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Hey guys just wondering your opinions on harbor freight lathes. They are pretty inexpensive infact very cheap! I was wondering if there is a reason for that? Are they bad? Will it work? Thanks!!
 

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J,
I have one! Got it to see if I really liked turning. I have the larger one that allows the user to swivel it for large turnings. The lathe is OK, but does bog down easily (has 3/4 hp motor). When I did a lot of turning, I had to learn how to change the drive belt, they sometimes don't last long, good thing is they're regular Vbelts--available at NAPA or other stores. The bolts/handles that secure the tool rest and banjo tend to strip out. Only thing I'll say is---get what you pay for.
BTW that lathe is looking for a new home--my other ones are a lot nicer. (but you live too far away)
Dave H
 

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Hey guys just wondering your opinions on harbor freight lathes. They are pretty inexpensive infact very cheap! I was wondering if there is a reason for that? Are they bad? Will it work? Thanks!!
Sometimes things are inexpensive for a reason.

Last year, I do not recall which forum member bought one and within the x day return period it died. He was able to get his money back and then purchased another lathe from a different manufacturer.

I am not a fan of HF tools in general, and the lathes may be top of my steer clear list.
 

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Some of them are really crap, some of them aren't bad. I don't know how to tell the difference without actually seeing them. I frequent Harbour Freight when I go to Nashville and of course always look at the lathes. If you stick with the cast iron ones they aren't that bad. The angle iron and stamped iron ones are really crap.
The biggest problem on most of them is the slow speed is too fast.
If you save your money and get a Grizzly many of them are better. The Jets of course are usually a lot better but more expensive. The Jet also has a much better resale value. 9 times out of ten you will want to upgrade from your first lathe to get a bigger, better lathe. So resale I think is important.
 

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Been running my HF mini 10 X 18 almost 2 years now and not any kind of problem. I also have their 9 X 20 metal lathe since 2003 with 1 worn bushing last year. Also have the (discontinued I think)47158 Micro Mill/Drill since 2003 and had a couple of plastic gears break, replaced with metal gears and ok.

I also have Jet and Delta equipment with some problems.

I think they do get some bad apples just like any other dealer, making no difference if it was made in USA or overseas, just more so from over seas.

Ray
 

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Sometimes things are inexpensive for a reason.

Last year, I do not recall which forum member bought one and within the x day return period it died. He was able to get his money back and then purchased another lathe from a different manufacturer.

I am not a fan of HF tools in general, and the lathes may be top of my steer clear list.

CHINA quality of tools...

:thumbdown:

But... I DO love their food and ladies...

:yes:
 

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I turn on one of their 10x18 minis almost every day. Is it a Jet? Nope but other than maintenance it has never had a problem in several years of turning. Having said that it is the only model I would buy from there. I looked at all the others and they aren't much.
 

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Ghost5 where are you in middle Tennessee. We have turning clubs all over the area. I'm in Baxter near Cookeville. I'll be going to the Tenneessee Association of Woodturners meeting on Tuesday evening. I also belong to the Crossville, and cookeville clubs. there are clubs in Columbia and Clarksville as well.
 

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I have the HF mini also. So far so good. It's head and tail stock line up perfectly. I don't care for the plastic handles and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't break. Other than that it is a good machine. It is perfect for the person unsure if they "really" want to turn or if they want to turn a lot. I think with me I will turn some pens and other small things and then use it now and then so it's perfect for that. If I were going to turn a lot, I'd get the Jet VSR mini.
 

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Ghost5 where are you in middle Tennessee. We have turning clubs all over the area. I'm in Baxter near Cookeville. I'll be going to the Tenneessee Association of Woodturners meeting on Tuesday evening. I also belong to the Crossville, and cookeville clubs. there are clubs in Columbia and Clarksville as well.
Hey John I am a good 2 hours from you south of Franklin north of Shelbyville in Unioinville. I looked for the one in Columbia but there was no current contact info. I wish I was closer to you but it takes me an hour to get to Lebanon then the drive from there to Baxter.

Columbia is the closest to me but I haven't found any contacts yet.
 

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Here is contact info for the Duck River woodturners. If Chattanooga is closer I can get info for them. I will probably see one of the members of the Columbia club Tuesday night at the TAW meeting. I'll try to remember to ask him who to call.
 

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I also turn on a HF mini. The 5 speed model the other guys have mentioned. Its a decent little lathe for the money. Im looking to upgrade but only because I want more power and capacity. The plastic handles that were mentioned are too big and get in the way sometimes but wont break. If you wanna spend money on quality, check out Jets new midi. Its sweet!! That may be my next lathe untill I can afford a full size model.
 

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I have a 14 swing HF lathe. The biggest problem I have with it is that the threading is differently from jet. What this. Means is that I had to buy a blank and have coupler made that went from the threads on the lathe to the threads on the self centering chuck. That made my 100 dollar lathe closer to 200. Machinists aren't cheap. That and it doesn't have variable speed and to change the belts is a real pain. If I had it to do over I would have saved my money and bought a jet but that is me.
 

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I've had my latest HF POS for about 5 years now and have turned several hundred bowls on it. The first one was an even cheaper HF POS and I had it for about 20 years. I don't necessarily recommend them if you can afford something decent, but they've worked well for me.
 

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Wow, Phinds, didnt know you were turning on a HF lathe. Just knowing the kind of work you do I assumed those pieces were all coming off a big Powermatic!!
 

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Wow, Phinds, didnt know you were turning on a HF lathe. Just knowing the kind of work you do I assumed those pieces were all coming off a big Powermatic!!
Thanks for the kind words about my work. I'm sure I would have found it easier on a big lathe but I bought the first POS before I even knew that I wanted to turn --- I just wanted to play around --- and I got it to do good stuff so when if finally went South I just bought a slightly better POS and kept on going.
 

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jjboozel said:
Hey guys just wondering your opinions on harbor freight lathes. They are pretty inexpensive infact very cheap! I was wondering if there is a reason for that? Are they bad? Will it work? Thanks!!
Cheap, used to be defined as: Of low quality, craftsmanship and utility; Shoddily constructed, or constructed of lower quality materials.

It is only in the the last forty years or so that the definition has morphed into "inexpensive"

If you revert to the old definition, you probably answered your own question. The fit and finish isn't near as good as the higher price units. Which means that the utility will be lower. And, while it may be possible for you to produce quality work on one, it is going to take more time and effort on your part than it would on a higher quality machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well guys I want to thank you for all your responses. I think at this point I might as well wait becuse I plan on turning alot! Ill probbly save for a delta or a grizzly. Thanks so much!!
 

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Do more research before you make your purchase. Grizzly lathes for example are the same ones sold under other names. The 5 speed mini I mentioned from HF also can be purchased with a Grizzly badge. Just saying do your homework. Just because you pay more money for something dosnt make it better. That same lathe is sold under 4 or 5 different names and they are all priced much higher than HF. Good thing is Grizzly stocks lots of parts that HF dosnt. Rockler also stocks an extension for that lathe I believe under the name Excelciar. My point is, unless your buying Jet or Delta or another well known name brand, be sure of what your getting. By the way, my HF mini is going strong for almost 2 years now and I got it out the door with extended warranty for about $185.
 
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