For my latest project, I made a concrete bench out of standard precast concrete blocks that are easily sourced. I filled them up with cement and steel reinforcement, grouted a piece of granite countertop on (to give a nice flat surface), and anchored my import lathe to it using sleeve anchors. I made a video of it here:
I also made a video of a quick analysis I did of the stiffness and damping properties of concrete and found concrete to be a great material to make a lathe bench out of:
It turned out well. I originally was going to build a steel bench out of 2×2 tubing to move the lathe to as the wood bench gave significant grief when trying to get the twist out of the bed. I then started thinking outside of the traditional box, and thought, hey what about concrete.
Now my lathe is pretty short – if you had a longer lathe you might want to support the granite countertop more with perhaps some steel bolted between the 2 supports.
I plan on making some shelves for below the lathe yet in between the 2 blocks. It was a fun project, and I learned a fair bit about cement and concrete in my reading. If you want to improve the damping even more, there are many studies on adding rubber pieces to the cement. You can also add steel wool to significantly improve the strength. Simple standard concrete alone though has the damping properties of cast iron.
Yes I can’t really move it, and I thought a lot about this, but I really don’t move my machines that often anyway.
The performance of the lathe is significantly improved, it is like day and night really. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. Some slight shimming maybe required yet to get the last small amount of taper out (or it could be another issue – I haven’t investigated any further yet as the taper at this point is way better than the .003″ over 3 inches I was getting before).
Here is a picture of the bench itself:
And with the lathe (I previously made a drip pan the lathe is sitting on):
It didn’t take that long to do – not significantly longer than any other bench construction method. Plus I didn’t’ have to deal with steel distortion and residual stresses due to welding – something that can be a significant issue.