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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Location: Madison Heights, Virginia
After doing a lot of research, and much help from you guys here on the forum, I have decided on a metal lathe to buy. Now the question is do I buy the stand or do I build myself a custom workbench sturdy enough to hold the lathe, and maximize the space in my shop.

Understanding the complexity and importance of making sure that the lathe is level and running true, I am concerned that if I build a work bench out of wood that there are several factors that could eventually cause my lathe to not be level and not run as true as the day I set it up. One mainly being that wood expands and contracts as it gains moisture or releases moisture. Given that I am on occasion (twice a year ) prone to having water come into the basement due to heavy rain, this could be a factor that I might want to consider.

If I go with a wooden bench, am I going to constantly be calibrating my machine? Shouldn't I be doing that regularly anyway?

Would I be better off just getting the metal stand? What do you guys think??

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 5:02 pm 
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My floor is close to level, but not 100%. My lathe is not 100% level, but the bed isn't twisted. I haven't noticed any lack of precision. The cabinet my lathe came with has a foot brake built in, which is really nice and I use it all the time.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:14 pm 
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I am not sure what you mean by calibration. I make sure that the live center or center drill hits the center face of my work, which may involve some adjustment of the tail stock, but that is it. My small lathe weighs about 80lbs and sits on my bench. I place some shims under the feet so that it doesn't rock.
I suppose if the lathe weighed a 1/2 ton, I would worry about warping.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:14 am 
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Be it a factory stand, an after-market stand/bench or DIY, the main thing is to make sure it is as level as you can make it in order to prevent twisting the bed. If you have water issues I would not have wood in direct contact with the floor.
If you have a very old lathe there can be wear in the ways that can be difficult to overcome without having them welded up and reground.
"Calibration" is testing to make sure there is no unwanted taper being cut on the longitudinal axis. This done with a dial indicator and straight round bar.
One of many internet videos showing the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5AslPQLQpw


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 11:54 am 
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How heavy is your lathe?
A steel base will always be better, get someone to weld up a simple but strong frame with a solid top, add levelling feet and you'll be ok.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:03 pm 
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W.Pastuch wrote:
How heavy is your lathe?
A steel base will always be better, get someone to weld up a simple but strong frame with a solid top, add levelling feet and you'll be ok.



I haven't purchased it yet, but it will weigh just under 500 lbs.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:08 pm 
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oklahoma red wrote:
Be it a factory stand, an after-market stand/bench or DIY, the main thing is to make sure it is as level as you can make it in order to prevent twisting the bed. If you have water issues I would not have wood in direct contact with the floor.
If you have a very old lathe there can be wear in the ways that can be difficult to overcome without having them welded up and reground.
"Calibration" is testing to make sure there is no unwanted taper being cut on the longitudinal axis. This done with a dial indicator and straight round bar.
One of many internet videos showing the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5AslPQLQpw



My original thought process was to build a very sturdy stand out of 4X4 posts, and put some leveling feet on it, and then once it was level, bolt it to either the floor, or the wall, or both to ensure that it doesn't move. Then I was going to install my lathe, bolt it to the table, then go through the process as you explained for calibrating it by testing using the dial indicator and round bar.

I wasn't sure if you guys thought it would make a difference as to wether the lathe stand was metal or wood, or wether its trivial to worry abut that. I just didn't know if the wood were to expand and contract with humidity changes, or if the wood was slightly wet when the stand was built if that would throw everything off, and if i would have to continuously re check the machine to make sure it is cutting as close to true as possible.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:04 pm 
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Rbraniganpipes wrote:
. I just didn't know if the wood were to expand and contract with humidity changes, or if the wood was slightly wet when the stand was built if that would throw everything off, and if i would have to continuously re check the machine to make sure it is cutting as close to true as possible.


The metal-worker machine shop guys would be unanimous in telling you to avoid wood.

For "pipe grade" work a wooden stand can be made that's acceptable. The design matters (bracing, thickness, etc), the quality of wood itself matters, and you definitely have to check & adjust things more often, but if well executed it will work. (I'm sure because wood is what I went with for my lathe).

