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Sears, Roebuck & Co.
Companion, Craftsman & Dunlap
Wood-turning Lathes 1920s to 1960s

Craftsman Metal lathes

Craftsman catalogs were always issued at least six months in advance of their cover date. For the sake of consistency the dates referred to in these articles are the dates appearing on the front of the relevant catalog in which the machine appeared.

Although from the late 1800s Sears, Roebuck & Co." had offered a number of wood-turning lathes, it was not until 1933 that the range was rationalised around two labels: Companion the for cheaper models and Craftsman for more expensive types. Prior to this the machines on offer had been a rather miscellaneous selection - of flimsy construction -  many by long-forgotten small manufacturers and some of which were in the catalog for only a year before being replaced; today, they are very rare. The Craftsman and Companion labels were used not just for metal and wood-turning lathes, but a very wide range of power and hand tools. Another name used was "Dunlap" - this replacing the "Companion" branding in 1941.
Research published on the Old Wood Working Machines Group ( has discovered the following more important makers of Companion, Craftsman and Dunlap-branded woodworking machines:
Herberts Machinery Co. King-Seeley Corp. (model-number prefix
103) wood lathes until 1934/5 American Machine & Tool Co., Inc. (model-number prefix 149)
Atlas Press (model-number prefix
Belsaw Machinery Co. (model-number prefix
Brown-Brockmeyer Co. (model-number prefix
Clausing Industrial, Inc. (model-number prefix
DeWalt Products Co. (model-number prefix
Double A Products Co. (AA Products) (model-number prefix
Emerson Electric Co. (model-number prefix
Parks Woodworking Machine Co. (model-number prefix
Power King Tool Corp. (model-number prefix
Syncro Corp. (model-number prefix
Sypher Manufacturing Co.
Walker-Turner Co., Inc. (model-number prefix

1929 Clipper - most basic of lathes from the late 1920s with a single-speed, babbit bearing headstock- and 'fresh-air' tailstock. The centre height was 5.5" and, depending upon how brave you were, and what timber you had to hand, the distance between centres could be as great as you wished. Even today this method is still a valid way of constructing a large wood-turning lathe at minimum cost, the Conover Company in the USA being a recent example.
The spindle was 1 inch in diameter and threaded on the right to take a faceplate (with a centre socket" of unknown specification) and at the rear allow a circular saw or grinding wheel to be mounted between two flanges. The lathe came complete with one drive centre, a rather small radially-slotted faceplate, an adjustable chisel rest and weighed - despite the flimsy tailstock - a respectable 60 lbs. The cost, in 1929, was $15.50.

1929 Progress - with a much heavier headstock (though hardly improved tailstock) this 13-inch swing lathe had a 13/16" diameter spindle carrying two pulleys (of 6 and 4 inches in diameter) driven by a 11/2" wide flat belt.
With the lathe was a complete fast-and-loose countershaft unit - that allowed the motor to be left running when the belt was shifted, by the belt forks, from the drive to the free pulley. The lathe and countershaft had a shipping weight of 130 lbs - and cost an expensive $38.

1929 Wood-lathe 2-speed countershaft with fast-and-loose pulleys.

1930 "Peerless". Probably made by the Sypher Manufacturing Company of Toledo, Ohio, this was an interesting attempt to market a self-contained motorised wood lathe. The swing was 12" and the  capacity between centres 36"; the motor, an ordinary single-speed, 1/3 hp, 110 volt AC unit that ran at 1750 rpm unit, carried a faceplate and centre on its spindle. The bed was made from cheap, angle-steel sections and carried the simplest-possible kind of tailstock and toolrest. The lathe was priced at $33 - which included a freight charge to anywhere in the USA.
Sypher's own electric-motor headstock lathe had a better toolrest, a proper tailstock with a screw-feed, self-eject barrel and, considering the mass of the machine, a more conservative swing of 7.75" - strangely however, the motor was less-well supported and the machine cost $12 more than the "Peerless".

