Saturday, September 29, 2012

Using a Lathe as a Home Improvement Tool

Ok.  Some time ago, we started putting down laminate flooring.  We did the living room and dining room without trouble but were stopped short by the tile floor in the kitchen. I paid a couple of friends to bust it out and use something like one of those gas powered floor polishers they use in Wal Mart to grind the mortar off the floor.

The grinder made so much dust it looked like the house was on fire.  The whole house was covered in a 1/4" thick layer of finely ground  up mortar.  The Lovely Bride was not amused.  The worst part of it all was that there was so much dust everywhere, the guys running the machine couldn't see the floor very well and left a lot of mortar still stuck to the concrete.

Once it was all finally cleaned up , the Lovely Bride suddenly became very sensitive to dust.  Not in an allergic sense.  Just any source of dust was immediately pronounced too much and outlawed by fiat.  Even a pneumatic chisel with the shop vac hose drawing the dust directly away from the work still left too much dust.  That and 2 years fighting a sinkhole (well, one year fighting our insurance company and one fighting the sinkhole itself)  left us with a stack of laminate flooring in the dining room and bare concrete floors in the kitchen for a very long time.

I experimented with a few methods and tools to get the remaining mortar off the floor but none that worked passed the dust test.  The most promising was using a hand held electric grinder with a flat stone on it.  It worked but didn't pass the dust test because it spun the stone too fast and threw dust into the air.

It seemed that the best way to deal with the problem was to find a way to slow the grinder down to maybe 500-600 RPM.  Not having a clue how that could be done, I bought a cheap "close quarters" electric drill.  Its the kind that drills the hole perpendicular to the axis of the machine.  It looks like an angle grinder with a chuck on it.

This presented a new hurdle because the stone has a center hub threaded 5/8"-11 and I couldn't find a mandrel that fit the stone.  That's where the lathe comes in.

I bought a 5/8" bolt about eight inches long at Lowes.  Cut off the hex end and turned a section of the part that isn't threaded to 3/8" so it would fit the drill's chuck.  The cutting went faster than on last week's project because I was working right at the lathe chuck.  Then I cut off enough of the threaded end so it wouldn't extend too far through the stone.  Once the 3/8" part was cut off of the rest of the bolt I had a mandrel that fit the stone on one end and the drill on the other.

A test run on about 2 square feet of mortar proved that it worked.  It really is possible to run it slow enough that it doesn't fill the air with dust and it still grinds the mortar off the floor.  Its slow but it works.  Lovely Bride came home and saw a new section of mortarless concrete but no dust.  The new mandrel and and its use were approved.   If I just do a couple of square feet a day it won't be long before the kitchen and hall are ready for their flooring.

No pictures 'cause I was having too much fun!


bathroom light fixtures said...

Hmm, that's the first time I've ever heard of "Lathe" when it comes to home improvement. It just shows that I still have a lot to learn when it comes to these things. But thank you for letting us know about this important piece of information. It's helpful.

epoxy gietvloer said...

This is a nice post in an interesting line of content, great way of bring this topic to discussion.

Lantry said...

Sorry I didn't see these comments until just now. I have to justify having a 950 pound 100 year old lathe taking up a corner of the garage somehow! Thanks for stopping by.

Helen P. said...

This is the first time I've heard of 'Lathe' too! I'll give it a try in my Birmingham Al apartments