switch

The switch is the one from the drill press I just added A white switch to the right side and this act's as an emergency stop and total power shut off.

Step 8: Rotating Centre

Picture of Rotating Centre

This is the part of the old router I had under the bench for years I knew I would need it some day :)

I cut it down here and there with a hack saw and filed it smooth. The bit I used in the chuck is a ground down forstner bit as I wanted it strong, The grinding process I used was I cut the forstner bit head/Blade off then placed the shaft into my drill and used the drill with the bench grinder.

Step 9: Faceplate

Picture of Faceplate

A homemade faceplate made from Oak Used M12 Threaded rod with backing washers bolted and recessed into the Oak and I used Industrial liquid thread lock....

Step 10: Drill Press

Picture of Drill Press

I made these addons, As in the vertical Position it can still be used as a drill press and I can use the whole length of the bed to in the drill press position if I need it.... I like this a lot 2 machines in one. Later On I am going to make a stand so I can set it to Vertical and horizontal in one place in the shop.

Step 11: Projects on This Lathe

Picture of Projects on This Lathe

Here are a few projects I have made on this lathe candlestick holders, Teak tool handles, A goblet, and a table post


WoodCrafts 67 (author)2016-02-02

Thank you Very Much Edgar Much Appreciated and Very Kind Of you ..

SinAmos (author)2016-09-24

Just wow!

Yonatan24 (author)2016-08-11

Hi, I've added your project to "The Ultimate Collection of DIY Workshop Tools" Collection

Here is the link If you are interested:

WoodCrafts 67 (author)Yonatan242016-08-12

Thank you for adding my Lathe project.. I Appreciates it....

szdonick (author)2016-01-31

Nicely done, I would suggest reinforcing the ways by using steel angle for the surface. The wood is subject to swelling/shrinking based on humidity and it will eventually wear down.

It's not as critical as a metalworking lathe but it can still become an issue.

DirkJ1 (author)szdonick2016-02-01

It is a simple thing to "iron" paraffin wax into the wood and ways. I live in FL and it is HUMID here, so humid that unless I run AC in the summer I have problems with even my appliances rusting indoors. Leather shoes without special driers can rot in months.

I have used an old iron and ironed paraffin wax into wood ways and channels etc. Never had any problems with expansion or with friction after that. In fact wax works better than oil on even metal hinges here. Applying it isn't a problem, and be sure to remove excess before using it.

If building it ones self....the ironing in cn be done before assembly for full coverage!

WoodCrafts 67 (author)DirkJ12016-02-16

Thank you for the Tip. That sounds like a plan for future projects.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)szdonick2016-02-16

Thank You for your comment. I do worry about swelling/shrinking ect as It's in my shop and it gets Hot/cold in there. I do check all the alignments here and there and up to now it has been ok so far.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)szdonick2016-01-31

szdonick Thank you for your comment

I did not have any steel angle at the time of this build, But you are right it would have been better that way. It is still performing well at the moment lol I will see how it goeos over time. But I am currently working on a new one in Sketchup There are pics here somewhere in the comments :) .. Thank you again for you Important input ..

SteveMann (author)2016-01-31

It is wonderful to see this nicely crafted piece. I like making my own tools as well.

It would also be fun to make a milling machine.

Milling machines are one of the few machines that can "self-replicate" (e.g. you can use one milling machine to make another milling machine).

WoodCrafts 67 (author)SteveMann2016-02-15

Thank you .

I do really like making Machines were I can ...I am working on other designs.

SteveMann (author)2016-01-31

I loved the projects done on this project too.

In that sense they're sort of metaprojects (projects made on this project).

Keep up the great work!

WoodCrafts 67 (author)SteveMann2016-02-15

Thank you SteveMann Much Appreciated.

Edgar (author)2016-02-02

A nasty cold got in the way, but now, it's done!

Lou1238 (author)2016-02-02

Great project. Had an officer when was active duty that used to make bench tools using old washing machine and dryer motors. This reminds me of him. Keep up the building

WoodCrafts 67 (author)Lou12382016-02-02


Thank you. I just love to make my own tools machines ect I am working on a Sketchup for a bandsaw with a twist...

Jlfenter (author)2016-02-01

The proof is in the products you've made with your lathe, all very nicely done. Thank you for the breakdown and detail of your construction. Very nice work.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)Jlfenter2016-02-02


Thank you very Much. I have really enjoyed using this Lathe, It's been a lot of fun. I am working on some Attachments and add ons for it

nwonharp (author)2016-02-01

Very nice ,

I like it ! Good construction . The only problem that comes to mind with using wood to make a machine tool is that without proper climate control , the wood can warp slightly and affect alignment . , which shouldn't be a real issue on a woodworking machine .

Great job !!

Lee Wilkerson (author)2016-01-31

Nice job. Beautiful workmanship! Kudos!

Now all I need is to find an old broken drill press...

WoodCrafts 67 made it! (author)Lee Wilkerson2016-01-31

Thank you Lee

My next lathe build I won't be using a drill press this time. I will be making the headstock from scratch. I am currently working on the Sketchup...

nemosfate (author)WoodCrafts 672016-02-01

definitely keeping an eye out.

mangesh patil (author)2016-02-01


great project

Thank you very Much mangesh patil

ودودا (author)2016-02-01


Edgar (author)2016-01-31

Goes to tomorrow's Blog, God willing.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)Edgar2016-01-31

Wow that's cool How can I see this blog sry new to all this lol

Edgar (author)WoodCrafts 672016-01-31

Here it is, Portuguese Introductions, English bits of Articles with Links:

Edgar (author)2016-01-31

Best one, ever! :D

WoodCrafts 67 (author)Edgar2016-01-31

Thank you very much Edgar Much Appreciated .

Edgar (author)WoodCrafts 672016-01-31

Goes to my Blog, tomorrow, God willing.

acheide (author)2016-01-27

This is just the thing for an old drill press I have. Thanks.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)acheide2016-01-27

Thanks acheide, I did enjoy this build a lot I am building another one this year... Good luck with your build I would love to see it when it's done

If you have the room you can use the existing gearing off a washing machine you can use the spider as the mounting for the head stock. . If preferred use it as the tail stockBearing and find another pulley for the drive at the headstock

john mantova That sounds like a plan Great idea John Thank you mate and thank you for commenting Appreciated

tpagels (author)2016-01-30

While being laid up these past 6 months after a double knee injury and repair I've been researching building a couple tools I need in my shop. I've added this to my list. I found plans from Popular Mechanics circa 1973 for a shop built band saw. Many of the parts look like they could be sourced from modern frontload washing machines.

If one can't find a junk drill press I suggest perhaps looking at a junk washer. The tubs are connected to steel shafts using a very heavy duty bearing. Could be adapted for the head and tail stock.

Also all kinds of springs, nuts, bolts etc. The metal drums also make great fire pits!

I've also read about guys using treadmill motors to replace their planer motors.

These are things offered up on craigslist all the time or you can ask dealers about the junk they take in trade. Saves them time and money on disposal.

JohnS564 (author)tpagels2016-01-31

check out woodgears and ibuild it

WoodCrafts 67 (author)JohnS5642016-01-31


Have you seen the band saw by Stumpy Nubbs That one I like alot I do have a band saw build on my list :)

tpagels (author)JohnS5642016-01-31

I have. He's a bit goofy but his tools are cool!

crabapple0001 (author)2016-01-31

It is cute when some guy with to much time throws together a wooden lathe for fun.

One look at your finished project says that not what you did. You made something that put out great projects, proof is always in the finished projects. WOW!

You should be proud of the tool you have made.

I also like that it is two tools & a space saver, if need be.

crabapple0001 Thank you Very Much I really Appreciate the comment.

I did enjoy this build a lot, The projects were fun to turn out to, When I started this projects I had nothing down on paper or Sketchup that is unusual for me lolol I built it as I went. looking at the build as I was going adding this that taking that off ect using what I had around the shop It took me around 3 to 4 days to complete it and have it running , Then a few adjustments here and there

JohnS564 (author)2016-01-31

Love this use of a old drill press and the fact that you can use it vertically. I am making a phone app that would include stuff like this would you be interested?

WoodCrafts 67 (author)JohnS5642016-01-31

I might be PM me with more details...Thank you

robinrr1 (author)2016-01-31

Looks like you're building a shop Smith. You could also use this as a horizontal boring machine. One of those tools you never knew you needed until you have one. Nice job.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)robinrr12016-01-31

Thank you robinrr1

Much Appreciated I don't know anything about the Shop Smith but I am going to look for it on the net :)

JohnS564 (author)2016-01-31

I was thinking the same thing for the bed of the lathe you see those frames all the time in the trash. I picked up a couple old solid core doors yesterday for a project. Awesome free wood source. So are the core doors because they have thin wood that's good for backs of cabinets and laminates. Love this thanks!

WoodCrafts 67 (author)JohnS5642016-01-31

JohnS564 Thanks very much.

I do like free wood were I can get it. I have just come across an old railway sleeper I will store for now.

tpagels (author)2016-01-30

Just today I was thinking of using the slide part of a radial arm saw I picked up for the bed of a lathe build. The saw itself just tripped my breaker but the slide works great or did 6 months ago. lol

The only limit is your ability to think outside the box.

I've never bought angle iron. I grab bed frames when ever I see them free! Built my son a utility trailer for his lawnmower using 100% salvage material. Hog fence, bike wheels, bed frames, futon frame, and weed eater rack using push mower handles. Only time and welding wire invested.

WoodCrafts 67 (author)tpagels2016-01-30

That's great tpagels

Sounds like you really enjoy your builds as I do. I really like upcycling were I can. The radial arm saw idea sounds good. The bed frames are always a good find and are useful for hundreds of builds. Your trailer build sounds great you must have enjoyed building that one.

tpagels (author)WoodCrafts 672016-01-30

It was fun as I got to teach my son to weld and to design something in your head and make it happen. He and I both agreed a store bought trailer wouldn't have fit the bill for his little mowing business he started last summer. I spent a lot of time as his mechanic and fabricator rather than doing woodwork stuff.

About This Instructable




Bio: I really like woodworking and Metalwork. I like to build just about anything that pops into my head. I like making Jigs that makes jobs ... More »
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