Crayon Lathe LittleBits




This is quite possibly the smallest and safest lathe in the world! And its a lot of fun to use. It will turn crayons or oil pastels.

I have included a template for wood and a .STL model for 3D printing. But there are many materials the body could be made of Lego, plastic, steel...what else can you think of?

  • LittleBits DC motor
  • LittleBits Power Supply
  • 9Volt battery
  • plywood for the body
  • wood for the tailstock
  • a 4-5 cm screw

Tools (Wood construction)
  • Wood saw
  • center punch (a nail or screw works)
  • hammer
  • tape
  • paper template
  • scissors

Step 1: Step 1 Making the Lathe Body

1) Print out the pdf template 1:1 scale (100%). (117-LatheBaseWood.pdf)
2) Double check that it printed to 1:1 scale by measuring the width. It should be 100mm wide.
3) If its good cut it out.

3D Printing
1)Download the STL model from Thingiverse. Print it.
2)Next drill out the 6 LittleBits mount holes to 6mm.

3)Then drill out the tailstock hole to slightly smaller than your screw diameter.

Step 2: Step 2 Place the Template on Your Wood.

1)Tape the template down so it doesn't move and trace around the edges.

2)Use a screw and hammer to center punch the holes as close as possible!

3)Center punch the tailstock corners too because we will use those marks to glue the tailstock block to later (see pic)

4)Remove the template and cut out the lathe body with a saw.

Step 3: Step 3: Cut Out the Tailstock Block

The block should be 20 x 20 x and at least 16mm tall so the tailstock screw can be drilled into it at 9mm from the base.

Step 4: Step 4 Drill the Holes

1) Drill the LittleBits mounting holes in the body to 6mm.

2)Drill the hole in the tailstock block. 9mm above the bottom of the block. It should be a little smaller than the outside diameter of the screw you use.

3) Test fit the screw in the tailstock hole. Use a screwdriver or a power drill to thread the screw in and out a fe times until you can thread it in and out with your fingers easily.

Step 5: Step 5 Assembly and Glue

1)Gently press the LittleBits DC Motor and Power supply into the mounting holes. If the holes are drilled correctly, they should press fit in with just a little pressure.

2) Glue the tailstock block in place. Use a ruler to make sure the motor and the screw ae in a straight line.

Ok done!

Here is the How To Video.

When loading the crayon or pastel into the Little Bits coupler, shave the tip of the crayon into a square so it locks into the coupler. This helps prevent slipage.

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    37 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 5

    I don't have an STL for the coupler, its a LittleBits to LEGO adapter.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    If you use this much, you would benefit from a mains adaptor (US: wallwart), as a 9V battery's life will be quite short when powering a motor.

    1 reply

    Cool! Really want to make one of these for the kids, now. I have a few small motors lying around I might try, but do you know the RPM of that littleBits one? I went to their website, but they don't list that spec. How easy (or not) is it to stall the motor? i.e. if you try to peel too much / too fast, is it a problem for the motor to keep up? Thanks.

    1 reply

    The 9V battery will be an inherent current protection. I'm not saying you wont be able to burn up the motor, but it won't be immediate as with a more powerful source. 9V batteries can't source more than a couple hundred mA.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice and clever idea to teach kids how a lathe works. I will definitely be making one of these. I think I will use a continuous rotation servo instead of a DC motor though. Should be good torque and easily adjustable speed as well as reversing.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice little lathe :) I have one question though. What is 'littlebits'? This is not a familiar thing or outlet in the UK.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Ah, I have just Googled 'littlebits'. No wonder I didn't recognise it, I have never seen this in the UK. Perhaps an explanation of what the 'littlebits' modules are and where to get them might be a good idea. Are they available outside the US? Still a great 'ible' though, well done.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Then I find that Amazon UK stock 'liitleBits'. I need to explore this... thank you.