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CME Handworks Inc

I’m going to make an assumption here- if you read my blog then you’re probably into hand tools and if you’re into hand tools then you’re probably like me and spend some time browsing the Internet looking for things like vintage planes and hand drills, old hand saws, and treadle lathes….basically the cool old tools Roy Underhill used for all those years. Well a few weeks before Christmas I stumbled into the e-bay store of CME Handworks Inc. in Palos Heights, IL. USA.

Chris and Mary Yonker run CME Handworks where Chris manufactures beautiful hand tools. From wooden bodied scrapers and mallets to bow saws and treadle lathes. It was the treadle lathe that really caught my eye and was the item I was searching for that brought me to their web page in the first place. I’ve always kept my eye out for a foot powered lathe and finding a decent antique lathe is like finding a needle in a hay-stack. They don’t come up too often.

Chris has come up with a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and completely user friendly.You’ll see what I’m talking about when you visit their store. It’s easy for him to ship via UPS (they even offer free shipping to 48 continental United States) and for the customer to re-assemble it is a breeze. How do I know? Well Santa must have saw me searching the web site and brought me one for Christmas!

The lathe is made from 1 3/4″ Poplar with a hard maple tool rest and Bubinga handles.
It’s relatively small footprint is perfect for any wood shop at only 42″ Tall, 34″ Long and 24″ Wide. It has 18″ between centers with over 5″ from center to top of bedway. The lathe was shipped in two separate boxes and included a set of detailed, easy to follow instructions and as mentioned was a walk in the park to re-assemble. All that was needed was an adjustable wrench and an 5/32 Hex Key. The entire process took only a half hour.

Now I’m not a wood turner and I shouldn’t comment too much on the performance – yet…but I’m planning on putting some miles on this thing over the next few months and incorporating some turned elements into my furniture design.

I’ll be posting some more detailed information on the lathe as I get into it but I suggest you stop in at the CME Handworks eBay store and check them out. If you’re like me and have dreamed of owning a foot powered lathe than this may be just the thing for you.


  1. Posted by Berniesr on Jan 24th, 2010

    Looks really interesting. I will be keen to see how you get in with this. I have never seen a treadle lathe in operation. However my late father in law was a tailor who used a Singer industrial sewing machine. I was always amazed at how quick and smooth that was.

    Good luck with it.
    Bernie from the Land Dowunder

  2. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 25th, 2010

    Thanks for the comment Bernie-
    it’s coming along quite well- still nothing to show but its alot of fun!
    sharp tools are key when turning wood at this slower, foot powered speed!
    keep well.

  3. Posted by Erica Rao on Jan 27th, 2010

    How can I get ALL the part of the dedicated sharpening bench?

  4. Posted by Tom Fidgen on Jan 27th, 2010

    If you click on ‘a dedicated sharpening bench’ in the side bar list of topics you’ll find all of the articles from that series.
    Thanks and enjoy!

  5. Posted by Brian Meeks on Jan 30th, 2010

    It is beautiful. Very nice photos. Do you think that a beginner could learn to use a lathe on something like that? Or would it be better to start with a table top lathe and start with smaller projects?

  6. Posted by Will Nettles on Apr 29th, 2012

    I found your treadle lathe through a note on Kayak Building Forum
    I think what you’re doing is terrific.
    I studied the images on your e-Bay offering, to understand more how it worked, (I’d just made a pump drill and was curious how I might make it go in just one direction. I had assumed that treadle lathes also went back and forth).
    I had a thought. What if you sold plans, with descriptions, explanations, etc…. $5 or $10 on your website using Paypal, or a pdf (no overhead or shipping) on Amazon (low hassle, easy purchase).
    You already share more than enough information to enable someone with a few skills to copy your design (and for someone with more skill and experience to know that $675 is a bargain).
    I find it easy to spend $5-10 for something I’m curious to know more about, and to support the people who did it.
    ps In the next week, I’ll try to put some images of my Pump Drill on my Flickr site. I made a frame which makes it safe & dead simple to use (I teach 8th grade science). The design is pretty obvious, and open source. (I am curious to know if adding the frame is unique, and just how old is the pump drill).

  7. Posted by Craig Brain on Jan 28th, 2013

    I have to second the comment above about selling the plan to build this lathe. I’d also like to point out your customer base will expand even further, since you don’t have to pay international shipping rates for a pdf. :)

    I could never afford to ship one of your lathes to Australia, but I would pay for a pdf, or a print plan. If you sold a printed plan with a few metal components, I’d even be able to afford that!

    As is, I could probably build a similar machine from the info and pictures you have supplied, and visit the local metal engineering works to get the metal components, but I’d rather buy from the people who created the design.

  8. Posted by tom on Jan 29th, 2013

    thanks for the comment. You’ll have to contact CME Handworks if you’re interested in a building plan. all the best.

  9. Posted by Glenn Carter on Feb 17th, 2014

    Hello Tom, I was looking through the cme web page and was interested in the stair saw Chris & Mary had made and was wondering how much they charged for it? The info provided was not clear on how much or even if it were available. Do you have a e-mail for cme tool works or some other way of contacting them? Tks Glenn

  10. Posted by tom on Feb 17th, 2014

    thanks for the comments and question.
    I just had a quick look at the CME Ebay store and didn’t see the stair saw- maybe they’re back-ordered or perhaps they only make to order these days?
    At any rate, I don’t have a contact for them but if you go to the Ebay store, at the top of the page it says- maintained by: click tere and you’ll see an icon on the next page that says contact.
    You should be able to send a memo and inquire about the stair saws.
    Hope that helps-

    all the best,

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