Andrew Birkett's nobugs.org
Here’s how I made my first wood lathe from scratch, at very little cost. A hand-drill provides the motor, and the faceplate is a simple square of steel. I used a chisel as a crude lathe cutting tool. This was great fun, and allowed me to make a few small turned wooden items. All in all, a fun start to an interesting woodworking hobby.
If you like the idea of having a simple lathe, but don’t want to build it from scratch, there’s a nice looking Mini Wood Lathe on amazon.com. It’s similar to the one I own now.
Also, I found a great cheap book called The Metal Lathe, which I strongly recommend. Building a wood lathe from scratch is one thing; building a metal lathe is quite amazing!
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