How old is your son? If he is very young, consider a scroll saw first, before a lathe.
One feature I would want on any lathe would be variable speed with an electronic speed adjustment knob. It is incredibly helpful to adjust or even tweak speed on the fly. The least expensive lathes I have seen are missing variable speed control. They are limited to a few speeds only (usually 5). Changing belts on them is inconvenient.
I have noticed that some lower end lathes look like they are made in the same factory. They all seem to have the same headstock shape and cheap looking, inconvenient flap/doors for changing the pulley belts. It is those inconvenient belt changes that I don't like. The lowest end lacks variable speed but has five pulley speeds only. The next models appear to be the same, except they include variable speed and an RPM readout. They have three pulley settings, but the variable speed is what matters. I have used several of those lathes, and they would be a fine choice for beginners, but I don't like the belt changing on them.
I bought a used Delta 46-460 midi lathe about a year ago for $350. The seller included the stand and an extension bed with its stand (not currently installed). It looks nearly identical to the current model Jet 1221vs lathe, down to the color of the paint. You can see that the unusual shape of the molded plastic pulley covers are identical, leading me to believe that they are essentially the same model made in the same factory. The newer Jet has several improvements over my older Delta. I like my Delta lathe - it works well for me and I think it would be a good lathe for a beginner. Belt changes are easy.
If I wanted a midi lathe that I could grow into for a long time, where price is no object, I would choose the new Laguna REVO 12|16. It is small, but mighty.
Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 08-20-2019 at 03:44 AM.