1930 "Challenger Home Workshop"
Build in the depths of the Great Depression, and only available as part of the $85 "Challenger Home Work Shop",  the wood lathe above was yet another minimalist Sears production that used as little material as possible to do the greatest amount of work.
Whilst the 8-inch saw bench and 4-inch planer appear to have been robustly constructed, the 6-inch swing 3-speed lathe was very lightly built with both the headstock and tailstock unbraced and clamped down by single bolts to the rails of a simple angle-steel bed. Note, however, that the drive was by V belt to an overhung pulley - the first time a V belt had been used on a Sears lathe - and quite possibly its first use ever on an amateur machine tool.

1932 "Driver"
Built on an angle-steel bed with cast-iron headstock, tailstock and toolrest (and with an overhung drive pulley) this was a very small lathe - so tiny that, conveniently, the advertising literature failed completely to mention its dimensions and gave instead the weights of the individual components: the bronze-bushed headstock 2 lbs 4 ozs, tailstock 2 lbs 8 ozs, bed 7 lbs, toolrest 2 lbs and the two 4-step pulleys 1 lb each. The price, including carriage, was $6.65. That was cheap - even in 1932 - but less expensive and even smaller lathes were to come .

1932 "Driver Heavy Duty"
The last wood-turning lathe manufactured by Sears before the introduction of the "Craftsman" range, this (remarkable for its era) "Driver Heavy Duty" was built with a self-contained, 4-speed, V-belt drive motor-platform behind the headstock.
With a 12 inch swing , a capacity of 30 inches between centres and a shipping weight of 78 lbs (without a motor) this was a much more substantial affair than its junior brother, shown higher up the page. The 42 inch long bed (which was 4.5" wide and 2.5" deep) was constructed from angle steel and carried a headstock, toolrest and tailstock in cast iron. The headstock, (unusually for a wood lathe of any age or type) was fitted with Timken taper-roller bearings. The price was $39.50

Craftsman, Companion & Dunlap
Wood-turning Lathes 1933  - 1943

In 1933 the Sears, Roebuck Company launched the first of their Herberts (of Los Angeles) manufactured "Craftsman" and cheaper "Companion" lathes. The Companion was a 6-inch centre height machine that admitted 24" between centres; the 3-speed, V-belt drive headstock was built around a 5/8" diameter spindle running on bronze bearing lubricated through wick feeds.  The lock for the tailstock barrel was a screw that simple pressed down against it - a crude, not very effective, but very cheap solution. The bed carried a pair of feet mid-way down for extra support, the tool rest was 5 inches long and it was suggested that a 1/4 hp motor would be adequately powerful to run the lathe. The shipping weight was 22 lbs and the price $4.50.

Companion 6" x 24" - cheapest in the range

Least expensive of the Craftsman lathes was the "8-inch", a machine very similar to the Companion "6-inch" but with an increased swing and an additional 6 inches between centres. The headstock spindle was no larger at 5/8" but made from Chrome vanadium steel, ran on bronze bushes and carried a 4 instead of a 3-step V pulley. The spindle was extended to the left, that Sears claimed allowed outboard turning - but for which a faceplate from the range of 3, 6, 8 and  9-inch diameters in the options' list would have been needed. The tool rest was 6 inches long and, ready for shipping, the lathe weighed about 35 lbs. The price in 1933 was $9.50 - at a time when the average weekly earning of a worker in industry was $1786

The 9-inch Craftsman wood-turning lathe was very much more heavily built than the cheaper models in the range - ready for shipping it weighed nearly two-and-one-half times as much as the 8-inch model.
Double-ended, the 5/8-inch diameter headstock spindle ran in "sealed-for-life" ball bearings and was driven by a 4-step, V-belt pulley whose face was ringed with 60 indexing holes with an extension to the front of the headstock casting holding the spring-loaded plunger.
The lathe came complete with cup and spur centres, 4-inch and 8-inch T rests, a 4-step V pulley with 1/2-inch bore to fit the drive motor, one V belt and a double-ended wrench.

Heaviest, and best of the 'first-edition' Craftsman wood-turning lathes was the 12-inch model. With a shipping weight of 97 lbs and a 9/16" bore, No. 2 Morse taper headstock spindle (properly threaded at both ends) running in sealed-for-life ball bearings, this was a usefully strong and workman-like machine. The impression would have been reinforced by the proper barrel lock on the tailstock and the provision, as standard, of both 31/2" and 9" faceplates that were threaded to fit both the left and right-hand sides of the spindle.
Like the lighter 9-inch lathe, the larger end face of the V pulley was drilled with a circle of 60 indexing holes - with the locating plunger built into an ear formed on the front face of the headstock casting. 

