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Tool Overview #5: Harbor Freight 14" x 40" lathe 45276

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 02-03-2011 05:54 PM 6532 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have been corresponding with Chris (Crushgroovin) about this lathe and have noticed a few posts from people who were curious or had experiences with it, so I thought it might be deserving of a blog entry. For clarification, this is not the more solid cast iron 34706 model that gets more solid reviews since it is, in truth, a much more solid lathe.

This is the lathe as listed in the HF online catalog -

While I would not be one to recommend this one for purchase, especially since you could spend just a little more and get the better HF model, I have used it for some time with a fair amount of success. The lathe was given to me by a friend and so I took the time to learn its quirks and try to make some decent turnings with it.

The complaints I most hear about this lathe usually fall under the same basic categories – vibration, self loosening tool rests and tail center, and weakness of motor. The following are suggestions that might help with the more common ailments -

Vibration – This lathe is light. It only weights about 60 pounds and is easily carried from one location to another. While this portability is handy, it creates a slew of problems. When you picture that a piece is out of round at the start and is spinning at a decent velocity, the weight is out of balance and will whip. With little weight, this machine will rock (I even had it walk one time. I looked like a cartoon character chasing it). The first thing I had to do was weight the lathe.

Weighting can be as simple as plywood on the stretchers of the legs and putting sandbags or cinder blocks on it. I had about 200 lbs at one time and even created a tray on top of the belt housing and placed bricks on it to reduce any shaking or vibration. Replacing the standard belt with a V belt can also reduce the vibration. If the piece is shaking on the lathe, you are not going to get it properly rounded because your chisel is not going to be able to stay in one position. As it strays, the cut strays.

Vibration also leads to the next issue, which is the loosening of the tool rest and tail center.

Sliding Banjo

This is the sliding banjo tool rest mechanism on this particular lathe

A bolt slides through the mechanism and is tightened using the cam lever that sits underneath

The problem here is tightening the mechanism and not having it come loose in the middle of turning. A couple things can assist with reducing the likelihood of movement of the rest.

1. Tighten (or loosen) the bolt until its tightest tolerance is when the cam lever is all the way to the right and part of the handle is wedged under the hollow steel beam that makes up the lathe body. This wedging (not excessive) helps hold the handle in place and minimizes the play that leads to it becoming less secure.

2. If this does not help, try gluing emery paper to either the bottom of the banjo, or to the carcass of the lathe where the banjo sits. This will reduce vibration along the metal pieces and will provide more friction to keep the toolrest from sliding. I have also gotten in the habit of making sure the cam lever is tight as I change chisels.

Sandpaper can also be applied under the tail center. The only caveat to this is that moving the banjo and the tail center becomes two handed operations because you can’t just slide it in position, but it will hold the pieces to where they are steady.

Weak Motor

The lathe is a 1/2 horse lathe but that can be deceiving. I don’t have an exact amp level of it, but it is pretty low. Only thing I can recommend is keeping your chisels sharp and your cuts light. I could rough pretty quickly with a very sharp roughing gouge. When the chisels dull, it doesn’t take much to cause the lathe to come to a complete halt. The thing to remember here is that people have successfully turned with man powered lathes that were probably more underpowered than this model. Light cuts and sharp chisels should reduce any issues with the weakness of the motor.

Accessorizing

The TPI on this headstock is proprietary which makes accessories difficult to find. However, Penn State Industries created an adapter for this that will allow you to use 1” 8 TPI chucks that were not available before. I bought this particular item for around 15 bucks -

This allowed me to mount a four jaw chuck to the lathe for hollow vessels.

For bowl turning, I could use the stock drive center to put a tenon on the piece and then add the adapter for finished shaping and hollowing. Only caveat is that the tail center is out of alignment with the drive center (due to the modification of size) and you will not be able to use the tailstock to assist with heavier pieces.

That is all I have. I hope this article will be useful for someone who is having difficulties with this particular model.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.



22 comments so far

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5386 posts in 1918 days


#1 posted 02-03-2011 06:40 PM

Good review on this lathe! I looked at this model VERY briefly before I bought my #34706. I had to make a couple of adjustments on the headstock to bring it, and the tailstock into alignment, but they were simple adjustments, just slightly loosen a nut, nudge this over here and snug down sort of thing…

While I agree, this model is not on the recommend for purchase list, I am glad to see you got it working for you… Sometimes the fun is working the way through the quirks. Of course if you are tying to make a living at it, this is very much the WRONG tool to do that with..

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1851 days


#2 posted 02-03-2011 06:57 PM

Shucks dbhost, I was just about to say that David Craig might take away your title for ”doing the mostest with the leastest”, but here you are already commenting.

Perhaps you two ought to have a contest or something…...........(-:

Only my old contractor saw is in the running for “making do”, but it had some high quality aspects to it right out of the box, such as the motor, cast iron top, and very solid blade manipulation mechanics.

It is interesting what you can do with an inexpensive lathe, guys…....

