Seeking massive lathe
June 24, 2009 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know where I can find an old wood lathe to restore and turn massive burls? This isn't your father's lathe, it's more likely your great grandfather's lathe and hasn't been out of the barn since before the War. It weighs half a ton. If you hang out at the VFW or in old union halls and ask around a massive bowl will be your reward for the beta. I'll go anywhere in the Northeast if it's cheap and farther than that if it is free.
posted by mearls to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know very little about lathes, and I don't understand what this

"If you hang out at the VFW or in old union halls and ask around a massive bowl will be your reward for the beta. "

means, but a search of Boston Craigslist revealed this 1938 9"x 42" model B South Bend Lathe. serial # 36336 NBR9 lathe.

I haven't the foggiest idea if it's what you're looking for, but I was bored, it's a lathe, and it's old. Good luck.

Oh, and he wants $975 OBO.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:18 AM on June 24, 2009

Response by poster: I'm an obsessive crazedlist checker. The South Bend lathes are for metal which requires different tooling and tend to be considerably more expensive. Still, the era is right. thanks.
posted by mearls at 7:49 AM on June 24, 2009

Check out Sawmill Creek to start. There is a whole bunch of turning resources out there.
posted by flummox at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2009

Can you retool/rework a metal lathe for this? My brothers bought an enormous (18' long, 10' high) metal lathe, in good working order, for $600 on ebay. Bigger is often cheaper -- normal people don't like dealing with things that weigh tons, require three-phase power, need their own shop, etc., which hurts the demand for the really big stuff.
posted by madmethods at 8:48 AM on June 24, 2009

You might search for pattern shops that are going out of business or liquidating defunct machinery, as an old pattern lathe can be beautiful for this sort of work. Pattern lathes are a sort of hybrid wood/metal lathe, often quite large. I used to be a pattern maker, and the largest lathe I used could handle a six-foot faceplate over the bed and 12 feet "on the outside." I doubt you'd want something that large, but there's a wide range of sizes. Many will have 3-phase motors, so be aware you may need a phase-converter to run them on a residential electrical service.

You might also consider fabricating one yourself, if you can weld. For faceplate turning then you can do without the bed and tailstock. Without those things, a lathe is a fairly simple machine.
posted by jon1270 at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2009

Call the Bucks Woodturners in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. My grandfather is a member, they are nice guys/gals, who always want to help a fellow woodturner, and will give you some advice I am sure!

For a broader scope, maybe try the American Association of Woodturners.

I can't point you to any "for sale" links they have, but I'm sure either group would be happy to point you in the right direction.
posted by bunnycup at 9:24 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wrong coast, but possibly a good resource: Call or email the folks at Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka, CA, and ask them if they have any leads.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2009

Best answer: You're looking for the friendly folks at Old Woodworking Machines. (I have an c. 1890 F.E. Reed lathe, myself, but it only has about 18" of swing.)

There is a classifieds section on owwm called "Bring Out Your Dead" that occasionally has listings for old lathes. You can also post wanted ads.
posted by maxwelton at 12:13 PM on June 24, 2009

Response by poster: I've only just begun looking on OWWM and thought they weren't doing classified ads so I didn't realize what it had. Today was the first time I found "Bring out your dead." It showed the listings from a pattern makers shop and I almost cried. Clearly, a pattern makers shop is what I'm building. Now, to find another pattern makers shop auction.

Thanks hive mind.
posted by mearls at 5:35 AM on June 25, 2009

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