Is it alright to mount a bench top lathe to a bench with a wood top?
Yes, just make sure it's well braced and thick enough. Atlas lathes used 1 5/8" thick maple tops. Level the bench, then, using a precision level, level the lathe to the bench.(Shim to level). Visit the website below, very imformative and covers everthing you'll need to know.
I would also recommend covering the whole wood surface with 1/16" thick steel plate before you mount and level the lathe. It may cost you $40 for the metal, as it did me, but the sense of neatness caused by the ease of oil and chip clean up makes it worth it.
[This message has been edited by MKay (edited 03-15-2005).]
I have the chip pan which is 1/16 thick how ever the wood top on the bench is only one inch chip board. the bench is one of those craftsman style with draw storage.
Chris Heapy has a nice write-up about this:
Go to Workshop Techniques (on left side of page) then Initial setup.
[This message has been edited by sidneyt (edited 03-15-2005).]
Chipboard (particle board, MDF) is probably the least desireable material for a lathe benchtop. It readily absorbs moisture & it sags and twists easily unless well supported, especially a single layer.
If you're going to use a nonmetal top, you might consider building up a plywood lamination. Three or four layers of 3/4" ply, each one glued to the next, will provide a stable platform for the machine. Be sure that you have a flat surface to start with, or you'll end up with a nice, thick benchtop that is twisted.
I would go with the plywood, preferably marine grade and a least 1" thick, preferably more. I would do all cutting and drilling necessary for mounting the top to the legs/stand and the lathe to the top before attaching the top to the legs/stand. Then give all surfaces, including the INSIDE of all holes at least two coats of paint or a poly varnish. Three would be better. This is to seal it completely and avoid having oil or other fluids get into the grain and cause it to swell or the plys to separate.
If the legs are also wood, I would treat them the same. Better to use metal legs.
If you use two thicknesses of plywood then pay attention to sealing the inner surfaces. 100% coverage with a waterproof wood glue would be good - APPLIED ON BOTH PIECES. Clamp, weight, or screw together and allow to dry completely before proceeding.
These precautions may seen a bit extreme but they will help prevent any dimension changes in the table after you carefully level the lathe.
Use clearance holes and bolts, not wood screws to fasten things together. I won't even mention nails. If you must use wood screws anywhere, coat them with caulking before inserting to seal the wood they will crush when screwed in. Again, allow no point for liquids or evan moisture to enter or exit the wood. The better you seal it, the more stable it will be.
Make it fit.
Thank you for all replies I ended up using the metal bench with the wood top then put a 1/4 inch steel plate over the top before mounting the lathe it seems to be working out fine.