Great Beginners Lathe

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Review by Troutsman posted 01-19-2012 09:37 PM 8215 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have been very impressed with this lathe. Although this review is based off of no other experience from any other lathes, I have to give it a high rating. It is by far the least expensive lathe on the market and with the famous 20% off discount from harbor freight can be bought for under $100. I picked mine up for $96 at our local harbor freight.

This lathe has variable speed dial that is very convenient to work on your piece from turning, sanding, and finishing. I would recommend this lathe for anyone that is wanting to find out if they want to get into turning before buying the $300+ other models that have the same components.

The only complaint that I can even come up with, and it is not much of a complaint is that it does not have a turning wheel on the live center that you can manually turn your work. I still do this but use the mandrel or the live center when turning it instead of a nice turning dial like on the Jet model.

Hope this helps another beginner with the decision on which lathe to start out with.


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16 posts in 1870 days

11 comments so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


6995 posts in 2308 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 11:52 PM

Harbor Freight (Central Machinery) lathes are really nice, especially considering they cost about a quarter of what you’d pay for a nearly identical Jet.

I have the full size, cast iron bed lathe and am very happy. I suppose if I was going to turn big stock every day, I may want something more powerful. But for the average woodworker, these lathes are just the ticket!

Thanks for posting!
-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The best woodworking show since the invention of wood.)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Raymond's profile


676 posts in 3235 days

#2 posted 01-20-2012 05:54 AM

Great review. I agree with Stumpy, and i have the same full size cast iron lathe as well good value for the money.

-- Ray

View pbyrne's profile


80 posts in 2200 days

#3 posted 01-21-2012 06:56 AM

Thanks for the reviews on the HF lathe. I have been struggling with an old craftsman knock-off, the one with the single tube. I have been wondering if the HF model might serve me better as a beginners lathe.

View Rustic's profile


3228 posts in 3104 days

#4 posted 01-22-2012 12:49 AM

I have this one and love the hell out of it

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Dave's profile


11409 posts in 2348 days

#5 posted 01-23-2012 01:53 AM

Guys I have been wanting one of these bad. Reason I can afford it. The only thing I have heard bad is the bearings freeze up.
Post back in 6 months and tell how she is holding together. Right now I will hang on to my pole lathe. Its good exercise.
Thanks for posting the review.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View MrWizard's profile


145 posts in 2312 days

#6 posted 01-23-2012 07:32 AM

I have been looking at this same unit for a back up. and possibly to grab a couple and start inviting friends over to learn and help make pens for our Service members overseas and here in the U.S.
The only down side I found was that HF has very little, to no Lathe tools or other equipment to support the hobby. So you are still having to find another source for hardware (Mandrels, Chucks, Tools,) But other then that I think its a great starting unit.

View Remedyman's profile


47 posts in 1705 days

#7 posted 05-24-2012 01:33 AM

I have been debating on buying this lathe or the next grade up. What kind of accessories should I look at acquiring with the purchase of this lathe? I have no experience with turning wood, but I really want to start. Also, am I reading it right that it can handle wood 8 inches in diameter?

Thanks for the info.

-- As long as our customers are happy, we have done a good job. Even if we are our own customer.

View cdaulton's profile


25 posts in 1976 days

#8 posted 09-18-2012 07:54 PM

I have had one of these for about six months now and I have only one major complaint. The tail stock on mine is very poorly machined. It wobbles about a sixteenth of an inch on either side of center laterally, and a little less vertically, which makes drilling a little hairy but as long as I am extra careful to line it up correctly it is usually ok. The only other problem I have is it is a little underpowered. It tends to bog down when I am trying to drill at low speeds. If I speed it up it won’t bog down but my drill bits tend to overheat. Other than those two issues it is a fantastic machine. It spins true and I am surprised at how quiet it is. The electronic variable speed is awesome. I can go from roughing to shaping to sanding with just a turn of the knob. I have never really had any power issues when turning and I have turned green bowl blanks that were 8” in diameter which is about as big as you can go with this machine. In my experience Harbor Freight tools tend to be hit or miss and I think I got a decent hit with this one. If you can get a hit as good as the one I got then it is an excellent lathe.

View Leiter's profile


2 posts in 1117 days

#9 posted 12-30-2013 03:50 AM

Glad to hear good things about this lathe as I just ordered one. It’ll be my first lathe and I’m excited to learn to turn!

View summerfi's profile


3406 posts in 1195 days

#10 posted 12-30-2013 04:25 AM

My daughter has this lathe and it has performed pretty well. The one problem she had is that the plastic knob for tightening the center in the tailstock is pretty flemsy and broke. Be careful to not tighten it too much. Fortunately we had the extended warranty (which I almost never buy), so I took her lathe back to HF and they replaced it.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

View Leiter's profile


2 posts in 1117 days

#11 posted 01-03-2014 07:36 PM

Hi I just bought this lathe and can’t fid what size bolts it needs to mount to a work bench. Any help?

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