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post #1 of 5 Old 12-16-2011, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie questions

To make a long story much shorter, I recently decided that I need a lathe. For now, I would only be turning relatively small items, nothing bigger than about 3 inch diameter or longer than 6 inches. I would like to get a lathe that can handle much bigger things though. Eventually, some bowls and platters and the like. Unfortunately, that's about all I know of lathes. I don't know if it would be better for me to get a small mini lathe now, and a bigger one later, or just get the big one now because I suppose you can turn a small item on a big lathe.

For now, I'll be making my own custom feet for cutting boards, and will need to be able to turn without the use of the tailstock since I'll have to make some cuts into the end of each foot. I guess I could use a forstner bit and a drill, but I'd like to just do it all on the lathe so it's nice and perfectly centered, and flat bottomed.

Are there mini lathes capable of doing this? What kind of chuck would I need to do hold the piece without a tailstock? I do, of course, not want to spend a ton of money. I'd like to stay in the $500 range. Is what I want to do way out of my price range, or am I at least in the ball park? Are there any brands to avoid, or to look for, or other such advice that you more seasoned turners can offer?
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-17-2011, 07:43 AM
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So, can you buy a lathe, turning tools, scroll chuck for headstock, drill chuck for tailstock and all for only $500? We sharpen our turning tools a lot so will need to figure out how want to sharpen tools too.

Yes, can be done but you are going to have to shop around to match needs and wants. If need forstner/twist, and brad point bits to complete projects gets close on a mini lathe without optional bed extension. Still can be done on a mini without bed extension.

Whether buy a mini or full size lathe important things to consider besides price.
Spindle thread 1” x 8 TPI lots of accessories will fit
Head/tailstock taper MT 2 again accessories
Distance between centers, mini 12-16” full size 36”
Swing over bed, tool rest, will differ
Motor minimum 1/2HP for mini HP for full size lathe.
Lathe speed look for 500 RPM or less slowest speed.

This list is a little dated but still has lot of useful information to get you started on what to look for in a wood lathe.
http://www.nealaddy.org/pub/Lathe_List.html

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post #3 of 5 Old 12-18-2011, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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After lots and lots of reading, and then some more reading, and a few phone calls to not-quite-local woodworking places to ask about purchasing one of their lathes for sale, I decided on a lathe. I'm sure some of you have one of these already and will know it. It's a Jet 1014 VSI. It seems like a nice starter lathe, and if I don't like woodworking, I'm not out too much. It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but I'd rather spend a few dollars more and not have to fight with broken belts or things not quite lining up properly. It's got the 1"x8 TPI spindle thread and MT2 taper on both ends, so I should be able to replace the chuck easily for those instances when I need to. Now to figure out which chucks I'll need...
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-18-2011, 03:31 PM
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That's an excellent lathe to start with. It is a better lathe than many of the larger off brand lathes from Harbour Freight and Grizzly. It also has a good resale value whenyou get hooked on turning and want to step up to a larger lathe.
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post #5 of 5 Old 12-18-2011, 03:41 PM
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The Jet mini is my most enjoyable lathe I own, I had the Jet 1642 & 1440, sold both. Then I bought my Oneway and the mini for my boys, so they thought. Jet's customer service is top notch too, if you'll ever need it.
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