I need a bigger lathe... - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-25-2010, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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I need a bigger lathe...

So this isn't more of a question, but just a rant...

I've been working with my midi lathe for about 2 years. It works great for pens and does the job for small bowls and other items. But I hate that I can only go about 9 inches in Dia... and if I have a 6" bowl blank that is slightly out of round it makes the whole lathe shake. The 1/2HP motor is underpowered so that i can't take a full cut with the bowl gouge, even on green wood. So it probably takes me 4x longer to rough a bowl then it should.

What I really want is a VS lathe with a 16" swing... or even bigger for the few times in my life that I want to make a ridiculously sized 20" bowl... If anyone is looking to get ride of a giant lathe... let me know! I'll even clear out some of my lumber to make room for it in the garage!

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post #2 of 9 Old 04-25-2010, 12:50 PM
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I went throught the same thing. I started with a jet 10" midi. I had the bed extension on it so I was able to turn some longer projects. I ended up buying a jet 1642. I lucked out a couple of years ago when rocklers ran them on sale one weekend for 1295.00 + 100 rebate, so it ended up costing me 1195. I think now they are around 1800. You might keep an eye out for a used one. It has a 1 1/2 hp motor, variable speed and works very well. Good luck,
Mike Hawkins
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-25-2010, 02:28 PM
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Watch the auctions, CL and the Bay for a second hand iron bed full size lathe. I see these come up all the time at near scrap iron prices. Many, if not most, will be 3 phase machines which further drives down the price since 3 ph intimidates most. But a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) will give you 3ph power with variable speed control for around $100 or less depending on horsepower. For things like a lathe, band saw or shaper a VFD makes sense over an RPC and it opens the world of 3 phase machines to you. Something to consider.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-25-2010, 05:53 PM
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It's a common ailment. I had a Shopsmith. The lathe is one of the weakest points of that machine so I bought a Delta 46-700. I thought it was OK but it walked all over the shop with anything that was out of balance and the pulleys broke fairly often.
In an emergency when the Delta was down I bought a Nova Comet which was the precurser for all the mini lathes. 10 swing 1/2 horse motor but this thing ran so much smoother than my Delta my turning improved overnight. It still walked with out of balance stuff but everything else worked great.
I bought a J-line cast iron 12" x 36" lathe that was in parts. I managed to get it up and running. It was much heavier and but had a single speed motor that was hard to change belts on. I added a 1 horse DC motor (state of the art back then). I was still frustrated by the 12" swing so I added a couple of inches using wooden spacers. It worked but caused some chatter due to vibration between the wood and metal surfaces. It made me want a bigger lathe.
I bought a Nova 3000. 16" swing and added 2 bed extensions. Built a huge sand filled wooden box to put it on. It worked well except it tended to vibrate. I think it was the wood to metal thing again. I turned a lot of stuff with it but you know how it goes. We always want something bigger so I saved and saved and ordered a Powermatic 3520.
The powermatic has 2 horse VFD motor. The lathe weights 700 lbs and I added another 300 in gravel to it. I had my fill of large things now and I think I 've gotten over it. I can't sell big bowls. They take 3 or 4 times as long to make and are actually dangerous to make. I still love the lathe. It's just super sweet for turning 12" and under bowls and vessels which I can sell.
I still have the Nova Comet along with a Carbo-Tec mini, a foot powered spring pole lathe, a Dremel mini, a very small and cheap spindle lathe that was probably treadle driven, a 50's model Delta hobby crafter lathe (which is for sale, cheap) and a Smithy Lathe/mill.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-25-2010, 08:27 PM
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I feel your pain

I have an el cheapo lathe that can theoretically turn a 12" piece but it is way underpowered and can't handle even the slightest imbalance at that size. I would give anything for a big heavy powerful lathe. I know I could cut my time in half with something better. I am keeping an eye on Craig's list but haven't seen anything yet.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-26-2010, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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sounds like you have a nice collection of lathes. Do you still use your Powermatic?

Yesterday my lathe went on the frits... it might just be the switch, I'll have to try and take it apart early this week and see if I can fix it... if not I might be getting a new lathe sooner rather then later....

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-26-2010, 02:40 PM
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I use the powermatic for everything but I'm going to start using the Nova more for small stuff. It's just so easy to move the tool rest, stop the lathe for inspection of the piece, etc. I turned 6 boxes on it this last weekend and had forgotten how nice that lathe is. Very similar to the 10" jet minis but with a bed extension.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-26-2010, 06:05 PM
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I need a bigger lathe

I have the 1624,true its not a VS,but I don't mind that as the belt is super easy to change.I turned an 18" bowl on it once just to see if it would do it and it handled it just fine,plenty of power.If you have to save a bit to get a bigger one,then do it and if you think you have found a good deal on one,but not sure,try and find someone to go look at it with you before you buy.Good luck.

God Bless all
Ken Ward
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-27-2010, 08:15 PM
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Dvoigt, i think we all have been there, but get what you want the frist time instead of the way i did. i have up graded lathes many times though out the years, i have had clark, rockwell, delta, jet, just to name some and finialy end up with a Oneway 24/36 3hp, with all the money i spent the others i could have came close to buying 2 Oneways. good luck


"Just because your not bleeding, don't mean your turning safely"..
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