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Plans to build an all Wooden Wood Lathe pre-1820


Hey all. Saw my uncle for the first time since he retired and moved to Florida. He said that he pretty much has broken all of his modern wood turning lathe components and can't sleep at night dreaming about a treadle wood turning lathe. He says that if he makes one he can impress his new friends.
What he says he needs are; some original plans or drawings pre 1820 (ish) of a wood turning lathe. He turns bowls and for some reason wants to make the lathe authentic. :salute:prob is a crowd pleaser. His e-mail is: Oldflyboy@gmail.com


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I'm sure that building and using a "man" powered wood lathe, treadle or spring pole will be fun project. However I'm pretty confident in saying that he will not be turning any bowls. This opinion is based on experience that we have at our Early Skills Village with a "great wheel" lathe. Wood lathe, rope drive from a hand cranked 4 foot diameter heavy wood wheel. Even with a young energetic "cranker" power is only sufficient for 2 - 3 inch spindles, file handles etc. I suppose that one could consider the power input equivalent to perhaps a 1/8 HP motor, and then only for short durations.

Joe B


I sort of recall a set of plans in Fine Woodworking magazine back some time in the 80's for a nice wooden treadle lathe. I always wanted to build one but somehow that particular issue of the magazine went missing (which is why I can't tell you any more, beyond the fact that it was a nice looking lathe)

Here's a link to the article, which was published in March 1979:


You can see a picture of the lathe and a shrunk down page of the article. It says to read the article you need to sign up for a 14 day free trial, which sounds fair enough, if you r dad likes what he sees.

Pete Spaco

I have a friend who goes around the USA demonstrating bowl turning with a Spring Pole Lathe. He built it himself. It's almost all wood, except for the spindle and tailstock screw. The "secret", if there is one, is in the shape of the tools.


I watched him often when we were demonstrating across from each other in the Blacksmith shop at the Minnesota State Fair. (He doing the woodturning and me the blacksmithing). He also turns chair spindles, but likes the bowls best.

You could probably contact him and ask for plans.

Pete Stanaitis

Lonnie Grissom

get him a copy of old ways of working wood by Alex w. Bealer. You should be able to get one on line or your local book stor can order you a copy. It has a plans for spring pole and treadle laths.