Micro-Sized Miniature Lathe




Introduction: Micro-Sized Miniature Lathe

About: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and generally just do things myself. A sort of modern jack o...
This is a tiny lathe I made last weekend. The motor is from a small hand vacuum motor and is directly attached to the chuck. It won't work with wood, but foam composite from a sign making shop works great.

The power supply is from an old mini radio TV. I believe it's 12 volts and .85 amps. The case is made from scrap Plexiglas, which I get for free from the same shop I get the sign composite from. The fancy on-off switch was attached to the motor when I got it.

Everything is stuck together with JB weld and Loctite super glue ( I swear by this stuff).

This whole project cost me nothing but time, a bit of solder, JB weld, and Loctite. All-in-all about $1.00 worth of bought materials.

It turns very fast. Great for making small wine glass shapes, chess pieces, and barrel shapes from foam composite.

I hope you enjoy the video and slides!


Finishing up

EDIT This project was so easy, I've decided to make an 'ible for this... I will be using a tape player motor because those are easy to get and will work better than anything of the same size.



    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest

    45 Discussions

    No actually, the tutorial on Youtube is for another type wood lathe with a much larger sewing machine motor, not this micro lathe.

    That's pretty cool. I've been considering a similar idea but with a cordless drill-motor, the motorcontrol is promising and the gearing should give more torque.

     It depends on the torque. Power it up, and see how much force it takes to stop the shaft from spinning. Try it!


    Sounds like the foam is not anchored on the shaft properly. If it wobbles, then the foam is able to move. Your foam may be too long or not secured to the motor shaft enough.

     Well it was hot glued on and I was using blue insulation foam, I tried florist foam but it was soft and rotting, thats probally because it was 2 years old, the insulation foam stops the motor so I need a stronger motor, I might just buy a cheap drill off ebay though 

     tried it, works better but the foam had tiny holes in it(they were there before I tested it) Ill post some pics later

    i built one, but i couldn't get it to stay on there, so i used hot glue, works like a charm, but how do you get your foam so smooth? when i stop turning it has holes all over the place, might be my foam tho...

    2 replies

    Ok, rough foam is cuased by using a sharp tool. Are you using some kind of knife or blade? Foams gets smooth when the material is ground away. The very best tool that I have found for making smooth foam is a tiny flathead screwdriver.

    Cutting tools will only lead to a "pocked" surface.
    Blunt headed tools result in a smooth surface!

     i used the exact same flathead as you, could it be the turning direction? does it have to turn towards you or away from you? and getting the foam into a cylinder takes a long time... i might experiment with hot screwdrivers sometime soon...