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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been saving money and working odd jobs to either "continue" to save for a nice big professional lathe or to buy turning tools & attachments.

By the end of the summer I'll have $1500 saved to the "turning fund"

I own a Rikon lathe (turning on it for 3yrs) that is 12x16. I want to turn bowls! BOWLS! BOWLS! & HOLLOW FORMS & More BOWLS!

I have the bare minimum to turn bowls now. Bowl gouge and half round nose scraper, Nova chuck (small.... Like 10" Cole jaws etc).

My question is which should be purchased first or which should be the next purchased?

If I buy more tools my mind is set on Doug Thompson hands down.

Or Should I buy a bigger lathe?

Or continue to save (being patient) to buy a lathe like a DVR or Powermatic 3520B or ???

Not opposed to waiting but would appreciate some wisdom from turners who have been down this road before me?

I truly appreciate this website and all the members for sharing information. I don't post much but do lurk in the shadows and read everything related to turning.
 

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Save for and buy the lathe . Add to your tools as you go
:thumbsup:

Imagine your frustration if you had a fine collection of heavy duty tools sitting there watching you as you worked on your mini lathe

:no:
 

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Lets say you are turning a 12" salad bowl. A high quality set of tools might save you 1 or 2 trips to the grinding wheel, maybe. A good chuck is useful but expands your capability very little over a faceplate. A 2 hp lathe, however, will make turning that bowl a completely new experience.

I'm not knocking small lathes. They can do many things just as well as a bigger version. But, when it comes to turning larger diameter out-of-round blanks like we tend to make bowls from, hp and mass make a huge difference.

I jumped up to a 3 hp lathe last summer and I'm still amazed by how quickly I can take a 12" chainsawed blank from rough to round with large ribbons flying through the air. It makes me smile every time. A 2 hp lathe will do the same work on a bowl that size.

If bowl turning is what you are after, I'd save up for the lathe and use Benjamin's Best chisels and the faceplate that comes with your lathe until you can get some Thompson's tools and a big chuck.
 

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Complicated question. There is no doubt I love my bigger lathe. The mass alone makes a lot of difference in how much easier it is to turn a larger out of balance piece.
I am heading to the AAW symposium in a few days and there will be probably 1000 pieces on display in the instant gallery. What has always amazed me is how small many of them are. When you see them online you assume they are quite large but they aren't. The vast majority of pieces are under 12" and even under 8" in diameter.
around here I can't sell large bowls. 12" is about max. I think people just don't have the room to display larger items. Everything about larger items is complicated. It takes me a lot longer to turn a 16" bowl vs a 12. It takes longer to sand, to finish, etc. This all adds to the price you need to get. Couple that with trying to get the wood home, the physical stress of hauling and cutting the logs, mounting the heavy piece on the lathe, etc. For me it's just not worth. sure it's fun to do one every now and then.
You should be concentrating on form and design, not size. You can get just as much money from a perfectly shaped piece that is small as you can a mediocre piece that's big. Maybe more, because my really good pieces sell faster. My friend Molly Winton is selling her work for hundreds up to several thousand and many of them are only 4" in diameter. It's not the size that counts it's how you use it. (oops wrong quote) That usually refers to something else. :) No seriously, when you get in to quality work it's more about the execution. How good the shape is and what you do with the wood is more important than the size.
So what I would do is continue to save because if you buy a really good lathe it will enhance all of your turning and it will be a joy to turn on every day. Take what you have now, maybe add a few tools to make life easier and just concentrate on making really really good stuff. Concentrate on your tool techniques and sharpening to make turning more fun. Get Richard Raffen's book on The Art of Turned bowls, and buy John Jordan's video on Wood Movement and the Aesthetics of wood. You will learn a great deal about improving the quality of your work from those sources.
 

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I say the lathe first.
I agree with John about sizes. I have the Nova 1624 but have only turned a few items over 13". Unless they are going to display them over 12" is too large to fit in most above counter cabinets.
The Nova 1624 is about 1250 or typically on sale in the fall for about 900. The 1.5 hp has worked fine for me but I can see the advantages of 2+. The DVR is also nice but for me not nice enough for an extra grand to not move the belt (usually once and never over twice in a project).
If I turned to sell I would probably want an even larger with all the bells. I did buy the outrigger and in four years it has been a nice place to keep my knock out bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all he replies! You guys are great.

I believe deep down I knew that a higher quality lathe should be the next purchase. Reckon I just needed that reinforced to me.

I truly appreciate the comments about turning quality over size. I believe that to be absolutely true. I do want to be able to say I've turned a 16-20" bowl but that will not be my focus.

I also know how frustrating it is to turn a out of round blank now on my current lathe and I am excited to hear that it's more enjoyable on a bigger lathe!

So thanks for the reply and John Lucas I believe we are close to being in the same neck of the woods.
 
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