At the opposite end of the spectrum to the sort of high-quality industrial machine tools normally associated with the name Cincinnati - and looking like a cross between a "real" lathe and a toy - the 6-inch swing Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker" (stamped as the Model L110) was produced by the Winkle Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati 17, Ohio, USA. The lathe was the subject of a simple patent, No. 177802 taken out on may 29th, 1956 by Edward F.Winkle, the protection ageist copying lasting for a limit of fourteen years
Astonishingly, the entire machine, apart from the spindle assembly, toolpost, some small fastenings and the bedways, was made from sheet steel, largely 0.04" thick - even to the handwheels and 3.5-inch diameter faceplate. Unsurprisingly the machine - which resembled in its appearance a pre-WW1 tin-plate toy - was very light, about 10 lbs in total, and very compact with an overall length of 27.5" and width across the base of just 7". The foot-plate of the lathe appears to have been flat stamped and the four sides then folded in and secured by welded-on rectangular corner tabs. Two pressed-steel cross members were spot-welded in place to stiffen the bed at its mid point and the headstock attached by two riveted-on strips on its underside. Made from what was almost certainly standard 5/8" x 5/16" bar stock with a 45° angle milled along the outer edges, the bedways were held to the base by countersunk rivets.
Besides the pressed-steed construction, evidence of clever cost-cutting can also be seen in the design of the "headstock" where the appearance of a spindle was created by using the main shaft of a single-speed 1/5 HP 115V AC/DC motor (stamped on the lower face of the headstock, just above the badge was MODEL L100 60 CYCLE 115 VOLTS 11 AMPS) . The shaft was left entirely plain, with no method of securing anything to it other than by the crude method used to hold the 4-slot faceplate - a single set screw (a method also found on some cheaper models of Craftsman wood lathes made from the 1930s to the 1950s ). A "centre" was formed by turning the end of the shaft to point with a plain section over which could be pushed a wood-drive centre - only pressure from the tailstock keeping this in contact with the job. To give the cosmetic impression of a proper headstock the motor was enclosed by a sheet-metal cover with ventilation louvers cut into the back and end faces to allow air, driven by a metal fan on the motor shaft, to pass through.
A concealed leadscrew (5/16" x 18 t.p.i) ran down the centre of the bed and - propelled by hand - a carriage topped by a very simple sheet-steel tool slide that was made a little stronger than other components by the use of heavier-gage (0.07" thick) material. Travel of the cross slide was 2.5" with its 2.75-inch diameter handwheel (of pressed steel, naturally) marked by 120 rolled-in divisions with 12 numbers marked 0 to 12 with each sub-divided into 10 increments giving an unusual set-up of one revolution equalling 0.555" and each mark 0.000463" (a 1/4" x 20 t.p.i. thread).
Also fabricated in pressed steel, the tailstock had its sides welded to a base plate at the bottom and a steel tube at the top through which passed the 1-inch travel spindle. Locked by a crude thumb screw bearing directly against the shaft, the spindle was bereft of an internal taper but, instead, had a point formed on its end. The spindle-drive thread, being right-handed, caused a "cack-handed" movement that produced a travel away from the work when turned to the right. Two bent tangs were cut into the tailstock base to locate against the bed rails - while clamping was taken care of by a thumb screw pushing against a third tang arranged to slide in a cut-out on the opposite side.
Who would have bought a "Mechanic Maker"? Although obviously incapable of machining other than aluminium and wood (a small instruction and set-up booklet was included showing suggested projects), the answer must be that it was intended - as the name suggests - for that special breed of mechanically-minded little boy who, now grown up, writes: "Who would buy such a thing?" I bought one when I was about 8 years old and had some fun turning soft wood, creating wood shavings for no particular purpose. I would like to do the same with my grandchildren ….).
In 1975 the Dremel Company put onto the market their plastic-bodied "Moto-Lathe", a machine of entirely different construction to the Winkle - and lacking a screw-feed tool slide - but aimed at almost exactly the same market segment. It was to remain in production until 1990, passing through several little-changed versions and offered with a simple accessory kit.