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After 50 years of woodworking, I’ve got a confession to make. I enjoy fixing up an old machine or rearranging my shop more than woodworking itself.

A few years ago a friend gave me an old Rockwell lathe which clearly needed a lot of help. The motor, pulley, belt cover, tool rest and tailstock base had all gone missing. The few remaining pieces just oozed with potential. It was love at first sight!

I spent a fun six months making all the missing parts. I made the tailstock base from maple and hardboard, the belt cover from fiberglass and the tool rest and banjo from some old angle iron and pipe fittings. The banjo didn’t work out so well, though, because it required a wrench to move. I bought a replacement, instead.

I built the base from construction lumber and plywood. I welded a frame for a used 3/4 HP motor and installed a step pulley on the motor’s shaft. My pride and joy is a wooden lever that raises the motor when I want to change speeds.

This sturdy machine will outlast my days in the shop. Someday, one of my sons will have it, too. –Ed Grant

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  • cameron-2779

    Same here. I love picking up older machines and bringing them back to life. Then I use them mostly for shop projects and building stands for other tools.
    I do have a question about the picture of the lathe. What’s the wooden lever for below the headstock? I’m guessing it’s to release tension on the drive belt when not in use?

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