The truth is I´ve never been really interested in having a lathe to turn pieces of wood, but it is also true that I like to watch wood-turners working with it, mainly when I have one working right in front of me, with all the shavings jumping everywhere. And the pieces of furniture with lots of turnings is something I don´t like too much, neither. I always thought that whenever I need some turning, something like say the turned legs for a table, I could buy them already turned. Sometimes I wandered round in some online hardware store to have an idea of the price of the cheapest lathes, but they always cost at least two times what I paid for any of my routers, so I´ve never decided to buy one.
Another possibility was to make myself a drill powered lathe with a drill, but I was not sure how to make a good drive centre, a good live centre or a good tool rest, so I never tried to make one. But some time ago I found this drill lathe kit for only 70€ plus shipping.
The lathe bed is a 90cm long aluminium profile. It seems to be a good quality profile, but because this bed is made of aluminium it has a lack of weight. It could be made of steel to be heavy, but that would make this drill lathe kit more expensive, and the quality of a mechanized steel lathe bed to use in a cheap kit would be worst than the quality of an extruded aluminum profile. It has a big channel to fix three T-bolts (actually three hex nuts).
We have three bolts to screw into the nuts. One bolt to anchor the head stock, another to anchor the tail stock and the third one to anchor the tool rest base. You can see in the photo (and in the video, too) that I had to shim the front of the head stock to align the drive centre with the live centre of the lathe. We clamp that screw behind the live point with the lock nut.
This drill powered lathe kit comes with a simple face plate and a couple of drive points. One of those drive points is the typical one that leaves a cross mark in the wood and is used with the live point pushing in the other side of the piece of wood. I think that the other one is to use with a screw inside protruding the hole in the front of it. This screw holds the small pieces of wood and we can turn without the live point.
The tool rest base moves very smooth on the base of this drill powered lathe, and it allows to put the tool rest in almost any position around the workpiece. With a simple lever we can clamp that base very easily and very fast. The only problem is that I will need to smooth the edge of the tool rest with a file, so that the gouges and the chisels slide easily on it. You can see in the photo an in the video that this lathe kit comes with a kind of table, too. We put it instead of the tool rest, and now we can use it with a disc sander installed in the drill chuck. But now I have a better homemade disc sander.
Video with subtitles in English: