Homemade Lathe for Drill Press




I always wanted to have a lathe for wood but I don't have much space in my workshop, so I decided to build one myself using my drill press. For this, I used an angle drill adapter and after many tests I saw that the result could be good.

The benefit of the angle drill adapter would be the absence of lateral stress on the drill press bearings.

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I would also apologize for my English as a non-native English speaker some terms are very difficult for me. Forward, Intractable!! I will be happy to answer any questions.

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Step 1: Material and Tools



  • Mini Try Square
  • Japanese Saw
  • Stanley No 5 plane
  • Block plane
  • Caliper Mitutoyo
  • Gauge Veritas
  • Saw Metal
  • Chisel
  • Clamps
  • Rasping rifler and file metal
  • Ruler
  • Drill press
  • Handsaw Sanding paper
  • Forstner drill bits
  • Similar Dremel

Step 2: Lathe Bed

First of all, I started with the lathe bed. For this I used Elondo wood, a type of African wood, due to its hardness. I cut 2 pieces of (50cm x 9cm x 2cm)

Step 3: Headstock and Tailstock

For these two parts of the future lathe, I used pine wood making two equal pieces of 25cm x 9cm x 6,5cm. For joining them to the lathe bed I made a rabbet joint.

For the moment I don't fix any of the mentioned parts in order to be able to continue working with them more comfortably.

Step 4: Introduction of the Angle Drill in the Headstock

To insert the angle drill in the pine wood I measure the diameters of this and mark the wood to drill it. We have to fit the angle drill as straight as possible in the wood. This task must be very precise.

I make some small side cuts to the wood with the help of a hand plane in order to give it a more attractive touch.

Step 5: Joining

For the joining I use wood glue and in order to give even more strength I reinforce it with wooden dowels which I rounded them for a smarter touch.

Step 6: Fixing of the Angle Drill

To fix the angle drill to the wood I use a sheet brass drilling on it four holes and screwing to the wood.

Step 7: Live Center and Tailstock Handwheel

We look for the center between the headstock and the tailstock with the help of a bit drill. Once found, we make a hole where we will introduce a metal threaded rod (10mm). We sharp it at one end with a metal file.

In order to the threaded rod threads into the wood I insert a wood insert (threaded).

Finally, with a piece of beech wood giving it an octagonal shape, I use it as handwheel.

Step 8: Wooden Knobs

For this project I used two wooden knobs which are very easy to make.

We have to do two circles and divide them equally between 6 parts. Then we drill those 6 marked points and finally cut the circumference with a crown bit or with a saw.

To give it a more pleasant touch, we sand the piece and finally insert into the wood a wood insert (threaded).

Step 9: Joint Tailstock

Cut 3cm at the bottom of the tailstock and drill the center.

Insert a double thread screw and thread one of the wooden knobs made to the lathe bed. This system will help us to adjust the distance depending on the piece we are going to work.

The result was very good since it offers a very great resistance and strength.

Step 10: Tool Base

Using a piece of pine wood, mark the inner thickness of the lathe bed and cut the excess.

Calculate the center of the piece and drill a hole where we insert a double thread screw trying to be as straight as possible. I helped with my drill press and the result was good.

When we have this piece we will introduce it below the lathe bed and we will work with our future base tool.

I made it with beech wood. Mark a central line and with the help first of a bit drill and then with a chisel we will make a central guide where the double thread screw will slide.

Step 11: Tool Rest

We cut a piece of beech wood of (11cm x 3cm x 2cm) and on one side with the help of a block plane we make an angle of aprox. 15º.

Mark the center on the opposite side of the angle created and introduce a wooden rod forming a perfect angle of 90º.

Finally, with the aim of making it more durable to the erosion, I put a brass sheet fixed with double-sided tape.

Step 12: Final Conclusion

After several tests I'm very happy with the result since I will be able to make little jobs with it without taking up much space in my workshop and taking advantage of my drill press.

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    51 Discussions


    8 months ago on Step 12

    Beautiful craftsmanship, stunning photography, appropriate music, I found it mesmerizing to watch.

    1 reply

    1 year ago


    i think you have such craftsmanship and would you mind if i made for my upcoming GCSE :)


    1 year ago

    Nice thank you for posting.

    I have been"thinking" of using my Drill Press as a vertical wood lath.

    Has anybody ever done that?


    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    the problem with using a drill as a lathe is that the chuck fits as a cone and if you put a lot of literal stress on the chuck will soon become unable to hold the chuck and it becomes a missile. at least that's been my experience.


    Reply 1 year ago

    FLQPKNL9MB, having a little trouble understanding exactly what you are saying.
    To begin what do you mean "the chuck fits as a cone"?
    Then I know you cannot (well should not) use a drill press as a mill where one applies lateral stress (pushing) against the spindle (chuck) but would turning wood produce that much lateral stress? It would be working in a shearing motion not a milling motion.
    Thanks for the reply.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you Ralph, I haven't tried that but sure that someone around here can tell you sth.


    1 year ago


    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yes, well said, I agree, a beautifull idea and execution.


    1 year ago

    Great job! I wish I would have seen this 6 months ago, before I bought a wood lathe. Nice detail. Some of your work details have giving me ideas for other projects. Just wondering what have you turned since building the lathe. Keep up the good work.


    1 year ago

    I was just wondering what are the specs on your drill press? Does your press have adjustable speeds, mine does and what speed do you run yours?

    This is a very good instructable and will be attempting this once the weather breaks in my region to be able to stay in my shop for longer periods of time.

    Appreciate your work


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    How does the lathe fix to the drill press table.
    Do you have a false extended drill press table and is the lathe clamped to this to stop it moving?


    1 year ago

    My question is very simple: How many hours do you have in this project?

    Amazing skills by the way!!

    I had an older relative who, long ago was a carpenter and used only hand tools. Later in shop class I found out just how much talent it requires to simply plane the edge of a board square! I have always since considered such skill bordering on "magic"!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I couldn't say exactly, since I have been doing it in my free time as a hobby, on different days, and also I would have to add the time of recording it. Thank you very much for your words, I wouldn't call it "magic", it is about practicing "trial and error" ;-)


    Question 1 year ago on Step 12

    Do you know what speed a dedicated lathe spins at? Just wondering if a drill press turns fast enough to be used efficiently as a lathe? I'm sure I can find this answer online, but thought perhaps you had already done the research!

    2 answers

    Usually drill press max rpm is around 3000 atleast.
    Used speed in wood turning depends diameter of the workpiece. Larger diameter, lower speed. (outer surface travels faster than center point )

    6″ about 1000 rpm. 5″ about 1200 to 2000. 3″ about 2,000 to 3,000 RPM
    2″ or smaller, usually with speeds 3,000 -> usually 3000rpm is enough for all.