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Sometimes building small items requires small tools. This pocket lathe is 8 inches wide, 3 inches deep and 4.5 inches tall. Yes it does fit completely in my jacket pocket and cargo pants pocket.

Please note that there are some ideas for improvement posted at the end of this Instructable.

This started as a desire to make a miniature chess set

Step 1: Order parts

Picture of Order parts
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I disassembled an inkjet printer to get the motor that drives the print head. This motor has enough power for turning pine and other light woods. It is too weak for working with aluminum or copper.

The bearings and support blocks are from vxb.com
The gears are from sdp-si.com

I used some scrap pieces of ¼ inch hard board to make a base stand.

You will need 2 of the ¾ inch shaft supports part number WH12A
You will need 2 skateboard wheel bearings 608ZZ type

You will need drive gears or belt system. This is completely dependent upon your motor selection.

I used nylon bevel gears for a reduction in the motor speed 1:2 (24/48).

 
maxnoble44021 days ago

Wow...that a tight package...nice work. I know the head full of cats feeling...just go with it...full speed

buck22172 months ago

Terrific idea

Random_Canadian (author)  buck22172 months ago

Thanks... it definitely turns heads when you start turning wood at the park or on the bus.

hobbyman5 months ago

This is very cute :D

minimart5 months ago

good idea

3dhellfire1 year ago

Thanks for sharing this. I want to see how much of this I can print on my 3d Printer. Might be a cool little project for turning pens.

Random_Canadian (author)  3dhellfire1 year ago

Post what you build, that is the reason I do this. Yes the king and rook still sit on my desk waiting for the rest of the army....

Pravin Jat1 year ago
Hello! Random_canadian,

Very very beautiful lathe, really inspiring.

Think this would be good enough to lathe some nickel or softer metals?? I often make rings by hand and sometimes it's rough getting the shape I want.. And this would be great for polishing my rings! :D
Great idea! Thank you!!
the author mentions that it is NOT powerful enough to turn copper or aluminum, so I highly doubt it will work for nickel, but you could always use a more powerful motor (he used an old printer motor...
mbourhan2 years ago
Ammmmmmazing
dimdiode3 years ago
This is way cool, I really like it.

If it were me though, I think I'd take the lazy way out and buy a large diameter, self-centering chuck, like for an electric drill. I realise it may weigh too much for your rig, and it may limit the diameter of the material to be turned, but the benefit of self-centering may be enough of an incentive. I don't know, maybe it wouldn't work.

I guess I need to find out by making one of these myself ;)

Nice project, well done.
Random_Canadian (author)  dimdiode3 years ago
Thanks

There was a pretty lenghtly discussion about the pros and cons of self centering VS not. Note a 3 Jaw chuck will not hold off round or square pieces.

The size and weight is definitely an issue on this tiny lathe.

My mini metal lathe instructable may show the power that you are looking for. but again the self centering chuck may greatly limit your materials choice.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Mini-Metal-Lathe-1/

Good luck with your build.

... i have to disagree there..... i've used 3 jaw chuck for both square and round, particularly round. keep in mind they're used in drills specificaly FOR round things, namely drill bits. square stock is slightly more difficult, but so long as it's clamped solid it works fine.
not perse a DRILL chuck for lathing XP. but it's the same mechanism
rereads
...... well, i look kinda dumb XP. missed the word 'off' round. still, you can use a 3 jaw chuck with it. it just wont center the wood. so long as it doenst matter that you're rotateing it around the center of the wood it should hold just fine.


i really wish this place had an 'edit' button. it'd save me from tripple posting like this
MU5ICI4N2 years ago
Cool instructable! Very professional looking. However, I find that when I am in need of a "mini" lathe to turn smaller pieces of wood, I just use a hand drill : D
turtledrake2 years ago
This is fantastic
bvsmanya2 years ago
nice and compact pocket machine.
abstracted3 years ago
it could work on light metals if u use a dremel as your cutting tools. i have used weak drills as metal lathes and a dremel...nice job btw
a918bmxr3 years ago
just a suggestion...

try adding a detachable tool rest to make turning things a whole lot easier.

profpat3 years ago
i like it! very tiny and good for hobbyist!
g_badhri3 years ago
Simply super Work. thanks for sharing this your valuable idea. Thanks ;_)
Random_Canadian (author)  g_badhri3 years ago
Thanks. I'm glad that you like it and found it useful
i give you 6+++ for your work nice
Random_Canadian (author)  kristian28583 years ago
Thanks
Did you put a weight in the housing? It looks like it bounces around a tad bit. Even cheaper would be to cut the top of a mouse pad off and glue the bottom to the device, and then it would be quieter too because of less vibration resonating. Or better yet do both! I like it though. I might make a mini lathe too but i'll use an old drill motor from a 120vac 60hz motor!
Random_Canadian (author)  MatthewEnderle3 years ago
The housing is hollow for storage. The outer cover is fastened to the base and is meant to rest your hands on for stabilizing the lathe.

All in all this is an extremely light duty rig

Again check out my other lathe instructable.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Mini-Metal-Lathe-1/

There is a video in the last step showing the vibration damping of rubber.
Itscrafty3 years ago
Wow, the professionalism looks amazing on this, this looks like something i would go to menards to buy, great job on the looks alone. I cant believe how small this is and it has a nice amount of power, great job i give you 5/5.
Random_Canadian (author)  Itscrafty3 years ago
Thanks
Southclaw3 years ago
Hahahaha,what an amazing little project!! I did notice one thing tho in your video, your lath seems to wiggle,as if it were unbalanced, I was wondering if this was just the video, but, what an awesome thing.
Random_Canadian (author)  Southclaw3 years ago
There is a little bit of off center in the chuck in the video. I have since made some improvements in the centering of the base chuck nut but it is still not perfect... I may have to change to a fine pitch thread to get rid of it.
rsmith63223 years ago
Very nice work. I own a large lathe that I use for wood turning and something smaller for pens and such would be nice to have. You've given me some food for thought. We'll see what happens.
pheenix423 years ago
Oddly enough, your headstock and tailstock pieces look just like a sensor bracket that my paper folder at work uses!
Wonderful project! My father has been a machinist for over 23 years and taught me the trade of metalworking. I can see this coming in handy on multipule occasions. I have been building balsa aircraft for a number of years and had to use either full size or benchtop lathes to mill some pieces, this would make it much easier to manufacture parts. Keep up the good work!
Hi again! I would like to make a correction on my last comment. I phoned my father th eother day and it turns out he has been a machinist for over 33 years. (oops!) I try not to post misleading or incorrect info, but it happens sometimes to all of us.
No worries... I often skip a decade myself. And technically your first statement was correct.
Thanks. I know what you mean with the machining of small parts.

I had a blast making this lathe and was laughing like a maniac the first time i turned it on and used it.
CementTruck3 years ago
Impressive! I really like this build. Your 4 jaw chuck is inspired.
Random_Canadian (author)  CementTruck3 years ago
Thanks. I had one of those AH-HA moments and this of the resulting offspring...