Mobile Lathe Cart

This project is a good example of how awesome the woodworking community is and also a good example of the power of the internet. For about a year now I’ve been saying “I’ll get a lathe some day.” For one reason or another I’ve always put it off. A few months back Kevin Miller offered to hook me up with a mini lathe and some turning accessories to get started in woodturning. Odds are I would have never crossed paths with Kevin had it not been for the online woodworking community.

The lathe itself is a Jet 1014VS with bed extension. The VS stands for variable speed which I’ve already grown to love. He also provided a bucket full of turning tools and some other accessories. I’ve actually had it for about one month at the time of writing this post and have turned a few dozen items. A lathe is definitely another rabbet hole in the shop and a ton of fun to use.

Another person I would not have met had it not been for this online woodworking community is Matt Lane. I first met Matt in Kansas City at the 2015 Woodworking In America event. When I found out we were both going to the 2016 The Woodworking Show in Atlanta we worked out some scheduling to get Matt in my shop for a few days. It was a lot of fun working with him so be sure to check out his YouTube channel and subscribe if you like what you see.

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Because I had just received this lathe it was obvious to me that the first project after the show was going to be a lathe stand. Some type of easy to move cart to hold everything lathe related. To start we broke down a sheet of 3/4” birch PureBond plywood. This plywood is great. I’ve been using it for about a year now and have been very pleased with the results. It’s also formaldehyde free and made in the USA which are two things I really like.

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The more manageable sections of plywood can then be cut easily on the table saw. I always prefer to make the first cut with a circular saw as wrestling a full sheet of plywood across a table saw isn’t exactly fun in my opinion.

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Before going to the shop we put together a plywood layout diagram that really helped keep the ball rolling on this project. Don’t forget to clean up while you work. A clean and tidy work environment is much more enjoyable and inviting.

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With all of the pieces ripped to their width we used one of my crosscut sleds to cut the parts to their final width. I normally use my miter saw station for crosscutting but these panels were a little too wide for a single cut on my miter saw.

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They aren’t too wide for my box joint jig though. We chose to use box joints to give the overall structure a lot of strength. Box joints are crazy strong. This jig can make any joint size in 1/8” increments. Looking back I think assembly might have been a little easier had we used a larger joint spacing instead of 1/8” that we used.

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Regardless of the joinery method used, assembly is much easier with two people. This wasn’t 100% flawless as we did have a little trouble closing one joint after glue was applied but wasn’t really that bad.

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It’s always best to be productive while the glue dries.

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We sized the cart to accept a 1/2” plywood back panel. Before we can install it though we need a rabbet for it to sit into. Matt cut this with a rabbeting bit in my laminate router with a hot-glued shopvac attachment for dust collection. This works very, very well at collecting dust on this router.

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Because the rabbeting bit in the router is a circle one of two things need to happen for the back panel to fit. Either the rounded corners of the rabbet need to be cut square with a chisel or the back panel needs rounded corners cut on it. I chose to round over the corners of the back panel. I found a random cap in my shop that looked like it was about the same radius as the router bit and just traced it on the back panel.

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After rounding the corners with a jigsaw the back panel can be installed. Lots of glue and brad nails were used here.

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Next up is the vertical partitions. I used a plywood spacer to symmetrically space the partitions away from the side panels.

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Because I wasn’t entirely sure what type of storage would be best long-term for the cart I chose to install everything on the inside with just screws, no glue. This way they can be moved later if need be.

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The second vertical partition is installed the same way. No glue, just screws.

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Because we had access to the top and bottom of the cabinet it made sense to just predrill through the top and bottom to attach the vertical partitions. For the horizontal partitions we didn’t really have access to the sides of the interior joints. In this instance, it made sense to use pocket hole screws to attach the horizontal pieces.

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A couple of scrap wood spacer blocks were cut to evenly space the horizontal pieces away from the top of the cart. This makes the assembly process faster and the end results look more consistent.

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I wanted the lathe’s axis of rotation to be the same height as my elbow when it was all said and done so I had to add some glue blocks to elevate the cart slightly. This is an area that can obviously be adjusted to fit your body.

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The casters were mounted directly to the glue blocks. The casters I chose were 3” locking swivel casters. They don’t lock in the swivel direction though. They just prevent the wheel from rolling when locked.

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And finally the cart can be loaded up with all of the goodies. Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s just going to fill up with chips, right? Well I’ve had the cart and lathe up and running for a few weeks now and it’s actually not as bad as I originally though it would be in regards to keeping chips out of it. However, I do realize that a few drawers are definitely needed.

