Two years ago when my wife and I were out on a travel assignment, I spent some time building a pole lathe. I had never used one before and decided to build it from scrap materials that my father had at his house. The only thing I spent money on was a few lag bolts which cost around $5.

Not really knowing what I was going to use the lathe for I decided to build it more as a spindle lathe since I had used power wood lathes growing up. I didn’t really follow any plan just kind of made it up as I went.

After that travel assignment, it was taken apart and transported 1200 miles back home. Space was limited so only about half of the lathe got packed up while the other half as discarded. It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally had the chance to get it set back up.


This time I made the bed five feet long. Everything else is the same. The one modification I am going to do is to set it up as a bowl lathe. I am going to use the existing poppet, for now, but in the near future I am going to make a new one with a bent center to give better clearance when turning bowls.

One thing that I need that I don’t have, is a mandrel to use for bowl turning. I had already turned one out of hard maple when I took the bowl turning class at North House, but it needed to be trued up as it dried oval shaped. Surprisingly it turned just fine after drying out for several months. Now I just need to make some pins for the end that gets driven into the bowl blank.

Later this week I am going to cut down one of the birch trees at the edge of our property and start turning a few bowls. When I do I will post some pictures of the process and finished bowls.