The tailstock of the 12-inch Craftsman was of almost metal-lathe proportions and even included a proper barrel lock - an almost unheard of refinement on a 1930s wood lathe intended for use by amateurs

A circle of 60 indexing holes - with the locating plunger built into an ear formed on the front face of the headstock casting - was standard on the 1933 12-inch Craftsman wood-turning lathe. 

The 12-inch model was the only lathe in the 1933 Craftsman range to be offered with the option of an extra-long, twin-support toolrest .

Herberts wood lathes as marketed by Sears, Roebuck and Co. during 1933. Lathes branded "Companion" were always the cheaper option

1933 - lathes made by Herberts Machinery and a cheaper option (than the one below) for a"Craftsman" branded ball-bearing lathe

Top-of-the-range Herberts -manufactured ball-bearing spindle wood lathe in 1933

Craftsman & Dunlap Wood-turning Lathes 1947-1966

1947 Craftsman Model "80"  9-inch swing by 30 inches between centres.
When production of Craftsman wood lathes started again after World War Two the better of the two machines introduced in 1947 (1948 catalog year) was the Model "80". Despite its No. 1 Morse taper, 3/4" diameter headstock spindle running on plain, "Oilite" self-lubricating bronze bearings (and one ball-bearing race for thrust) this was a respectably heavy (78 lb) machine with all its main components in cast iron. 
Unusually, the headstock spindle carried no thread, instead a square section was formed on its end - with faceplates and other fittings held on by grub screws - a horribly crude system that only lasted for one year - the 1948 models being fitted with not only a proper thread, but a ball bearing spindle as well, of a type first used in 1933 ....
Four spindle speeds were provided of  875, 1350, 2250 and 3450 rpm - although the motor and 4-step V pulley required to produce them were only available at extra cost and,  at $18.50, increased the price of the basic lathe by a massive 39%. If you could find your own motor it was recommended that a 1/3 hp, running at 1760 rpm, be considered the minimum that would provide a satisfactory performance. The lathe could be driven from either behind or, with suitable slots cut in the bench, from below. No speed- reducing countershaft (Sears called them 'jack shafts') was used, the motor, as on most wood lathes, drove the spindle directly.
A cover could be removed from the left-hand end of the headstock spindle to reveal a left-hand thread on which a faceplate could be mounted for large-diameter "outboard" bowl turning. Strangely, Sears missed the opportunity to offer a proper bench-mounted tool rest for this activity for non was ever listed in the accessory pages.
The lathe was finished in grey enamel with chrome plated fittings and decorated with what was to become a trademark of Craftsman products, an imitation "engine-turned" decorative cover over the headstock. The machine was 10
1/4" high, 85/8" wide and 101/8" long - and when introduced cost $47.50. Production of the lathe in an identical form continued until around 1959, when it was replaced by a new round-bed 12-inch swing model.

A square section was formed on the end of the spindle - with faceplates and other fittings held on by grub screws - a horribly crude system that lasted for just one year on the Model 80 but for over thirteen on the Model "40" (later "Dunlap").

1947 Craftsman Model "40" 8-inch swing by 24 inches between centres.
Introduced alongside the Model "80" this lathe cost just $30.50, some 36% less. The same cast-iron construction was used for the major components - the weight of the basic machine was 54 lbs - and the motor could be made to drive the spindle from either behind or below. The electric motor and its 3-step pulley were, of course, extras - not surprisingly for, when supplied with the lathe, they raised the price to  $49, an increase of over 61%.
A cover could be removed from the left-hand end of the headstock and a large faceplate fitted for bowl-turning - although, as for the Model 80, no tool rest for this kind of work was to be found in the accessory lists.
The "Craftsman" name was used until 1951 when it was changed to one last used on a wood lathe in the early 1940s - Dunlap. The machine continued in production until the early 1960s - outlasting, by a few years, the original Model "80"

Mid 1950s Craftsman Ball-bearing spindle wood-turning lathe with the optional bed-extension piece in place.

