Originally Posted by OkieDave
Most everybody does, though it's generally called "split phase." Power is supplied on two lines 180° out of phase at 120V each; when measured between the two legs ("phases"), you get 240V. When measured between one leg and ground, you get 120V. The 120V circuits throughout your house are each on one leg (half) of the 240V circuit coming in (roughly balanced across the two); the 240V lines (stove/oven, electric dryer, etc.) are on both legs.
To add to this, there are a couple ways to get 3 Phase out. There are simple and cheap Phase Convertors which are basically some simple electronics and capacitors. These can run a motor at 2/3 rated horsepower. Good for low HP, low work load applications.
The better way is to team up the Phase Convertor with a 3 Phase Motor. The convertor is used to start the motor. The motor then generates 3 Phase power up to its rated capacity. These are called Rotary Phase Convertors.
I try to buy any equipment I can 3 Phase. Single Phase motors can "bog down" where a like rated Three Phase machine with its extra torque will not.
Great catch Scott. One of my hobbies is rescuing "old iron" and putting it back to purposeful use.
By the way, your shop was too small before you ever started. If you built it twice as big, it would be too small, three times, same.... there is no end for us machine tool heads.