How to Make a Wood Lathe With a Drill

People tend to upgrade and forget about old things. They either throw them out or give it away when they still have the potential to do more. If you have an old drill lying around the house, you can make many other tools with it. In this guide, we will tell you how you can use a drill to create a basic wood lathe.

Woodworking requires a lot of experience. The professional equipment for the job are really expensive. But if you have access to the basic tools, you can make your own equipment. We have seen people get creative by making grinders using a drill. But did you know you could also make a basic wood lathe with a drill as well?

What Is a Wood Lathe and What Is Its Purpose?

A lathe is basically used to rotate a piece of wood or metal at a really fast speed. After which you use chisels specifically designed for the lathe to carve off material. You use the high rotation speed to slowly carve off material with the chisel. Just moving the chisel around and using the support of a fence you can make complex shapes out of wood and metal.

A wood lathe is only made to carve out wood and cannot be used for metal. The metal lathe is heavy-duty and mostly used for metal only. Both of these have different chisels made out of different materials. So you usually cannot use your wood lathe for metal and vice versa.

When you fasten a piece of wood on the lathe you move the chisels back and forth and sideways to carve off material. This allows you to create perfect spheres out of wood. You can also easily polish off the sand from the wood you carve out using the lathe.

The sanding process becomes extremely easy thanks to the high rotation speeds. Polishing also provides way better results if you are using a lathe for the job. A lathe does not cut wood like a saw and rather carve it using the high velocity the wood moves at. So when you are carving materials you usually end up with cylindrical or spherical shaped results when you use a lathe.

The art of carving out wood using a lathe is known as woodturning. And it is an extremely satisfying feeling and visually appealing when you watch someone woodturning. YouTube is full of videos of people woodturning items like dragon eggs, wooden bowls, and goblets.

How to Make a Wood Lathe Out of a Drill – Easy DIY Hack

To turn an old drill of yours into a wood lathe you will need wooden boards, a bearing, a few bolts, and long sized nuts. You will also need a jigsaw to cut the boards in the desired shapes. There might be a need for a drill with a bit for making holes in wood as well. Lastly, you will need large hose clamps to fasten the drill in the frame.

If you follow these steps then you will be able to turn your old drill into a wood lathe.

Step 1)

Cut a long wooden board into 4 pieces. One of the pieces should be bigger than the other 3 as it will serve as the base of the lathe. You need to measure it properly and account for the size of the wood you will be using on the lathe. Of course, as it is a DIY wood lathe you will not be able to use it for larger projects. But you can use it as a stepping stone to learning how to use it then buy a proper big one for bigger projects.

Step 2)

After cutting off the piece of wood for the base, cut two pieces of the board in equal size. they should be big enough to support the piece of wood and the drill. These will serve as the frames for holding the wood you will be turning. So depending on the size of wood, you might need a bigger frame and a powerful drill for the job.

Step 3)

After cutting the frame for turning the wood, you will need to make a small stand for holding the drill in place. The height of the stand will depend on the size of the frame and the width of the drill. The stand has to accommodate the drill but also has to make sure that it rotates the wood without obstruction.

Step 4)

Drill a hole halfway through one of the piece of the frame using a wooden drill that can make a big hole. This hole will house the bearing which will allow for the drill to operate friction-free. Similarly, on the other frame make a hole big enough for a bolt to pass through.

Step 5)

Using a grinder create a point on the bolt by grinding it out. The point will be used to hold the piece of wood on this end while it’s rotating. And on the other hand, you will need to grind out a fork-like shape on the other bolt. This bolt will be the one that will be connected to the drill and will be used to hold on to the piece of wood firmly.

Step 6)

Attach both frames to the base using nails and wood glue to hold them in place. Make sure both the frames are ready and will not need further changes as you are going to attach these firmly to the base.

Step 7)

Carve out a slit in the stand for passing the hose clamp. Place the drill over the stand and then use the hose clamp to fasten it in its place. Attach a long bolt to the drill using a nut to tighten it against the bearing on the frame. Make sure to pass the bolt through the frame before you fasten the drill on the stand.

Step 8)

Now all you have left is the fence on which you will place the chisels. Use nails and wood glue to reinforce the stand where you place the chisels at.

Afterwards, take a piece of wood and attach it to the fork-like piece and use the other bolt to tighten it against the fork-shaped bolt. Turn the lathe on and use chisels to start working on the wood.

BOSCH Power Tools Drill Kit


Voltage: 12 Volts
Weight: 4.73 Pounds
Maximum Chuck Size: 0.38 Inches
Power Source: Battery Powered
Includes: PS31 12V Max 3/8 Inches Drill/Driver, 12V Max Lithium-Ion 2.0 Ah Batteries, 12V Max
Perks: Certified Frustration-Free, Warranty, Compact, Powerful & Versatile, Two Speeds With 20+1 Torque Adjustment, LED Light

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WEN 3424T Benchtop Wood Lathe


Motor: 4.5 Amps
Dimensions: 30 x 28.5 x 29 Inches
Weight: 70.3 Pounds
Cutting Capacity: Up to 18 Inches Long and 12 Inches Wide
Speed: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM
Taper Size: MT2

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