The Restoration of an Old A.B. Knight Glass Engraving/Cutting Lathe

Copyright 2015 by James P. Riser



The A.B. Knight lathe was the "gold standard" for glass engraving and cutting lathes. It was made in Fairmont, West Virginia - the heart of American glassaking. It is an industrial machine built to last through the rigors of factory work. I first saw this lathe around 1976 when visiting glass engravers and factories throughout Ohio and West Virginia. Now in 2015 this very lathe is mine and I am restoring it for many more years of reliable use. The lathe came with this assortment of stone wheels.

The glass marking turntable shown below was included with the lathe - a few rust spots but still very useable.

The A.B. Knight lathe weighs around 550 pounds and is very difficult to move. It was disassembled for transport from West Virginia to its current home in Tucson, Arizona. The pictures below show some of the reassembly steps.


The lathe baseplate is very heavy and needed wheels to make the reassembly easier.


Shown below are the main spindle 8 step cone pulley, the counter shaft pulley, the 5" wide ring oiling babbitt bearings, the top plate, the water box supports, and a couple extra spindle extensions.


The lathe uprights and the counter shaft with its pulley were bolted into position.


The top plate was bolted onto the uprights.


The 8 step huge top pulley and lathe spindle were lowered into position.


The bearings were bolted to the top plate, belt installed, and things aligned.


The water box arms were installed.

The headstock bearings needed cleaning (see top left below). The old oil residue ws removed, the oil slinger grooves cleaned, and the oil changed. There was virtually no wear on the bearings and all of the original shims were still present.


The wheels were moved to their final position after trimming the counter shaft bearing block.


Clean up on the machine has begun...

After some cleaning and machining, the extension shown below on the left ended up looking as shown on the right - good a new.

Both of the bearings on the counter pulley needed to be replaced.


New supports to raise the counter pulley were made.


This is the counter pulley assembly with the new bearings.


The assembly has been bolted to the new supports.


Another view.


The wood blocks will get removed and the motor mounted under the counter pulley.


To return to my main engraving page, click here.


More later as I get time.