Beginner Lathe - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-13-2020, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Beginner Lathe

So I am recently retired and new to woodworking. I want to get a wood turning lathe to turn some bowls etc.
Any recommendation for a beginner lathe, brand, model accessories?

Thanks for your recommendations.
Rob

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post #2 of 11 Old 08-13-2020, 10:14 PM
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Welcome to the forum, Rob? What's your budget for the lathe and are you looking for a bench top lathe or floor model? That will help get better responses.

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post #3 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Well I don't have a specific budget. I guess I am interested in a mid to upper level hobbyist lathe. As far as floor or bench top, I am thinking a floor model may allow for larger projects, so I guess that would be my preference. That said, I am interested in advice from those who have either type of lathe. At this point, I am in “learning mode” so any advice would be appreciated,
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 01:03 AM
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The one feature I would insist on would be a built-in electronic variable speed control. There are many fine lathes that you could choose. Most of them have continuously variable speed control. Price generally reflects quality - you get what you pay for.

Some "beginner lathes" change between five fixed speeds by moving the belt between pulley wheels - I recommend that you avoid them. The lathes with variable speed control also use belt/pulley changes to select speed ranges, but the speed adjustment knob makes all the difference.

Budget a lot of money for turning tools, a four-jaw chuck, and other lathe accessories. You may want to choose between high speed steel (HSS) turning tools and/or carbide turning tools. I have both and use them both. There are lots of threads here about HSS vs. carbide, do some searching here and on the web.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 08:41 AM
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P.S. If you are interested in turning bowls, here is a good website to get you started:
https://turnawoodbowl.com
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 03:11 PM
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It is easy to spend $300 or $3,000 just on a lathe. Tools and accessories generally add as much or more than the lathe. Also, a lathe may be 12 inch, but unless you have a bandsaw for rounding the blanks, you will do well to get a 10 inch blank onto a 12 inch lathe. A starter than is low but reasonable quality is the 12 x 34 at Harbor Freight. It has few bells and whistles and the lowest speed is 600 rpms. Not really suited for bowls up to 12 inches. But does what most beginners ask of it. Not bad for a "get your feet wet cheap" alternative. From there, you can get any number of "better" lathes with bells and whistles, but keep in mind, many such latches come out of the same factory in China as the HF, with a different color paint and slightly different options and better fit and finish. If you want to be the center of Tool Envy, you could just go out and get an American Beauty Lathe for 8K. An observation made by a rifle coach years ago seems applicable to turning as well. He said a good marksman can shoot a good score with any gun. A terrible markman shoots only slightly better then terrible with the best gun. Same goes for turning. Folks have been turning for thousands of years and wood still spins. The methods of holding the wood and ways to change speeds have changed. The tools' cutting edges have been improved. .
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 04:56 PM
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I recently upgraded from an older Sears Craftsman lathe to a Grizzly G0844. This unit is a bench sized lathe which I then built a rolling stand for it. (sorry, I can't seem to rotate the photo)

https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...od-Lathe/G0844
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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So I am looking at bench top lathes from Delta, Grizzly and Jet.
Any thoughts on these brands? Do I purchase a chuck separately from the lathe?

Tool Agnostic-Thanks for the link. Lots of good information.

Rob
Blairsville, GA
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 10:49 PM
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You say bowls. With capacity, comes price!

I have a Rikon 70-220VSR with the extension and the factory stand. It's great for furniture parts since I can turn 44" or so length, but I'm restricted to about 12" for bowls.

If you want to focus on big bowls/platters, and you're willing to spend the money, I would seriously consider the Laguna 1524 or something that has the movable headstock and the "drop" bed.

If your wife is getting in on the action, it's only a matter of time before she asks why you can't make bigger bowls.

By the way, turning takes a lot of practice, and it makes you a little bit crazy! You'd be amazed how quickly accessories add up! Chucks, chisels, gouges, grinders, chainsaws, blah, blah, blah.
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-14-2020, 11:45 PM
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Yes, chucks are separate, and those come with a bewildering array of parts and accessories!
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post #11 of 11 Old 08-15-2020, 11:39 AM
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Yes, chucks are purchased separately from the lathe. Be sure the chuck thread size matches the headstock threads. (Less common: Some chucks use adapters, where you buy a chuck and also the adapter for it that matches your headstock threads.)

The most common headstock thread size is 1 inch x 8 TPI. The benchtop lathes you are considering should all have 1 inch x 8 TPI headstock threads. (Larger lathes may come with 1-1/4 inch x 8 TPI.)

Lathes also have tapers on both ends. The tapers are used for other accessories like drive spurs and live centers for spindle turning. The most common taper size is Morse Taper 2, also known as MT2. The benchtop lathes you are considering should all have MT2 tapers. (You may find one with MT1 tapers. That's okay, but not the best choice.)

Please do your homework regarding turning tools.

High speed steel (HSS) turning tools come in different types. Common HSS turning tools include bowl gouges, roughing gouges, spindle gouges, skew chisels, parting tools, and various sizes and shapes of scrapers. What they all have in common is that they need frequent sharpening. Woodturners often stop turning to give their tool a quick touch up on the sharpener. If you buy HSS turning tools, you MUST have a sharpener for them. They may not be sharp from the factory, and won't stay sharp for long, especially for a beginner.

I recommend a low speed grinder and the Wolverine jigs. (I get by with a Grizzly wet grinder and Tormek jigs, but wish I had the low speed grinder and Wolverine jigs instead.)

The other choice is carbide. Carbide turning tools use replaceable carbide tips which last a long time. The manufacturers expect you to replace the tips when they get dull, but you can touch them up on diamond stones. The handle tips and the carbide cutter shapes are specific to each other - you can't attach a round cutter to a square-radius handle tip. Popular carbide turning tool cutter shapes are round, square-radius, square, and diamond. There are others. I recommend square-radius over square. Carbide turning tools are all considered "scrapers."

Some people have strong opinions about HSS vs. carbide. I do not. I use both kinds of tools and like both kinds of tools. Both offer their own "fun factors", and it is the fun that counts, right?
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