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Should I buy this lathe?

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Forum topic by ki7hy posted 07-07-2016 03:00 AM 1099 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


07-07-2016 03:00 AM

What’s up turner people…

I’m a novice in the world of wood turning but we have some projects that will benefit greatly from a lathe being in the shop. With that said, the wife and I were thinking of getting the middle of the line harbor freight lathe. Our budget for this is tight. However, we were at woodcraft this evening and they have their general international maxi-lathe VF on sale for 50% off. So it retails for $700 and we can snap it up for $350. With all of the wisdom around here, I know you guys can point me in the right direction. The $350 blows the budget but this one seems to have a lot of features. Thoughts?

Since I am at it, what chuck and chisels should I get on a budget. They tried to pitch me one but am curious what a good bargain would be. Please remember I need budget friendly advice.

Thanks guys and gals!


42 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1596 days


#1 posted 07-07-2016 08:11 PM

Hard to advise you because don’t know what you want to turn. That $350 General lathe sounds like a bargain but need more information. You talking new in the box, return or refurbished?

That lathe had issues when first came out but think they have gotten them resolved. If it will fit your needs okay.

There are several chucks that will serve you well without breaking the bank. Depends upon whether want a Tommy bar or key chuck.

Turning tools depend on what you want to turn. Can find an inexpensive spindle turning set at Harbor Freight under $100. If want inexpensive bowl or spindle chisels & gouges look at Hurricane tools or Penn State Industry (PSI.

-- Bill

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

1134 posts in 174 days


#2 posted 07-07-2016 08:28 PM

just as wildwood says ….. what do you plan on turning ?? ..... could also look on CL to see if there is any bargains there …. sometime you get some1 moving or retired just want to get rid of it

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#3 posted 07-07-2016 08:41 PM

Thanks for the responses guys, didn’t think I was going to grab any on this one.

The lathe is new in box. I have about 70 screwdrivers to turn for gifts coming up. Will mostly do spindle turning I imagine. Would probably get into bowls or depth turning at some point but to start it will mainly be spindle turning for tool handles. I assume the spur center and live center this thing comes with will be ok for that to start?

The lathe is new in the box. They are doing 50% off of a few of their general international items. Craigslist has been a joke the last month and a half but today there was an old Jet that popped up but the options are far fewer, better brand though. I still like the idea of new and warranty for this one and it’s much bigger than the Jet which is about 10 years old.

As for chisels, I have been reading a ton this morning and decided everyone seems to like the Benjamins best so I think I will order those. From what I can tell, I should be able to turn handles with the stuff that comes with this lathe and a set of chisels and I shouldn’t need anything else right now. I know I will and already want a lot of extras but it’s not in the budget right now. So being a rookie, do I have my facts straight? Does everyone think this lathe at 50% off new in box is a good deal? It’s the last one new in the box, the next guy will get the display model.

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3124 days


#4 posted 07-07-2016 08:44 PM

How are you going to sharpen your tools?

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#5 posted 07-07-2016 08:47 PM

I’ll use a grinder with the white disk and a jig I’ll build. I do a lot of hand tool work with old garage sale chisels so I reshape those just fine. I imagine a lathe chisel shouldn’t be hard either, just a little practice with the angles but it might be easier being longer. I can use some water stones if I need them sharper, would need to figure out a jig for that too I suppose. I’ll strop them in the end regardless.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

805 posts in 2222 days


#6 posted 07-07-2016 09:35 PM

Wood lathes are simple tools and magnificent work can be done on very simple lathes. Its all in the skill of the user. That being said, there are some things that are desirable for the ease and adaptability of use.

The main one is the headstock spindle and tailstock spindle having holes that are Morse tapers (a standard tapered hole for standard tooling to be inserted). Morse tapers are numbered. There are not many sizes, the usual ones encountered being 1, 2, and 3, with size 2 being the most common for our size of wood lathe.

The headstock spindle should have a hole through the entire length of the shaft so a drawbar can be used to keep any tooling inserted into the Morse taper from coming loose. Most people make their own drawbars from threaded rod purchased from the ubiquitous Home Depot and Lowes stores.

You will also want to buy and use a 1/2” Jacobs chuck in the tailstock. You will have to mount the chuck on the tailstock using a standard mandrel that has a Jacobs taper on one end of the mandrel for the chuck and a Morse taper on the other end of the mandrel to fit the Morse taper of the headstock.

