The last major piece

I’ve had a dream since the beginning to conceivably do anything in my shop. The reality is that I really can’t do large projects without some help from the weather or another place to be able to assemble and store. Such is life for me for the foreseeable future. However the ability is there, aside from one thing: turned projects. I’ve wanted a lathe for quite some time, although the fire was minimal. It would be a cool thing to have, I thought. More recently, though, I’ve seen projects involving spindles, bowls, etc that have left me yearning.

So, I was going to buy a lathe. But which one? I had to get the workshop cleaned up to see if I could fit a mini/midi lathe, which meant counter space. I worked a bit to get stuff squared away when I was told about the benefits of spending just a little bit more to get a bigger lathe. I thought for sure this was a pointless exercise, because I would never be able to fit one.

Then I started brainstorming. For a long time.

I played around with a ton of different layouts in my head and on Sketchup. I eventually came to the conclusion that it might just be possible with a radical layout change. Basically, everything would have to move in some fashion except for the newly constructed miter bench (not that it wouldn’t move eventually, but I was trying to avoid it). Something that would have to disappear was the router table, and it did (for all intents and purposes, turning it into the extension table made it disappear). I would move my workbench perpendicular to the saw, making it a six foot outfeed table. The saw, however, would have to move right up to the door to make that arrangement work. Doing this left a couple of different options for the rest of the equipment, and I could add a large lathe. Before I went to purchase, I decided to go ahead and move everything. I wasn’t buying a 200lb lathe just to return it the next day.

Doing a dry run with the actual equipment gave me confidence. I could fit a lathe. Now if I could use it, and use everything else was a different story. The only way it could be answered was to purchase it. A touch earlier than I anticipated, I picked up a Harbor Freight 34706 lathe and brought it home. The picked up part is figurative, it’s a heavy SOB. I barely got it in the back of the SUV – another inch and I would have had to return it at least temporarily. Getting it into the shop was a fun exercise, particularly if you enjoy the sensation of hernias. I’m a pretty strong guy, but either I’m getting old or this thing is heavier than advertised – I couldn’t pick it up or drag it. Feeling stuck, I noticed a little red wagon a few feet away trying not to be noticed. I managed to shove it in the wagon, and traipse around the house and up the hill to the shop towing it behind me. At the shop, I somehow managed to get the whole thing up on the workbench, where it would await assembly.

I’ll go over my first impressions and assembly in the next post. But for now, I have a lathe!

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