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Mobile Lathe Cart

author-gravatar Sean Nov 16, 2017

I've been needing to build this project for several years now. My old cabinet put my lathe at a height that was not only unsafe, but uncomfortable. My new lathe cart is not only at a more comfortable height but it's also mobile. Now when I turn I can move the lathe out of the way to clean up the mess behind it. Check out the video below to see how I made it.

Download The cut List

Tools/Supplies Used (affiliate links help support what I do):
10" Drawer Slides:
Locking Casters:
Right Angle Corner Clamps:
Bosch Router:
Table Top Router Bit Ogee:
Ox Hair Brush For Shellac:
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig:
Kreg Cabinet Hardware Jig:
Kreg Face Clamp:
Kreg Shelf Pin Hole Jig:
Makita Track Saw:
Jet Lathe:
Jet Lathe Bed Extension:
Roller Stands:
Dado Blade:
Push Pads:
Power Drill:
18 Gauge Brad Nailer:
Kreg Miter Gauge With Stop Block:
Irwin Clamps:
1 1/4" Pocket Hole Screws:

Obligatory showcase photo first!

Like all other projects that I make out of plywood, My first task is to break down the sheet goods in to a more manageable size.

To do this, I lay down a sheet of foam and then the plywood. I use my track saw to break down the plywood. The lathe cart was made using only two sheets of 3/4" and less than half a sheet of 1/4" for the drawer bottoms.

With the sheets broken down I can now begin cutting the case components. First up are the top and bottom panels. I cut them to 12" in width. Even though the plywood pieces are smaller, they are still a hassle to handle so to assist in cutting the pieces, I setup a roller stand to help support the pieces as I break them down to their final size.

Next I cut the two sides panels to length as they were already cut to width with the track saw.

I installed a 3/4" dado stack to cut a groove on the inside edge of all 4 case parts for the back panel to sit in. The dado stack is raised 3/8 of an inch, giving me a 3/4" wide, 3/8" deep groove.

To keep the groove a consistent depth I use push pads and put pressure on the board above the blade.

To join the case components I used pocket screws.
NOTE: I put the pocket holes on the wrong side of these panels. The holes should go on the bottom of the bottom panel and the top of the top panel so they're not visible when the case is assembled. I will show you how to hide the pocket holes later on in this build.

I lay out and drill 4 pocket holes on each end of the top and bottom panel.

Clamp it in to place and drill the pocket holes

The plywood I used wasn't exactly flat and it made clamping the side panels a task to say the least. To make this easier, I placed the top and bottom panels on a couple of cauls with holes drilled in them that I could then clamp the warped panels to. This flattened them out and made attaching the sides much easier.

Another jig I used when attaching the side panels was my right angle clamping jigs. If you are interested in seeing how I made them, I will leave a link below to my video. they made attaching the side panels a breeze.

I attached the side panels using 1 1/4" pocket hole screws.

Next I attached the bottom panel the same way by first clamping it to the cauls and then placing the side panels on the end and then screwed in the pocket hole screws.

With the case assembled I can now measure and cut the divider to final size by first cutting it to width.

And then to length using my crosscut sled.

To attach the divider I again used pocket holes.

Each end of the divider gets 3 pocket holes.

To place the divider 24" from the side panel I cut two spacers out of plywood that are 24" long. This not only makes the installation easier but also more accurate considering the placement of this panel dictates the size of the drawers.

I again use my right angle clamping jigs to assist in installing the pocket hole screws.

I placed the panel so that the pocket hole screws are on the side of the cabinet that gets the drawers so that they are hidden.

Before attaching the back panel I drill the shelf pin holes using the kreg jig. I cut a plywood spacer to 8 1/4" long to make this process repeatable.

I place the jig on top of my plywood spacer

And drill the 1/4" shelf pin holes. I drill 6 holes and them move the jig to the other 4 corners.

For the back corner I removed a piece from the jig that allowed me to put the jig flat against the side panel. The groove for the back panel was in the way so I couldn't use the jig like I did on the other 3 corners.

To strengthen the lathe cart, I made the back panel out of 3/4" thick plywood. To attach the back panel I used 18 gauge brad nails.

 I used a framing square to mark a center line for the divider panel to make sure that I made good contact when shooting the nails.

With the back panel installed the final piece for the case was the shelf.

After cutting it to width at the table saw I used the miter saw to cut it to its final length.

It fit!

