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 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

A Boyhood Dream Fullfilled  


When i was a kid, about 8 or so I found a copy of the classic "How to Run a Lathe" book. I read it, I dreamed it (it still has an honored place on my bookshelf), I wanted a lathe. A real lathe. In those days there was a huge machinery district around Grand and Canal Streets, where you could buy any machine tool you could think of and there were blocks and blocks of machine shops on the ground floors and big lathes and milling machines were always running. The district is all gone now, replaced first by artists and now by bankers.
The courts of New York are around there and when my father was called to jury duty and had to go downtown I made him promise he would get me a lathe.

He didn't. He got me a timer. A wind-up timer. It was one of the big disappointments of my youth. Later, when I graduated high school, my father did buy me a small Unimat Lathe. I used that lathe for years on all sorts of small projects, but it's very small, and the round ways aren't very stable. Still, at TFWW it got dusted off, oiled and proved pretty useful in prototyping some of the smaller things we needed, and we made a lot of shop jigs on it.

Last week I crossed something off my bucket list. A beautiful 1951 LaBlond Regal Lathe arrived. 14" swing x 30" between centers, power cross feed, and very little wear. We also got a milling machine at the same time. Now these tools are mostly for prototyping and not for production but we needed a big lathe badly.

As of now the lathe is all leveled, the machine is mostly cleaned, the electrician comes Wednesday.

I am thrilled - even if I'm not the one who will be using the lathe most of the time.

Oh - one more thing. The lathe came out of a stamping company somewhere in the Northeast. Probably upstate, or New Jersey or PA. who knows if that was the original owner. Probably not. But we do know from a plate on the base (see photo) that originally the lathe was purchased from a store in downtown New York City. So, after wandering around for 50 years our boy has come home!!!

Comments: 11
Very Very Cool.

Something I always wanted but never did.

Give us an occasional update about what you are doing with it and how it fits into your business.
03/08/2011Dave Jeske
LeBlonds are some of the best. You have a real beauty there. Mine is a small Logan from the 1940's and has served me well. If I had a few more feet in the garage a larger lathe like your Leblond would be high on my list too. have fun with it!
Your Unimat looks even smaller than I remember!
03/08/2011Mitch Wilson 
Mazel tov! Use it in good health.
03/08/2011tom crowley
Still on my bucket list.
Beautiful lathe, Joel - I'm with Dave 100% (including having a 10" Logan).

What's the mill?
The Mill is a very nice Bridgeport
03/10/2011McKay Sleight
We used to have a full machine shop at the high school where I used to teach. We had a Bridgeport and a 17" turret lathe that I would use for different woodworking projects. All are gone now as is the original school. I guess that is progress, but I am not sure.
Very nice lathe Joel. We will be expecting a lot more great new tools!
03/18/2011TOM MANVELL 
Some kids hve all the luck....
Beautifull unit...
If I were closer, I'd wire it for nothing.....
03/19/2011Nick Dombrowski
Nice find. Oooh, power cross feed, quickchange gearbox, I need a lathe like that. Now how to get one in the basement...
03/20/2011james uhrich 
Ahhh, the Regal. I learned on one almost exactly like yours in my father's machine shop at age 10. It was a great lathe, but had some wear; I specifically remember a bungee cord strung to one of the shift levers to keep it in gear. Thankfully it has been passed to a competent soul and now lives again--sans bungee cords.
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