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post #1 of 12 Old 01-11-2010, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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good first lathe?

Ok I am not sure if this goes here or in power tools but,

I am considering getting the wife a lathe. I have never done much turning but she tried pen turning at an expo we went to last year and was pretty excited about it. I figure I might be able to use this as a back door to get her into woodworking :). What is a decent inexpensive lathe for pen turning and maybe I would try some bowl turning? It doesnt need to be top of the line because if either one of us does get into it we would keep it as a spare and buy a good one (we dont share well)
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-12-2010, 01:54 AM
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Why not check out the lathes at Harbor Freight and Grizzly. Both have bench top models under $200.
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-12-2010, 08:34 AM
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Another place I would check is . If pen turning is where you want to start, they have everything you will need stat to finish. Their prices are pretty good as well. I buy all my pen kits and such from them.

Assumption is the mother of all foul -ups
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-12-2010, 01:51 PM
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Speaking as a woman who is just starting to turn (my first project is on the lathe now!), I have a cheapo from Harbor Freight. The 4 jaw chuck with individual reversible jaws is $35 for the $100 table top lathe we got from them a few years ago. That alone is cheaper than the chuck alone was at Woodcraft. Its got a bit more vibration than I'd like and it doesn't go quite as fast as I'd like, but it's great for just starting. If you can get her into a local class though, I'd recommend it so she can learn to use the tools the right way instead of screwing them up, like I'm probably doing. Plus I've heard of a lot of people upgrading to Jets later on and keeping the cheapos as their finishing station.

Best of luck!

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post #5 of 12 Old 01-12-2010, 02:31 PM
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My advice would be to look into your local turning club before you spend any money. Visit a couple of their meetings and talk to other turners. You'll learn a lot. Check here for a list of clubs.

Personally I would avoid anything from Harbor Freight. No offense or disrespect intended to those who own them but they were not designed by woodturners and it shows. Underpowered motors, odd (even unsafe) speed ranges, poor castings, and non-standard components are just a few things to consider. Many Grizzly lathe models also suffer from these ailments.

Safety is always my first concern. Far too many "budget" lathes have too high of a minimum speed for safely turning larger objects such as bowls. Ideally you want something in the 500 RPM range or lower.

Upgradeability would be the next consideration on my list. Look for a lathe that uses standard component sizes so you won't have to replace accessories if or when you upgrade to a full-size lathe. For example, MT#2 is the "standard" taper size on most lathes. 1"x8TPI is the most common spindle thread size on mini- and mid-range lathes.

I do fully agree with starting on a mini. They're a great entry point into turning for minimal investment. You mentioned that if one of you like turning you would probably upgrade later. More than likely this upgrade will involve going from a mini lathe to a full-size lathe. You'll probably still want to keep the mini as has been suggested. They're that good.

A few nice mini lathes to use as your "yardstick" in measuring others:

1) Jet 1220 - One of the best-in-class (IMO) but pricey.
2) Rikon 70-100 - Well built and a very good value in a non-VS lathe.
3) Rikon 70-200EVS - New model, EVS, looks good but no track record yet.
4) Jet 1014 - Comes in both VS and non-VS. Smaller capacity than its big brother but still a great little lathe.
5) Delta 46-460 - Newer model, short track record but getting great reviews. Pricey but still a lot of mini lathe for the money.

Check here for an extensive list of new lathes. Hopefully it will give you something to chew on.

Sorry so long-winded. Hope that helps!

Last edited by Neal Addy; 01-12-2010 at 03:09 PM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-13-2010, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Neal Addy View Post
Personally I would avoid anything from Harbor Freight. No offense or disrespect intended to those who own them but they were not designed by woodturners and it shows.
No offense taken. I bought the lathe about 4 years ago when my husband expressed interest. I had no clue and very little money. He used it twice, so I'm glad I didn't go for anything better. Since I switch hobbies about as fast as I switch underwear, I'm not ready to pour more money into a better system. However, I will say this: So far, I am LOVING turning far better than any other hobby I've started before (trust me, there are A LOT!), so maybe a Jet will be on my Christmas list next year!

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post #7 of 12 Old 01-13-2010, 08:25 PM
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Post If you don't like turning and change your mind~

you will be able to sell the Jet or any other respectable wood turning lathe for just under what you paid for it- you buy that HF lathe- you will have to practically give it away- something to think about??????
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-16-2010, 03:17 PM
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I bought my first mini lathe and have had it for about 1 year. It is a turncrafterplus mini lathe for about $250. I have been happy with it, but I have never tried anything esle.
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-19-2010, 06:27 AM
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I used 2 12 x 14 jets the are the same as Grizzly ver. they work great and have done more than i ever thought HR, Grizz. jet all are made in Seng (sp) China just some are a bit cleaner

Hess do get a set of good tools my set i use for pen making coast 125 Scorby but never let me down
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-19-2010, 04:43 PM
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For an INEXPENSIVE starter PEN lathe, the TurnCrafter from is your best option. It is made for pens and you CAN do some small bowls if you want to try that out.

If you like it, then you can move up into the Jet/Rikon range.... then the PowerMatic/Nova Range...

Be careful, you may get sucked in!

I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-24-2010, 04:54 PM
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I have had a Jet 1014 for about six years and it is fantastic. I recently bought the extension for it so I could turn peppermills. I have used this tool alot and never had a problem. I think they go for about $350.00. Worth the price.
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post #12 of 12 Old 02-09-2010, 03:12 PM
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I'm trying to decide between the Jet JWL-1236 and JWL-1220. If I were to purchase the 1220 and get a bed extension or even stand, I'd quickly surprise the price of the JWL-1236. I'm guessing they're almost identical from a design perspective.
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