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post #1 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Considering My First Lathe

I am considering buying my first benchtop lathe. The lathe I am looking at is a harbor freight model #65345, Which is what I can afford. https://www.harborfreight.com/5-spee...the-65345.html

The Harbor Freight lathe is identical to the lathe sold by Grizzly tools and others for more money.

I will use this for turning small handles, knobs, and basic things under 18" long and less than 10" in diameter. The lathe comes with a spur drive center and a live center for the tailstock. It also comes with a faceplate. I know I may need to add other accessories like a drill chuck to drill holes centered into the turnings. I already have a set of lathe tools that were my Fathers.

I was looking at the adjustable (nova) type chucks sold at Grizzly that seem to fit this HF lathe and was wondering, How beneficial are they? Is it worth the extra expense for this type of chuck? I guess I am asking why would I want one? The last time I used a lathe was in school about 45 years ago, at that time adjustable chucks were only on metal lathes. Are there other accessories I should be looking at?


For now, if I buy the HF lathe...I don't want to miss out on any essential features that may not be available latter on. Any advise will be appreciated.

Gary

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post #2 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 11:47 AM
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A 4 jaw scroll chuck is an immensely useful accessory that you really can't do certain things without. Holding something while drilling a hole for instance. You can get by without one if you're only doing basic spindle work but as you try different projects you'll get to the point where you'll want one. You don't have to spend megabucks on a Nova - I'm using one of the Barracuda chucks from Penn State and I'm happy with it.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #3 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 02:23 PM
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google 'longworth chuck' there are many diy options

how-to-make-a-longworth-chuck/
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post #4 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 02:45 PM
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The Longworth style of chuck is very nice for light sanding and finish finish sanding


A 4 jaw chuck like you are looking at is also a very useful tool, I held off buying one and after I got it I wish I wouldn't have been such a tight wad


When I was in shop class about 50 years ago they had some chucks that were labeled Rockwell Delta, that were 4 jaw chucks, but they weren't self centering, you had to adjust each jaw at a time, I used it some and that was the reason I was hesitant about buying one, but the new ones are self centering, much mo better

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post #5 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 03:01 PM
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4 jaw chucks, 2 types!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maylar View Post
A 4 jaw scroll chuck is an immensely useful accessory that you really can't do certain things without. Holding something while drilling a hole for instance. You can get by without one if you're only doing basic spindle work but as you try different projects you'll get to the point where you'll want one. You don't have to spend megabucks on a Nova - I'm using one of the Barracuda chucks from Penn State and I'm happy with it.
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The Longworth style of chuck is very nice for light sanding and finish finish sanding


A 4 jaw chuck like you are looking at is also a very useful tool, I held off buying one and after I got it I wish I wouldn't have been such a tight wad


When I was in shop class about 50 years ago they had some chucks that were labeled Rockwell Delta, that were 4 jaw chucks, but they weren't self centering, you had to adjust each jaw at a time, I used it some and that was the reason I was hesitant about buying one, but the new ones are self centering, much mo better

A scroll type chuck has an internal scroll or wheel that moves all the jaws at once, as you tighten the T handle. Typically they have 3 jaws. An independant jaw style of chuck requires you to adjust each jaw separately. Typically they have 4 jaws. This allows you to very precisely center a piece, for instance when metal working.
There are combination chucks which have the best of both worlds, but they are EXPENSIVE! I believe the combination types come in 3 and 4 jaw versions.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-26-2018 at 03:11 PM.
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post #6 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 04:11 PM
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Wood lathes use 4 jaw

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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
A scroll type chuck has an internal scroll or wheel that moves all the jaws at once, as you tighten the T handle. Typically they have 3 jaws. An independant jaw style of chuck requires you to adjust each jaw separately. Typically they have 4 jaws. This allows you to very precisely center a piece, for instance when metal working.
There are combination chucks which have the best of both worlds, but they are EXPENSIVE! I believe the combination types come in 3 and 4 jaw versions.
There are 4 jaw scroll chucks. That's what you'll see when you look at wood lathe chucks. Metal turners deal with hex stock, thus 3 jaws. We deal with square stock - and need 4 jaws.
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 04:25 PM
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you are correct but ......

