Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Baxter, Tennessee
I would buy a mini lathe. I prefer the Jet but there are a bunch of good ones out there, Rikon, Steel City, Carbo-Tec, and Record come to mind. The reason I like a good quality mini for a starter lathe is that they will do most of what you want to do until you get to larger work. They are easy to store out of the way. They don't seem as intimidating when you use them and they have great resale value if you upgrade or decide you just don't like turning.
The cheaper full size lathes (12x 36) are mostly junk and you just won't enjoy your turning experience. The ones mentioned above are all excellent quality and will give you years of good service.