3D printed manual mini Lathe

Small and basic 3D printed lathe for small projects.

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Another small 3D printed machine I designed and built for making. It is a simple design to make and build and allows you to make when you finish building it!
(Made just for the HaD contest!)
This machines inexpensive build cost(about 25$ total) allows everyone to make and use one. Putting tools into every makers hands helps everyone.
No custom PCBs to make-all off the shelf electronics/parts.
Super simple to use and make what you want. Make parts for projects, hobbies, costumes etc.
Work in woods, plastics and hard foams. Happy turning!

This machine can be battery powered and used anywhere.
This is the companion machine for the 3D printed mini Mill.

3D printed manual lathe.

The idea behind building 3D printed machines is a simple concept. It provides the maker the ability to make a usable machine quickly and inexpensively from common and readily available parts, Printing the main structural components, and assembling everything into a functioning machine.

This concept also allows the maker to build the machine and its capacities to make use of materials that are desired to be worked. This lathe is easily scaled in length to accommodate longer stock if desired by simple using longer guide rails and a longer leadscrew, while everything else remains the same. Being inexpensive, the machines can be duplicated and a user can make several, each for specific purposes if desired.

I decided to go back to basics and make a lathe version that was as simple and basic as possible. While all of my machines thus far have used joystick or mouse to control, this one is just simply handwheel cranked.
I used the same brushless DC motor as the others, but shrank the case down a bit and redesigned the axis for handwheel motion as shown. I also made a new spindle and motor that uses a 775 standard DC motor that is even more inexpensive and easy to source.
I took pictures of the main assemblies before assembling for clarity.
The nice thing about these designs is that they can be made longer by increasing the length of the leadscrews and guide rails. I made this one nice and compact for smaller work.
With some different adapters this can handle wood up to 2 inches square.
This as well as all my other machines was printed in ABS.

Note the very low metal content-a few pieces of threaded rod and some nuts. The center on the tailstock is a short brass rod with a ground conical tip.

Nice super simple design and operation. My growing collection of 3D printed machines can be found on my profile page.

Viewable STL files

x-zip-compressed - 348.29 kB - 03/25/2017 at 17:35


  • 1 × 775 spindle motor see project log for more info and source
  • 1 × Speed control 12 volt input see project log for more info and source
  • 4 × 4/40 m/f standoffs 1/2 inch long to mount speed controller
  • 4 × 4/40 screw 1/4 inch long to mount speed control
  • 1 × set printed parts-see files section for STLs

View all 22 components

  • Lathe accessories

    castvee803/21/2017 at 14:08 0 comments

    Here are a few simple and easily made accessories to make the lathe more versatile.

    This is a mandrel chuck adapter:

    This allows drilling operations. It retails for about 4$(chuck) and can hold drills to 9/32.

    This is a faceplate:

    This allows spindle mounting of small short blocks for turning:

    This is a simple clamping chuck.

    This can be used for mounting plastics and other materials in the lathe for turning and cutoffs.

    These accessories are all 3D printed.

  • Motor and speed control information

    castvee803/21/2017 at 13:51 0 comments

    Here are the links for the motor and speed controller used on the lathe:

    This link is for the motor:

    This motor is very robust and works well with the speed controller below to give the lathe infinite speed control and plenty of torque.

    Here is the speed controller:


    I made sure to select components for the lathe that were "off the shelf" and easily sourced from many vendors.

    I also was very careful to select these parts for the low price and high quality. These are the heart of the lathe and the only electrical components used in the machine.

  • Adding a DRO(tracking the axis)

    castvee803/11/2017 at 15:33 0 comments

    I added a photo interrupter sensor to the manual drives so they can be tracked. The photo shows the TTL DRO I designed for my other machines reading the sensor from the axis. I like the TTL DRO as it uses a VFD display which has high visibility and easy to read in any light level. I also have a arduino/LCD version.
    The optical wheel has just one slit to count a single rotation of the handwheel, but more can be added for any desired resolution.
    This make it easier to repeat parts and operations done on the lathe.

    another look:

  • Headstock and spindle parts

    castvee803/07/2017 at 19:59 0 comments

    The motor shown is the 775 with the printed mandrel attached. The speed controller and the motor are common on Ebay for about 3$ and 7$ respectively.

