Making a lathe bench – part 2

I did not build the lathe bench in the first post, but I did build a bench. The more I looked at the drawing, the more I thought the angled legs were going to be annoying to make, and I’m not patient or good enough to do that yet. So I simplified the design, thus.

Square 90 degree legs, with lap joints. I got some of those joints done, but then I decided not to worry about the others. This is the result.

It’s on castors which you can lift and drop so that you can rest the base on the floor when you’re not moving it, and I reinforced the base with a couple of cross-members including one which extends past the width of the top to give it more stability. It works fine! It’s pretty stable (although I’ve not turned anything very lopsided yet), and it can be moved around (just about!). Very happy with it overall, it’s functional.

And so far, I’ve made one oak bowl and one mahogany bowl on it.

Super relaxing and a lot of fun.

Making a lathe bench – part 1

The lathe needs a bench. I can’t keep it on the main bench in the shed, it’ll need it’s own stand. At some point, I may want to think about making it mobile, but for now I just want something stable so I can actually use the lathe before I go back to work next week. I’m desperate to have a shot at turning a bowl on it!

I’ve built / made a few things now, some of them I just made up as I went along (bird table), but some things I want a better idea of what I’m doing before I start. That includes the garden steps I built and an elevated planter for my mother-in-law. It also includes this lathe bench.

3d plans showing a raised planterI have used Sketchup Free for the various projects I wanted to plan and it works out great! It’s not easy, but it isn’t terrible and it really helps. What it doesn’t do is help visualise how big something will be (the planter turned out massive), but that’s also my achiles heal anyway (cooking too much food, building things too big, buying too much decorating stuff, etc.)

Here’s the plan for the lathe stand.

3d plans for a lathe stand

Imagine that diagonal brace in the middle being mirrored on the other side (I couldn’t be bothered to draw it). The different colours are for different sizes of lumber, 14cm, 9cm or 6cm wide (all 3.8cm thick). Hopefully that’ll be strong enough to hold the 85kg weight of the Record Power CL2, and keep it stable. We’ll see (it’s going to be sitting on a shed floor with a lot of bounce, which isn’t going to help!)

Wish me luck.

So I bought a lathe!

Well, this is actually my second lathe. My first one was the Parkside lathe from Lidl, which I bought probably two or three weeks ago. I’ve used it (the Parkside one) to turn two pieces of wood (other than some very quick tests).  I made a bowl out of sycamore and a cup / goblet / thing out of apple wood (from a tree we cut down in our garden).

Plain wooden bowl on a black backgroundI had read bad things about the Parkside lathe, but I really wanted to give turning a go, and as they re-appeared in the middle of Lidl I purchased one in a moment of weakness.

Super easy to set up, made mostly of plastic and aluminium, the lathe sits nicely on a bench. But it’s flimsy. The spindle wiggles, the tool rest doesn’t lock fully, the tailstock actually lifts up from the lathe ‘bed’ (I use that term loosely) if you apply it hard enough to keep your piece in place.

But, it does allow you to turn wood, even someone like me who’s never turned anything his life. I made the bowl and the other thing (chalice?) and it was only mildly frustrating and painful. But, by the time I’d finished the second piece, the lathe was even flimsier. The wobble on the spindle was worse, the tool rest is chipped and dented and no longer locks, and the tail stock is as useful as a piece of wet fish. It was clear I was doing stuff it was never intended to be useful for (which begs the question, what was it intended to be used for).

Anyway, I’d been watching Facebook market place for months for various second hand DIY items (more blog posts coming about all that stuff I suspect) and yesterday I spotted a bargain. A Record Power CL2 lathe, for a really good price, not too far away and in good working order. I collected it today.

Turned wooden gobletFuck me it’s heavy. I mean, it didn’t look that big in the Facebook marketplace photo. But it’s heavy. The two metal bars which form the bed are heavy. The motor and spindle are very heavy. I really should not have been lifting that onto the bench on my own. It came with loads of accessories including an unused four jaw chuck, which I’m super excited about.

Now I just need to build a stand for it (it can’t stay on the bench, it’s too high for one thing), and then enlist the help of someone to move it (not making that mistake again).

I am excited to give it a whirl – the two things I’ve made were hard, but I don’t know if that was technique, the lathe or the tools (or all three). It can’t be the lathe next time I make something, so we’ll hopefully see if it’s tools, technique or both!