This miniature lathe really is an easy to make, quick, and inexpensive project, which made it a suitable first instructable for me. Almost everything you will need to make it can be found at home, or bought very cheaply, due to the fact that (when I made it) it was only using things I could find on my workbench on in a few drawers. When completed, due to the size of the motor, it's only real use is as a demonstration model for 'wax turning' (not wood). That said, it is a fun project that can be completed fairly quickly, with an end product that actually works.
For this instructable, you will need:
A plastic water bottle
A small motor
A 9v battery, and wire connector
A basic ballpoint pen
A small length of soft wire
A clothes peg
A small nail (or tack)
Two cable ties
A push button switch (optional)
A short length of electrical wire
Some sand paper
A drop of oil
Step 1: Making the Base
The base of the lathe, is made from a plastic water bottle, and a ballpoint pen.
Firstly, cut the water bottle into three equal sections lengthways (this only needs to be approximate), and set aside the section with the neck as you will need this later. You can discard the middle section completely. Cut the end section in half, so that it looks like the base of a semi circular prism. Sand the outside surface of the end segment, and the inside surface of the neck segment, and using superglue them together, so that they form a trough.
When the glue has set, cut two holes just below the centre of the bottle, one through the end section, and the other just under the neck, big enough for a pen to fit tightly in. Push the pen through the holes, until the tip is completely out, and roughly 1/2 cm of pen is also through. Secure the pen in this position by tying a cable tie around it, at each end of the bottle where is passes through (see picture), glueing as well if necessary.
Next, take the wire, (it may need to be doubled up if very soft), and bend around the neck of the bottle, leaving a few cm coming down either side which can bent to act as legs. See picture for details of wire shaping before being secured around neck.
Step 2: The Tailstock
The tailstock is made using a wooden clothes peg, and a small nail (or tack).
Using a craft knife, shape the lower part of the peg (where is would grasp clothes usually), until it will fit snugly around the biro.
Now place the small nail or tack through the middle of the spring in the peg, using some oil if necessary, as this will form the tail spindle.
Finally, clamp the peg around the biro, with the point of the nail facing the bottle.
Step 3: The Headstock and Motor
For the motor assembly, some basic experience of soldering may be necessary.
Solder one leg of the motor to a section of wire soldered to the push button switch (optional). Solder the other leg of the motor to one of the wires from the 9v battery connecting cable. Complete the circuit by then soldering the other wire from the connector to the other leg of the push button switch. Attach the 9v battery to the connector and check that the motor works by trying the switch.
To make the 'Headstock', push the motor through the neck of the bottle, and if it does not fit snugly, use shavings of a match as wedges, but be careful not to damage the motor.
Step 4: Testing the Lathe
A good way to test the 'lathe', is by using a candle. Bore a small hole in each end of the candle, and fit it tightly, but not too tightly between the tack (tail spindle), and the motor spindle (headstock spindle). You can use a craft knife instead of a chisel, as it may be more suitable for the task.