Now I can begin breaking down the plywood for the drawer components.

To cut the groove on the drawer parts I used my table saw. I set my fence to 1/4" and raised the blade to 1/4". I made a pass on all of the drawer parts.

I moved the fence over 1/8" and made another pass. 

This made a 1/4" wide, 1/4" deep groove.

Next I cut the 1/4" plywood to size for the bottom panels by first cutting it to width.

And then to length.

To assemble the drawer boxes I again used pocket holes. I put 2 pocket holes on each end of the front and back drawer parts. 

Holding the drawer parts in place while you drive the screws is tricky but I've found that using right angle clamps make this task a breeze. I have 2 of these clamps and it allows me to hold 3 of the 4 parts in place.

With the two side pieces screwed to the front, I insert the drawer bottom

And then I slide the back in place, holding it with a clamp while driving the final 4 screws.

To install the drawer slides I used 3 different spacers. You may be able to re-arrange the drawer slides and use fewer spacers, but this is my method. I like the drawer slides to be centered on the drawer sides. I begin by using a 2 1/8" spacer for the bottom drawer.

Next I place the drawer slide 1/8" inset from the edge 

And install two screws.

I then place the spacer on the opposite wall to install the other drawer slide.

For the next two drawers I switch over to a 5 1/8" spacer.

Again I inset the drawer slide 1/8" from the edge.

And drive in the screws.

For the top drawer I use a 3 1/4" spacer. This will ensure that the drawer slides are nice and centered on the drawers.

To install the second half of the drawer slides on the drawer boxes I again use spacers. For the bottom 3 drawers I use a 2" spacer and clamp it in to place.

With the drawer slide flush with the front of the drawer I drive 2 screws.

Nice and snug!

Since the top drawer is shorter than the bottom 3 drawers I switch over to using a 1 9/32" spacer.

For the false drawer fronts I wanted to use 1 piece of plywood to get some nice grain continuation from top to bottom. So to begin, I set the fence and cut the false drawer fronts for the bottom 3 drawers

Since the top drawer is shorter I reset the fence

And cut the small false drawer front.

And as you can see, the pattern of the grain flows from from the top to the bottom.

To install the drawer fronts I start with the bottom drawer. 

It sits flush with the bottom of the cart so It's as simple as sitting it down and clamping it in to place since I have the lathe cart on my assembly table

With the drawer front clamped to the drawer box I pre-drill and install 2 screws.

Now to space the rest of the drawer fronts I place 1/8" spacers on top of the drawer front that I just installed and place the next drawer front on the spacers, clamp it in to place and drive two screws.

I keep doing this for the rest of the drawer fronts.

Now this wouldn't be a mobile cart without casters, so I installed 4 locking casters. They not only prevent the cart from rolling, but they also prevent the casters from swiveling while they are locked as well.

The plans call for a 3/4" plywood top but i'm going to repurpose the top from my old lathe cabinet. Since my new lathe cart is smaller i'm going to need to cut it down. I begin by cutting it to width at the table saw.

And then to length using my track saw.

To attach the top I pre-drilled 6 holes and drove 6 screws through the top of the lathe cart and in to the top.

The cherry top had several stains from being used over the years so I sanded it with 80, 120 and 180 grit to refinish the surface.

I had a profile on the edge that I really liked, which I had to cut off to resize the top so after the top was sanded I used my plunge router to route that same profile.   

I started with the endgrain just in case there was some tear out

And then routed the sides of the top.

As you can see, it adds a little something to the top.

To protect the top and to make it look a little better I brushed on two coats of a garnet shellac using an ox hair brush.

The last thing on the list was to drill the holes for the drawer pulls. I again used a kreg jig to aid in getting repeatable hole placements.

With the holes drilled I installed the hardware.

Oh, remember how I mentioned above that I needed to fix the visible pocket holes? Well I filled them with some kreg cherry pocket hole plugs. I just glued them in to place and used a flush cut saw to remove the excess. It's not perfect, but hey, it matches the top at least!

So now the carts done and i've got everything back in place. It's the perfect height for turning and doesn't have a bunch of wasted space behind it like my old lathe cabinet.

I can fit all of my turning blanks (which is only 2 at the moment) and a bunch of other scrap wood in the storage area.

And the drawers fit my turning tools, chucks and more. This was a much needed project that came out awesome. It not only looks good but functions a whole lot better than my previous solution since it's at a more safe and comfortable height.

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