|1920's Goodell Pratt bench lathe.|
|Power King Tube Lathe|
|Craftsman Tube Lathe|
What is this talk of standardization? Modern wood lathes have two ways to attach accessories, 1) threaded spindles and 2) machine tapers. The spindle is the shaft to which your work attaches on one end and power attaches on the other end. The case that holds the spindle is called the headstock. Modern lathes have threaded spindles so you can attach faceplates or scroll chucks like the Nova G3. The spindle is hollow, and the working end will have a machine taper into which accessories like drive centers, drill chucks or drill bits can fit. But lathes didn't always have both threads and tapers, and it's possible for the headstock to have a taper but not the tailstock. If the lathe you are considering doesn't have both a threaded spindle on the headstock and a machine taper on head and tailstock, I would pass on it.
|This headstock has a spindle threaded on both ends so you can attach accessories to the outboard side. The silver pin is for indexing.|
|Headstock with a threaded spindle and Morse taper|
Threaded spindles come in many sizes, the three most common are 1"-8 tpi (1" spindle with 8 threads per inch), 3/4"-16 tpi, and 1-1/4"-8 tpi. Lathes eventually standardized on Morse taper inside the spindle but very old lathes may have other tapers. Vintage Delta lathes are almost always 1-8 thread and #2 Morse taper in headstock and tailstock. Vintage Craftsman lathes are almost always 3/4-16 threads and #1 Morse taper in headstock and tailstock. Accessories for both sizes are commonly available and relatively inexpensive.
What about the motor? Most old lathes will come with a 110V motor between 1/4 - 1 HP and will have 4 pulleys on the headstock giving you 4 possible speeds. These are enough for basic spindle turning but eventually you can add variable speed to get more utility from your lathe.
|A "4 speed" lathe headstock, note the step pulley with 4 grooves. Speeds are changed by moving the v-belt.|
|1970's Rockwell Delta 46-111 gap bed lathe|
|1958 Craftsman 9x30 bench lathe in Power Gold|
Below is a list of vintage lathes that are good candidates for modern use. All lathes listed below have ball bearings or roller bearings, cast iron bed, a #1 or #2 Morse Taper, same taper in the headstock and tailstock, and a common spindle size. Years noted are the oldest I've been able to verify for a particular model, earlier years may not have ball bearings, tapers, or other conveniences. If no year is listed then I believe all years of that model to be the same. I welcome your contributions. Check back for updates.
Format: Manufacturer | Model | Earliest Year | Size | Bearings | Taper Size | Spindle Size | Notes
How to read the size: a 12x36 lathe will have a swing of 12" (the spindle is 6" from the lathe bed) and 36" between centers.
- Power King Deluxe (1933+), 11x36, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Power King 7100, 10x37, ball bearings, 1MT, 3/4x16 spindle
- Power King 7120, 12x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Sears Craftsman 103 (1948+), 9x30, ball bearings, 1MT, 3/4x16 spindle
- Sears Craftsman (1940+), 10x36, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle [Was advertised as a 10x54, 54 being the length of the bed. Sears had a long history of exaggerating specs up through the 1980s]
- Delta 930 (1935 and later), 11x37, Timken roller bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Delta/Rockwell 46-111, 11x36, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Delta 1460 (1940+), 12x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Delta 46-305 and variants, 12x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Delta 46-400, 12x38, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Powermatic 45, 12x39, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Powermatic 90, 12x38, ball bearings, 2MT, 1-1/2x8 spindle
- General 160, 12x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Montgomery Ward/Duro, 14x38, ball bearings, 2MT, 1-1/8x7 spindle [this is an uncommon spindle size but Teknatool does have it on their list of adapters.]
- Walker Turner 700 series (1938+), 10x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle
- Walker Turner 900 series (1940+), 10x37, ball bearings, 2MT, 1x8 spindle (swing was later increased to 12")