In Projects, Questions And Answers, Techniques

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Double-Duty Lathe Cabinet

for tools,
and 150
pounds of

By Ray Lanham

After several years of making lots of shavings and dust
with a small, underpowered lathe, I decided I deserved
an upgrade. My new lathe has big capacity, ample power and
electronic variable speed—important features that my old lathe
lacked. Only one thing was missing: an on-board storage cabinet
for all of my turning tools and accessories.

My new lathe has cast iron legs with brackets that were perfect
for adding such a cabinet. I chose this design because it also
includes a ballast box that holds up to 150 lbs. of sand. Adding
ballast to dampen vibration and lower a lathe’s center of gravity
is always a good practice, especially if you plan to turn large diameter
bowls as I do. Actually, you could opt to build only the
ballast box. The tool box simply nests on top of it.

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Every lathe benefits from
additional mass to dampen
vibration. These legs have
cast-in brackets for beams, the
perfect setup for hanging a ballast
box. On an open stand, the
beams can rest on the end rails.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Assemble the box in place to make the ballast compartments
as large as possible. Drop in the bottom after
installing both beam assemblies. Then install the dividers.

Place sand-filled trash bags in each compartment.
Install the top in two pieces—a single piece won’t fit
between the legs.

Start assembling the tool box by fastening the ends to
the back. The ends are patterned after the lathe’s leg and
sized to fit between the ballast box and the lathe’s bed.

Use a 45 degree support to drill angled holes for tool
sleeves in the top rail. Position the rail so the holes start
at the rail’s beveled top edge. Drill through a clamped-on
sacrificial board to eliminate tearout.

Assemble the tool box. First fasten the top rail and the
bottom rail to the ends. Then install the top. Add the
stiles last.

Install the soffit bracket (an end piece that’s cut diagonally) and
cleats. The tool box has no bottom because it nests over the
ballast box—the overhanging back and bottom rail hold it in position.

Cut the tool sleeves to fit and install the soffits. The tool
sleeves (made from 2 in. PVC pipe) are only friction-fit,
so they can be removed and reinstalled without removing
the soffits.

Fill the tool sleeves with pieces of foam pipe insulation
to make all your tools protrude equally. Use a wooden
disc as a stop. Cut the foam to length and hold in place by
taping across the bottom of the sleeve.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2008, issue #137.

September 2008, issue #137

Purchase this back issue.


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