DIY Lathe Add Ons





Introduction: DIY Lathe Add Ons

About: Instagram: oregonwoodworks. Dental school class of 2019 DIY-er.

I bought a small harbor freight lathe for 200 something and never had the money to buy all the tools I wanted for it. so I started creating them as I went. hope you are inspired.

Step 1: Drill Chuck.

1. take apart the drill. this took me about an hour... sadly I found that my drill had a snap ring hidden in the plastic housing... anyway... once you get down to just the chuck and the rod, continue.

2. glue the rod into the wood. I used oak for this drill chuck. I drilled a hole and epoxied it in.... then I cut off the excess length.

3. mount the chuck. One of the hard things is getting the drill chuck lined up perfectly in line with the head and tailstocks. I accomplished this by first spinning a small spindle blank on the headstock, and attaching the drill chuck right onto it. then, give it a spin and put the tailstock in to hold it secure while you turn it down to size.

4. create the taper. when it is all lined up straight start cutting away. I got down to a rough shape, then just eyeballed it, tried it in the tailstock, then made adjustments. luckily I had an MT2 taper from my pen jig to use for reference.

5. finish. once you are happy with the fit, sand and oil. the oil I used was olive oil.

Step 2: Tailstock Jig.

this jig (whatever you want to calm it) tailstock cone... holds things which have been bored out. see picture 8. I used it on my salt and pepper shakers.

1. chuck up a piece if wood. turn it to a spindle just wider than your live center.

2. fit to live center contour...

when making this part, you can't just bore out the whole diameter of the outside of the live center. I needed it to fit around, but also apin square to the center, so I put a lip on the inside to hit the flat face of the center so it spins square. see picture 5 for what the tailstock looks like.

3. turn the outer profile. when you can fit the live center into the wood all the way without any wiggle room, keep it in while you turn the outer contour you desire. I like a tapered cone to fit into a hole, as pictured. someday I'll make one with a flat face to hold things onto a tenon on the headstock.

Step 3: Tenon.

so I bored out the salt shaker, shaped the outside and inside, and then cut it off. now to mount it the other way to turn the top of the shaker! (without a jaw chuck)

1. cut a tenon. I just used the extra end of wood I had just cut off my shaker from to form a tenon. cut it to a bit bigger than the inner diameter of whatever you want to mount, then use sandpaper to make it smaller from there. check the fit often. too far and you have to start over. just press on tight, and you're good to go :)

2. I use the live center cone I made on the other end to hold it so it doesn't fly off. when I want to work In the middle on the end, I just hold it with my hand gently. when it is mounted like this, be sure to keep it spinning fast, and work very gradually.

picture 4 is what I did with the tops of the shakers while maunted in this way. the next step shows how I cut veneers in tiny circles.

Step 4: Cutting Veneers.

1. turn a flat face on the headstock.

2. squish some sticky tack onto the middle of the face

3. press the veneer onto the sticky tack.

4. cut a circle. I use the tip of my skew because it's really skinny. the good thing is, you can cut right through unto the blue tack and the extra won't fly off. it will still stay stuck to the sticky tack.

5. for bigger pieces I used double sided tape, but I think sticky tack works much better for small stuff.

Step 5: Center Screw Faceplate

I don't like waiting for glue to dry for me to start turning, and I don't like a weak hold. so I made this face plate.

1.this one is simple enough but very useful. drill a pilot hole into your workpiece center to be mounted, and then screw in to it from the back of a scrap the 2×4 mounted to the faceplate. there is also a pilot hole in the center of the 2×4. picture 3 shows the sink hole I made for the head of my screw because my screws were too short. this is completely unnecessary If you have longer screws. I was just too lazy to go buy some.

2. tighten it down, superglue the edges, and hit it with accelerator, and you're ready to turn! 2 minutes flat. or less.

I love how stable it holds things against the face plate to turn things like a sal shaker far from the plate without the tailstock. This helps with boring out the center. one caution is that there is a chance if you hit it hard enough it will unscrew a little because the lathe turns in the direction opposite the screw. The fix would be to find some reverse threaded screws.

Step 6: Other Tips.

1. I cut a small piece of leather as a cushion between the faceplate and the headstock spindle so it can't bind on me. makes it so much easier to remove. see pictures 3 and 4.

2. picture 2. one thing I've learned as a lathe worker is to work the end farthest from the headstock first. as with this top, if you do it right, it won't fly off before you're finished.

3. always finish sand and oil as much as you can before cutting off your piece from the lathe. save yourself the time.

Step 7: Pictures

all the tools made for my lathe so far helped me create this salt and pepper shaker. from boring to cutting tiny circles on the tops, even making tight wooden caps for the bottoms using the tenon method.

when I got my lathe, I hardly used it because it was a cheap lathe with no attachment or jaws.. once I got into it I found it very rewarding making my own tools and jigs to projects done.

hope you found it helpful! post your own homemade lathe tools and techniques, I'd love to see them!

