Has anyone ever tried converting a treadle sewing machine base into a
lathe? if so, was it successful and do you have plans drawn up I could
I used to collect antique treadle sewing machines and have several
bases I thought might make interesting mini lathes for pens or other
I made a mini lathe with a washing machine motor.
Made a micro lathe out of IBM typewriter parts. The typewriter had hundreds
of springs, bolts and some steel shafts to salvage too.The typewriter has a
nice small size induction motor that is very quiet with enough power to do
small diameter work.
You should be able to adapt the treadle sewing machine to a wood lathe by
beefing up the flywheel with more thickness or weight.
Check online for treadle lathe how-to and adapt to the treadle sewing
machine. The old singer machines are well built and work forever.
What's a "Typewriter"?!?! };->
I have several Singer's, and yes, prior to 1960ish it was hard to kill
a Singer. I have a cheap Taiwan replacement treadle base I was
thinking of converting. If it works I'll let folks know.
In 1960 I saw a sweat shop full of foot powered lathes in Hong Kong. They
consisted of two pedals which were pumped and a cord wound around a bamboo
drum between bearings. this resulted in a forward and backward rotation.
They had a screw chuck on the headstock end to which they mounted ivory
blocks. They were turning ivory balls, the type with several balls within a
ball. I bought a chess set that had each piece mounted on one of these
They used a small scraper which cut on both the forward and back rotation.
They could cut a ball out faster than I ever will be able to do with a
The current issue of Popular Woodworking (August 2007, Issue #163) has
an article entitled A Bicycle Built for Bowls, that might be of
related interested. It's about making a foot-powered lathe using
Fine Woodworking had a collection out some years ago of plans for
homemade woodworking tools. There was a really nice looking treadle
lathe in that using bicycle parts.
I loaned my copy of the book to a grad school professor...so much for
My wife has an old treadle in working condition.It was her great
grandmothers. I had the same thought as you, would make a lathe from
it. Wife had other thoughts, said she would do a Lorretta Bobbit on me
if I touched her treadle.
Made a treadle lathe from a couple of books, Roy Underhill has an
article in one book that shows you how. I used that lathe for several
years, finally removed the flywheel and treadle and added a motor.
Getting to old now to pump the treadle.
In any case I believe you could easily make a small pen lathe,
You would need a spindle with a morse taper and threads,so the old
method of using round stock for the spindle won't work for pens.I have
not turned pens , but I imagine the least you need is a morse taper
You can get parts from Grizzly or many lathe manufacturers, ask for
replacement parts.Might be cheaper to buy an inexpensive lathe and
power it with the treadle.