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Blog entry by scottb posted 09-23-2007 07:11 PM 2271 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So my wife is letting me ask Santa for a mini/midi lathe this Christmas! I get to graduate from the less than perfect setup (but great capacity) of my shopsmith. I’ve started scouting for deals, but I’ll still have to wait for my new toy no matter when it arrives. ;(

After several magazine articles over the past several months or so, I’ve had my eye on the 10x14 Jet, and the slightly greater capacity 12x16 Rikon.

Should I keep debating, variable speed capability vs capacity for faceplate work and spindle length (before upgrading to an extension base, if that ever proves to be necc.) and brand quality, or should I perhaps just jump up to this new 12x20 from Jet, though it comes with a “manual” transmission.

I’m looking to come in around $500 for the lathe and a chuck, and intend to use this down in the basement, as well as outside when the weather allows. So compactness/weight, capacity and of course price and quality are all considerations.

Any thoughts, recommendations, preferences from my fellow turners?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/



12 comments so far

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 3772 days


#1 posted 09-24-2007 04:05 PM

Congratulations on the early Christmas present. All of my lathes have had at least 32” capacity and 10” swing, so I have no direct knowledge of the smaller lathes that I can pass on to you. Hopefully, our pen turning members will chime in on what lathe they know or think will best suit your needs. Which ever one you go with, make sure you can get a bed extender for it and maybe find one with a swival head that way if you decide to do bowl turning, you won’t be limited to just 10 or 12”, even though that is a pretty good size. As you get the fever, you’ll probably find the need to turn spindles

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3558 days


#2 posted 09-24-2007 05:11 PM

I have a Jet Mini VS lathe. Love it. I highly recommend the Variable Speed motor. Speeds up the process quite a bit not having to change belts.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3788 days


#3 posted 09-25-2007 01:07 AM

Thanks!

Wayne, I know you have a few lathes, do you think the variable speed trumps the larger capacity of the “next step up” from Jet? I was all set to get that one, until I read about the one with the 12×20 capacity. – the only thing the reviewer didn’t like about that one was no VS. (maybe that’ll be a feature down the road?)

I’ll mostly be making pens and smallish projects, as I can still use the shopsmith for bigger things. I may be able to upgrade to a Proper lathe when a midlife crisis or somesuch rolls around.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Karson's profile

Karson

35035 posts in 3861 days


#4 posted 09-25-2007 03:31 AM

Scott once you get the OK. Go for the biggest baddest hog around.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3558 days


#5 posted 09-25-2007 04:49 AM

I would get the mini lathe and then buy a second lathe when the mini becomes the limiting factor. Especially if you have the shop smith….

I would agree with Karson if you could swing a much larger VS lathe….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3788 days


#6 posted 09-25-2007 05:05 AM

Ooh, good call, score some points by saving a little cash on this one – use it as seed money for the bad boy.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View RobS's profile

RobS

1334 posts in 3767 days


#7 posted 09-25-2007 04:20 PM

Lathe-smathe, can’t you just hold the tool and run around the log really fast??

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 3622 days


#8 posted 09-25-2007 04:32 PM

I have the Jet 1442 – a larger lathe. You can turn a lot of things with it, but it is about 3 times the price of the mini lathe. I guess it depends on what size of things you want to turn. If you are doing pens and small items, I would say go with the Jet mini lathe since it has the variable speed. That is a great thing.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

35035 posts in 3861 days


#9 posted 09-25-2007 05:09 PM

Penn State Industries has a pretty nice lathe. They had a combo with the extension table. But I didn’t find it just now. But I suppose its around there somewhere.

Here’s the lathe with extension.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia karsonwm@gmail.com †

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3423 days


#10 posted 09-25-2007 09:13 PM

I think it was a Rikon I saw at Woodcraft that could be extended with a second bed. That looked like a good deal. My old Rockwell is VS. That is if you move the belt. Low tech. But the ShopSmith will really go fast.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3788 days


#11 posted 11-10-2007 03:50 AM

Birthday Santa is letting me pick out my Lathe! – WooHoo!

Now for someone whose lathe time is limited to spindlework – what would you recommend as necc for chisels for doing bowls, lidded boxes and ornamenty type things? The tools you couldn’t live without.

I already have some nice old skews, a gouge, and parting tool… being totally overwhelmed by the offerings in a catalog – what’s the bare minimum you’d need to get by… and then what would you add next?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View mjpierson's profile

mjpierson

86 posts in 3454 days


#12 posted 11-11-2007 02:27 AM

i have been kinda keen on the rikon lately…santa wants to count my new cyclone as birthday AND Christmas…so I have not done extensive research…

there was an article in the Oct 07 wood mag on getting set up in turning for <$500 or something along those lines…

-- Mike - Columbus, Ohio

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