Best starting lathe and tool questions

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Forum topic by PhillipRCW posted 11-22-2016 09:24 PM 550 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View PhillipRCW's profile


508 posts in 1412 days

11-22-2016 09:24 PM

I’m hoping to purchase a lathe soon and trying to decide what to buy. It looks like I’ll be in for the cost of the lathe, a decent chuck, a few attachments, and the tools. Any recommendations for any of these 4 would be greatly appreciated. From YouTube videos I’ve seen the Harbor Freight large lathe seems fairly decent as a starter. I’m leaning towards carbide tools because I want to inlay metal into my turnings.

-- Phillip- Measure twice, cut onc.... Hey look, it's rustic.

3 replies so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3531 posts in 3331 days

#1 posted 11-22-2016 10:07 PM

I would avoid the harbor freight lathe, you’re just going to be disappointed with it as your skill grows and want to replace it. On the cheap end, you could look on craigslist for a nice used lathe. I have an old delta from the 60s that I restored and it works pretty well for the $100 I spent. You sink so much money into lathe accessories that the lathe itself ends up being a relatively small percent of the total cost. If buying new, I think I would want a nova.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View KelleyCrafts's profile


3183 posts in 886 days

#2 posted 11-22-2016 10:08 PM

Depending on the metal you plan to use for an inlay, HSS tools should suffice.

As far as your list goes, you will need a method to sharpen your tools unless you go all carbide but that will get spendy with replacements.

The harbor freight lathe is fine except its top speed is pretty low compared to others. It just looks more robust because it’s on a big stand. Check craigslist for options too.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View MrUnix's profile


6943 posts in 2346 days

#3 posted 11-22-2016 10:30 PM

It looks like I’ll be in for the cost of the lathe, a decent chuck, a few attachments, and the tools.

Woodturning can be as expensive as you are willing to spend, or not very expensive at all, depending on what it is you are trying to accomplish. As Allen said, for a beginner it’s hard to beat the price/value proposition of buying used. And as a side benefit, if it turns out to be something you don’t like, you can sell the machine for what you paid for it. Another benefit is that they will usually come with many of the ‘extras’ you would otherwise have to buy separately.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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