Lathe Cart Upgrades – A Day In The Shop

It’s been six months since I got my lathe. After getting it I immediately built a generic shop cart for it. I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to be using the cart long-term as I never had a wood lathe before so I didn’t make any customizations to the cart with the lathe in mind. I was mainly planning on building a solid foundation that could be modified later.

Fast forward to this week. I was kept out of the shop for the majority of the week due to an infection in my foot. Nothing major but I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. Fortunately, that has since healed enough for me to have at least one day in the shop so I figured I would get some easy work done and knock out a few things that have been on my To-Do list for a while.

I focused on the lathe cart and lathe area of the shop. Before making any changes here is the starting point with the lathe area.


First order of business is removing the lathe bed extension. In the six months that I’ve been using the lathe I haven’t had a need for the bed extension. If the need arises I can always put it back in place and work as needed. Until then, I’d rather have the extra space on the cart for something else.


I previously built a lathe tool rack and put it on the cart on the right side. It’s less than ideal in that location for a couple of reasons. First, it makes cleaning off the cart a bit cumbersome. Second, when using a bowl gouge on the inside of a bowl the tool rack is almost always in the way. So this means it needs to find a new home.


Before relocating it I needed to add a floor to the rack so that the tools would have something to sit on. This also doubles as a shelf.


The best location I could come up with for the lathe tools is on the wall. It’s not a big deal to walk over and grab whatever tool is needed as I have to do the same thing for my hand tool wall. This also makes the sharp points of the tools a little more difficult to accidentally injure yourself on.


The shelf also holds a few other items.


My grinder is almost exclusively used for lathe tools. Because of which, it makes a lot more sense to have the grinder right next to the lathe instead of on the other side of the shop.


It’s new home is right next to the lathe. I secured it to the lathe cart with one screw. That means if the bed extension needs to be installed temporarily then I only need to remove one screw to remove the grinder and make room for it.


Next up is a couple drawers. I used a few small pieces of 3/4” plywood for these. 3/4” is a bit overkill for drawers this size but I was trying to use up pieces that have been floating around for a while.


Simple construction. Glue, brad nails to hold everything temporarily, and screws to lock everything together while the glue dries. All butt joints.


I used some salvaged 14” full extension drawer slides for the drawers. To make things easy I mounted them as high as possible and as far back as possible. It’s probably the easiest drawer slide mounting session I’ve ever had.


To hold the drawers in place I used quick clamps that were overhanging the top edge of the drawer to act as a shelf to hang onto the drawer slides. Then three screws were used to secure the slides to the drawers.


I cut drawer fronts that would result in a 1/8” gap around the sides and top of the drawer. This should prevent any chips from entering the drawers. To mount them I first secured the drawer front to the drawers with one screw right in the middle where the drawer pull would be. Then two screws from the inside will permanently secure the drawer front.


The original screw in the middle can be removed and a salvaged drawer pull is installed.


The inside of the drawer can be organized a lot more with some dividers or tool holders but I’ll save that for another day. The main thing is that all of my headstock and tailstock items are not in a drawer which will prevent them from being covered in a layer of wood chips.


And that’s a wrap. A few non-pressing items knocked off the To-Do list and one step in the right direction of a more efficient shop space.



  1. Hey Jay, I just noticed you painted your wolverine sharpening jig. One of the best ideas I’ve seen. Also, want to make a recommendation that you move your sharpener to the far edge so that you could get your tail stock of your lathe bed wth out hitting your sharpener.

    • Hey Tom. It’s an off brand jig that was red. It’s not a wolverine. Also, I positioned the grinder so that there was room to remove the tail stock. It doesn’t hit the grinder.

  2. It looked like it took you 10 minutes to install those drawers it would have taken me a day. I’m still a newbie.
    I can understand the need for space but I don’t like abrasives near the lathe.
    I like the site and I listened to the podcast yesterday and it was fun listening to the 3 of you.


  3. Jay…..your bench is a good illustration of your building skills, but (there’s always a but) I noticed that the spindle on your lathe is a tad low. All the great turners I have listened too say that the spindle height should be set at the bend of your elbow. I was watching as you talked about the setup and perceived that your elbow in relation to the spindle height is about four inches to low. Just trying to help. I’d love to have your shop.
    I have two lathes myself and I am 6′-1″ and it is too high for my son-in-law to use so he has to stand on a brick or two.


  4. Jay, I have really enjoyed your updates and “around the web” stuff, I find that your projects and narratives are the ones that I like best from all of the ones on the web. I have recently built your air cleaner and pipe clamp bench vise. Both projects turned out great and are very useful. Keep up the good work.

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