American Woodworker

Important Information >>


Double-Duty Lathe Cabinet


Double-Duty Lathe Cabinet

Onboard storage for tools, accessories and 150 pounds of ballast.

By Ray Lanham

After several years of making lots of shavings and dust with a small, underpowered lathe, I decided I deserved an upgrade. My new lathe has big capacity, ample power and electronic variable speed—important features that my old lathe lacked. Only one thing was missing: an on-board storage cabinet for all of my turning tools and accessories.

My new lathe has cast iron legs with brackets that were perfect for adding such a cabinet. I chose this design because it also includes a ballast box that holds up to 150 lbs. of sand. Adding ballast to dampen vibration and lower a lathe’s center of gravity is always a good practice, especially if you plan to turn large diameter bowls as I do. Actually, you could opt to build only the ballast box. The tool box simply nests on top of it.

You may also like...

Lathe and Disc Sander Combo

Mobile Outfeed Tables

See-Through Chisel Holder

Every lathe benefits from additional mass to dampen vibration. These legs have cast-in brackets for beams, the perfect setup for hanging a ballast box. On an open stand, the beams can rest on the end rails.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Assemble the box in place to make the ballast compartments as large as possible. Drop in the bottom after installing both beam assemblies. Then install the dividers.

Place sand-filled trash bags in each compartment. Install the top in two pieces—a single piece won’t fit between the legs.

Start assembling the tool box by fastening the ends to the back. The ends are patterned after the lathe’s leg and sized to fit between the ballast box and the lathe’s bed.

Use a 45 degree support to drill angled holes for tool sleeves in the top rail. Position the rail so the holes start at the rail’s beveled top edge. Drill through a clamped-on sacrificial board to eliminate tearout.

Assemble the tool box. First fasten the top rail and the bottom rail to the ends. Then install the top. Add the stiles last.

Install the soffit bracket (an end piece that’s cut diagonally) and cleats. The tool box has no bottom because it nests over the ballast box—the overhanging back and bottom rail hold it in position.

Cut the tool sleeves to fit and install the soffits. The tool sleeves (made from 2 in. PVC pipe) are only friction-fit, so they can be removed and reinstalled without removing the soffits.

Fill the tool sleeves with pieces of foam pipe insulation to make all your tools protrude equally. Use a wooden disc as a stop. Cut the foam to length and hold in place by taping across the bottom of the sleeve.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2008, issue #137.

September 2008, issue #137

Purchase this back issue.