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It was really awesome to work with Matt on this project. I know you couldn’t tell by this video as he was starting to lose his voice but he’s a really funny dude and a great worker to work alongside in the shop. Matt also makes woodworking videos so be sure to stop by his YouTube channel and subscribe if you like what you see. If you’d like to download the SketchUp file that I used for this cart as well as a plywood layout diagram CLICK HERE. Have a good day!

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19 Comments

  1. Gregg the voice of reason

    Great job , always and education and entertaining .
    I decided to start my You tube channel ,but I am not sure what the name will be .
    My shop is a mess and am putting up a suspended ceiling , my power tools are old because I bought another old guys shop who was moving to Florida.
    I will be teaching the kids in the neighborhood and my Grand kids how to work with tools and their hands.
    I have thirty years of skills and knowledge working with my hands ( Amusements , arcades, full size rides) building from the ground up ,from start to opening of locations..
    Also I am trying to get some Mario Brothers original artwork from my associates for your shop.

  2. Terry Ellis

    Now for some cheap and great tools! Cap’n Eddie for the cutters and make your own carbide tools—a ton of you tube videos on it and the carbide tools are great! And Mike Peace has a great video on making smaller tools out of 1/4 inch HSS stock—Sorry about rambling on but it has been a lot of fun for me to make my own and hope you will enjoy it as much! Take Care and thanks for your great channel

    Terry

    1. Jay Bates

      Hey Terry. I’ve got a dozen or more HSS tools and a nice sharpener now. I also have a bunch of second hand carbide tools and I have to say I don’t care for them as much. I much prefer a sharp traditional tool. Thank you :)

  3. Dan

    Wow!! Haven’t seen the “Watch the glue dry with a bag of chips” in a long time. Good one.

  4. Alyn Phillips

    Where did you buy your casters? I have been contemplating buying a Woodcraft Mobile base kit $49.99 and build the boxes for that mobile base. But the more I thought about it the caster route may be better??? I want to be able to move my scroll saw, Bench top band saw and router table around so I’m looking to build 3 boxes. Are the caster expensive and when locked is ther stability to operate the tool? Thanks in advance, I look forward to your videos. Too bad about the Red Wings another year with a first round exit. Go Tigers!! Lions not so much

    Canton, Michigan

    1. Jay Bates

      Hey Alyn. The casters I’ve had good results with are from Lowes. I don’t remember the brand but they are 3″ or 3-1/2″ locking swivel casters and are about $9 each.

  5. Tom Queen

    Hey my friend. Have a couple ideas you may want to consider. 1…Depending how much weight you want or going to put on the base may require you to putting two center casters or support bucks in the middle of the cabinet. 2..I would turn some open areas not draws for your tool storage i.e..chucks, extra tool rests and extra tail stocks you come into. Also tou want to include your lathe tools have a draw to themselves. Great way to stay organized. Overall great build.

  6. Ian

    A lathe stand is also on my to-do list, but I hate breaking down sheet goods because I am not so good with a circ saw and I have no table saw. I will manage it somehow though. I like the idea of being able to store all lathe related materials at the lathe station. Keep it up, best wishes.

  7. Breakinn

    Adding center casters could cause rocking on uneven surfaces :o(
    Added bracing might be a better choice if it’s needed.

  8. Bob

    Nice Lathe cabinet!! Very sturdy construction. You might want to consider doors on it. At least on the left side. Otherwise you will be cleaning shavings and dust out of the shelves forever… Don’t ask me how I know this…. :-o

  9. john cooper

    Nice straightforward design and build. One suggestion is to put together some sandbags to add weight when turning rough out of balance stock. Even a small burl will shake the heck out of your cart until you get it round.

  10. Michael Nevin

    Hi, I’ve always enjoyed the projects you have done. These comments are just if you/or anyone following your design decides to upgrade/tweak your project.

    Vibration in turning is an issue – for light/small projects the bench seems reasonable enough but for any medium to large size projects it may struggle. Especially if the weight is off centre.

    Most lathe turning stands are open underneath to allow the correct positioning of your feet and body alignment; you may find your design a little restrictive.

    1. Jay Bates

      This video was published 3 weeks after having it up and running. I haven’t found it restrictive at all. It’s working great so far.

  11. Moore

    Hello Jay, you just rock man! I just have found your blog and checked some post. All are so fine and unique. Hope I will learn a lot from you. cheers

  12. Marc Griffies

    It is cheaper to buy a moving dolly with 4 caster wheels for $30 +/- from Harbor Freights. They have both plastic and oak platforms that I just take off the platforms and use the caster wheels for moving tables/jigs. :)

  13. John

    I would recommend you add some weight to the bottom shelf of the cart. It cuts down on vibration and makes it more stable when moving. [I used sand tubes we use here in Michigan to add weight to the rear of our cars in the winter.] You can also find weights in most garage sales as most people buy, then never exercise. :>(
    Keep up the good work.

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