The rim lathe pictured here represents my first attempt to create a practical, accurate machine. It utilizes a lathe head from an inexpensive Harbor Freight wood lathe constructed of sheet metal. I used two different types of cross slide, both from Enco. This lathe was sold to a local maker in Arizona.
Notice the extension that goes past the base on the right cross slide. This was a retrofit because I miscalculated the proper distance from lathe head to cross slide. more...
The lathe head is from a typical Chinese-made lathe. This was a big improvement over Prototype 1 because it is cast iron. It features a variable speed control. I was able to simplify the base design and keep the cross slides on same level as the lathe head. I used two identical Enco cross slides.
Several of the rims in my gallery were made with this lathe. My only dissatisfactions with Prototype 2 were a lack of slow speeds and tendency to slow down during heavy cuts. I also tired of turning crank handles endlessly, so I vowed that Prototype 3 would have stepper motors and CNC controls to do the repetitive work for me.
I had some very aggressive goals for this lathe, including:
Enough rigidity to cut non-ferrous metal
Variable speeds from 30 to 1200 RPM
Enough swing to create a bluegrass resonator.
I failed to create a lathe that could cut metal, but the CNC controls are really cool. more...
The Dan Pennington Standard Lathe Modification
Dan Pennington has engineered a modification to a standard wood lathe so that can support two cross slides. The beauty of this scheme is that it eliminates the need for a custom welded base and workbench or cabinet.