Full Chisel Blog

March 24, 2009

Clockmaker’s Lathe Plans

A couple of years ago I was asked to make plans for a small bench top turning lathe.  It is not that I am slow (well that may be true), but I just couldn’t come up with a final design until after I had read Mechanick Exercises section on Turning that the break through happened.

I am preparing to offer plans for a Bow Lathe, influenced by Moxon’s work as well as a small iron (& brass) watchmaker’s lathe which I own.  This lathe however is made entirely of wood, hardwood such as maple is recommended, with the exceptions of small thick leather washers used to protect wooden parts.

Clockmaker's Lathe 2


This is from the drawing of the plan.  The parts are drawn full size and is easy to make.  The only speciality tool required is a 1/2″ wooden tap and die set to make the thumbscrew and pike/screw.  The lathe can be used to turn between centers or mandrels can also be used to hold different stuff.

 All instructions and directions for construction are included.  The full size drawing can be used to make patterns or templates to make the necessary parts.  While a lathe is a precision tool, you can turn between two nails in fence posts, so one should not be intimidated by the thought of building a turning lathe.

For small work there is nothing like a small bow lathe.  The tool only cuts on the ‘pull’ stroke and it rides on the off stroke, but once you develop the rhythm it is easy.

I am working on the instructions/directions sheet as we speak and hope to have the plan set for sale, soon.



  1. That is better.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 26, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  2. Steven – I am looking forward to buying one of the first sets of plans! s/Pete

    Comment by P.m. Leenhouts — March 28, 2009 @ 9:38 am

  3. Pete,

    You are in the queue and will get the first set!


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 28, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  4. Stephen,
    who is going to be selling the plans?

    Comment by Joe — March 28, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  5. Joe,

    I am looking for retailers, also I will be selling them and I think Joel will carry them.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 29, 2009 @ 6:39 am

  6. Stephen,
    What became of this intent? I don’t recall seeing these plans mentioned again. Are they available?

    Comment by Bob Easton — March 3, 2010 @ 5:44 am

  7. Bob,

    They are not currently available, if you are interested send me an email.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — March 3, 2010 @ 6:17 am

  8. Hello Mr Shepherd.
    I would like to know if you are selling you plans yet.
    I’m very interested in buying the plans for you lathe project.
    I would like to know the cost of the plans shipped to the UK
    Nottingham NG3 area.
    Thank you regards Ian.

    Comment by Ian Miller — July 26, 2010 @ 6:39 am

  9. Ian,

    Welcome and if you send me an email we can talk.



    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — July 26, 2010 @ 7:01 am

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