Chris Schwarz's Blog

Foot-powered Lathe and Scrollsaw

In the comments for “One Schwarzpower. Fail.” Chris C. mentioned Roy Underhill’s “Lathe from a Loft” article, which we ran in the October 2000 issue of Popular Woodworking. In this story, Roy used recycled lumber (read: he went dumpster diving, much to his daughter’s embarrassment) to make a treadle lathe and scrollsaw. I’ve attached a PDF of the story below, for your reading and building pleasure.

- Megan Fitzpatrick, managing editor

TreadleLathe.pdf (1.69 MB)

9 thoughts on “Foot-powered Lathe and Scrollsaw

  1. Alan Papendick

    Thanks for the pdf. I have been looking for treadle lathe plans for the last 6 months and have not been successful with my Google search. Having plans for one build by an "expert" in the field is very helpful. I have a powered lathe and am concerned about letting my grandkids use it. Once I have the treadle lathe built, they can work along side grandpa to experience the joys of turning.

    As a faculty member at Central Michigan University, I am always looking for items like the treadle lathe to help future woodworking teachers understand where today’s technology came from. Now I can concentrate finding good plans for a Pole Lathe like the one Roy U. uses in his PBS shop.

  2. Steve Kreitler

    Meagan, thanks so much for posting this! I’ve been wanting to build a treadle lathe for some time, and I’ve searched all over for info. I never even knew this article had come out! Definitely informative, and a fine effort on Roy’s part. Thanks again!

  3. Bruce Jackson

    Yesterday, I got a Woodcraft mailing advertising a Nova lathe for something like $1699. Then I thought of a Craftsman Professional Lathe for something like $500, tools not included (another $100 or so). I’m not sure where in my neck of the woods (Fort Myers area) I can get a used lathe in reasonably good condition, and these days I’m far from willing to let too much money go out the door, so shipping charges are a no-no if I can avoid them.

    After I clean out my garage and build some basic storage units (as well as my wife’s piano book case and sofa table), this sounds like just the ‘reward project’ I need to keep my sanity. With that, I downloaded the PDF. Thanks a whole bunch!

  4. Dave Bozell

    This is a great article and results in a great lathe. I built one not long after the article was originally published and have used it for all of my lathe projects. It is a great lathe to learn with, as my children have also learned to turn on this lathe.

  5. Frank

    The timing couldn’t be better. After attending Roy’s class this past weekend I’ve decided I need a treadle lathe. A "measured drawing" who could ask for more?

    Thank you Megan,