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Using Electric Drill for Power

When I first bought this lathe I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to power it. Using the existing pulley and belt was obviously the correct thing to do. Also the cheapest source of a motor and pulley was from a little Chinese bench drill. However I didn’t want to break my one up (or buy another one) until I had at least tested the lathe at a decent speed.


Powering lathe with electric drill


Here I am using my trusty 500w Black and Decker drill to run the lathe. This is not to be recommended and the belt did slip on the drill chuck. It was also very noisy!


Wooden pully for drill


The first experiment with the drill was successful enough to try another. This time I made a pulley using 9mm plywood and a holesaw. This worked well enough for me to go and buy another Chinese bench drill as I knew the lathe was up to motor driving.

It has occurred to me on several occasions that an electric drill might prove a suitable basis for a small lathe. If only small diameter work pieces are required - one option would be to retain the drill chuck also.

There have actually been several wood lathes marketed which used an electric drill for the power source so this is not a new idea.

Of course there are a few downsides. Small diameter work pieces require high RPMs and whilst main powered drills go upto 2500-3000 RPM - they are very noisy and not designed to run at these speeds for long periods. As well as the noise - there will be quite a lot of heat generated. The bearings will also take quite a pounding as they are not designed for sideways pressure - unlike those in a proper lathe.

Its a project I still may try - not least because its possible to buy a mains powered drill complete with a keyed 13mm chuck for under 10 new!

You can find an interesting page on using a drill as a metalworking lathe

A variation I’m also considering is mounting a conventional drill chuck on a custom spindle and driving it from a separate motor - much like my existing lathe. Drill chucks are very cheap 2nd hand/used and a small lathe could possibly be put together around one.

More info on both of the above can be found HERE.


All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved. Game artwork copyright their respective publishers.

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