Introduction: Harbor Freight Wood Lathe Upgrade

Back in September of 2018 I published an Instructable on how to change a Harbor Freight Wood Lathe from an AC powered motor to a DC motor from a treadmill.

Being someone who can't leave well enough alone, I've done a little upgrading to the same lathe...


AC to DC controller :


Single Pole / Single Throw switch:


Angle Grinder with cut-off wheels.

Phillips screw driver.

Wire connector crimping tool.


Step 1: New Motor Controller.

All of my motor controls, the tachometer, and the AC to DC converter were mounted inside a large external box that sometimes got kind of awkward to work with.

Recently, I found a new self-contained AC to DC controller that was much smaller and offered an added bonus that I will discuss later.

Step 2: Let the Modding Begin...

After making some slight alterations to the lathe Headstock with an Angle Grinder and some cutting wheels, I made room for the controller and the tachometer.

Since all of the wiring had already been done on my previous modification, it was just a matter of connecting the existing wiring to the new controller.

Step 3: Neater and Sweeter.

Everything fit nicely into the Headstock and is a lot easier to work with.

Step 4: But Wait, There's More!

Remember the "Bonus" I mentioned that came with the new controller? Here it is. The new controller included connections for an emergency "Stop Switch".

Most of the time that I am working on a woodturning, I am standing at the far end of the lathe from the headstock and it's controls. If something goes haywire, like a piece of wood breaking off of what I'm working on and throwing the piece out of balance, I have to reach past the wildly spinning, sometimes very heavy, piece of wood in order to turn the motor off and stop the lathe.

The Stop Switch connections now allow me to mount a Single Pole / Single Throw toggle switch at the Tailstock end of the lathe. Now if I need to stop the lathe I can throw the Stop Switch without having to reach past the turning piece to shut the motor down. I will probably change this out later for some type of paddle switch or plunger switch, so I can throw it with my leg and not have to turn loose of the sharp tool I'm holding while screaming like a small child.

Wait, forget that last part.

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