Having disappeared from the lists in 1954, by 1956 the demand for a really cheap wood-turning lathe must have persuaded Sears to reintroduce the 8-inch by 24 inch "Dunlap" model.
With a 3-speed (1025, 1750 and 2985 rpm) spindle it was priced at $29.50 against the $51.50 of the Craftsman ball-bearing spindle lathe; it still retained the unthreaded spindle nose and plain Oilite bearings of the original model.

As the  1950s ended, Craftsman introduced this ball-bearing headstock, 12-inch wood-turning lathe. Built on a nicely ground, heavy-walled 21/4"-diameter steel tube with a cast semi-steel headstock and tailstock, the lathe had a 6-inch centre height, admitted 37 inches between centres and was provided with a 12-inch long tool rest, the working edge of which was handily marked out in inches. A riveted-on 1/2" inch wide steel key ran nearly the length of the round bed to locate the tool rest and tailstock. The spindle pulley was drilled with a ring of 36 holes indexing holes on its inner face that could be engaged in the usual way by a spring-loaded pin.
Threaded 3/4" x 16 t.p.i., the spindle had a No. 1 Morse taper, ran on sealed ball races and could be driven from either behind or below. The recommended motor was a 1/3 hp, 1750 rpm that, with a 4-step pulley matching that on the headstock, produced speeds of 875, 1350, 2250 and 3450 rpm. This was probably the last American-built wood lathe to be offered with a "Craftsman" label and, unfortunately, in an attempt to make the lathe as cheap as possible to produce (in 1959 it cost $56.95) design features were introduced that both limited the machine's specification and its ease of use: there was no provision for outboard bowl turning, the centrally-disposed and awkward-to-operate handwheel on the tailstock spindle made drilling difficult; the No. 1 Morse centres and tiny headstock spindle reduced the lathe's capacity for hard work and the too-short locking handles on the tool rest and tailstock were fiddly to operate. The left-hand half of the "headstock" (that appears in the picture to be part of the casting) is really a removable, stamped sheet-metal cover for the pulley and belt - the actual headstock casting being rather shallow and the outer surfaces of the ball bearing assemblies only about 2
1/4" apart, that is, too close together for really good spindle support against side loads. However, these various departures from an ideal machine design are not as serious in a wood lathe as they are in a machine for metal-turning and the round-bed Craftsman was an entirely adequate machine for its intended hobby use in a home workshop.

Craftsman, Companion & Dunlap
Wood-turning Lathes 1933 - 1943

By 1935, and with the dropping of the Herberts "Wood Wizard" range, the entire range of Craftsman wood-turning lathes had been changed. The cheapest machine, illustrated below, was the 6-inch swing by 24 inches between centres model which, like its forebears, had a 5/8-inch spindle running in bronze bearings driven by a 3-step V pulley. Instead of a central foot, the cross-braced bed was deepened in section over its central portion. The price, at $4.85, remained below the crucial $5 mark.

Craftsman 6-inch x 24-inch wood-turning lathe of 1935 - this inexpensive model remained in the lists until 1938.

1935 to 1936 Craftsman 9-inch lathe.
Unlike the earlier 9-inch lathe, with its ball-bearing headstock, this model made do with cheap "Oilite" porous-bronze bushes. However, the spindle was bored hollow, took a number 1 Morse-taper centre and could be fitted with a faceplate on its left-hand end for large-capacity bowl turning.. Unfortunately, the ring of 60 indexing holes on the headstock pulley was missing and the bed had lost its mid-way foot.  However (and rather surprisingly) the tailstock could be set over for taper turning and a limited range of accessories - a compound slide rest, 3 and 4 jaw chucks and a fixed steady - was available to convert it into a metal-turning lathe.

The Craftsman 9-inch lathe fitted for metal turning with a 16-speed countershaft unit, compound slide rest and 4-jaw chuck.

