How to Make a Lathe suitable for turning wood or small metal articles

A small speed-lathe, suitable for turning wood or small metal articles, may be easily made at very little expense. A lathe of this kind is shown in the cut (Fig. 1), where A is the headstock, B the bed and C the tailstock. I run my lathe by power, using an electric motor and countershaft, but it could be run by foot power if desired. A large cone pulley would then be required, but this may be made in the same manner as the small one, which will be described later.
How to Make a Lathe - Assembled Lathe Bed and Bearing Details
Assembled Lathe Bed and Bearing Details

The bed of the machine is made of wood as shown in Figs. 2 and 3, hardwood being preferable for this purpose. Fig. 2 shows an end view of the assembled bed, and Fig. 3 shows how the ends are cut out to receive the side pieces.

The headstock, Fig. 6, is fastened to the bed by means of carriage bolts, A, which pass through a piece of wood, B, on the under side of the bed. The shaft is made of 3/4-in. steel tubing about 1/8 in. thick, and runs in babbitt bearings, one of which is shown in Fig. 5.

To make these bearings, cut a square hole in the wood as shown, making half of the square in each half of the bearing. Separate the two halves of the bearing slightly by placing a piece of cardboard on each side, just touching the shaft. The edges which touch the shaft should be notched like the teeth of a saw, so as to allow the babbitt to run into the lower half of the bearing. The notches for this purpose may be about 1/8 in. pitch and 1/8 in. deep. Place pieces of wood against the ends of the bearing as shown at A and B, Fig. 4, and drill a hole in the top of the bearing as shown in Fig. 4.


The bearing is then ready to be poured. Heat the babbitt well, but not hot enough to burn it, and it is well to have the shaft hot, too, so that the babbitt will not be chilled when it strikes the shaft. If the shaft is thoroughly chalked or smoked the babbitt will not stick to it. After pouring, remove the shaft and split the bearing with a round, tapered wooden pin. If the bearing has been properly made, it will split along the line of the notched cardboard where the section of the metal is smallest. Then drill a hole in the top as shown at A, Fig. 5, drilling just deep enough to have the point of the drill appear at the lower side. This cavity acts as an oil cup and prevents the bearing from running dry.

The bolts B (Fig. 5) are passed through holes in the wood and screwed into nuts C, which are let into holes D, the holes afterward being filled with melted lead.
How to Make a Lathe - Headstock Details
FIG. 6 Headstock Details

This type of bearing will be found very satisfactory and may be used to advantage on other machines. After the bearings are completed the cone pulley can be placed on the shaft. To make this pulley cut three circular pieces of wood to the dimensions given in Fig. 6 and fasten these together with nails and glue. If not perfectly true, they may be turned up after assembling, by rigging up a temporary toolrest in front of the headstock.
How to Make a Lathe - Details of Tailstock
FIG.7 Details of Tailstock

The tail stock (Fig. 7) is fastened to the bed in the same manner as the headstock, except that thumb nuts are used on the carriage bolts, thus allowing the tail stock to be shifted when necessary. The mechanism of the center holder is obtained by using a 1/2-in. pipe, A, and a 1/2-in. lock nut, B, embedded in the wood. I found that a wooden tool-rest was not satisfactory, so I had to buy one, but they are inexpensive and much handier than homemade tool rest.

Excerpt from the book:
THE BOY MECHANIC VOLUME I 700 THINGS FOR BOYS TO DO WITH 800 ILLUSTRATIONS 1913, BY H. H. WINDSOR CHICAGO POPULAR MECHANICS CO. PUBLISHERS