Introduction: Spring Lathe

Hello everyone, my name is Tyler. For the past couple of years I have had a growing passion for primitive wood working and other nearly lost crafts like blacksmithing and Timber Framing, sadly due to me living in a city I am only able to be a novice and not the craftsman. Luckily my High school put on a competition called the best award. this award it gifted to the student to build basically the coolest project, so I thought I should take my chances and give it a whirl. so as my title says I am building a spring lathe. A spring lathe is a predecessor to the modern lathes that have become a staple in todays mechanical society. a spring lathe, not to be confused with it's brother a pole lathe, is a treadle powered machine that relies on the worker, known as a Bodger, to use his or her foot to power the lathe. I am sorry to say that I did not come up with this design. The design is from a fellow enthusiast Harry Rodger, who has a wonderful YouTube channel all about turning on the contraptions and more. So I hope you enjoy, and please make sure you head on over to Harry's channel it is definitely worth a watch.

Step 1: Gather Materials

For this project you will need the following


  • soft wood 2x4's ( I used a total of seven through the build)
  • bolts and nuts ( any good sized bolt should work. I would recommend using wing nut to fasten all the pieces together, it would allow you to rapidly move the lathe)
  • A bungee cord
  • 2 eye bolts
  • A strong piece of rope, I am using a piece of 550 parachute cord
  • screws
  • A saw of your choice ( any would work, But I used a table saw during the build)
  • A Drill, I used a combination of hand drills and drill presses
  • Drill bits ( one for screw screwing in screws and one with that corresponds with your bolt size)
  • Tape measure
  • A pencil

Step 2: Cutting Pieces

you will need the following lengths

  • one piece 5ft long
  • two pieces 2ft 2in
  • two pieces 3ft 6in
  • two pieces 4ft 6in
  • two pieces 16in
  • two pieces 12in
  • two pieces 4in

Step 3: Leg Construction

  1. take a 4ft 6in piece of 2x4 and drill 2 holes, one 2in down and an other 14 in down from the end centered on the 4 in face of the 2x4
  2. do the same on the 3ft 6in piece
  3. take a 2ft 2in piece of 2x4 and mark in a 2in recess on the 4in face of the 2x4. then take your drill and drill 5 holes 2in apart along the recess that we have just cut out. Then drill a hole 1in and 3in down from the end without the recess. Finish this piece by drilling a hole 7in down on the 2in face.
  4. Repeat for the other leg.

Step 4: Lathe Bed Construction

  1. Take the 5ft piece of 2x4 and drill two hole one 1in down and the other 3in measured off of the 2in side of the 2x4, but drilled on the on the 4ft face. I know confusing, but the pictures should sum this up.

Step 5: The Popits

this is probably the hardest part of the whole build. These pieces will hold the wooden blank being turned on the lathe. you are going to need to whip out those metal working skills or if you are like learn them on the fly.