Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mini Lathe Base Mounting - Plans


I've moved to a new web site:

Academy of Lagado at

Blogger is nice, but I have found it too limiting for what I would like to do, so I have moved to Google Sites instead. All of the information found on this blog has been copied to the above web site, together with new information.

Replacement Base (Chip Tray) for a Mini-Lathe

My new/used mini-lathe was missing a chip tray, so I built one that also serves as a sturdy base.

When I purchased my mini-lathe (used for $260 in early 2012), a few things needed to be corrected:
  • no chip tray
  • 3-jaw chuck missing inside jaws
  • speed control knob missing
  • tailstock hand-wheel broken
  • change gears missing
It did include a dead center and drill chuck for the tailstock (and the rear splash guard - removed in the photo above).

In short, there were some easily corrected minor deficiencies, but the biggest immediate concern was the lack of a chip tray, as this made for an unstable lathe. I thought about purchasing a chip tray (or some of the other alternatives mentioned on other sites), but in the end I decided to just build one to my requirements.

The result is shown in the picture below. In brief, it is a plywood base "trimmed" with pine on all four sides. A removable plywood backsplash is mounted to the rear. It's a bit difficult to see in the picture, but there is a shallow groove running along the front of the base; this serves to catch any cutting fluids, and also serves to keep tools or small parts from roiling off the front. The base is further stabilized by two heavy wood strips running along the bottom (front to back) - these are also slightly tapered so that the base tilts down toward the front, so that any fluids will run to the front.

My Harbor Freight Model 33684 Mini Lathe mounted on base

The whole thing was finished off with several coats of gray latex enamel, and a final topcoat of clear urethane.

I'm quite pleased with the result, which is light but sturdy. The wood strips along the bottom make it easy to get a grip if I want to move it. The lathe is bolted to the base from below; the lathe actually sits on pieces of 1/4" neoprene gasket, which acts as a vibration damper.

My long term thinking was that the base as shown would form two sides of a box, and that I could build the rest of the box later as a way to completely enclose the lathe for storage, if need be. I've put off the that part for the time being, but as can be seen from the photo, I made sure when fastening the lathe to the base that everything fit within the area of the base.

As noted previously, the backsplash is removable to simplify access to the rear of the lathe, as well as removal of the compound rest.

Not part of the build plans, but seen at the top center of the picture above, is a LED lamp I added later. It's made from a goose-neck LED lamp I picked up on sale at a local department store. I remove the flat base it came with, and replaced it with a wood base slotted to slide along the backsplash. With the combination of the sliding and the gooseneck, I can direct the lamp wherever I need it. (Since modifying the lamp, I have seen LED "clamp lights" which I think would also work nicely).

If you would like to build this yourself, drawings and build instruction can be found here:

In PDF format:

The original LibreOffice Draw file:

Creative Commons License
Replacement Base (Chip Tray) for a Mini-Lathe by kaje is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.