Monday, December 31, 2012

Lathe Stand and Storage Cabinet

I needed to turn a utility item yesterday, and that got me thinking about finally putting my lathe up on a proper stand.  Right now, it lives on the floor of my basement, and I groan and lift it up onto my bench when I want to use it.  And that's assuming there's a clean spot on my bench!

One problem with my basement shop is that the concrete floors are not level.  Everything slopes to a floor drain, which will be great when there's a leak, but a pain otherwise.  The shop is also quite small, so mobility is a must.  This stand needs swivel casters so I can scoot it around, and adjustable feet for stability on the floor.  Unlike the manufacturer's stand, this thing should also have quality storage.

[fast forward a couple of weeks]

The main carcase is a box of 3/4" plywood, 27-1/2"h x 34"w x 12".  It's built with simple rabbet joints at the corners, glued and screwed together.  The left side has a drawer at the top for little things, and below that a cupboard with adjustable shelves for chucks, wrenches, and other accessories.  On the right is tool storage.  For now, a simple vertical rack holds all the tools I have, but in the future I might have to modify this for more capacity.  It might also be nice to have some sort of rack to use to set tools when I'm using them, instead of just shoving them under the lathe bed in the chips.

The box sits on 3" swivel casters, but there are outrigger legs at each end with feet that are screwed down to level and support the stand when it's in use.  I've had this idea for a while, but this is the first time I've built it, and I'm very happy with the way it works.  I haven't tried turning anything big and wiggly like a green bowl blank, but without adding a lot of mass to the stand, this is about as solid as it gets with the legs screwed down.  Here's how they're made.  The feet were cut from a 2x8.  I put a fancy curve on them so you can tell I'm a classy gentleman, and they are screwed to the side of the carcase with six 2" construction screws, with the bottom about 1-1/2" from the floor when the stand is sitting on the casters.  There's a 3/8" tee nut inserted into the bottom of the outrigger leg, and then a carriage bolt threaded up from below through the tee nut and up through a 3/8" hole through the leg.  The head of the carriage bolt becomes the foot, and I glued some rubber feet to the bottom of them for better grip on my concrete floor.  I used flat tee nuts with holes on the flange, instead of the kind with the spikes you hammer in.  I fastened them into a shallow 1" mortise (made with a forstner bit) with #4 screws.  The close fit of the bolt thread through the wood hole above the tee nut is intentional and adds to the rigidity of the foot.  They were a little tough to turn at first, since the tee nut is never perfectly aligned with the hole, but a little wax on the threads and the action is just right so they don't tend to turn on their own.  On top of the bolt, I locked two nuts together, and then turned some little 1" dia. x 3" handles out of walnut scrap.  I drilled a 5/16" hole about 1/2" deep near one end of each handle, then used a chisel to enlarge that to a tight-fitting hex shape that I simply whacked onto the locked nuts with a mallet.  No glue needed.

Dust collection at the lathe can be tricky.  The big shavings make up most of the waste, but sanding especially can generate finer dust.  I take a two-pronged approach here.  I like to hang a 2-1/2" dust-collector hose right on my tool rest post.  That does a good job with most of the fine stuff because it's close to the source and pulling a lot of air.  Some shrouding and another dust-collector inlet underneath the lathe catch most of the big chunks that tend to fall.  I also made the top overhang the cabinet about 1/2" so the debris that does escape doesn't wind up in the storage area.

Another consideration is a spot for a swing-arm lamp, either on a bracket behind the bed, or behind the tailstock.  Hm.