Dolmetscher007

Anybody ever built their own wood lathe?

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Before everyone jumps in and says I'm stupid for even thinking about trying this, just hear me out. Lol! :lol:

I do not actually want to build a proper wood "lathe," in the traditional sense. In my mind, a real lathe has a big heavy steel chuck, and a "stop" at the other end. And that the chuck and the end stop are very accurately on-center from one another. You can adjust everything etc etc etc.

I want to build a lathe that does just one thing. I need to build several (>15) wooden "stave tubes" essentially. The guy that is paying me to make them is going to turn them into speaker boxes of some kind. These wooden tubes will be made from staves that are beveled (using a lot of math) so that they end up gluing up to 10", 12" 14" and 16" tubes. I do not have the exact measurements for how long (deep) the tubes will be, but I believe they will all be between 6 and 12 inches. 

I have done some research, and I see on YouTube, how some people build "Stave Drums" like for putting heads on and playing them as drums. And all the stave drum videos I've seen involve a router, several jigs, and basically slowly turning the wooden tubes over the router bit, nibbling away slowly until they are no longer faceted, but are tubular and smooth. Then another jig system is used to pass the router through the inside of the drum to smooth out those facets as well. And voila, a wooden tube. I got in contact with one of these guys, and he said it takes him at least 6 hours to do one of these shells. I gotta make 15-20!!! No way! 

So, I was thinking... I have a 2 HP motor that was barely ever used. It is even one of those closed in casing models specifically for use in wood shops. It has a max of 3400 rpm, but I could wire in a speed controller so the damn thing won't just whip on at 3,400 rpm, and I would use pulleys with different diameters to work out speed and mechanical advantage, etc. So, I'd like to build a stand, and at the top of the stand I'd have two bearing housings. I believe they are called pillow-bearings. I'd get a heavy duty 1+" thick steel rod that fits those bearings. 

For turning the outside of the tubes, I'd have to use a band saw to carefully cut out 3/4" plywood faceted circles that match the number of facets of the drums.  I'd then drill a hole in the center of each of these faceted inserts, and pressure fit them into the tubes, matching up the facets, and probably secure them to the drum with 4 toenailed screws so that they could not vibrate out or anything like that. And then I'd have to thread this... thing... onto the axel, and push the axel through both of the pillow bearings. So, now, I'd essentially have a wooden drum, with an axel through it's center, that is secured on each end to bearings, and you could freely just spin the drum with your hand.

Then, I'd have a pulley substantially attached (welded?) to one end, and have it so that when I switch on that 2 HP motor, and bring it up to speed, that drum is spinning at between 1,200 - 2,500 rpm or so, and I can use lathe tools to and I would actually buy a real lathe's tool rest. 

Obviously I'd take all necessary precautions with wiring in a safety kill button. I've even considered a kill switch that I clip on a belt loop that will cut power if I even jump back from the thing. Obviously nothing is worth cracking your head over, but this seems do'able. What do you guys think?

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I’ve heard of people doing less with a drill press. If your welding is that accurate then, heck yes! Keep us informed if you go for it. 

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Sure have...best thing about this one, it’s alcohol powered. 

Your idea sounds cool...funny though that the only really easy part (the toolrest) is the part you’d be buying. 

Those router ‘lathe’ plans terrify me.  Agree with you there!

 

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30 minutes ago, vinnyjojo said:

Sure have...best thing about this one, it’s alcohol powered. 

Your idea sounds cool...funny though that the only really easy part (the toolrest) is the part you’d be buying. 

 

 

 

Good point about the tool rest. I probably will just bootleg something together for that too. 
 

"Alcohol powered" may just be my new motto!!! That cracked me up. I personally don't even set foot in my shop once I've cracked a cold one. I play the guitar, and I wanna keep it that way! But... I have some buddies that I firmly believe Grizzly should wire in a breathalyzer into the ON switch of all their tools for. I'm also from Georgia, but the buddies I'm talking about don't live anywhere near Atlanta. They all talk about Atlanta using the same first sentence... "Boy... I remember this one time that I went to Atlanta for a..." and those stories always end with the same sentence. "... and I said right then, I'd never carry my ass back to Atlanta. And I sure as hell havn't. And that was 25 years ago!" 

