This past weekend the shop received an incredible new addition. I’ve been wanting a lathe for some time. After much deliberation and visiting my friend Larry to see his lathes, I was ready to make the purchase. What a disaster. I purchased a mid-size lathe from a major manufacturer with a bed extension so that I’d be able to turn spindles. When it arrived the pulley housing was cracked and the bed extension didn’t cleanly mate with the lathe bed. This kept the tail stock from traversing between them smoothly, or at all. When I finally turned the machine on, the motor sounded like a jar full of marbles indicating that the bearings were shot. So I repacked everything and headed to UPS with the hopes of never seeing another tool from that company.
I was recounting this to a friend and coworker who offered a solution. He had his father’s old lathe in storage and asked if I’d like to use it until he needed it back. I was honored. The lathe is a Craftsman Model 80 that was produced between 1947 and 1966, it has a 9-inch swing and can accommodate 30 inches between centers – perfect for spindle turning!
The machine is gorgeous and mounted on a stand that his father built to house all the turning accessories and tools. The speed of the lathe is adjusted by switching the belt along a 4-step pulley to vary the speed from 875, 1350, 2250, or 3450 rpm. The belt tension is provided gravitationally through the weight of the motor mounted beneath the headstock. Very cool stuff. Another feature I haven’t seen on many newer lathes is the double banjo system that can hold an extra-wide tool rest for spindle turning. You definitely can’t find machines like this anymore.
There is also a left hand thread spindle that can allow outboard turning. Maybe there will be some bowls in my future? I’ll just need to build an outboard tool rest. Overall, an incredible piece of machinery and one I’m pleased to have in my shop and care for. Thank you Tom!