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From your post in the General section, I have this lathe.

Shop Fox: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/SHOP-W1704-3-Horsepower-Benchtop-Lathe/dp/B001R23SWW/"]
[/ame] SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe - Amazon.com

Its been a very good machine.

I'm in the same place that you are as I've only turned a few things since buying it about 3 months ago. I buy things based on reviews, cost, and availability. It had good reviews for a mini lathe, (I bought a mini due to space limitations), it happened to be on sale for $189.00 at my local wood supplier,and they had one in the box for me to take home.

I has a variable speed knob instead of a few set speeds that require changing the belt position that works well. It also has a "soft" start feature that gives you a chance to get set up before it comes up to the turning speed. That took some getting used to, but now I like it. It has an MT #1 taper but with an adapter I'm able to use a chuck, or a pen mandrel, or pretty much any other accessory I need.

For a starter lathe I think I made a good choice as I wanted something to make specific small parts for a model I was building and this machine did everything I needed perfectly.

The family all got together and bought me three chisels from Easy Woodworking. They have replaceable carbide cutters that never need to be sharpened. I know that HHS tools are much cheaper, but they will need sharpening every time you use them and sometimes even in the middle of a project.

Something I was told by a local turner I met at the wood supplier really struck home when he showed me his scar from a dull chisel that kicked back and cut his hand while he was turning a bowl.

In the end, only you can decide. Your criteria will be different from every one else based on funds, shop space, and projected use.
 
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