Mini lathe power

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Forum topic by majuvla posted 04-19-2016 07:10 PM 468 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View majuvla's profile


8749 posts in 2291 days

04-19-2016 07:10 PM

Hi all LJs

Little advice from all experianced woodturners.
Does 0,37 kW (0,5 hp) or 0,55kW (0,7 hp) enough power for mini lathe for woodturnig beginer like me?
I’ve got some good advices from my buddy ‘ZAGREB’, but still want to hear some more oppinions.
Thank in advance.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

10 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


4049 posts in 1623 days

#1 posted 04-19-2016 07:17 PM

You will get a lot of responses from people who feel bigger is better – but I have a 1/2hp motor on my Delta (10”x36”) full size lathe and have never felt the need for more – even when tuning 8-9 inch bowls. Depending on what lathe you have, the manual may suggest what size (and what is the max) you should use.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3642 days

#2 posted 04-19-2016 07:30 PM

My lathe has a 1/2 hp motor as well. Sure, it is possible to stall it if you get a catch. But it does just fine as long as my technique is correct.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

1698 posts in 487 days

#3 posted 04-19-2016 07:33 PM

Ivan, my Shopsmith Mark 5 is a 12-42, and has a 3/4 HP motor.

-- Mark

View soob's profile


223 posts in 632 days

#4 posted 04-19-2016 07:58 PM

When you’re roughing large bowls and coring, you can stop the 2hp motor on a powermatic.

But for the most part 1/2HP should be fine—if you run into issues, you’ll just have to take lighter cuts.

View Rick M.'s profile (online now)

Rick M.

7734 posts in 1804 days

#5 posted 04-19-2016 11:11 PM

Barely, fine for small spindles, tool handles, cups and small bowls.


View doubleDD's profile


5074 posts in 1467 days

#6 posted 04-20-2016 12:21 AM

Where the 1/2hp is OK for most small turnings, I would go to the 3/4hp or larger if it is in your range. A lot of it comes downs to how aggressive you work. Rounding out, small out of round logs is possible but again with more hp it’s a lot easier. For a beginner you are fine, the only problem is you want to progress as you get better and it gets harder. I started off with 1/2hp Rikon lathe. Had it for 3-4 years before moving up to the Nova DVR-XP.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View majuvla's profile


8749 posts in 2291 days

#7 posted 04-20-2016 06:00 AM

Thanks all, just as I thought so, I better start with 3/4 (0,7) hp.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16822 posts in 2529 days

#8 posted 04-20-2016 01:12 PM

Hi Ivan. I would not go with anything less that 1/2 hp. I have a mini lathe with 1/3hp motor on it and I can stall it with a 4” piece in it and it is an 8” lathe. It is good for pens and little stuff and it electronic speed control- No belts to change.

Cheers, my friend , Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Lazyman's profile


618 posts in 811 days

#9 posted 04-20-2016 02:12 PM

I bought an Excelsior mini lathe from Rockler last year. It has a 1/2 HP, 3.35 amp motor and I have never had a problem with the motor stalling out. I’ve turned a few things from really hard, dry oak and it works just fine for a $200 (on sale) tool. In fact as a beginner, I would rather it stall out with a bad catch, than destroy my work piece.

But then again, I always say go with the most/best you can afford. If you don’t, you’ll regret it later. In hindsight, I wish I had gone with a lathe that has variable speed to get a wider speed range. especially on the low end.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View rockmolsen's profile


155 posts in 997 days

#10 posted 04-20-2016 06:22 PM

I run a Jet 1220 VS with 3/4 hp. Since the swing over bed is 12” you really can do any thing larger than a 10” bowl. I think the 3/4 HP is sufficient but if you mount a bowl blank from a wet log that’s a little off balance your lathe will dance around the floor.

-- Rick --------The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.

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