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Dave Cullen
03-31-2015, 12:52 PM
My wood lathe came to me without a headstock (long story) and I fabricated one for it out of 3/4" plywood and a pair of flange bearings. It's been in service for almost 20 years and has served me well enough for spindle turning. But the bearings are making funny noises now and I want to redo it, and I hope to make version 2.0 better than the first.

I'm going to keep the basic design, which is just a square box with bearings mounted to it. I'm looking for a material that'd be better suited for the task then plywood. It needs to be dimensionally stable and machinable with woodworking tools. Some amount of vibration damping would be a plus. Hard enough to be drilled and tapped, and also glueable.

I'm thinking some kind of plastic or composite. I'm not a materials weenie, so I'm asking for suggestions here.

This is the basic design that I'll work to:

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2906/14377718989_817b408d13_z.jpg

And this is what it looks like on the lathe:

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7449/9894546246_701c16051a_z.jpg

The spindle is machined from 1.5" steel and will be reused.

TIA

James Combs
03-31-2015, 6:46 PM
My wood lathe came to me without a headstock (long story) and I fabricated one for it out of 3/4" plywood and a pair of flange bearings. It's been in service for almost 20 years and has served me well enough for spindle turning. But the bearings are making funny noises now and I want to redo it, and I hope to make version 2.0 better than the first.

I'm going to keep the basic design, which is just a square box with bearings mounted to it. I'm looking for a material that'd be better suited for the task then plywood. It needs to be dimensionally stable and machinable with woodworking tools. Some amount of vibration damping would be a plus. Hard enough to be drilled and tapped, and also glueable.

I'm thinking some kind of plastic or composite. I'm not a materials weenie, so I'm asking for suggestions here.
This is the basic design that I'll work to:
And this is what it looks like on the lathe:
The spindle is machined from 1.5" steel and will be reused.
TIA
Dave you show some excellent work there. If plywood has lasted you 20 years I would think that 3/4" MDF would last 30-40 years(just WAG). It is very stable, glue-able, machinable, thread-able etc. The only thing I might do to improve on threading it would be, as soon as I cut a thread, soak the threads with thin CA. They will be a little rough after treatment but a second pass with the tap will fix that. I make all of my vacuum chucks from MDF and treat all the threads with CA. The threads after treatment are more like a hard strong plastic then wood. Good luck on the update.

Dave Cullen
04-01-2015, 11:44 AM
Thanks James. I hadn't considered MDF because of its propensity to absorb moisture. But the project will be painted, so that isn't really an issue. I think MDF does OK as a vibration damper too, seeing that it's used in speaker enclosures.

Would be cheaper than the phenolic or Garolite stuff I've been considering, too...

Bill White
04-01-2015, 1:14 PM
If you use MDF, consider the exterior grade. I used EXTERA brand for some jigs, shellac on them, and they have not dimensionally changed in 6 years.
The exterior stuff is heavier, water proof (not submerged of course), and paints better than standard MDF.
Bill

Bob Mezzatesta
04-01-2015, 5:00 PM
+1 on MDF but be sure to get the best, densest, grade and paint both sides and all edges. Should be bullet proof.

Don Bunce
04-01-2015, 5:21 PM
If the bearings are making funny noises, you'll need to replace them. Maybe no need to redo the headstock.

Dave Cullen
04-02-2015, 11:00 AM
If the bearings are making funny noises, you'll need to replace them. Maybe no need to redo the headstock.

Version 2.0 will be a bit shorter, so that the spindle extends out a little and I'm not against the headstock when turning the back side of a bowl. Also want the center point accuracy better and I'll be switching to a VFD motor.

Allen (AJ) Breese
04-04-2015, 12:49 AM
Put a couple coats of glue on the edges of the MDF to seal it before you paint it.

Olaf Vogel
09-10-2015, 7:24 AM
.

I'm thinking some kind of plastic or composite. I'm not a materials weenie, so I'm asking for suggestions here..

TIA

consider baltic birch plywood. Not cheap but extremely strong and obviously can be cut, glued etc. like wood.
i can't recommend MDF, it's much too soft to hold screws etc.