A bench lathe is a great method of carving wood and smoothing down woodwork, but if you are not able to afford a professional bench lathe, you should be able to make one out of pipe fittings and other tools. The best way to make the bench lathe is to have these tools on hand already, otherwise you will not save any money by converting the pipe fittings to a lathe, but rather spending more money on pipes and fittings. However, if you have these parts laying around, either from a project that you have just completed or donated by a relative, you should be able to make a light bench lathe using only these pieces and some home improvement tools.
Step 1 - Make the Bed of the Lathe
The bed support of this lathe should be made from one long piece of 1 inch pipe. Measure 30 inches, or around three feet, and saw off any excess. Take two tee-shaped joints and screw them onto either end of the pipe, so that the third opening is facing upwards. Then, take two elbow joints and screw these onto the ends of the 1-inch pipe, so that they curve downwards. You can then use two large plate fittings to secure the pipe to a bench.
Step 2 - Make the Spindle
You will then need to make the spindle, which will perform the cutting. This should be made using two halves of a pipe joint, fitted around the bed pipe and then screwed into position on the middle of the pipe. This can be done using some long screws, and tightened enough so that the joints do not move. Use two tees, and fit the lower one onto the joint just made. Then screw the upper tee above it. Cut the top part to about half-way down, and then carefully thread the spindle. Place the spindle onto the top tee using a clamp.
Step 3 - Make the Pulley
Next, take three pieces of hard wood, in diminishing sizes, and saw them until they are all round. Put these onto the spindle, large to small, and then fasten them using a screw. This should be movable, so that the pulley will move the lathe against the chuck blade.
Step 4 - Make the Chuck
You will now need to make the chuck blade, which will do the cutting for the lathe. You will need to make two points using sharp scrap iron. Mold these to the size of pins, and then sharpen using your saw. You can use these hand-made blades, or you can attach a wood lathe blade, available from most home improvement stores. Place the blades onto the sides of the tee joints that you positioned at either end of the bed pipe. You may have to raise the chucks before they reach the pulley, but then you can place the item on the lathe and cut it using the blades.