newbie lathe recommendations - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-23-2008, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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newbie lathe recommendations

I've been a woodworker for years but am getting interested in dabbling in turning. Nothing big for now, just knobs, bun feet, chess pieces, candlesticks, etc. I'll probably get a lathe after Christmas.

I'm thinking that I want to get a smaller lathe, but don't really know what to look for in a smaller lathe. I can't afford a full size, and really can't justify having one even if I could afford it. My local Woodcraft has Steel City, Jet, and Rikon mini-lathes. I'm also within a reasonable drive of Grizzly. I've had my eye on the Steel City variable speed model...Good? Bad?

Aside from some turning tools, what accessories should I plan on buying for this lathe? I see all sorts of chucks and jaws, and plates that you screw to the workpiece, but don't know when the live center is appropriate and when you have to use a chuck, etc.

Any tips or recommendations would sure help me out.
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-23-2008, 02:12 AM
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I think the JET variable speed is pretty popular.
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post #3 of 7 Old 11-23-2008, 09:42 AM
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lathe recommendations

I don't know anything about steel city lathes,but there service folks are pretty good to deal with.I chose the Ricon,because it has a 12" swing and it is cheaper than the jet.Changing the belts is very quick and easy.The Jet is a very good lathe,just a tad bit more costly.You won't go wrong with either of these two.As for the accessories,they can run you as much ,if not more than the lathe its self.I would recommend that you take some time and get with another turner,possably one at a local club or even at woodcraft and tell them what you want to do and you'll probably be ok.With the lathe and chucks tools sharpening jigs and all,you can expect to put out at least 5 to 6 hundred just getting settup.Good luck.

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post #4 of 7 Old 11-23-2008, 04:49 PM
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I have to agree. If I were buying new mini lathe or even my first lathe it would probably be a Jet or Rikon. They have the best reputations and are well built. Both companies stand behind thier lathes. It's hard to beat them. If the 1220 is too expensive buy the 10" jet mini.
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-23-2008, 05:42 PM
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I have the Steel City VS mini and it's a great little lathe. Plenty of power and a breeze to change speeds. I don't know about the Rikon--I've only heard stories about them. About the Jet--the local turning club has several, and they burned up two of them at the State Fair a year ago--one had the bearings burn up and the other had the motor go out. I've had my little SC over a year and have had no issues with it. And at $250.00 for the lathe, it's a bargain that can't be beat. Here are the specs:

Available in six-speed and variable speed models, STEEL CITY™ Midi Lathes are perfect for pens, boxes and small projects. These midi lathes have a 1/2 HP drive and speeds that range from 500 and 3800 RPM. The headstock has 1"-8TPI spindle threads with 24-point indexing and the tailstock is self-ejecting with a 3/8" through hole. An optional 22" bed extension increases the between centers capacity to 36". Provided with a five year manufacturers warranty:

Includes 6" tool rest, 3" faceplate, spur center, live center, wrenches, knockout bar and instruction manual.
Net weight - 72 lbs; shipping weight - 80 lbs.
Five year manufacturer's warranty.

Model 60170 5-Speed Midi Lathe
Motor: 1/2HP, 115VAC, 5.6A, 1,725 RPM.
Speeds (5): 500, 1,300, 2,100, 2,750, 3,600 RPM.

Model 60100 Variable Speed Midi Lathe
Motor: 1/2HP, 115VDC, 1PH.
Speed ranges (2): 500-1,350 and 1,400-3,800 RPM.

Swing Over Bed - 10" (7-1/2" over base).
Distance Between Centers - 15".
Headstock Shaft: 1"-8TPI, #2MT, 3/8" bore.
Indexing - 24 point.
Tailstock Quill: 2-1/2" travel, #2MT, 3/8" bore.
Overall Dimensions - 18-1/2"H x 28-3/4"L x 10"D.

Of course, you do know that the purchase of the lathe is just the first step down that long vortex to the abyss, don't you? You can spend more on the necessary accessories for the lathe than you spend on the lathe itself. Just take a picture of the money in your wallet and post it on the wall above the lathe so you'll remember what it looks like. Hope you have deep pockets or a credit card with a high limit.Good Luck!!

Nancy and Dave Laird
D&N Specialties
Rio Rancho, NM
David works in the Pro Sales Divison at Woodworker's Supply.
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-26-2008, 09:38 AM
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I have a very old Delta Rockwell lathe that is older than dirt.....It is hard to wear out these old advise is to start looking for a used good quality lathe that isn't covered with rust.....crank her up and spin something pretty.......
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-26-2008, 02:59 PM
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A used lathe may be something to consider.I just picked up a Ohio Forge on craigs list (still havn't figured out why) got the lathe ,set of tools and a grinder for 100.00 bucks.It works pretty good for a cheapy.Actually I am just gonna put my buffing system on it.I have seen some great deals on lathes,where you can get the lathe chucks,tools an all for four an five hundred bucks.Just gotta look for them.
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