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flymanaj

Lathe plans

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Where can I find plans for a diy lathe for turning foam and balsa heads. I am currently using a dremel and file. I think I could turn out more uniform size and shape with a lathe.

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I typed in "mini lathe", and the search engine showed multitudes of options. Some of them inexpensive enough to warrant NOT DIY.

 

Typed in "DIY mini lathe" and I got almost as many plans and YouTube videos on doing it.

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I was always looking at unimats and dreaming..

 

Like many I did build a rod building lathe years and years ago - and still use it to this day... The motor is just a simple 110v sewing machine motor with the foot control that came with it. I have it turning a six inch pulley with a hard rubber belt and the pulley is turning a horizontal mandrel with a half inch Jacobs chuck on the business end.

 

It serves a variety of uses when its not being used to wrap rods or turn down rod grips including filling or in-loading spinning reel spools, grinding down the feet of rod guides to prep them for wrapping, as well as with a wire brush wheel - buffing down small metal parts on reels Im cleaning or repairing...

 

Its been a very useful tool for more than forty years now...

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Youtube has dozens or videos for diy lathes. Most involve a common homeowner grade corded electric drill for power. If you want variable speed you can use a light dimmer switch to raise and lower speeds based on need. I had a minilathe years ago and regret selling it.

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Dremal used to sell a rather inexpensive mini lathe but I don't think still do. You might sign up on some woodworking forum sites and place a want ad for one.

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I've got a mini lathe from Lee Valley Tools but it is more suited to turning fly rod grips and reel seats and is probably overkill for your intended use. I like Gillage suggestion

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Forgot to mention - along with the Unimat you might also look up "jeweler's lathes" to see what's commercially available before looking up the various plans to be found...

 

Me? I long ago quit shaping heads for poppers that I used to do in great quantities for fly shops - Instead I chose to use Perfect popper heads (mostly the soft foam variety) to make my Speed Bugs...

 

Here's a pic or two of the finished product - everything in the backcountry of the Everglades attacks them on sight - when it's a day with little wind and the waters are warm enough - particularly baby tarpon...

pVXI1MK.jpg

the Speed Bug, hook size - #1

i7QuAX7.jpg

some of the various colors that shops have asked for - the original, though, was always plain white with a different color thread - very, very quick to tie - thus the name... surprisingly durable in use...

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I also gave up on trying to carve or mill popper heads years ago and now use the Rainy series of foam popper heads. Easy Peasy

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Problem with DIYing a lathe is it will cost more money to build then to buy and you will need other tools to assist in its building.

 

I have a HF mini lathe that I bought maybe five years ago after my 1970's era kit lathe broke. With a super coupon I think you can get them for around 120.00 bucks. If you go mini lathe get one that takes a Morse Taper 2 (MT2 head.) The really small mini lathes use a MT1. The MT2 is a standard and offers many more options for lathe options.

 

I do not do a lot of turning in the wood shop but the HF lathe worked great for turning saltwater plugs. I have never done popper heads on it since I find hand carving them very thereaputic. I found continuously running a drill and applying side pressure is a good way to burn out drills that cost far more then a cheap lathe.

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I think, if you like tinkering and building things, build a lathe. If you like making lures and carving poppers (or think you will) do it and if you want to start with ready made poppers that's great too.

 

I made some steel from scratch one time, smelted it from Alaskan iron ore, I have a bunch of it.

 

I think it's really cool that you could make usable stuff from the things you get from the earth. I have made knives from 100 percent Alaskan materials. I'm planning on making flies from 100 percent materials too, including the hooks. The tricky part will be making my steel into good wire. But I will.

 

It may not be economically feasible to do some of these things but how many people can say they made their own hooks literally from dirt.

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I have a wood lathe. I turn bowls, Christmas ornaments, candle holders and fly rod grips on it. I've had it going on six years now. My Christmas ornaments and my smaller lidded bowls are in demand as Christmas gifts. And I really enjoy turning the fly rod grips to get the exact grip I want vs having to buy what's in stock. But my popper bodies are so simple to make I can't really see setting up the lathe to turn them out honestly, I've gone to using rolled up 2mm. foam and if I want fancy colors I just paint them up with nail polish.

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