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Thread: Lathe height?

  1. #1
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    Lathe height?

    OK guys,
    I'm finally starting to haul stuff up from the storage unit to the shop, have to get the storage unit cleared by the middle of next month, but there's only so many weekends available. OK I don't really Have to, but it would free up $90 a month to get rid of it.

    I'm looking at repurposing half of my old workbench as my lathe stand. Right now it would place the base of the lathe at 42" high. I"m pretty certain that's too tall for comfortable turning on my mini. What' a good 'rule of thumb'? Hmmm, I just measured, and standing, elbows bent my hands are at 47" so maybe it might work,
    -Ned

  2. #2
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    I believe I've seen recommendations saying the spindle should be at about at elbow height. Sounds like your bench height might put you over that by a bit, but I'd say start with it there, and move it later if you decide you need to. By then, you should have more of the shop space and tool placement worked out, too.

    Just set it up and turn some wood...the details will work themselves out.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
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    about what I was planning to do, Vaughn, but figured that electrons are free, so I would burn a few and poll the experts!
    -Ned

  4. #4
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    It must be at exactly what is comfortable for you. I like a trifle higher than what some taller guys prefer.

  5. #5
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    With a mini, I'd expect you would want it somewhat higher than a larger lathe, as you will be doing smaller turnings, with a really large lathe, I'd imagine you would want it a bit lower, but what has worked for me is to stand and reach out your hand as if you were going to shake someone's hand who was the same height as you are, that should be a good starting point.

    I do agree that other things come into play, like what you are turning, if you do a lot of pens, or spindle work, higher would be better.

    Have fun!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
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    Lathe height is a tough one, as mentioned in the thread, it depends on what you're turning. I'm a short guy, so the stock stand that came with my lathe is pretty high (for me). It's great for doing small work, boxes and the like, bot not so much for bowls. My solution was to build a platform for my to stand on, which worked out great on two front: I can turn at a good height, and stops your feet hurting too much if your turning for a long time!

  7. #7
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    Ned,

    A good lathe stand will take at least an entire weekend to build. Me, I keep meaning to lower mine, but that would take the better part of a day, and I haven't gotten around to it. Mine is WAY too high: the spindle is at 52" high. Like I said, I keep meaning to lower it. But everything I've done so far has been at that height. Maybe it's a good idea to just go with what you have, and build a long term stand when you get all your tools set up...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  8. #8
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    Ned

    You don't want to have to bend over the lathe to see inside the bowl you are turning. Both my lathes are approx 2" higher than my elbow. I arrived at this height by making a stack of 3/4" boards and then turning a small bowl. I then removed a board and turned again, repeating until I was able to determine which height was the most comfortable. You should probably turn for at least an hour at each height to get a good feel. You will know when you find the sweet spot.

    Terry

  9. #9
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    When building my anvil stand the rule of thumb was, build it to the height of your wrists enabling you to get the most out of your hammer swing with less effort on your body. As my back has deteriorated, I have wanted to move it up to elbow height as I do more ornamental pounding than shaping of heavy stock.
    My two lathes at home are also a little higher than normal to prevent me needing to bend at the waist much. So height can be an individual thing based on individual needs. Have a Junior girl in woods that needs a cement block to stand on to turn as she is to short for the benches.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Agree with y'all.

    I agree with what has been said. It depends on what you are doing.

    I have had the opportunity to do a few professional turning jobs, and lathe height played an important role. I had to do 22 white oak knobs (3" in diam) on my mini, and using the standard 'elbow' rule would have been painful. Having to lean over for hours on end would have proved back breaking.

    When it comes to bowls, I prefer a lower height, cuz your arms, elbows, wrists, etc... have a better freedom of motion (not as much tension in the shoulders and neck). This seems to be most helpful on the inside of the bowl.

    You might consider making a stand designed to have the height at your elbow, and then make riser blocks so you can adjust it depending on what you are doing.

    Hutch

    P.S. Of course, these opinions are coming from my own experiences, and my tendency to use poor body posture has greatly effected these viewpoints.

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