Lathe literature

Treadle lathes are cool. And mysterious. Occasionally making an appearance on the Woodwright’s Shop where my appetite was whetted, there are no books dealing exclusively with building one. No pick-and-mix componentry like Chris Schwarz offers for workbenches. The internet doesn’t have much on the subject, but what does exist is of good quality…

Bob Easton’s blog was where I began. It is informative on its own, but he also includes links to other sites of great value. Treadle lathes with flywheels seem to be pretty similar, but each contributor adds their own flavour, and their own details that I feel need to be considered. For exampe, the ‘Lathe from a Loft’ article by Roy Underhill suggests attaching the treadle arm directly to the flywheel rather than using a bent axle shaft  – handy if, like me, you have no equipment for basic blacksmithing (though St. Roy does suggest you can support your local blacksmith if you go that route). Steve Schmeck (along with Mike Adams) suggests using a 5/8 steel rod so you can attach a Shopsmith drive center.

There are a few things I still need to get my head around:

1) How to attach a pulley to the drive shaft. Underhill suggests gluing stop collars into the sides of the pulley, but I have never glued metal to wood.

2) How to fix a live- or dead-center into the tail stock. These components have a ‘Morse taper’ which means they have a shaft that gets narrower towards the end. The hole in the tailstock needs to not only to match this shape, but have an axis in-line with the drive shaft. Might be tricky and I’m not too sure what sorts of errors can be tolerated on a device like this.

3) Lastly, I know it may be ambitious, but I think I might try to incorporate a grinding wheel onto the drive shaft on the opposite side of the pulley from the drive-center. I am thinking about threading the steel rod for a couple of inches at the end and tightening the wheel between two nuts. I would need to acquire a 5/8 die and stock for this.

[***See the completed treadle lathe in this video, and read the entire build series through this link***]


4 thoughts on “Lathe literature

  1. Thanks for the link to my blog.

    As you see, my lathe project got shelved … and I really DO want to get back to it. Like you, I have similar unsolved puzzles. Here’s what I intend to do. The results may be different after actually doing it, but intentions are …. well, we’ll see.

    My actual next step is to visit a local welder and have a shaft bent for the power wheel. …someday…

    1) I’m planning on filing a flat on the headstock shaft and then using a fairly large stop screw (1/4″ coarse thread) threaded into the pulley. A hardwood pulley, such as oak should be able to hold the threading well. Home stores have simple threading kits that aren’t very expensive that make quick work of threading the oak. You might even be able to use the screw itself to thread the oak. Then, cut a 1/4″ screw down to a length that fits inside the pulley and cut a slot with a Dremel cutoff disk.

    2) How about using 2 of those Shopsmith centers, one on the head and one on the tail. The one you reference in the article is not a dead center, but intended for the head end. I’m still looking for a simple dead center for the tail. Yes, it means two 5/8″ shafts on which the centers can be attached with set screws … and I plan to mount those shafts in bearings.

    3) The grinding wheel sounds like a good idea. The puzzle I haven’t yet solved with that idea is how to limit the headstock’s lateral movement. I intend to do that with a thrust bearing on the leftmost end … right where you want to put a wheel. I guess collars setscrewed to the shaft might work.

    In any case, keep havin’ fun and telling us about it.

    • Hi Bob,

      Thanks for the comment – I didn’t think I would have any readers at this stage!

      Yes – it was a ‘drive’ not a ‘dead’ center I was referring to for the head stock. I have corrected this in the blog entry. I like the idea of having a second drive center attached to the tail stock on a 5/8 rod through some bearings (like the head stock, but without the pulley, I guess). The only down side I can see is that I won’t be able to swap in aftermarket live centers down the road. Is this even a concern?

      My progress will probably be pretty slow, but I will certainly blog about each step. Cheers for the encouragement!

  2. There is a book available now, by Steve Schmeck. Very inexpensive and seems thorough. I bought it but haven’t finished reading it yet.

    Also a couple of resources that may not have existed when you posted this.

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