That said, your life will be simpler and easier if you simply remove that variable and go with steel to begin with. (the bigger/heavier the lathe the more true that is)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:10 pm 
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We're probably splitting splinters here. Properly constructed as you described, a wooden bench would work fine. The concern would be just how much water (how deep) and for how long at a stretch? The end grain of a 4x4 post could possibly soak up a lot of water. A stout bench bolted to a wall with angled braces also bolted to a ledger which in turn is bolted to the wall, is not going anywhere. With no wood in direct contact with the floor, water should not be an issue unless you have a major flood.
Get the bench surface as level as possible. Two pieces of good 3/4" plywood glued and screwed together with a cap of 1/4" smooth Masonite hardboard makes a great work surface. I've built more than one work bench that way. Building the bench into a corner and bolting to both walls eliminates the need for any diagonal bracing to keep it from having the wiggles.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:03 am 
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Thanks for all of the advice guys. As far as the amount of water that we get in the basement, It amounts to between 1/4-1/2 inch of water after a really bad rain storm. It typically happens once or twice per year, and usually only lasts a day. It doesn't cover the whole basement, but comes into the house directly through my workshop, and in the exact corner where I am intending to put my metal lathe stand. Unfortunately, given the layout of my shop space, that is the only location where I can fit the lathe.

If I do build the stand out of wood, I will have it located in the corner, and will have two walls that I can secure it to. I thought that If i put it on leveling feet, it would be far enough off the ground to avoid any possibility of water damage in the future.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:37 pm 
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Use the heaviest duty rubble sack you can find and put the legs in them acting like a big sock for each leg. Even if it does flood then the water will not wick up into the wood.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:43 am 
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Sounds like you've done that before, Chris.
?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:36 am 
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caskwith wrote:
Use the heaviest duty rubble sack you can find and put the legs in them acting like a big sock for each leg. Even if it does flood then the water will not wick up into the wood.

Here in 'Murika' that would translate to heavy duty garbage bags.
DocAitch

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:10 pm 
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Charl wrote:
Sounds like you've done that before, Chris.
?


Not for this exact purpose, basements (not that common anyway) don't flood in the UK if they are built properly ;) lol
I have used this and similar methods for protecting wood on other things such as decks though.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:33 am 
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Clever idea. Here in Africa we're behind, it seems. We use bitumen.
:lol:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:58 pm 
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All this talk of rubble sacks and bitumen to prevent water soaking into the wooden legs reminds me of a solution I use routinely: simply soak the bottoms of your wooden legs in motor oil before building your bench. The oil won't evaporate, and water can't soak into pore space in the wood that is already occupied by oil.

It's not just a funny username, I am an honest to God cowboy, and I use this method to prevent water soaking into wooden fence posts that will be set into damp ground. It works. Simple pine posts that would rot away in a few years if left untreated will last for decades if you soak them in oil before setting them in the ground. The oil keeps out the water and bacteria that would otherwise soak into the wood and cause it to break down. If this form of treatment can withstand decades of standing in damp ground, it will certainly protect your bench legs from twice-yearly wet floors.

Simply use a plastic bucket, set the legs into it, and pour in the oil (new or used) and let it soak into the wood for a week before wiping it off and building your bench. The only downside I can think of is mostly cosmetic: the oily wood will attract dust, but it wipes off easily.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:26 am 
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Used motor oil is an excellent preservative and one that I and others use (just never tell anyone if they like the environment lol).

I wouldn't do it for an indoor project though, the oil will never dry and will smell and make a mess for a long time. On hot days it can sweat out too and make a mess over anything that brushes past it.
If you want to go down the oil route, something like Boiled linseed oil would work very well and after a few weeks should be dry and non-sticky.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 10:08 am 
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Another possibility is simply sealing the wood. I have a wooden gate on my driveway which is mounted on 2 oak posts. To protect them, I simply covered them in a layer of transparent silicone (caulk) from the bottom up to about 5" above ground level.

3 years later and the rest of the wood has greyed due to weather, but the silicone covered part still looks good as new.

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:47 am 
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Interesting! So how did you apply the silicone? A blurb of silicone and then a spatula?

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 6:01 am 
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Charl wrote:
Interesting! So how did you apply the silicone? A blurb of silicone and then a spatula?


Just run multiple beads next to eachother on the surface and smooth it out with a spatula indeed. The entire coating is quite thin, only 1mm or so, but it seems to hold up for now :-)

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