The lathe bed should be flat with a slot running down the center of the top running the length of the bed to hold the steady rest and any special tooling or jigs that you may need to use. I say this a a few wood lathes have round beds which work fine for the steady rest that comes with the lathe but doesn’t allow fixtures to be easily clamped to it.

And one last thing. All wood lathes should be very heavy, or if not, should be bolted to something that is. Often you will be turning something of a large diameter which will start out out-of-round and be unbalanced until it can be turned properly and the shaking and vibration will be pronounced and very troublesome.

Good luck on your purchase.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2099 days


#7 posted 07-07-2016 09:46 PM

I’m certainly not a turning expert. I’m thinking if you are only going to turn screwdriver handles for now (I bought a bunch of those shanks too, so I’ll be dong some also), you won’t need a very big lathe.

I’ve got the 10×18” 1/2 HP lathe that HF sells. Grizzley and Rockler sell the same lathe under different names and with different paint at higher prices. With the usual 20% coupon – catching it also on sale, I think I paid $150 for the lathe itself. That will leave a few dollars for tools and accessories. No, you can’t turn large bowls – but for small legs, spindles, knobs and the like, you’re set.

Assuming the usual 20% off coupon…

Right now, it looks like it would set you back $176 + tax.

You can always upgrade in a few years – keeping the tools and accessories for your new lathe.

-Paul

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#8 posted 07-07-2016 09:49 PM

Thanks Planeman.

I think this lathe checks off the items you listed. I do actually have the Jacob’s chuck in my Amazon cart already in case I pull the trigger on this thing. I know I will need it to get the screw driver shafts in straight among probably a million other things in the future. It isn’t too expensive.

As for the weight, I will be bolting it down. I’m sure for the items I will be doing initially it would be fine (93lbs) but in the future I will be happy I bolted it down.

Thanks for the input. I know this wouldn’t be my dream lathe but it’s $350…originally $700 and it’s new. So I can’t go wrong….right? ;) I called them to have them put my name on it so I can grab it after work today. The people at Woodcraft near me treat me well.

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#9 posted 07-07-2016 09:55 PM

Ocelot, that was the original plan actually. I was going to get exactly that lathe. The wife and I stopped into Woodcraft last night for something completely different and she saw they dropped the prices on some of the general tools from 20% off to 50% off. The options on this one blow away the Harbor Freight lathe plus it’s pretty big as mini lathes go. So really this one should last as long as it runs well. Can’t see needing anything bigger than this can do. I believe this can do 18” round plus an optional extension to go to 40” if need be.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2099 days


#10 posted 07-07-2016 09:59 PM

On the other hand, if that deal is real – and that lathe did often sell for $700, you might have a good chance of getting most of your money back out of it if you have to sell it used. But, on a budget, limiting the spending right now might be a higher priority.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2099 days


#11 posted 07-07-2016 10:01 PM

By the way, I picked up a couple of sets of Narex lathe tools from ebay seller TaylorToolWorksllc at auction awhile back. They were around 50% off of his normal buy-it-now price. I’ll check on that and see if he’s currently running those on auction.

I got the Narex 859503 “6 piece Starter Set” (mid-sized) for $31 shipped! (now selling for $99 BIN)

... and the Narex 859410 “5 piece full size professional turning set” for $85 shipped. (now selling for $220 BIN)

I think you can still get a pretty good deal from that seller on individual mid-sized Narex lathe tools. I would keep an eye on that seller if you have a little time to wait for a deal.

-Paul

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#12 posted 07-07-2016 10:07 PM

Yeah, we thought of that too on the resell if need be. More so the speed and size we thought was a deal. Plus the digital speed adjuster was a sell point. The deal is real, I should go pick it up tonight. Will unpack and get it ready when I get the lathe tools I decide on. I will either do the Benjamins best that gets rave reviews or do the Narex Ocelot mentioned due to personal experience.

Thanks for checking on that. I use Narex mortise chisels all the time and think they are a great buy for the buck.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2099 days


#13 posted 07-07-2016 10:21 PM

I bought those back in March. I already had lathe tools, but when I saw those I couldn’t resist bidding on them. I saw that he at that time often auctioned those sets with a pretty low starting price. Maybe he will again.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

1470 posts in 2099 days


#14 posted 07-07-2016 10:22 PM

I think you’re going to have some fun! Congrats on the lathe deal.

View ki7hy's profile

ki7hy

493 posts in 200 days


#15 posted 07-07-2016 10:33 PM

Thanks Ocelot. For practice I planned to cut up so 2×4 into 2” x 2” x 6-8” squares. How does that sound?

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