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. CatX

    Woo! I needed something fun to look forward to after the lengthy (and non-productive) yak shaving today. Thank you!

  6. 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,


Comments are closed.