LumberJocks

Starter Lathe questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodturning forum

Forum topic by Benius posted 02-15-2018 07:01 PM 779 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Benius's profile

Benius

24 posts in 525 days


02-15-2018 07:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

Hello everyone! I’ve been interested in trying my hand at wood turning for awhile now but am most interested in turning bowls. Nothing too large but a nice 8-10” bowl would be perfect! Questions:

1- What is the minimum HP required to turn a piece of green wood large enough to cut an 8” bowl? The mini lathes seem like they aren’t powerful enough and I could easily damage them.

2- Is starting with bowl turning jumping the gun? Should I stick with smaller, easier projects first?

3- What are the main things to inspect and check if buying a used lathe other than it turns on?

I appreciate any input! Thanks


14 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12431 posts in 2583 days


#1 posted 02-15-2018 07:40 PM

1. You can get by with 3/4hp but 1hp or better will make you happier.
2. Yes and yes.
3. I would restrict my search to cast iron lathes with variable speed which is more convenient and safer. Listen for any clicking or grinding sounds. Clicking is often a loose set screw, not a big deal, but could be a bearing. Grinding is probably a bad bearing. Make sure the tailstock isn’t frozen and that the taper ejects. Check that headstock and tailstock centers align. Don’t buy anything with damaged or missing major parts because they are usually very expensive to replace. If the lathe is more than ~20-30 years old, read my link below.

Since you are considering a used lathe, this might be helpful.
http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/p/how-to-buy-vintage-lathe.html

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Benius's profile

Benius

24 posts in 525 days


#2 posted 02-15-2018 07:44 PM

Thank you! I’ll keep my eye open for something that fits those criteria.

View RobHannon's profile

RobHannon

190 posts in 734 days


#3 posted 02-15-2018 08:01 PM

I am pretty new to turning myself, but what I have heard is the learning spindle work skills first makes bowl turning a much more enjoyable thing to learn rather than starting with bowls. That being said, a lathe for turning medium size bowls is probably a good for learning spindle work too.

I had a really cheap tube bed lathe that was a disaster and it was a good 5 years before I even considered trying a lathe again. Then I got a economy (cheap but not as cheap as the past one) mini lathe. Good for pens but really limited what you could do with it and pretty low power. I now have the Harbor Freight lathe. It has been much more enjoyable to work with. If I had the money I would look for a PM 3520, but for 1/10 of the cost the HF one certainly is an affordable learning tool.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2481 posts in 2338 days


#4 posted 02-15-2018 08:20 PM

There is a lot of junk in the used lathe market have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding a princess! Even some of the better used lathes may need repairs soon after buying. Unless capable of changing bearings, belts, and motors don’t buy a used lathe. Think Rick’s link should put you on notice as what to watch out for still there are some real dogs cannot get parts for.

You can read owner reviews at this site & here. You’ll see prices & specs. Again shop arounds for best price..

https://www.amazon.com/Delta-Industrial-46-460-2-Inch-Variable-Speed/dp/B00309ZZRQ

https://www.amazon.com/JWL-1221VS-12-Inch-21-Inch-Variable-Speed/dp/B00BGBVJCU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518725723&sr=8-1&keywords=jet+midi+lathe

https://www.amazon.com/RIKON-Power-Tools-70-220VSR-Lathe/dp/B00SOR476O

-- Bill

View Knockonit's profile

Knockonit

477 posts in 405 days


#5 posted 02-15-2018 08:38 PM

I started up again, after a 3o year hiatus, found a jet mini lathe on the cheap, gave it a go, then bumped up to the HF bigger unit, and am working with it, but keep my eye open for a little better grade lathe, I was’t sure i was gonna enjoy it as much as i am, i do struggle with the sharpening, but am getting better,

i am going to take a class over at rockler, on sharpening when they have the next one, i have the grizz grinder and work smart, and some jigs for tools, but again, i’m a slow learner, lol.

have fun, make some fire wood, and think bootiful stuff can happen.
R j in az

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

1522 posts in 807 days


#6 posted 02-15-2018 08:39 PM

Also brand spanking new to turning. Here is the one I rebuilt and added variable speed to. Spent $75 total.