Ha ha ha!

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The motor would have to be 3 phase to use a speed controller, assuming it's an induction motor.

You've addressed doing the outside, which is the easy part.  Instead of a router to true the outside you could also use a table saw (look up Izzy Swan on YouTube).  Doing the inside is the tricky part, and your "lathe" won't be of any help.  Doing it on a lathe would require a faceplate or chuck.

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If you built the spinning tube holder over a router, the tube could be rotated by hand, no need to spin so fast.

I would build it as a router table or tablesaw jig. Use a good flat bottom dado stack in the saw, though.

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Matthias Wandel built a cool homemade lathe if you’ve seen his vids.

With respect to rpm of the motor, remember of course that the widest part of the turning spins the  fastest (think edge of a disc sander).  

Still trying to picture your proposed setup.  Sounds like the ‘tube’ is open on both ends, tube is friction fit, and the axel is going all the way through the completed vessel (i.e. a mandrel)?  

Before designing the machine around a specific job, it may be helpful to think about different ways to hold the workpiece.    You would also get more life out of your machine for future projects.  Turning is all about creative ways of the challenges in holding the work.   Waist blocks glued to both ends can always be cut off after you get into round.   Or...a small section of PVC with relief cuts and hose clamp makes a great collet.  

Do you have to clean up the inside of the stave’d tube as well?   If the tube is a speaker enclosure I would imagine you’d have to.  If so you may need to cut it in half to make that process more manageable and glue it back together.  

Back to the machine,  hi RPM isn’t a big issue if you’re in the round.   It’s when weight of the turning unevenly distributed... that’s when high rpm gets scary and the heavy mass of the machine is key. 

That said, build it!   It can always double as a giant cylindrical drum sander for curved furniture parts. 

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You can buy plywood tubes 4’ or 5’ long in many diameters . Cover them with veneer. 

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47 minutes ago, wdwerker said:

You can buy plywood tubes 4’ or 5’ long in many diameters . Cover them with veneer. 

This is the best idea.

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Searching for stave drum I saw this...

 

If so, I actually think the method shown is probably the best way to accomplish this.  I like how this guy sets it up on a threaded rod to draw it across the bit, so you could certainly automate it by putting a motor on the drum spinning.

I'd think putting this on a traditional lathe would not be very well balanced and it's likely to self destruct once it starts spinning.

 

 

 

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The video linked by @Minnesota Steve is exactly what I pictured for the outside. The inside jig is pretty clever, but the diameter is limited by the size of the router. If you need a smaller ID, a similar jig could work with an angle grinder.

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Somewhere, someplace, there was a Youtube video of a fellow in  Africa that had homemade lathe the ran off a plain ol' horizontal shaft lawn mower engine.  His assistant was in charge of pulling on the rope- no recoil rope. Anyone know of it?

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On 11/8/2018 at 9:56 AM, wdwerker said:

You can buy plywood tubes 4’ or 5’ long in many diameters . Cover them with veneer. 

Just to not keep you guys hanging... (because I am sure you've all been loosing sleep wondering how my DIY lathe is coming... lol!

I am giving up on this idea. I turned 40 this year, and I guess I've finally clicked-over from "Hmmm... Fuck it! let's go for it!" over into, "Wait, if that thing breaks off at 3,000 rpm, it could crack my skull." I guess adulthood is finally upon me. 

Also, I think we are going to rethink the whole process. Your plywood tubes intrigue me though. I cannot find them on the net. Could you post a link?

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wtnhighlander, saw that video earlier. I have a close friend who spent 11 years in Germany. Said the houses in the background are characteristic of where he lived. He also said if he had 450 hours, he would spend it fishing. Can't remember what they did with the bowl after it was done. Big bowl of sauerkraut?

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