12'' x 33-3/8'' Wood Lathe with Reversible Head

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Review by b2rtch posted 03-17-2010 05:35 PM 15324 views 2 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch
12'' x 33-3/8'' Wood Lathe with Reversible Head 12'' x 33-3/8'' Wood Lathe with Reversible Head No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am building tow night stands and I wanted to run the front legs.
I never turned wood before in my life.
So I went to my favorite harbor Freight store and I bought this lathe which was on sale for $249.00 but as usual the manager who knows me also accepted a 20% discount, my final price was $179.00.
In addition I bought a 8 pieces HSS wood tuning tools set, also with 20% discount.
As I said this is the very first time that I use a lathe and after watching a few videos on “youtube’ I was able to turn 4spindles legs for the tables.
I am very satisfied with the lathe and I am also quite satisfied with my work.

Just out of curiosity I checked the prices of the same identical lath sold under the Jet brand.
Most the time the price is around $699.00 to 799.00 but I found it as high as above a $1000.00.
By the way on one of the website, the company selling this Jet lathe,practices false advertisement saying that they the exclusivity for this lath.
Why any one in his right mind would pay this kind of money for a brand?
Long live Harbor Freight

-- Bert

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4822 posts in 2509 days

35 comments so far

View dbhost's profile


5604 posts in 2693 days

#1 posted 03-17-2010 05:48 PM

AFAIK the cream white paint color, black and red striping, and switch location on the stand leg are unique to the Jet making the “exclusive” claim legit to a point. In all effectiveness though… The HF is every big as good of a tool. Maybe not with the same resale value, but unless you are buying your tools to keep them in a museum then sell them when you retire, who cares what the resale is on them?

One weak point i have heard of on these, but not experienced myself is the belt isn’t that durable. There is a NAPA belt # somewhere on the web as a replacement for these…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2770 days

#2 posted 03-17-2010 06:55 PM

I was just looking at the same HF lathe last week. I have not used a lathe in many years and am thinking this might be a cheap way to find out if I really would maintain interest in using one.
The $249 seems cheap enough. The manager of the store where you bought yours must have thrown in a little exttra discount because 20% off of $249 is $199…so your price of $179 is even better.
I think I will have to go buy one this weekend. I was talking to a friend who does some excellent lathe turnings and he suggested that I go a little extra on the turning tool chisels instead of the HF set since better chisels will make a big difference.
Now all i need to do is figure out where it will fit in the shop.

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4822 posts in 2509 days

#3 posted 03-17-2010 07:29 PM

I believe that if you buy the High Speed Steel chisels at HF, you will have good chisels also.
Look at the lath and I think that you will agree with me that even if it is inexpensive, there nothing cheap about it.

-- Bert

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 3134 days

#4 posted 03-17-2010 08:12 PM

I bought the same HF lathe over a year ago, only because it was on sale. Put it together, turned the motor on to make sure it worked, and haven’t touched it since. Maybe Charlie’s recent activity will one day push me over the edge to actually try my hand at turning.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

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4822 posts in 2509 days

#5 posted 03-17-2010 08:24 PM

I tried my hand at turning last weekend and IT IS A LOT OF FUN.

-- Bert

View puzzled's profile


72 posts in 3254 days

#6 posted 03-17-2010 08:57 PM

I have had the same HF lathe for a few years now and for small things (under 6” in diameter), it works great. Anything over that and the motor just seems to struggle unless you take really light cuts. For the price and for the amount of abuse my lathe has seen, I would recommend getting one. Once I get my big lathe wired up, the HF lathe is going to become my buffing station.


-- -- Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of a woodturner.

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 2756 days

#7 posted 03-17-2010 09:40 PM

I own this lathe too, and the HSS chisels.
Haven’t had any problems with this lathe, I have turned spindles, pens, a couple of bowls, and a round end grain cutting board. I have found it to run true to center, and has run strong through some larger turnings.
The nice part of this lathe is that the head rotates so you can do out turning, which is how I did the cutting board. Great deal, hope you enjoy it. Looking forward to some posts.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

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5604 posts in 2693 days

#8 posted 03-17-2010 09:51 PM

I’ve spun a couple of larger diameter items on mine… (8” or so) Never seemed a problem. But I did manage to stall it when digging DEEP with a dull skew. I am not going to blame the lathe for my stupidity…


Start using the lathe and you might end up acting like a crack head looking for a fix, digging around your neighbor’s trash looking for a score of some interesting stock to stuff on the lathe… Not that I have ever done that or anything though…

Seriously though, turning is super addictive. I have totally messed up spindles just concentrating on watching the streamer like shavings spooling off the spindle gouges…

b2rtch, if you don’t have a sharpening system, you will need one, SOON…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View flyingoak's profile


68 posts in 2569 days

#9 posted 03-17-2010 09:59 PM

I have had 2 …..
First Burned up
second the head stock moves too much when you put pressure on it.

otherwise it runs well

-- where is the duct tape.....

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4822 posts in 2509 days

#10 posted 03-17-2010 10:16 PM

Did someone mentioned that this lath a 10 speeds with out changing belts.
Really nice.

-- Bert

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5604 posts in 2693 days

#11 posted 03-17-2010 10:31 PM

“second the head stock moves too much when you put pressure on it.”

Tighten the nut under the headstock. You will have to remove the base to do this…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2536 days

#12 posted 03-17-2010 10:55 PM

Thanks for the review.

May I suggest that Grizzly also makes some very good lathes at very reasonable prices. I really don’t understand the prices on some of the “big brand” lathes.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dbhost's profile


5604 posts in 2693 days

#13 posted 03-18-2010 02:10 AM

Actually if I were to upgrade to a big lathe, I would give the 18×47 Grizz a good look…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View tomd's profile


2026 posts in 3231 days

#14 posted 03-18-2010 07:38 AM

I had that lathe for 10 years, learned to turn on it. Bought it to turn spindles and make chairs, that went on for about 4 years then my wife said you better not bring another chair into this house, after that I found bowl turning and segmented turning. I paid $250 for it 10 years ago and just sold it for $100, you can’t beat that. I have seen turners go though slowly upgrading lathes, and at my age I couldn’t take the time to go through several lathes so I went for a final lathe. I bought the PM3520 most likely over kill but I will not be upgrading.

-- Tom D

View Raymond's profile


676 posts in 3188 days

#15 posted 03-18-2010 04:27 PM

I have the same lathe, actually have had two, one was a Mastercraft from Canadian Tire, it was even the same HF green color, just a different name. I believe that the Jet Lathe and the Harbor Freight may use the same castings but I think that is were the similarity ends. If I am not mistaken and I might be, but I think the plant that turns these things out has different lines, Jet gets better bearing, better switches, fit and and finish is better, probably a better motor. That being said for the difference in price you can’t beat the HF lathe, or may of there other tools. I will say that there chisels let a bit to be desired. But again for the price, there not that bad.

-- Ray

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