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My shop is small and I want a lathe. I know nothing about lathes so I need help to make the right choice. I would like to turn small bowles and other small projects. I have looked at a few midi lathes online and the Nova Comet II loks like it might be a good choice but as I said earlier I know nothing about lathes.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Don
 

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I was originally planning on buying a midi lathe, but I ended up buying a used Jet 1642 for less than a new nova comet. The nova was the lathe I was looking at. Now I am building a huge bowl lathe. A midi lathe just isn't made to turn bowls. I am sure glad I didn't buy a midi lathe, because I would have been disappointed. I have one warning for you. You may only plan to spend $500 on a lathe and $100 on some tools, but this hobby will cost you thousands.
 

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Well there are actually 2 sizes of lathe that you might consider. The mini lathes, such as the Jet 10" and Nova Comet, Rikon 10" etc. The 10" tells you the maximum size of bowl you can do. These lathes typically come with a 1/2 hp motor. You can turn bowls with these but they often have a low speed that is too high and the lathes are fairly light weight so the bowl wants to shake the lathe a lot when you first start roughing out the bowl. You can get variable speed lathes in this size and they do give you a lower slow speed but since they use DC motors you lose huge amounts of power at these low speeds. My choice of the smaller lathes is the Jet or Rikon.
then there are what we call the Midi lathes. These typically have 12" swing and 3/4 or more horsepower. The lathes are a lot heavier. some still have a pretty high slow speed but since the lathes are heavier they handle it better. My choice for a small lathe that will turn bowls would be one of these but they are a fair amount pricier than the mini lathes. My favorite is the Jet 12/24. It is a very solid performer.
 

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I purchased a Comet2 for my daughter about 2 years ago and no problems so far.
The Comet2 is 12" swing so I am not sure why John put it in with the 10", possible the original Comet from years ago was 10".

It is listed at 3/4 HP which I think is accurate. The manual states 550 watts and IIRC the plate was 5.7 amps. The Jet 1221 ($800) and Rikon 70-220 ($600) list 1 HP and they may be. But, forever 1 HP has been defined as 746 watts (amps X volts). Even with the greater efficiency of DC over AC, they would have to me more than 100% efficient (108%). The Comet rating falls in the 80-90% efficiency range of most better DC motors.
The Nova is lighter and shorter but the bed extension is not a lot of $$. It does only have 1.5" throw on the tailstock compare to the others but this is important only when drilling. I extended the pin slot on my daughters and it is now 2.5" also. It is also lighter but has not been a problem.

If you plan on buying a chuck, ToolsPlus has the Comet 2 with a free G3 chuck for $515 with free shipping. Or minus the cost of a chuck <$400. http://www.tools-plus.com/nova-lathes-46300c.html

Of course if you can find a deal like hwebb go for it. Even used a $2000+ lathe for <$500 is a sweet deal.

You really can't expect to turn bowls 12" but 9-10" is not difficult. Platters or the such up to 12" is ok.
Speed ranges are about the same for any of the three brands.
 

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If you can turn a 12" bowl on a lathe with a 12" swing my hat is off to you. I would expect to get a 10" or less bowl with a 12" swing. The swing really isn't the limiting factor in small lathes anyway.
 

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I agree with hwebb that a 12" bowl is almost impossible. A 12" platter, maybe 1.5 thick, dry, and cut to a true circle may be doable.
With bowls, most folks turn green, then allow to dry and return.
If you can turn one green and 12" you probably won't be able to remount it once it has dried and gone oval.

To cut down on the lathe "dancing" or rocking I would not mount it directly to wood as the depth of the lathe is usually not very much. I took 2 one-foot sections of 1.5 X 3 steel tubing and mounted the lathe near the front of the tubing, then mounted the tubing to the bench frame with the arms extending to the rear. It provides a lot of stability. I would suggest this for any mini/midi.
 

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I purchased a Comet2 for my daughter about 2 years ago and no problems so far. ... It is listed at 3/4 HP which I think is accurate. The manual states 550 watts and IIRC the plate was 5.7 amps....
That would make the Comet 2 a little over a half horsepower. A watt is a watt ... AC or DC has nothing to do with the definition of what a watts is.

....Even with the greater efficiency of DC over AC, they would have to me more than 100% efficient (108%). The Comet rating falls in the 80-90% efficiency range of most better DC motors...
The efficiency of the type of DC motors used on lathes is typically in the vicinity of 60% whereas the efficiency of general purpose AC induction motors is about 75%. High efficiency industrial AC induction motors are typically rated at about 88%.

There is another class of motor known as BLDC (brushless DC), that are actually hybrid AC/DC motors with samarium-cobalt supermagnets that can only operate with a a dedicated computer controller that simulates the environment of a DC servo control system. They are very high efficiency, but they also are extremely expensive.
 

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First my apologies to the OP for taking it off topic.
If I had paid normal price for the Nova ($550) vs the Rikon ($600) I would have gone with the Rikon.
With the sale price at Toolsplus I still think the Nova is a good buy.

I am not well versed in HP in AC vs DC but I had always heard/read that AC was 50-70% effective and DC was 80-90% effective.
About like these charts. One for AC motor and one AC and DC.
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/electrical-motor-hp-amps-d_1455.html
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=254436&d=1360993214

Maybe I had it reversed? I may not be alone in reversing it.
The AC motor on the Rikon 70-100 lathe is 6.6 amp rated 1/2 HP; the DC motor on the Rikon 70-220 is 6 amp and rated at 1 HP.?

And that is all I know or have to say about motors, amp, and HP.:laughing:
 

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The Delta 46-460 was all the rage 4 years ago then a bad switch design and some customer service issues seemed to quiet the chatter about them. I still think it's a heck of a machine and the switch problem is fixed. For around $600 it's worth putting it in the hat with the others mentioned. I love mine.
 
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