1935 - 1939 121/4-inch swing  by 36-inches between centres Craftsman Universal Heavy Duty Lathe.
Universal was the best wood-turning lathe to be offered by Sears, Roebuck during the 1930s and designed by Atlas to be not only a very strong machine (it weighed 140 lbs) but also the basis upon which the 1936 Craftsman backgeared and screwcutting metal-turning lathe would be constructed.  (For more details of contemporary Atlas lathes, especially the basic 1042 models on which, in turn, the Craftsman wood-turning lathe was based, click here). The Universal could also be converted, by the addition of various parts, to a proper backgeared and screwcutting metal lathe, the makers claiming that: It grows with your shop! It actually gives you two lathes in one. Well, it might have done, but on its introduction in 1935 the lathe cost $29.95 in basic form - yet equipped with all the accessories necessary to turn it into a proper metal lathe with the correct speed range, this rose to $101.55 - an uncompetitive figure when compared to that season's (identically-specified) dedicated metal lathe at $80
In 1936 two versions of the
Universal were being listed: a $32.50 model, the 99-PM-2026 with high speed line reamed babbitt bearings with laminated shim adjustment and the $34.50 99-PM-2024 with heavy-duty, deep-groove precision ball bearings. The 2026 had a spindle 1.5-inches in diameter bored to pass a 3/4-inch rod with a 1.5-inch, 8 t.p.i. nose and a No. 3 Morse taper sleeved down to a No. 2. To fit the ball races into the same headstock casting the spindle of  2024 was reduced in diameter to 1-inch, bored to pass 1/2-inch clear and with a 1-inch by 8 t.p.i. nose.  Both models had a spindle threaded left-hand on the outboard end intended for large-diameter bowl turning - though strangely no accessory kit was offered to facilitate this. Although the outboard spindle was listed as having a No. 2 Morse taper - some lathes of this type have been found with a plain 9/16" bore. All models were fitted with a balanced 4-step cast-iron V-belt pulley with a ring of 60 indexing holes  The tailstock - modelled on metal-lathe practice - could be set over for taper turning and was fitted with a No. 2 Morse taper barrel locked by a proper clamp which brought together upper and lower clamping pads. At some point during 1936 the ball-bearing model changed over to sealed ball races - with an SKF cartridge type being the selected version - yet, oddly, the headstock-mounted oil cups were still retained, though they had no connection to the bearings. In 1937 the range was reduced to one model only: the $45 Type 99-PM-2025 with a 1.5-inch diameter headstock spindle running in Timken taper roller bearings, able to pass a 3/4-inch diameter rod and available with a No. 3 Morse taper nose sleeved down to a No. 2 - the outboard bowl-turning thread being abandoned. Whilst the earlier models had a speed range (driven directly from the electric motor) of 700 to 4300 r.p.m later ones spanned 5 75 to a more sensible 2875 r.p.m.  - the reduction in top speed probably coming as a result of over-enthusiastic owners melting their plain bearings by running them on top speed for too long. 
Universal was available until 1939, when it was replaced in the by a lighter and inferior 10-inch model illustrated here.

1937 Craftsman 10 inch by 36 inch "De-lux Combination".
This lathe, which was rather more substantially built and better specified than previous "mid-range" Craftsman models, was listed for only two years - 1937 and 1938 - and was unusual in having raised bedways which were semi-circular in section.
The ball bearing, No. 2 Morse taper 9/16-inch bore spindle ran inside a partially-enclosed headstock and was fitted with 1-inch x 8 t.p.i threads at both ends. A 4-step V pulley - with a ring of 60 indexing holes in its front face - provided the drive which, with the recommended 1750 rpm, 1/2 hp motor gave spindle speeds of 700, 1300, 2300 and 4300 rpm.
The heavily-built tailstock could not be set over, but was given a No. 2 Morse taper, ground-steel barrel and chromium-plated handwheel.
In 1937 the price was $23.95 - when the cheapest "Companion" lathe was $4.95 and the most expensive 12-inch "Craftsman" $39.90.

A new Companion 8-inch x 34-inch was introduced for 1939 - gone was the bed with the deepened middle section but otherwise the specification, including the skeletal tailstock, and the price of $5.45, were little changed.