That's why I said "typically'....
Metal working requires precise centering and 3 jaw scroll chucks do not allow for that, where a 3 jaw "combination" chuck does. I use my 4 jaw independent chuck for "precise" centering meaning zero runout, of rounds, or square or uneven shape objects.
My 3 jaw scroll chuck can only be used on rounds and hex shaped pieces. It is good for "quick and dirty" turning where you can start out with a scrap round, make your turnings and part it off but maintain total accuracy IF you do not remove the piece from the chuck. Doing so would create a new off center relationship on the piece.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #8 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
A scroll type chuck has an internal scroll or wheel that moves all the jaws at once, as you tighten the T handle. Typically they have 3 jaws. An independant jaw style of chuck requires you to adjust each jaw separately. Typically they have 4 jaws. This allows you to very precisely center a piece, for instance when metal working.
There are combination chucks which have the best of both worlds, but they are EXPENSIVE! I believe the combination types come in 3 and 4 jaw versions.



I have a 4 jaw 20 inch chuck for my Axelson engine lathe, damned thing weighs about 200-250 LBS


But an independent 4 jaw chuck can do things a 4 jaw scrolling chuck can't


I can't remember what I paid for the 4 inch I use for wood turning, but it wasn't that steep, with the three optional jaws it was under $200, not much but it wasn't that bad


One word of warning though, one day I was being lazy (actually I thought it would work) I was real close to getting the piece I was turning chucked up, then all the jaws fell out, I had sheared the little roll pin that was supposed to stop you from doing that, it was a PITA to get the jaws back in the right scrolls exactly where they were supposed to be


So just a word of caution, don't try to open the chuck to far

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post #9 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 06:17 PM
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Combination chucks

Here's a combination chuck that weighs only 124 lbs:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bison-12-4-...sRet:rk:3:pf:0

FWIW, I did empty out all the jaws on my chuck and had to watch You Tube to get them back in. They used a large rubber band to hold them while you cranked the T handle. Worked like a charm.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-26-2018 at 06:21 PM.
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post #10 of 22 Old 10-26-2018, 10:38 PM
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Okay, let's get back on track. @gmercer_48083 (Gary) is considering a small, budget wood lathe. He asked about a chuck and probably is not interested in one that weighs more than 100 pounds. Here are my responses:

The Harbor Freight lathe looks identical to the Excelsior lathes that I have seen. I know several people who have the Excelsior lathes, and they are all pleased with them.
https://www.harborfreight.com/5-spee...the-65345.html
https://www.rockler.com/excelsior-mini-lathe

The Excelsior lathe is a good starter lathe. I wish it had a variable speed control, which I find useful. You can change speeds, but it requires a belt change, which is inconvenient. Still, it is a good value and will serve you well.

The Harbor Freight and Excelsior lathes have the same fittings:

-> Morris Taper #2 (MT2) tapers on both headstock and tailstock.

-> The head has 1 inch x 8 TPI threads.


If you buy one, you will need the above info frequently.

Most people who are doing wood turning today are buying four-jaw, self-centering chucks. When you buy a chuck for your lathe, that's the kind you want. Don't get a chuck with independent jaws.

A lathe chuck can be used mostly for face turning objects like bowls and platters. (Compare it with "spindle turning.") The jaws have a slight dovetail angle to them, which lets them expand into a recess that you make in the base of the bowl, or contract around a tenon that sticks out from the base of the bowl. Either way works.

The four jaws attach to the jaw slides with small screws. Once you have the basic chuck, you can buy many sizes and styles of jaws to use with it.

