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Metal lathe to wood lathe?


Apr 30, 2020
Venango county NW Pa
I have this small lathe that we discussed on another on this site. It was determined that it may be an armature lathe or some other specialty type lathe. It doesn’t have any graduation marks on the cross feed or tailstock. So I’m wondering about making a hobby wood lathe out of it. i know some modifications will need to b made to cross-slide area and either a headstock drive will need to be fabricated or purchased. Am I missing anything or am I wrong think it would work?


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The "metal" here never complained about wood stuff like this fixture for a brake backing plate


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Plain bearing lathe so the RPMs will be limited. Keep an eye on bearing temperature. Should still make an OK wood lathe, though probably not as good as one designed for the purpose. FWIW, my Logan metal lathe actually came out of a wood shop. Took me a long time to get all the saw dust out.
What are the bearing surfaces - cast iron, bronze, babbet? With good lubrication you should have no trouble getting wood turning speeds. As to what those might be, obviously turning spindles will require much higher speeds than bowls. But early 20th century wood lathes had plain bearings, so it's clearly doable.

I use my South Bend 9" bench lathe for wood, works just fine. Cast iron bearings, max speed 1200 rpm. I made a tool rest to be held in the lantern toolpost, but you'll be happier if you can fit a banjo, as is used with wood lathes.
My wood lathe has a max rpm of 2200. I never go that high. Maybe like 1400 rpm if I am polishing something.
The lathe in the pics needs a custom stand.
I have some gouges that my dad had made out of files for me in the tool room where he worked at 50 yrs or so ago. will probably machine some type of tool rest.
I did a lot of hollow vessel turning with Robert Sorby tools. They decorate the living room now. Natural edge bowls and plates too.
How about some pix?
I did suggest that flat tool post if the OP wanted to do freehand work. But sometimes in wood a cranked out part is a lot better.
The only thing is that wood dust soaks up oil and the ways and whatever else should be cleaned often.

The long tool is just one of the tools I can use. The system allows you to change the handle or cutting bar.
I tried to locate the stuff I have but didn't find anything similar.

This is the guide used to hollow out the inside wood. I like a wall thickness of 3/16" to 4/16". The wood is turned and hollowed out
when wet and then dries quickly. If the base is not stable there are ways to turn it flat.

A stash of tools.
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Anyone who makes a living at wood turning deserves a little respect.
It's easy to take 8-12 hours to make a shape. The pro does it in 45 minutes.