How to Make a Wood Lathe? (7 Steps )

How to Make a Wood Lathe

A woodworker can’t imagine a woodworking shop without a wood lathe. Even a woodworker can’t make creative woodwork if s/he doesn’t have a wood lathe.

A wood lathe is essential to a woodworking job, which is why wood lathe is well-known as “the mother of all machinery tools.”

But, a wood lathe will let you cost nearly $300. This cost is a bit expensive. Although you can make a lot of beautiful stuff using a wood lathe, the price may exceed your budget.

So, will you stop your creative woodworking work because of not having a wood lathe machine?

Well, stopping the woodworking work is unnecessary when you can make a wood lathe machine.

Are you wrinkling your eyes? Yes, I am not joking. You can make wood lathe machines following a few simple steps.

Building a lathe from scratch

Required Materials

Sl# Item Measurement (If required)
1 Poplar Wood ¾” x 3 ¾” x 10’.
2 Pine 1” x 8” x 4’
3 Off-cut wood
4 Rod 5/8″
5 Nuts (tee nuts, wing nuts)
6 Unlimited screws 2″ and 1/4″
7 “V” belt Long 4″ and Thick 1/2″
8 Pulley
9 Bearing Block
10 AC Motor


 How to Make a Wood Lathe? – 7 Steps Guide 

How to Make a Wood Lathe

Step 1: Basement Preparation

Once you collect all materials, firstly, you need to focus on preparing the base. The pine board requires to be cut into 2 10” pieces.

Also, cut the poplar 2 24” pieces. Using the pine boards, cut corners on it to go straight to the diagonal.

To make 2 rails & 2- legs, tighten the poplar between the 2 pine. To do this, use the screws that you have in the box.

Step 2: Make the tailstock and tool rest

Again, it would be best if you cut the poplar. 2 –pieces of poplar should be 6 and ½” long, and 3” long has to be another 1-piece. All 3-pieces need to be assembled to give them a C-shape.

For tool rest making, cut 2 pieces of poplar, which will be 10” pieces and 7” pieces. After that, a 3” piece of a 2″ X 4″.

To move the tool rest, make a slot at the center of the 10” piece. Then, take the 10” pieces and give this piece a joint to the 2″ X 4″ piece to ensure an “L”-shape.

Lastly, as the below picture shows, join the 7” piece to the 2″ X 4″. The parts need to be held from the bottom, cut a 2” long poplar, and on the side, make notches. This is necessary so that they move smoothly between the rails (last picture).

Step 3: Head Making

Head Making

Let’s move in, making the lathe head. To spread every leg, cut 2 poplar boards, keeping the measurement 6 ½” x 3 3/4″.

Join one to one leg and, using some cut-off wood, sandwich it, so that it can work as braces.

Follow the same procedure to the other leg.

Create a small-sized box to cut off more wood pieces to knit between the 2 legs.

Step 4: Motor Mounting

In this step, we will mount the motor. Use a book to lift the motor. Put a mark at the point where you are going to create the hole for the pulley and use screws to mount the motor accurately.

If you need more holes for comfortable adjustment, drill 1 or 2 more holes and mount the motor.

Then, take the pulley and add it.

Step 5: Bearing block set up

Now, it’s time to set up the bearing block. You can place the bearing block at the top of the lathe head and on the tailstock. Confirm that they are all in the same line.

For this, you can use a rod. On every side of the head, keep one ¾” – 2” sticking out. After that, keep another 3” stocking out for the tailstock.

This sticking out will permit you to work with a different size. Then, to the head, screw up the pulley and slide it into the block. Take the belt, wrap it up with the pulley, and fine-tune the motor.

Step 06: Final touch up

Give a trial run and switch on the lathe. If you find any loose ends, correct them. To fix it, you can use the free spacing of the pulley and fine-tune the motor.

Now, I believe one question has been raised in your mind. That is, how will you place any wood? Well, let me tell you the process.

Place tee nuts at the end of whatever wood piece you want to turn. Placing the tee nut is not a hard task. Create a hole using the drill machine, and use the hammer to place the tee nut into the wood.

Screw them up, and Tailstock is there to support them. Then, begin to turn your piece. You may need to add a hose clamp around the tee nut while working with a block of thinner wood.

Step 07: Start Using the Lathe

Start working with the wood lathe. You will be pleased to wonder if you are working with a tool that you have made. If you face any problem, don’t forget to examine it thoroughly.

As you make it, you will be able to find out the problem and give a solution to that also.

More FAQ

How do you make a wood lathe with a drill?

You can make a simple wood lathe using a drill by mounting the drill securely to a workbench or stand. Attach a piece of wood to the drill bit to create a drive spur.

Then, place your workpiece between two centers attached to the bench. Turn the drill quickly and shape your spinning workpiece using various wood-turning tools. This creates an improvised mini wood lathe powered by a drill.

What can I use if I don’t have a lathe?

If you don’t have access to a full-size wood lathe, there are a few options for basic woodturning projects:

  • Use a drill-powered mini lathe as described above. This allows basic spindle turning.
  • Try hand-turning using basic woodworking tools like chisels and gouges.
  • Use a router and shop-made jigs to pseudo-turn square stock into rounded shapes.
  • Consider getting a small pen lathe or mini lathe, which provides basic functionality without taking up much space.

What can I make with wood lathe?

A wood lathe is a versatile tool that allows woodturners to make a wide variety of objects from wood. Some common wood lathe projects include:

  • Bowls, plates, and vases
  • Decorative objects like lamps, finials, knobs, and chess pieces
  • Spindles like chair legs, balusters, and candlesticks
  • Useful items like rolling pins, handles, batons, and baseball bats
  • Toys and games like spinning tops, wooden chess pieces, and puzzle balls
  • Pens, seam rippers, and other small-turned objects

How does wood lathe work?

A wood lathe holds and rotates a piece of wood called the “workpiece” at high speeds while allowing the operator to shape the wood using fixed or moving cutting tools.


Making a wood lathe is a pleasing effort. Start working with your wood lathe and make creative things using it.

Once you get full support from your wood lathe, you will wonder how efficient it is to make small bowls following a limitless design.

Using a wood lathe, you can design your wood pieces accurately without additional stress. Woodworkers always choose a wood lathe to show their creativity on wood without choosing any other tool.