I bought a South Bend Model A lathe late last summer. It is a wonderful tool that has greatly increased my capabilities, allowing me to make, among other things, my own saw bolts/nuts and saw filing guides.
Although this lathe brought me one step closer to my goal of being able to make all of my own parts in-house, I still want to mill my own slots for the spines. As much as I would love to own a Bridgeport or other full-sized mill, space and other constraints simply make that impossible at this time.
A few months ago, my friend and machinist mentor John brought up the idea of building a milling attachment for the South Bend lathe. After much discussion, sketching, and research, we came up with what looks like a working idea.
The attachment shown in the SketchUp model below mounts permanently to the lathe bed. The spindle is mounted on an old machinist vise for vertical/height adjustment, and uses the lathe carriage and cross feed for travel in the X and Y directions. It will have 18 inches of travel in the X direction, allowing me to mill spines for saws up to 18 inches long.
The spindle will be driven by a variable speed DC motor mounted behind the lathe. Power is transmitted by a flat leather belt.
Now all that remains is to turn this idea into a working reality. With a little luck, it will work out as hoped and planned. If I fall flat on my face with this, then back to the drawing board I go…