I would spend a few hrs. just practicing using the tools to develop skills. Grab a chunk of scrap about a foot long and 3” square and make it round. Make a bead, vee, taper etc using as many tools as you have to see what they can do. Just keep it mounted until there’s nothing left. Lots of vids on using the tools.

Then pick a couple of cheap easy projects and give it a try. Here are my first two made from scrap wood.

Total for the tee and pen kits was $9.75. Plenty of youtube vids on how to make them.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

1522 posts in 807 days


#7 posted 02-15-2018 08:54 PM


i do struggle with the sharpening, but am getting better,
R j in az

- Knockonit

I splurged and bought the Rockler mini carbide tool set. Night and day difference and no sharpening. The sharpening thing just looked too labor intensive plus the expense of the equipment required.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7051 posts in 2402 days


#8 posted 02-15-2018 08:57 PM

What Rick said… look for a nice used cast iron lathe – I would avoid the angle iron or tube types. Variable speed is nice, but one with a 4 step pulley will work just as well – you really don’t need to change speeds all that often and generally you really only need a couple; start slow until balanced and then fast for the rest of the work.

As for used – just look for well known brands – you can’t go wrong with just about any of the older Delta or Powermatic machines. It’s getting the off-brand no-name things that can cause lots of grief if they are missing parts or need work.

For horsepower, you don’t really need gobs of power, just sharp tools – and a belt sander works fine for that. The old Powermatic 45’s were an industry standard and found in just about all the schools at one time, and they never offered anything more than 3/4 hp. The bigger PM90’s never shipped with anything larger than 1hp. I’ve turned a boatload of bowls around the size you are looking at on my old Delta, and it only has a 1/2hp motor.

Cheers,
Brad

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

View HapHazzard's profile

HapHazzard

116 posts in 1071 days


#9 posted 02-16-2018 11:56 PM

If you want to start with spindle work, tool handles are fun, easy and useful. If you have a drawer full of files you can make handles for them. If you have tools with broken handles or without handles, make handles for them. If your gardening tools have old, weathered handles, buy new ones and use the old ones for turning.

-- Unix programmers never die; they just > /dev/null

View msinc's profile

msinc

569 posts in 707 days


#10 posted 02-17-2018 01:10 AM

Just to get started I bought a Shop Fox lathe. I like it, especially the price. The one thing I would like to change is that while variable speed, it will only go down to 500 rpm’s. When starting out on large turnings {like bowls, etc.} it would really be nice and probably safer too if I could get her down to like 250 rpm’s.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12431 posts in 2583 days


#11 posted 02-17-2018 03:32 AM

My Delta goes down to 250 rpm, previous 2 lathes went down to 300ish. The only thing I do at that speed is apply finish.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View MrUnix's profile (online now)

MrUnix

7051 posts in 2402 days


#12 posted 02-17-2018 04:14 AM

My Delta goes down to 250 rpm, previous 2 lathes went down to 300ish. The only thing I do at that speed is apply finish.
- Rick_M

Ha – My little Delta’s slowest speed is ~900 rpm and I’ve done up to just under 10” bowls. It’s a wild ride at first, but once you get it balanced, not a problem. Having a bandsaw or other means to get the blank as close to round first really helps, even on machines that can go much slower – I do the same on my PM45 which starts off at around 300 rpm.

Cheers,
Brad

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

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

521 posts in 1665 days


#13 posted 02-17-2018 06:12 AM

Benius, Where are you located?

A lot of good advice here, however I would try to find a local wood turning club.
If you are in the USA, or Canada check out woodturningonline.com
Under the community tab there is a link to find local clubs.
Lots of other good info here too.
https://www.woodturningonline.com/

-- John

View 49er's profile

49er

171 posts in 1808 days


#14 posted 02-17-2018 02:30 PM

I never did fine a bargain on a really good lathe. I bought a Powermatic 3520b right after Christmas. I had to go to Evansville Indiana to get it but saved $1100 over a 3520c. I had not used a wood lathe since 1975. It was a lot of money to me but I don’t have to worry about up grading. Also, the resale on this lathe is great but I will not sell. LOL

-- Correlation is not causation but I did loose my Doctor !!!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com