Skip to main content

My New Old Atlas Lathe

By July 18, 2020January 7th, 2023No Comments

A few months back, I picked up an amazing deal on a 1940s Atlas lathe, which was mostly intact, and came with many extra parts, and chucks.

Minor Incident

While the lathe was mostly complete, with most of the parts… A mishap during the loading process caused the lathe to be knocked off the trailer, onto my knee, almost giving me a visit to the local hospital.

Luckily- after a few weeks of hobbling around, the only thing broken from the incident, was a small cast-iron arm from the lathe.

Cast Iron Repair


Cast iron is a lovely metal to weld. You have to pre-heat your work-piece, and ensure during the welding process, it does not cool down too rapidly, or the piece will crack.

To start off with, you want to bevel as much of the piece as possible, while keeping the original form. To assist with keeping everything lined up, I used a simple block of wood… While, not the most elegant solution, it did serve its purpose.

For this particular piece, it was broken into two pieces. We want to ensure ALL of the connecting metal between these two pieces, is a single piece.

After tacking the above piece in a few key location, I proceeded to grind until I reached fresh metal.

After, all of the “break/crack” was removed, and replaced with fresh metal, I proceeded to grind the final shape of the piece into its original form. REMEMBER- after welding, place into sand, or an oven. The piece needs to slowly cool.

While, this wasn’t the most elegant repair I have under taken, It has help up well so far.

Here is a video testing the new piece, and testing the basic lathe functionality.

Initial testing of the lathe.

First time cutting metal

After a few more minor repairs, and sourcing a few missing components off of eBay, I have finally “cut” something using the lathe.

“Cutting” a piece of scrap metal. First time use.

Now- the above picture is the first time I have ever turned a piece of metal on the lathe. It is not pretty.

However- for the coming posts, I am quite certain you will be able to determine a night and day difference as I learn how to use a metal lathe properly.

In the above shot, the tool’s angle is bad, and the tool has not been properly sharpened. Overall, very bad quality turning.

But- stay tuned, if you have interesting in watching me learn to use a lathe. I also plan on doing a few improvements to the lathe, such as adding a improved tool post, perhaps a DRO in the future, and, If I can get my hands on a reasonably priced milling attachment, that would be wonderful as well.