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    28 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Great idea and execution. Having been a wood-turner for lots of years and watching lots of pro demos I can tell you that most of the real pros make or devise lots of their own accessories...just like you've done here ;) One of the greatest started as a kid using a gas motor from a washing machine for his lathe and an axe for his first turning tool. I've often pondered why HF hasn't caught-on that MT 2 is best size to use and how they're ignoring the real turners' #2 needs. Keep up your improvs!

    You do very nice work,but I'd hate to have a tool break along the grain whilst in use.Perhaps try to make out of aluminum,or softer yet,pewter,diecasting zinc,to at least not be a fibered grain material.If non-metallic,even Delrin,PVC,Lucite,etc. is preferable.As I said great work,but iffy if the wood dries,plus less chance of tools being eaten by termites! lol ;-)

    While you are on a roll you should make your own carbide cutter holders. I had the option of paying no less than $60 for a single carbide holder tool or up to close to $200 for a single carbide holder or making my own for less than $5 per holder. I chose to make my own complete set for a radiused rougher bit, a square bit, a round bit, and a diamond detailer bit. Carbide cutters for wood lathes are the Cadillac's or Porshe's of wood lathe tools.

    Lathe tools 1.jpgLathe tools 2.jpg
    6 replies

    Clever! How did you fasten the carbide tips? I assume you used something that makes their replacement relatively simple?

    I machined a flat recess so the blade's top surface would be .005" below the top surface of the steel bar. This is the mount surface. The carbide bit is held in place by an 8-32 flat head allen screw that came with the bit. I drilled a .010" recess below the surface of the mount so the screw would not bottom out and not hold the bit in place. I can get better photos if you need them. These were taken with a cheap cell phone.


    ooooo oh great! thanks for that one! where do you get the carbide tips?

    great link! thanks. I'm gonna have to buy me a few of these....

    I have two each of the size and shape I wanted. Keep in mind that when an edge of the carbide gets dull, simply loosen the screw and rotate the carbide a quarter turn to get a fresh edge. Of course snug the screw back.

    Great ideas here. Keep it up! Only advice I would give is use flax seed or walnut oil on your wood. Olive oil will turn rancid eventually. Linseed oil from the hardware store is good for workshop stuff but more dangerous. Oily rags of linseed oil can self-ignite if left in a wad somewhere. It's also poisonous to ingest so you can't use it on food implements you might make in your lathe. Lin and flax are the same thing (Lin is Swedish for Flax, I think) but the hardware stuff has chemical dryers in it. Tung oil is good, too, just of foreign source and more expensive.

    The natural stuff takes years to fully dry, but eventually it will. You can improve penetration by warming the oil.

    1 reply

    thanks for the tip! I always plan on going to get some walnut oil... but then I finish a piece and still only have olive... time to go to the store.

    Interesting the way you made the top. I did them the other way round, made the point, then worked up through the shank. the last cut was separating at the top of the shank, then a quick hit with sandpaper, or on the power sander if I made big mess.

    1 reply

    haha. yes actually I should have made it the other way around... but it did work surprisingly well for how I did it.... just fun to try.

    Congrats and this is really standard proc for most all WTurners as we make about half the centers we need....easier to make than to buy.

    Leather washer on HS is good idea. I found or turned a thick hard rubber one but leather just as good.

    Seemaster the only real problem with HF's lathe is small size of drive shaft and my standard #2 MT centers won't fit the HF #1 MT shaft as-is, otherwise the HF Chin. lathe is a good deal. Lots of WTs end up making their own lathes with some odd motor as tail-stock is unneces for face-plate turning and all that's needed is motor to turn HS with face-plate, frequently wood face-plate.

    Good for you for improv thinking. Keep it up1

    1 reply

    Nice work. I ground one arm of a set of HF open end wrenches to use when cutting tenon and got on of the 4x36 sanders to make a Excaliber knock off. HF started out with crappy tools, but they've improved over the years.

    2 replies

    Yeah, Been going to HF for years. It's a crap shoot butusually I get what I want and sometimes I even get a gem. I really like your idea with the wrenches for tenons. That will be a gem for me!

    Being honest, I got the idea from "Cap'n" Eddie Castelin. He's a well known gulf coast woodturner. He's made some awesome turning tools and jigs and machines. I learned a great deal from his YouTube videos.

    I throw together some sort of lathe from junk occasionally if I need to turn something. Thanks for these really great tips on how to hold the piece!

    Very good stuff! I've needed small lathe for years, and have eyed that one at HF every time I go in that store. How have you liked it? Any weird issues, other than lack of accessories?