Adventures in Turning (lathing is not a word)…

Harbor Freight Mini-Lathe

In the past couple weeks I have gotten my first opportunity to check out working on a metal lathe.  Although I have been aware of this process, I have never seen it done up close and personal, and could never visualize the possibilities, without an in-person demo.  Then Danny got a Harbor Freight Mini-Lathe to help with the modifications on his Yamaha XS 650 cafe racer, and my world was turned (no pun intended!) upside down…

The Lathe dates back to around 1300 BC, and has been used to manipulate wood, metal and other materials since the Egyptians (turning wood).  This process opens up so many possibilities, it boggles the mind.  But for those of you with an interest in modifying motorcycles, there are some projects that stand out.  For instance, the popularity of the Cafe Racer builds has brought on a plethora of options for rearsets.  While these types of controls are not mandatory for most bikes, it seems to have become the defacto norm for Cafe bikes.  Several companies are churning out versions for different model bikes, but many require additional work to be done – especially welding and modifying shift and brake linkages.

Well, if you are going to have to mess around anyway, regardless of how much you spend, maybe your best bet is making them yourself.

Go from this... this

To help with design visualization, I began messing around for an afternoon with the free Google SketchUp program – which is a more mellow version of a program such as CAD, which is the standard for design such as this.  Although free, the program allowed me to design a rearset in 3D, which helps with the measurements, and layout of the parts.  Obviously, I need a lot of work, but already the possibilities seem endless.

Foot Peg before and after Knurling

With a special attachment, Danny was able to take the foot peg turned on the lathe, and knurl (a type of cross hatch cut) the surface to provide “gription.”  We are, as they say, off to the races…

One Reply to “Adventures in Turning (lathing is not a word)…”

  1. I started out with one of those and now own a full blown machine shop. It has since been sold off for full sized equipment including a cnc lathe. Fun stuff.

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