Posts Tagged ‘metal lathe’

For a long time I had a hard time calling myself a “woodworker”.  I have no formal training and no certificates or diplomas to support such a claim.  So to go around saying “I’m a legitimate woodworker” just because I pushed some tools through wood before (or vice versa) felt like an insult to those who truly put in the time and effort to become proficient in the craft.  But I really enjoyed working with wood and hand tools and building furniture, so I continued working and learning until eventually I felt comfortable acknowledging that yes, I am in fact a “woodworker” or “furniture maker”, etc.

On the other hand, I was formally trained as a mechanical engineer which included working with various metal lathes, mills, and other equipment, all of which I enjoyed using, but since graduating college I’ve had little to no access to such equipment.  So unlike woodworking, where I had tools and a lack of skill, when it came to working with metal I had skill and no tools.  Until now that is.  Being partner in a toolmaking business finally gave me a good excuse to purchase a metal lathe, a dream lathe really, and set it up on the non-woodworking side of my shop.  I even have space for a mill to go next to it someday, if I can figure out how to get one down there.

Anyway, the ability to make custom parts, tooling, prototype hardware, or anything else I feel like making is a huge benefit for the business and I love being able to put my metal working background to use again.  So without further reading (yawn), here’s a few shots of the most recent addition to my shop.  And because every lathe seems to operate a little differently, I included some basic descriptions of what each lever and dial is used for.

Rockwell 11×36 Lathe

Clean, level, and ready for work.

The carriage assembly with the cross and compound slide. The bottom lever engages the auto feed. The middle lever selects between auto-feeding the carriage, cross slide, or screw chaser. And if you’re in screw chasing mode, the lever on the right engages the drive when the correct number is aligned.

Detailed shot of the headstock. The lever on the left is for the auto feed. 3 positions for forward drive, backwards, or neither (head spins only, not the auto feed screw). The two tumblers (levers) at the bottom change the gearing for different feed rates. The large handle on the upper-right area near the chuck is for selecting direct drive, back gearing, neutral, or locked.  Additionally, spindle itself can also be driven forward or reverse.

The drive selector lever can be used for driving the spindle directly from the motor belts (position shown), putting the spindle in neurtal so it spins freely (if you need to rotate a part around for inspecting, laying something out, etc), locking the spindle (typically for chuck removal), or driving the spindle via the back gears.

The back gears cut the spindle RPM and increase the torque by a 6:1 ratio. This is desirable for screw cutting, knurling, or high-torque applications. The lever also allows for forward or reverse drive of the auto feed screw or it can be left neutral so only the spindle is turning.

Adjusting the RPM of the lathe is as simple as turning the wheel. Notice there are two sets of numbers on the dial, one for direct drive and one for drive through the back gears (1/6 the RPM)

One last detail is the custom drawers the previous owner had installed. Beautiful work and it adds plenty of storage.

A quick shot of my main measuring and inspecting drawer.

And here’s the tooling that came with the lathe. I’m sure I’ll be adding to this over time, but there’s plenty here to get started with.  The other drawers are largely empty right now, storing only a few miscellaneous items, some rags, and the manual for the lathe.

And if the drawers aren’t enough, I still have the default drawer. Maybe for some extra chucks or collets down the line.

That’s the jist of it.  And if you noticed that chart on the right of the second lathe picture, it’s an extremely handy Starrett drilling and tapping chart.  It’s the simplest, most complete one I’ve ever used so if you’ve never seen it before, download it here.

If you have any questions or are looking for the manual for this lathe feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.  Merry Christmas. -WMT