just about to buy a lathe, but having second thoughts...

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Forum topic by Mike Gager posted 11-05-2009 09:38 PM 1414 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mike Gager

665 posts in 3236 days

11-05-2009 09:38 PM

i have the money to get the lathe ive been wanting and was all set to go and now im having second thoughts. first off im not sure i will like it as ive never turned before. it looks fun but i tend to lose interest in things very quickly. also i dont have any wood to turn with so im afraid its just gonna sit there not being used if i get it. a tough thing to consider when money is so tight.

i know i can get wood from firewood piles but really even if i do get enough wood to kep me busy is making a bunch of bowls and spindles really going to keep my interest?

anyone have any advice on what i should do?

19 replies so far

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 11-05-2009 09:54 PM


Until a couple of years ago I had not turned either; I had wanted to try it out though… I was able to purchase a used Jet mini lathe and caught the bug from there. My wife and both of my boy’s turn as well. Every thing from Bowls to Candle Sticks, Pens, key chains, Bottle Stoppers, even some hollow forms (vases). I did find myself limited by the size of the lathe and eventually got my self a larger lathe. The single aspect of turning I like the most is that within a couple of hours or less I can have a finished product. When you work a lot of hours under high stress like I do it’s a great stress reliever. I would suggest that if they are available to you nearby, take a short class on bowl turning something like that; it’s a great way to test the waters.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3907 days

#2 posted 11-05-2009 10:02 PM

I’m doing what Chris did. I bought a mini-lathe from Penn State Industries. A “Starter Kit” to make sure that I would like it. The investment was small compared to a full sized lathe. And I found that it’s addictive. I’m basically turning pens, but have done a few spindles. It’s truly fun.

And, like Chris, I’ve found it to be a real stress relief. Sometimes simply taking a piece of scrap and making it round while practicing coves and beads is great therapy.

-- Working at Woodworking

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3238 days

#3 posted 11-05-2009 10:14 PM

I would recommend you either do what was done by the folks above….or buy a used lathe…...another possiblibity is to look up your local woodturning clubs or woodworking clubs….alot of these will let you try out a bit on the lathe…I know my local rockler store has classes (alot of the woodworking stores do also) and that is a possibility.

I have both a mini and a big lathe – I keep the mini as it has a long bed (cheaper to buy the extensions for these then for my big one)...the long bed is great when I want to turn a long spindle for a chair or table. My big lathe I mostly turn everything but long spindles.

I would say that turning is my one of my favorite woodworking processes….like Chris said…it is a great stress reliever…and allows you to do some very creative projects…..Wood is not the only thing you can turn also…folks are turning antler, bone, acrylics, gemstones…I have turned soft metals…like brass and copper…...there is off center turning, ornamental turning….you are only limited by your imagination….I think a few folks on LJ’s label woodturning as the crack of woodworking….I would tend to agree….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18249 posts in 3644 days

#4 posted 11-05-2009 10:16 PM

You only live once!! Get a bargain form Craigs list. Hopefully you can break even if you don’t use it. I have the opposite problem. Too many interests and i keep them all :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ProbablyLost's profile


83 posts in 3486 days

#5 posted 11-05-2009 10:32 PM

Hey Mike, I have the lathe you are thinking about buying. If you use one of their 20% off coupons it brings the price down to about $200 and includes a stand. I purchased this lathe b/c I was not sure if I would enjoy it and $200 was not a huge investment. I can tell you it was well worth the money. I debated about taking a class before I bought it and looked at woodcraft in KC for turning classes and the cost more than the $200 price tag of the lathe so I have been figuring it out on my own. Money is tight for everyone but I can tell you this lathe has been worth every penny.

-- Chris

View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3112 days

#6 posted 11-05-2009 10:35 PM

What I did was to take a pen turning class here at the local Woodcraft to make sure it was something I wanted to add to the tool collection. Needless to say, within 2 weeks of the class, a Rikon mini-lathe was sitting in my shop.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3255 days

#7 posted 11-05-2009 11:53 PM

If there is a woodturners club in your area, check it out first. The club here is incredible in teaching new guys about turning. They do a lot of one on one with guys (girls) in their own shops, with their lathes. sort of like a test drive. I’ve seen some join the club before buying a lathe. Everyone else has given good input if you do buy. It’s not like you have to start with a $5,000 Powermatic or anything.

I have yet to see anyone get started that didn’t get hooked.


View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3236 days

#8 posted 11-06-2009 03:01 PM

thanks guys this does help

chris, i sent you a message

View Llarian's profile


128 posts in 3576 days

#9 posted 11-06-2009 06:07 PM

Just to add my $0.02, I did like some of the above and bought a cheap Penn State lathe with some pen turning kits and such just to see if I liked it and thought I might be any good at it.

Now that I’ve had it for all of 2 weeks, I absolutely love it! As soon as a little more money is available, I’m getting a larger set of chisels, a decent chuck, and some bowl turning blanks. =)

There’s something amazingly fulfilling about being able to churn out multiple projects from start to finish in a day, rather than taking weeks to finish something.

-- Dylan Vanderhoof - General hobbiest and reluctant penmaker.

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3960 days

#10 posted 11-06-2009 10:02 PM

hey Mike please let us know what you decide to go with….

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3660 days

#11 posted 11-06-2009 10:31 PM

Mike i have just purchased a lathe just to see if i like it go second hand like me then if you dont like it sell the lathe back on ebay i payed £41 for mine which isn’t alot but i will buy good tools though

mine is just to learn pen making a very good place to start i’v been told and if i get any problems there are enough guys on here to help me out

SO GO FOR IT is my words to you

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3957 days

#12 posted 11-06-2009 10:35 PM

I would try turning on someone elses lathe to make sure it’s something you even like.

I bought a lathe and it turns (no pun intended) out that I don’t like it at all!

Don’t forget that you will also need chisels.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3236 days

#13 posted 11-06-2009 10:58 PM

what didnt you like about it gary?

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3373 days

#14 posted 11-06-2009 11:06 PM

I would look at going to a club meeting if there is one in your area, see their projects talk to them. At first all I thought of was spindles and bowls (boring). The club meetings I find very good, watch techniques and insperation on different projects. I’m very glad I got mine.

-- Alan, Prince George

View stevemc's profile


15 posts in 3092 days

#15 posted 11-06-2009 11:22 PM

I suggest you find a club or someone with some experience to help get you started. You will save frustration, and will be much more likely to have safe and successful projects, after all its suppose to be fun, right?

-- Steve, Gainesville, Fl

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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