Lathe to learn on... - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Lathe to learn on...

I've done some machining of steel on automotive lathes. (Brakes) but have never turned wood on a lathe. I watched my Dad do that as a kid, and I would like to learn how to. My budget for tools and equipment is getting kind of tight, and I am not 100% sure I will like turning. I was wondering if I would be able to gain good experience, and use from getting something like a Harbor Freight lathe which can be had on the ultra cheap, or should I just put the money aside for a better, more professional unit like a Jet?

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=45276

I'm not looking for prettiest, or fanciest, and I don't give two hoots about the name on the plate. I just want to know function and relaibility wise, which is the smarter move...

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 11:17 AM
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I don't know about the specific lathes you've mentioned but I'd always recommend spending more rather than less. If you find you enjoy woodturning you'll quickly find yourself hankering after something sturdier and more user-friendly than a cheapie lathe.

If you do pursue woodturning as a hobby you'll also quickly develop a burning need for a good scroll chuck and some half-decent turning tools. A good chuck and a few good quality tools will make the cost of the lathe itself a smaller fraction of your total outlay. If, a few months down the line, you find you've spent $500 on lathe, accessories and raw materials, you might wish you'd spent $100 extra on the lathe.

Woodturning is arguably more hazardous than metal turning because you're more "hands-on" with the workpiece, and better quality kit will be safer too.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 11:53 AM
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IMHO the lathe you start with will have everything to do with how far you go in this "hobby"! An el cheapo lathe will give you problems and often make you wonder why you even tried this addiction out. Lathes that run off center or have poor mounts and tool rests that won't stay put will ruin it for you. There are all kinds of decent yet inexppensive lathes out there to get a good start on. These will also take you to a point where "bigger" is the only reason you want to make a change. Look at the mini Rikon, Jet minis, steel cities. All good for about $250 and up. Good luck and hope to see you bac with lots of posts of successful projects!...Bill...
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 12:25 PM
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Get away from this lathe. This is a dangerous lathe that is OK for nothing. The slowest speed of 1125 on a 14" lathe; that Diameter X rpm on this lathe is 15750. That is way too fast (2 times) than the 6000 to 9000 recommended guide line for lathe of this swing. A flying blank is dangerous.

One of our Club member had this lathe (before he joined our Club). The head stock was made out of sheet metal, when he tried to tighten a spindle, the bed bows upward. Very poor alignment, couldn't even turn a pen. He donated to our Club; we couldn't get rid of it two years in a row.

Find a local club:
AAW Local Chapter Listing - The American Association of Woodturners
Members are upgrading all the time, you may be able to find a good used lathe cheap there. Most members already have a lathe or two; unless it is a high end lathe that everyone wants to upgrade into, there is not a lot of competition.
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Can you guys recommend a good lathe for not a lot of money? Maybe an older machine I should keep an eye for on Craigslist or the local classifieds? Like I mentioned. I do not want to spend a lot on a tool I am not sure I will use much. But if I do get into it, I think I should have a decent one... Projects like bowls from Pecan burls come to mind...

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 04:34 PM
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Lathe is the cheapest part in woodturning. Get one that uses popular accessories: 1" X 8 TPI or 1" X 8 TPI headstock spindle and Morse Taper #2. When you upgrade, you won't have to repurchase those accessories.
You also have to consider the condition of the lathe. A good lathe of small capacity is more enjoyable to use than a big one that vibrates. Don't overlook the mini and midi lathes.

Gordon
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhost View Post
Can you guys recommend a good lathe for not a lot of money? Maybe an older machine I should keep an eye for on Craigslist or the local classifieds? Like I mentioned. I do not want to spend a lot on a tool I am not sure I will use much. But if I do get into it, I think I should have a decent one... Projects like bowls from Pecan burls come to mind...
Don't forget to check out ebay. There's always plenty of good used ones for sale there. Just thought it worth mentioning.

~ BlockHead ~
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I went and bought myself a bunch of woodworking machines. What now?

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post #8 of 15 Old 02-04-2008, 10:20 PM
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I've looked at and used an awful lot of lathes over the years. I still think it's hard to beat the Jet mini for a starter lathe. Unless of course it's the new Jet mini with 12" swing.
The reason I like it is because it has proven itself as a very good quality reliable lathe. You can turn most things that people turn on a jet mini. Everyone always wants bigger but when it comes down to it they turn small things.
The bearings in the jet and the cast iron bed make it run smoother than most cheaper lathes that cost double. You can get a bed extension if you ever want to turn a ball bat or table leg. The non variable speed model slows down to 500 rpm which is a little fast for a 9" bowl but not too fast to be unsafe.
I went from a $500 12x36 full size lathe to a mini lathe when my big lathe broke. I could not believe how much smoother the mini lathe was. It was a Nova Comet which is very similar to the Jet mini. I still have it because it's a pleasure to turn on.
I would also recomment the Rikon mini for many of the same reasons I like the Jet.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 12:14 AM
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I just got a Jet Mini and could not be happier....

Peter
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 02:08 AM
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I agree fully with John Lucas. I bought the mini Jet and had a great time learning with this machine. I upgraded to a Nova DVR XP and am enjoying myself more every day and can honestly say I never had a problem that I can blame on either lathe, none, zip. Save your money and get the Jet to start. To be honest with you,if you can't afford this lathe, I don't think you will survive as a turner because you need to spend a good bit of money to be a turner.If you get the lathe and a few tools and grinder, you can have a lot of fun turning before you need to spend a lot more money. Go for the best you can afford then some, never less.. Good luck. Mitch
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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It's not a can't afford it issue. It is more of a want to be careful with where I put my money issue. I had thought of one thing after I had posted this... With this lathe, it would be very hard to sell it afterwards for any kind of money. With a better quality lathe like a Jet, or a Delta, used prices are nearly as much as new... Financially it would be smarter to buy the better lathe that holds its value more. That way, even if I don't like turning, I can sell it without much of a loss.

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 03:20 PM
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dbhost
Looks like to me that you answered your own question buddy. All you need to do is make a decision and move on. We all had to make that initial decision to begin with. Mitch
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post #13 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 03:50 PM
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A good mini or midi holds its resale value better than those middle of the road full size lathes also. A lot of turners still keep their small lathes when they buy their bigger and better lathes. Full size lathes take up too much space in their shop and few turners keep them when they have their new lathes. The sellers are more eager to sell and the cost of shipping limits them to mostly local.

Gordon
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-05-2008, 08:52 PM
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I now have a Jet, but I started with a small lathe from Penn State Industries. This was over 13 years ago, and I have not had any trouble; still own it; still use it. It is the perfect size for learning this revealing art. I love my Jet full size, but I feel more comfortable with the smaller lathe for pens, calls, and chess pieces. Cheers!!!
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-06-2008, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Uh, cupid left a HUGE hint that the PSI Turncrafter Pro VS is on its way, so my issue may be solved after all... I guess buying those rocks came in handy...

Interested in my woodworking, workshop and whatnot? See http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com, want to see my other interests such as hunting, fishing, off roading, and camping? See http://wildersport-outdoors.blogspot.com
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