I have a Nova G3 30th Anniversary chuck set, which is supposedly a limited edition. It will fit the Harbor Freight lathe. I bought it because it comes with a variety of popular jaw sizes in a nice plastic case. I worry that it might be too expensive for Gary, who is on a tight budget.

https://www.teknatool.com/product/no...-chuck-bundle/

I bought the pen jaws for it, and really like them. Even better, they fit inside the plastic case with the other chuck parts.

https://www.teknatool.com/product/nova-pen-plus-jaws/

I became aware of the Nova G3 30th Anniversary set last Spring, but I didn't own a lathe at the time. When I got a lathe a few months ago, the sets were gone. I found one seller that must have had overstock and bought one of the last ones available at the time.

The funny thing is that they came back again recently, but it appears that they are starting to disappear again, too. If you want one, grab it now. I have no idea if this is a recurring theme, or they will go away for good.

Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 10-26-2018 at 10:43 PM.
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post #11 of 22 Old 10-27-2018, 10:47 AM
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And it's on sale...

https://www.rockler.com/nova-30th-an...RoCFEwQAvD_BwE

Dave in CT, USA
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post #12 of 22 Old 10-27-2018, 02:50 PM
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I see a vendor at a Christmas Market every year with that Harbor Freight lathe. He turns 7 inch high little Christmas trees for $10 each and turns them out, from open to close, about one every 5 minutes. He removed the tail stock from the lathe. He uses a cup chuck. Generally just a cup shaped piece that screws on the spindle with a small hole where it draws up against the hollow head spindle. He uses 1.5 inch square bass wood stock. All very uniform. He uses a heavy mallet and drives the stock into the cup chuck. and then turns the tree using only a skew chisel. After he parts off the tree, he uses the knock out bar to push out the stubb from the cup chuck and then starts over again., My point, is that that cheap Harbor freight lathe with Chinese bearings, stands up to that amount of pounding to "swage" the square stock into that round cup chuck hole. I have seen the guy pound the stock in without stopping the lathe. Now I suppose that cup chuck has been figured to be made just for that size stock and just right for the compression of bass wood, so maybe the pounding is not as bad as it looks. But I have seen the guy there 4 years in a row, with what appears to be the same harbor freight lathe set up the same way. That says something to me about the sturdiness of that little lathe. I have the smaller one that they used to sell, sold under other names, Mine says Turncrafter on it. It has a variable speed motor. It is fine with a spur drive and reasonable size stock. If I mount the Nova G-3 chuck on it, it is slow starting from the inertia of the chuck weight. Same for shutting it down. I don't know if that would be a problem with the 5 spd the OP is considering.
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post #13 of 22 Old 10-27-2018, 03:05 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! All of you have been great! For now I'll be getting the lathe from HF and the 1/2" Jacobs chuck w/morse taper#2. I still will need a full face shield. I've been looking at you tube videos and would like to get a 4 jaw chuck, but have to wait awhile. My initial concern was whether this particular HF lathe used standard size accessories...and apparently it does. Variable speed is nice to have, but I feel the added electronics over complicate the process, so belt speed adjustments are good enough. I see from the you tube videos, that when the wood catches the cutting tool that the lathe stops spinning in some cases. I would think that when that happens it could damage the spindle/morse taper if is slipping there...or is it slipping at the belt? I would think if it catches and something didn't slip that the drive spur would tear up the wood...or am I missing something?

I want to say thanks to everyone for your great advise, it is certainly appreciated! Gary.

Gary

Woodworking is like wetting myself....Only I know that warm feeling!
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post #14 of 22 Old 10-28-2018, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
Wow! All of you have been great! For now I'll be getting the lathe from HF and the 1/2" Jacobs chuck w/morse taper#2. I still will need a full face shield. I've been looking at you tube videos and would like to get a 4 jaw chuck, but have to wait awhile. My initial concern was whether this particular HF lathe used standard size accessories...and apparently it does. Variable speed is nice to have, but I feel the added electronics over complicate the process, so belt speed adjustments are good enough.
The #2 MT and 1"-8 threads are by far the most popular, and will give you access to any accessory you would want.

