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Discussion Starter #1
I am going to pull the trigger on a lathe this week. I want to do pens first and use it for small bowls and other things. I am not a fan of kits but this is my plan:

I am getting either:
Grizzly T25920 - 12" x 18" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe 318.00
Grizzly T25926 - 10" x 18" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe 279.00

(Does the extra 2 inches make a difference in the long run? I decided against Rikon because I did not see a cost benefit)

I saw this on Amazon:
Amazon.com: Amazon Pen Making Starter Pack 2: Home Improvement
It includes a press as well as chisels. 189.00

Together they come to under 500-550 which is sort of a self-imposed budget I have in mind.

Any thoughts? Anything else I would need?

I posted this in penturners.org but would love to here you guys advice as well.
 

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The 12-18 is probably all around heavier duty. The 12-18 has overrated HP. It says 3/4 HP, but only pulls 5.3 amps. If you are doing much bowl turning 650 rpm is too fast, but will be alright for occasional bowl turning. Don't waste your money on the pen kit. You can get everything in it cheaper and better quality buying separately.
 

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It's a way to sell you stuff that you wouldn't otherwise buy ....

I saw this on Amazon:
Amazon.com: Amazon Pen Making Starter Pack 2: Home Improvement
It includes a press as well as chisels. 189.00

Together they come to under 500-550 which is sort of a self-imposed budget I have in mind.

Any thoughts? Anything else I would need?
I have a pen press like that one and I would give it a thumbs down. I much prefer using my bench vise to assemble the pens. I also have the same sanding strips and I prefer using sheet sandpaper. Those are the two items that are way overpriced. I'm not too crazy about the Slimline pen kits and the predrilled blanks, but they're OK for starters. The pen mandrel, 7 mm drill bit, barrel trimmer, and insertion tool are most useful items. The three turning tools are useful, but I would look for better ones. Overall, I don't think it is a good deal -- some necessary things along with stuff that you don't need.
 

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Make sure to look into lathes on craigslist. I bought a midi after having a larger Nova and hated it. After the Nova increased size to a powermatic 4224, I think you would like a Nova a lot more and find it much better for bowls.
I think the set up is a rip off. You will find the tools largely a waste and of questionable quality. Buy yourself some larger gouges and a scraper and a top quality mandrel like a whiteside. The press is okay, The other stuff buy by the piece.
 

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I think for any bowl work bigger than about 6" inches you will be disappointed. A midi lathe just lacks the power and weight to do any serious bowl turning. You might get lucky on Craigslist. I scored a Jet 16-42 for less than your budget. Is your budget just for the lathe or the lathe and accessories?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just readjusted my budget :) I was looking at the Rikon 70-220 vsr. 1 HP. My budget is really what I want.
 
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