Lathe Station


(When this piece was first published in WoodEzine back in 2006, Shay was just 14 and was still a Vikings fan like his Dad. Unfortunately, he has changed his allegiance to the Patriots since. Kids...)

The first thing I ever turned was a candlestick for Mom, and then a bowl for my Grandpa. After Dad saw that I could handle the work, he decided to get me my own lathe. It's a Delta™ MidiLathe with a bed extension and I used it for a few months just clamped down to the workbench in the shop. Then Dad decided that he needed the bench space, so he and I designed and built this medium density fiberboard (MDF) workstation that holds my lathe, tools and other equipment. It's quite heavy (two full sheets of 3/4" MDF plus the weight of the lathe) and it sits on feet that absorb vibrations. I have a task light, a built-in garbage can, holders for all the chisels, and a moving backrest that catches all the shavings behind the lathe. We're still working on dust control. More on that later...

MDF comes in 49" x 97" sheets. We started out by having the guys at Home Depot cut each of our two sheets into two pieces, because they have a panel saw. One piece was 49" x 36-5/8" (the blade took 1/8"), and the other was 49" x 60-1/4". Then we asked them to rip the two larger pieces so we ended up with four pieces that were about 2ft x 5ft. We glued three of these together to make the thick top, cut a hole in the middle for the garbage can, and then used a router and a guide to make two 1/2" deep grooves for the legs (see photo at right, and click on it to see a larger version). The grooves are offset a little so the legs will sit under the lathe.  

  Next, we glued a couple of large, rectangular legs into the grooves, making sure they were square to the table (see photo and click on it for a bigger version. Then we attached two 5" wide legs to the outsides of the big wide legs, by just face gluing and clamping them in place. These just added more weight and will help the MDF main legs from bowing over the years. We built a couple of L-shaped tracks outt of scrap hardwood, and the metal garbage can's handles slide in them. We attached these to the bottom of the table with glue and screws.

The next step was to brace the legs. We did this with a couple of triangles, again attaching them to the legs with glue and screws, and we also secured them to the underside of the top with a couple of 2x2 cleats. Then we glued and screwed a 1x6 to the outside of the triangles, just to make it stronger.

We went to Home Depot and got four inexpensive pads for the feet. They're plastic and they say that they reduce vibration.



Dad drilled a bunch of holes in the right end of the tabletop for all my chisels. (Actually, I kind of stole his, and the lathe came with some small ones, too.) I have one huge gouge for roughing, six medium chisels for most of what I do, and five small ones for details.

We drilled a few 1/2" holes in the back of the top and they're for an old office light that I use to shine right on my work. I can move it to different holes as needed.

I wanted some way to stop dust and chips from falling off the back of the table, so we made a real simple L-shaped wall that I can slide around and move behind the place I'm working. It catches lots of waste and then I can just slide it over the hole for the garbage can and my bench is pretty much cleaned up. Click the photo for a bigger version. We also rigged up a shop vacuum hose to catch shavings.

And the completed bench is below...


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