Speed selection by belt is fine, though the minimum speed of 750 RPM will relegate the lathe to spindle work. You could turn a small bowl if the blank was well balanced first. My lathe is 550 RPM minimum and I've often wished it was slower.


Quote:
I see from the you tube videos, that when the wood catches the cutting tool that the lathe stops spinning in some cases. I would think that when that happens it could damage the spindle/morse taper if is slipping there...or is it slipping at the belt? I would think if it catches and something didn't slip that the drive spur would tear up the wood...or am I missing something?
Yep. A catch can be scary. There are spur drive centers that are designed to slip (Google "steb drive center"), but a regular 4 spur center will tear up the workpiece. And something attached to a faceplate will grab your tool without mercy. Belts don't slip.

Quote:
I want to say thanks to everyone for your great advise, it is certainly appreciated! Gary.
You will discover that turning is the most fun you can have with wood.

Dave in CT, USA
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post #15 of 22 Old 10-28-2018, 10:18 AM
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Are you sure the lathe stops turning? I am very new to turning, but when I see the wood stop spinning, the lathe keeps going. It has happened to me many times:

* When pen turning, the small knurled screw was not tightened sufficiently. The pen mandrel spun, but the wood pen blank did not, hung up on the gouge.

* When spindle turning, the spur center was not tight enough in the end of the wood. The spur center would twirl, but the wood was hung up on the gouge. I may have solved the problem by buying a new, sharp spur. I think the old one that came with my used lathe might not have been sharp enough to grip well. Another possible cause was not tightening the tailstock enough. You must tighten the tailstock enough to hold the wood well and safely, but over-tightening the tailstock puts wear and tear on your lathe bearings and motor.

If you are sure that the lathe headstock itself stopped turning, then your question about belt slipping vs. motor overloaded is a good one. My Delta 46-460 lathe uses the weight of the motor to tension the belt. I imagine that the belt would slip first if the wood were stuck, but I can easily imagine the motor being overloaded and stuck on other lathes if the belt was tight, snug, and new.

Either way, the solution is the same. Pull the gouge away and turn off the lathe. Inspect the parts and if necessary, adjust or tighten your setup. Try again. It may be that the lathe is underpowered for whatever it is that you are cutting.

It may also be that your gouges, scrapers, etc. need a good sharpening. The joy of having and using sharp turning tools is a sight to behold!

It is possible that the tapered end is not snug in the taper, but this is not common. If the taper itself is not gripping well, there should not be damage unless there is grit or some other foreign substance inside. As long as the taper is smooth and clean, it will be okay. Just reseat the taper.

Be sure you are wearing all the safety equipment.

Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 10-28-2018 at 10:21 AM. Reason: Added response regarding the taper.
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post #16 of 22 Old 10-28-2018, 05:35 PM
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These centers work very well, and especially for starting out, the are a little high priced but well worth it. It will teach you about being careful and avoiding catches, but if you have a catch it will easily slip before doing any damage to the piece, the lathe and yourself


https://oneway.ca/index.php?route=pr...=59_75_107_121

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post #17 of 22 Old 10-28-2018, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catpower View Post
These centers work very well, and especially for starting out, the are a little high priced but well worth it. It will teach you about being careful and avoiding catches, but if you have a catch it will easily slip before doing any damage to the piece, the lathe and yourself


https://oneway.ca/index.php?route=pr...=59_75_107_121
Thanks for the post. I see some of these drive centers have a point and spring and others do not. What is the difference?

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #18 of 22 Old 10-29-2018, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
I see from the you tube videos, that when the wood catches the cutting tool that the lathe stops spinning in some cases. I would think that when that happens it could damage the spindle/morse taper if is slipping there...or is it slipping at the belt? I would think if it catches and something didn't slip that the drive spur would tear up the wood...or am I missing something?

I think Maylar answered my question...The belt should be tight, the morse taper should be set, and to have the safest type of catch would be by using a safety drive center (which allows it to stop without the spit from blowing the wood out). Kinda like a dead center on the drive head and a live center on the tail end.

