Oliver Lathe

The Oliver Lathe

The Oliver lathe is an essential piece of equipment in any machine shop, used for wood shaping and turning metal turning applications.

Xerocraft currently has an Oliver Pattern Maker Wood Turning Lathe Model 25A that is in perfect condition and comes complete with both an old blueprint and parts manual for the machine.

Early Life and Education

Oliver originally began his career as an engineer. However, after discovering this wasn’t his true calling he turned his hobby of woodworking – specifically creating custom baseball bats – into something profitable and quickly saw an increase in business.

Oliver produced a broad selection of woodworking machinery in their heyday. They were particularly well known for their lathe line, with small Junior models up to massive face plate machines being especially well known for their ruggedness and weightiness – they were used by pattern shops, millwork shops, public and trade schools alike.

Eagle Machinery and Repair, which is owned by Fink, still receives calls from woodworkers, hobbyists, and shop teachers who want to rehabilitate Oliver machines. Fink can usually find parts for old machines that have been discontinued for some time – even those no longer in production.

Professional Career

Oliver spent 16 hours each day in his woodshop crafting up to 12 baseball bats per week for both minor league players and major league stars like Ozzie Smith and Scott Rolen. His clients included both minor leaguers and stars like Ozzie Smith.

Oliver has always strived to enhance efficiency for its customers throughout its 125-year history, listening to customer feedback and responding rapidly to industry changes. They pioneered automatic turret lathes which allowed fluidic control of standard machine tools.

Oliver also designed special large capacity cutoff lathes and a system for cutting unique tiles for NASA’s Space Shuttle program. By 1995, Oliver put ownership into its associates’ hands by becoming an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and continues its pursuit of engineered solutions that add customer value. Since then, Oliver has expanded their line of heavy-duty industrial machines with parallelogram jointers and variable speed shapers – two more innovations by Oliver to increase customer value and delight customers.

Achievement and Honors

Oliver has always responded to change by developing engineering solutions to increase efficiency for their customers. They adapted with each era, from providing bread slicers during the Great Depression and specialty bandsaws for cutting aluminum and steel during World War II to large capacity wood lathes used to turn patterns for missile nose cones as well as special machines used for creating tiles for Space Shuttle missions.

Contract Machining was added in the 1950s to reduce downtime for its customers and continues to adapt with customer needs over time. Today, employee-owners enjoy participating in its success while upholding its founders’ focus on customers and quality; with innovative approaches such as system robotics integration offering solutions.

Personal Life

Oliver machines were widely known in woodworking shops, pattern makers’ lathes, millwork schools and trade schools. Oliver produced everything from small “junior” lathes to enormous faceplate lathes such as this 62-foot Oliver that could accommodate workpieces of up to 100 inches diameter.

Oliver manufactured other machinery as well, such as electric glue pots and planer/jointer knives as well as metal lathes. Furthermore, Oliver designed and constructed a special wooden lathe to turn patterns for missile nose cones as well as one to cut tiles used in Space Shuttle programs.

Fink, who inherited Oliver’s drawings, patterns, documents and machine inventory, now fields calls from woodworkers and shop teachers using old Oliver machines from Grand Rapids. Often he can find replacement parts despite it having been decades or centuries since their original production in Grand Rapids.

Net Worth

Oliver Woodworking Machine Company manufactured an array of woodworking machines, such as table, band and miter saws; shapers; shapers, tenoners mortisers mortisers and sanders – and even its lathe line was an important contributor. Oliver’s machines could be found both pattern shops as well as public and trade schools across North America.

Oliver Model 94 medium-duty lathes could be equipped with rack-feed carriages surmounted by compound slide rests for precise wood turning patterns and light metal turning, including light missile nose cone production. Their part numbers were unique as they began with model number, dash and part number – this made locating parts even after long storage easier.

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