Which Lathe to buy?

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Forum topic by DLudwig posted 11-21-2015 04:09 AM 698 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 338 days

11-21-2015 04:09 AM

Hello, im new to wood turning and im wondering if the rockwell beaver 3400 lathe is a good choice to start. Their was also a craftex lathe on sale near by but i have no idea if their good or not. Another local used lathe is is the craftsman 12” lathe or 12” atlas. Im just asking which lathe would be the best for pen turning?

8 replies so far

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Rick M.

7670 posts in 1797 days

#1 posted 11-21-2015 04:46 AM

The Craftsman is selling cheap because it’s a “tube lathe” and less desirable because they are prone to vibration. The Rockwell Beaver should be fine for making pipes. I turned one pipe, on a ‘58 Craftsman lathe, no trouble at all.

It looks like the Rockwell/Beaver has uncommon threads (7/8-14) and #1 Morse tapers. I would keep looking.

Here is another tube lathe, a Record, but I believe they make decent lathes.


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2581 posts in 2378 days

#2 posted 11-21-2015 02:02 PM

Personally, I would avoid Craftsman. They subcontract their products and make a few changes where all OEM parts will not interchange with the C’man parts. Plus they only stock parts based on replacements for about 5-7 years.

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2581 posts in 2378 days

#3 posted 11-21-2015 02:05 PM

Look at Woodcraft or Rockler or Penn State Industries for small lathes. I have a Rikon from Highland Woodworking and love it. Keep in mind that many of the lathes are the same, made in China, with a different paint job and trim. Look at the warranty offered, too.

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3 posts in 338 days

#4 posted 11-21-2015 02:40 PM

I’ve been thinking of the rockwell and for spare parts the only part I wont be able to replace is the spur and it comes with one. The tail stock is a morse taper 1 and I found live stalk on busy bee for it. I’ve also found a 4 jaw chuck on busybee that had the same thread. Also for the rockwell lathe theirs always at least 5+ for sale in my local area and many going under $100 because they dont have a motor so it would be great for spare parts. I also found this little lathe that looks good for small turning but no brand and part sizes

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1417 posts in 594 days

#5 posted 11-21-2015 05:31 PM

Many years ago I thought I would like to turn pen and pencils. I went to the local Woodcraft store and ended up with a Record lathe. Since then I have grown to hate this lathe because it used a #1 MT and a smaller thread on the headstock.

There are certain accessories that don’t come in #1 MT that I would like to have. Like special collet chucks to hold the dowel on a bottle stopper.

In summary, I would make sure that whatever lathe you purchase accepts a #2 MT and the more common thread size or you may find accessories that you want and can’t use.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

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266 posts in 718 days

#6 posted 11-21-2015 05:59 PM

I also found this little lathe that looks good for small turning but no brand and part sizes

It difficult to tell by the picture (even enlarged) but there appears to be a red/yellow on/off switch. A small switch (maybe for reset), and what looks to be knob. If so then it is probably electronic speed control which is very nice.

I believe it is this lathe. If so, they state it was $99 new?

If he still visits the site you may be able to write to him for the specs (or find the specs with a web search).

Ran across this, looks the same except for the color. IF it is the specs list 3A which should be about 1/3HP and that ain’t much..

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Chip9399's profile


10 posts in 331 days

#7 posted 11-24-2015 11:41 PM

I have a craftsman 15 swing 38 length, professional series, it’s a great lathe no issues at all, but I’m looking for a bigger digital variable speed, I like the jet 1642 or power raft brands, looked at a grizzly today ..good, buy the biggest one you can get.

View DLudwig's profile


3 posts in 338 days

#8 posted 11-25-2015 12:21 AM

I”ve found a Rockwell Beaver 3400 for $80 (going real cheap cause or his far and low populated area) after I refused kindly to buy stating the reason of a far drive he offered $60. $80 already being an amazing deal and the lathe is in amazing quality coming with a spur head stock and tail stock with no rust. The lathe it self still has its original paint and has next to no rust. The motor is in good shape and i’ve found all the nessisary turning attachments for it online. I found a drill tail stock and live center tail stock that fits and I found a faceplate and 4 jaw chuck that fits the unusual 7/8” x
14 tpi head stock. Theirs also tools included for extra $10 or $15 and im picking up a used tool stand for $30 localy. I think ive found the bargan of a life time because I see most rockwell beaver lathes starting at $150, at least the good ones with no rust.
Ill post pictures of the lathe when I get it this Thursday.

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