Recommendations for a Mid-Sized Lathe to Begin Turning

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Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 06-07-2010 07:25 PM 5811 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3778 days

06-07-2010 07:25 PM

While I’m religious about looking on Craig’s list and Ebay for used lathes, haven’t yet come across one in the Chicago Metro area for sale.
So I’m looking for recommendations on a good “mid-sized” lathe to begin teaching myself how to turn.
Floor standing model preferred, but not one that will break the bank. I’ll be starting with spindles, and moving to bowls as I get better..
Book and DVD recommendations on Turning would also be appreciated.
Thanks in advance for the suggestions.

-- Gerry

7 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3432 days

#1 posted 06-07-2010 08:02 PM

Gerry…..I would look for an older Delta 1460. They were built form the 1930’s until the late 70’s. They are very simple in design, easy to work on if the need ever arises, can be picked up fairly inexpensively and are a good beginners lathe. I just got one off craigslist a month ago and I love it.

It took me almost a year to find one, be patient. Another option would be to take a look at the listing on BOYD at There is currntly one listed for sae but is in PA, I dont know if yo have family in that area but there are also ruckering and pottering options within the site as well. A rucker will move the lathe for you, usually no to little fee, as a courtesy of being a member there. If ya need any more onfo on owwm send me a PM. Here is the lathe listed on owwm

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3240 days

#2 posted 06-07-2010 08:43 PM

I would recommend that look for a local turning group, adult classes at the junior colleges…or some classes at your local woodworking store. Also, check out the American Association of Woodturners, they have a great deal on membership now and all their journals are available online – Their annual convention is in Harford, CT this year – they are a great resource for great info! They also have a list of local chapters. That way you can get a feel for how and what you want to turn. I know so many folks that bought a lathe that was way below what they eventually wanted/needed – they didn’t find out until they learned more of the craft….then there was one that I know that went all out on a lathe and later decided that turning was not for him…he just couldn’t get the knack of how to chuck his pieces…and got overly frustrated – I taught him some chucking techniques and some turning on my lathe and he is now looking for a used lathe to replace the one he sold…go figure!

The above resources are also a good place to find used lathes…lots of these folks upgrade…and you can get a good price on a lathe that is typically tricked out with a good chuck…some centers…and other accessories.

Anyway, most smaller lathes are to turn just pens and there are all kinds of small lathes being made for this…and very moderately priced. Some of the midi lathes are a misnomer in my opinion…they are really not better then a pen lathe…though they boast of being able to turn bowls…they are typically underpowered for turning hardwoods and will cause alot of frustration. I do have a jet Midi…that I use for spindles (it is overly expensive to get a bed extension for my Powermatic…so I just bought a jet with an extension – used (spindles do not require a lot of power to turn).

There are alot of excellent turners here on LJ’s that can give you more pointers….the art of turning is evolving so quickly that it is hard to keep up with all the new innovations…I am playing now with ornamental turning and inside out turning….. I enjoy it immensely and find that my time at the lathe is the best way to relax after a stressful time at work.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3547 days

#3 posted 06-07-2010 08:48 PM

Sorry I’m not a turning expert I just use a record lathe that has a bed that has two pipes for the bed and when I wanted to make it longer I just bought longer pipes.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#4 posted 06-07-2010 09:44 PM

I consider myself a relatively serious turner. I use the Grizzly G0462. It is on sale for $475 (plus $94 for shipping). There is nothing fancy about this lathe. It’s just a rock solid lathe that you can count on. I’ve written a review that you may like to read.

This lathe cost about the same as the better bench top lathes and it can do much more than any bench top machine can do.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dmorrison's profile


151 posts in 3231 days

#5 posted 06-07-2010 10:22 PM

I was going to recommend that as a beginner try the Harbor Freight lathe. It’s on sale for $120 right now.

Which was rated OK here at Lumberjocks

But after looking at your shop, I see that your a more advanced woodworker.
I have an old Delta lathe that I bought 15 years ago when Home Depot was discontinuing the Delta lathe. I’m afraid I have not used it much. It’s a Delta model 46-701 variable speed lathe. The one Norm Abrams started out with after he stopped using his shopsmith.
Maybe it would be a good idea to let us know the price range your interested in.


View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3778 days

#6 posted 06-08-2010 07:27 PM

FYI-per dmorison’s question-I’m looking in the $400-800 price range. When I think my turning skills are up to a serious level, would probably step up to a more expensive machine,
Hope this additional info helps.

-- Gerry

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3078 days

#7 posted 06-09-2010 07:18 AM

Gerry -

Another option you might look at is the Delta 46-460 Midi Lathe. I have been looking at this lathe, off and on, for some time. The professional reviews on it have been pretty good and there is an LJ review here. It has variable speed, a 1hp motor to it, has an optional stand and the capabilities to expand from a midi to a full size lathe as your experience increases.

With whatever you go with, I would recommend double checking the specs on your purchase to make sure the lathe has a standard headstock (8tpi 1 inch) and tailstock (MT #2). Some of the China and Taiwan knockoffs (HF has an economy lathe for example, which I have) use proprietary parts that made the uses of additional accessories more complicated. If you find yourself addicted to turning (which you will be) and you desire to accessorize with a 4 jaw chuck or a drill chuck (which you will), the investments in these accessories will benefit you most if you can move them to an upgrade in the future. Like any other tool, the accessories will end up costing you more than the initial tool itself and it would be a shame to have to leave them behind.

My .02. Hope it helps,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

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