  • Z axis components

    castvee803/06/2017 at 22:24 0 comments

    Here is a photo showing all the components for the x axis.

  • Y axis and toolholder components

    castvee803/06/2017 at 03:50 0 comments

    These are the components which make up the Y axis and toolholder for the mini lathe:

  • Tailstock components

    castvee803/06/2017 at 03:49 0 comments

    Here are the components needed for the tailstock assembly.

  • New spindle motor for the lathe

    castvee803/04/2017 at 00:40 0 comments

    3D printed mini lathe-New spindle motor assembly.

    I made a whole new spindle assembly for the min lathe using a 775 DC motor. Normally on these machines I had been using brushless DC motors(the type normally found in older laser printers), but they can be more costly and harder to find and buy reasonably thus making these machine harder to reproduce for the average user.
    I selected the large 775 motor as it has massive torque and infinite variable speed using an inexpensive off the shelf speed controller(Ebay 4$).
    The motor has been fully enclosed in printed parts and rigidly mounted to the base for machine mounting.
    It is directly interchangeable with a common footprint so either motor can be used on the lathe.
    The new motor has more torque, higher RPMs and is cheaper(8-10$) as well as being readily available from many sources.
    The arbor adapter can still hold all the same accessories as the original.
    The second photo shows the old version motor for reference.

    New motor mounted on the lathe:

    top view:

    Back side:

    Another look:

    The 775 motor

  • Testing the new manual lathe

    castvee803/02/2017 at 01:28 0 comments

    Turning a part on the new manual lathe. Works great and fun to crank the knobs once in a while......I will be back on my joystick operated ones next week though........

  • Mini manual lathe components

    castvee802/28/2017 at 22:11 0 comments

    Here are the basic machine components:

    Motor assembly

    Motor front:

    Motor back:

    Motor stock adapter:


    Tailstock crank:

    Y axis crossfeed and toolholder:

    Crossfeed crank:

    X axis feed:

    Crossfeed mounted on z axis:

View all 10 project logs

Enjoy this project?



Legrange wrote 04/10/2017 at 11:45 point

You got a like. This is a really nice mini lathe. Better than any of the 3D printed ones I have seen in the past. Is there a video of operation?

Will all files needed be kept up-to-date and available for download?

This could be a nice project for schools I think, I'll pass on to some people for their thoughts.

  Are you sure? yes | no

castvee8 wrote 04/10/2017 at 16:42 point

No videos yet till everything is finalized. STL build files also will be posted when done.

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Legrange wrote 05/08/2017 at 15:39 point

Nice work being one of the 20. Congratulations, I hope progress keeps being made.

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Cameron wrote 04/07/2017 at 17:55 point

Nice work! I'd like to try and make one. Will you be sharing the stl's ? The zip only has png images.

  Are you sure? yes | no

castvee8 wrote 04/10/2017 at 16:39 point

As soon as they are finalized.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ryan Burrow wrote 04/06/2017 at 11:25 point

What CAD software do you typically use to design your projects? I'm new to all this and trying to figure out the best software for me.

  Are you sure? yes | no

castvee8 wrote 04/10/2017 at 16:39 point

I use 123 Design by autodesk.

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Jhonny James wrote 04/03/2017 at 06:47 point

Cool mahn!

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castvee8 wrote 04/10/2017 at 16:43 point


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Ember Leona wrote 03/31/2017 at 22:46 point

WOW NICE TOOLS YOU HAVE. I saw a guy make a lathe out of a drill and a dowel but I think it was fake only for foam or light materials The rest was wood.

  Are you sure? yes | no

castvee8 wrote 03/31/2017 at 23:54 point

Thank you for your interest! These all do indeed work and I hope to get others building them. Got a slow start, low on funds but will get there!

Thank you for the like, that really helps.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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