Jim (in La Conner, Washington…..on vacation)

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days


#3 posted 02-03-2011 08:17 PM

Thanks dbhost for the comments. I did end up replacing this one with a used Delta. Pretty solid lathe with 5 times the weight before adding the blocks and speed is adjusted by one lever. Definitely makes one feel spoiled.

Jim – I used to believe that I did a lot with little until I saw a video of some guy in the middle east who would make toys on the street with a tiny bow operated lathe that he ran with his hand and he used his foot to steady and move the chisel while his other hand guided it. After seeing that, all I could say was “I got nothing.” :)

Thank you both for responding and I hope you are enjoying that vacation Jim.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1801 days


#4 posted 02-03-2011 11:29 PM

thank´s for the rewiew David
of a modell that had has many brandnames :-) and no one of them work very well
as far as I have heard of (first time I see it with a sander there)
many years ago I turned down a freebee like this with a bad excuse only becourse
I knew I wuold be disapointed and wuoldn´t waste my time on it
and the only reason to why I never got a better one has been moneydificulties too many times

take care
Dennis

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1481 posts in 1791 days


#5 posted 02-04-2011 04:08 AM

I bought one of these lathes for $79.00 about 10 years ago. I spent more on the wood to reinforce and add weight to it. I got rid of most of the vibration. The motor is weak. But the slowest speed is really fast. I often forget and bring it to a stop! I have broken a few tool rests by working too near the ends. I learned to buy two at a time. 6 weeks travel time from China. I even broke the banjo where it tightens. I have turned quite a few pieces from 12” bowls and plates to bed posts to small dowels and spindles as well as lidded boxes. I just go slow. Sharp tools are very necessary. I have been looking to upgrade for a while. I would probably jump up to a Jet 14vs, at the least. I know what I don’t want in a lathe from using this one!Dennis, the sander has never been used! Thanks for the review. I would never buy another HF lathe, but I have gotten some good use out of this one.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and so little time!

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days


#6 posted 02-04-2011 03:37 PM

Dennis, think of this as me wasting time so you don’t have to ;) I am willing to take a hit for the team.

Robert, thanks for sharing your own experiences. I would agree that a cheap tool can teach you what you want or don’t want when making a more dedicated purchase. I also think I might setup a dedicated buffer with it in the future.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1851 days


#7 posted 02-04-2011 07:10 PM

David Craig
I have a new project to distract me, speaking of hardware. I now have to make a basic shop in a vacation house we are purchasing in La Conner, Washington. I am going to redo the trim over time, so will probably have to buy the basic stuff like a TS (probably a good job site saw), miter saw, drill press, router table, nail guns and compressor, sander or two, drill/driver combo, etc. Don’t think I will be doing much more than trim and dodads, but it ought to be an interesting endeavour building a small shop from scrap. It will occupy about a stall and a half in the garage. It is a few months down the pike, but I have to start thinking planning.

Later…..........

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1801 days


#8 posted 02-04-2011 07:21 PM

good luck with it Jim
looking forward to see a vacation dreamshop :-)

take care
Dennis

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1851 days


#9 posted 02-04-2011 07:30 PM

Dennis
Like I was just writing to dbhost, I think I am going to start a real blog, more like dbhost does. I bet I will get a lot of comments on starting a new smaller shop, mostly to do house trim and utility projects. I think I know what I will need. It is not practical to ship stuff from Alaska down here, so except for a few small duplicated items, not much I can glean from my current shop for the new shop. I won’t get into until later this year, I suspect, for a variety of reasons.

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1801 days


#10 posted 02-04-2011 09:21 PM

all you need is one big toolbox and a bench with the right handtools….LOL :—)) LOL
first comment in house
enjoy the weekend
Dennis

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days


#11 posted 02-04-2011 11:58 PM

Jim, I have to hand it to a guy who buys a vacation home but expresses concern on whether or not he should have bought that electric sander :)

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3674 posts in 1851 days


#12 posted 02-05-2011 12:05 AM

I just want my friends to think I am frugal…....besides the sander is my toy…......the vacation home…...?!?

OK, I was a willing participant…............

........it’s all a matter of family dynamics…........you know…...posturing, deceit, subterfuge, melodrama, victimization, martyrdom…...you know, the usual list….........(-:

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View jerryo's profile

jerryo

130 posts in 1649 days


#13 posted 03-10-2011 08:27 PM

Thanks David. I own this lathe also and was wondering if there were chucks available for it. I go on the Penn web site. Jerry

View moos209's profile

moos209

6 posts in 70 days


#14 posted 08-11-2014 09:26 PM

David, I just purchased this lathe from harbor freight last week and now have time to play around with it. Will you please give me a part number of the adapter you purchased from penn state??? Id like to buy it and order a chuck to start using. Thank!

-Moustafa

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1795 days


#15 posted 08-11-2014 09:54 PM

Hey Moustafa, welcome to lumberjocks. Here is the link for the adapter I purchased. The same one is also listed on Amazon.com though I would be careful. Amazon sometimes ends up shipping items that did not come from the advertised manufacturer but is a knockoff. Penn State industries has good customer service and their parts are pretty safe to buy. Good luck with your lathe.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

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