I was trying to figure out what I was seeing in a you tube video. Clearly they were using a safety drive center, but didn't show that in the video I saw.


Anyway I bought the HF lathe, it comes fully assembled right out of the box. It has MT2 tapers on both the spindle quill and the head stock ends. It comes with a spur drive center and a live tailstock center. It comes with a faceplate (aprox 3-1/2") that threads to the headstock using a 1"-8tpi thread. It is belt driven (5 speed) using an ultra v-band type belt (not a v-belt). The whole lathe seems to be cast iron including the banjo, which uses a cam action to lock it to the bed...but the tool rest post is locked to the banjo using a set screw with an adjustable handle to change the height. The tool rest is about 6" wide and is also cast iron. The tailstock height is perfectly aligned with the headstock...but there is still play in the "Z" direction, so I will have to find out why and correct that. I also bought the optional 1/2" Jacobs style chuck MT2 for the tailstock from HF. The lathe is about 75 pounds and sits nicely on the bench on rubber feet. My first impression when I turned it on was...How quiet the lathe is when running. Overall I am happy with this lathe.


I fastened a 3/4" thick plywood to the faceplate with 4 #8 screws, and trued it to the diameter and face, then drilled a 3/16 hole through the center for a screw. I then screwed it to a pine block and turned it into mushroom style handle as a test handle for a birdcage awl. It went well with no incidents. I am going to turn a MT2 taper on an oak spindle to use as a cleanout tool for the spindles on this lathe next.
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post #19 of 22 Old 10-29-2018, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmercer_48083 View Post
Quote:
I see from the you tube videos, that when the wood catches the cutting tool that the lathe stops spinning in some cases. I would think that when that happens it could damage the spindle/morse taper if is slipping there...or is it slipping at the belt? I would think if it catches and something didn't slip that the drive spur would tear up the wood...or am I missing something?

I think Maylar answered my question...The belt should be tight, the morse taper should be set, and to have the safest type of catch would be by using a safety drive center (which allows it to stop without the spit from blowing the wood out). Kinda like a dead center on the drive head and a live center on the tail end.

I was trying to figure out what I was seeing in a you tube video. Clearly they were using a safety drive center, but didn't show that in the video I saw.


Anyway I bought the HF lathe, it comes fully assembled right out of the box. It has MT2 tapers on both the spindle quill and the head stock ends. It comes with a spur drive center and a live tailstock center. It comes with a faceplate (aprox 3-1/2") that threads to the headstock using a 1"-8tpi thread. It is belt driven (5 speed) using an ultra v-band type belt (not a v-belt). The whole lathe seems to be cast iron including the banjo, which uses a cam action to lock it to the bed...but the tool rest post is locked to the banjo using a set screw with an adjustable handle to change the height. The tool rest is about 6" wide and is also cast iron. The tailstock height is perfectly aligned with the headstock...but there is still play in the "Z" direction, so I will have to find out why and correct that. I also bought the optional 1/2" Jacobs style chuck MT2 for the tailstock from HF. The lathe is about 75 pounds and sits nicely on the bench on rubber feet. My first impression when I turned it on was...How quiet the lathe is when running. Overall I am happy with this lathe.


I fastened a 3/4" thick plywood to the faceplate with 4 #8 screws, and trued it to the diameter and face, then drilled a 3/16 hole through the center for a screw. I then screwed it to a pine block and turned it into mushroom style handle as a test handle for a birdcage awl. It went well with no incidents. I am going to turn a MT2 taper on an oak spindle to use as a cleanout tool for the spindles on this lathe next.

Gary, you went right to work. Looks like your first project was a great success.

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #20 of 22 Old 10-29-2018, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Yea, Just got started...had to stop to go to a birthday party. Want to get going today...but Dr appt. Oh well, I'll take my time and do a little at a time and be safe. I also want to make hammer handles...where the spindle is offset to make the handles oval shaped.

Gary

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