1939 Craftsman 9-inch x  30". This model retained the bed of the earlier 9-inch lathe but was fitted with an improved headstock (with a hinge-up guard over the 4-step V-pulley) and a much heavier tailstock that could be set over for taper turning - useful when the lathe was fitted with metal-turning attachments. The spindle, which still ran on plain and inexpensive "Oilite" bearings, had 4 speeds from 700 to 4000 rpm - or, if the optional countershaft was used, 16 speeds from 350 to a ludicrous (from the point of view of bearing wear) 8600 rpm.

During the 1930s the largest of the Craftsman 12-inch wood lathes had been based on an Atlas metal lathe (reduced to its basic elements) but with its taper roller bearing headstock and other refinements it must have been considered both over-engineered - and over-priced at $45 - for its role as an amateur's wood-turning lathe. It's replacement, introduced in 1939, was almost certainly manufactured by "Power King" (a company later absorbed by Atlas/Clausing) with the same" 534" prefix being used on both Craftsman and Power King models.  This 10-inch x 36-inches model was a much simpler machine, though perfectly well made and, at $26.50, a very much more modest price. The lathe featured flat ways 11/2 inches wide with the edges of the central slot machined to guide the tailstock. The headstock spindle, which was threaded at both ends, ran in the by-now-familiar and sealed-for-life SKF ball bearings - and featured a cast-in guard over the front of the headstock belt run. The model number associated with the machine above was 534-06260.

New for 1939 was the tiny 5-inch swing by 12 inches between centres "Junior" lathe.
Only 23
1/2 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide and 61/4 inches high it had a 5" tool rest and cost just $1.59 ...

By 1941 even the Junior lathe had been given "Streamline" cosmetic treatment - whilst the price almost doubled - to $2.95.

The only real change for the 1940  season was the introduction of a semi-enclosed headstock for the 8-inch Companion lathe - and the first hints of ornamental styling in the "streamline" flashes on each side of the headstock and tailstock.
In 1941 the identical lathe was renamed the "Dunlap" (why?) - which was Sears new label for the cheaper machines in their range.

In 1941 both the 8-inch and 9-inch Companion lathes were renamed "Dunlap".

1942/3 Dunlap 8-inch wood-turning lathe - the last catalog picture until production restarted in 1946 and they became freely available again for the 1947 selling season (1948 Catalog).

1942/3 Dunlap 9-inch wood-turning lathe

In 1935 the first Craftsman wood-turning lathe with the option of a metal-turning kit was marketed. With many similarities to the company's metal turning lathe (made by Atlas) this was a very different machine in comparison with the cheaper lathes in the range.
The kit was very comprehensive and included a leadscrew, changewheels, tumble reverse assembly, a proper carriage, compound slide rest and complete backgear assembly - that, in conjunction with the 8-speed countershaft, gave the lathe 16 speeds  from a low of 28 to a high of 2540 rpm. The only snag was that, by the time the complete kit was purchased and fitted, the price exceeded that of the contemporary metal-turning lathe by at least 50%.

1935 12-inch wood-turning lathe fitted with the complete metal-lathe conversion kit.

Part of the Screwcutting Attachment - the changewheels, guard and electrical switch.

Wood-turning lathe headstock equipped with backgear to provide low speeds for large-diameter metal turning and screwcutting.

Fixed steady (with, surprisingly, screw-feed fingers) and the screwcutting dial-thread indicator.

The rest of the screwcutting conversion - twin-arm banjo to carry the changewheels, tumble-reverse mechanism and the left-hand leadscrew hanger bracket and leadscrew itself.

The two tool slides which fitted the full carriage model.
Top: the compound slide with swivelling top slide.
Below: the simple cross slide with integral tool post.

The full carriage assembly for the conversion to a metal lathe.
A choice of two slide rests was offered - a simple cross slide and combined tool post, or a compound slide rest - illustrated below.

Countershaft unit with adjustable motor platform.

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Sears, Roebuck & Co. Companion, Craftsman
& Dunlap Wood-turning Lathes 1920s to 1960s

Craftsman Metal lathes

Craftsman catalogs were always issued at least six months in advance of their cover date. For the sake of consistency the dates referred to in these articles are the dates appearing on the front of the relevant catalog in which the machine appeared.