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Forum topic by Moose82 posted 05-24-2011 10:13 PM 1471 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Moose82

91 posts in 2132 days


05-24-2011 10:13 PM

I am looking to buy a small wood lathe. Anybody have any advice on one. I don’t want to spend a ton but dont want to regret it either. Thanks for your advice


11 replies so far

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2536 days


#1 posted 05-24-2011 10:38 PM

2 key questions – (1) do you have space limitations that prevent you from getting a larger lathe? and (2) will you want the lathe to be portable so you can take it to other locations?

If the answer to both of these questions is “no”, then I don’t understand the need for a small lathe. Consider this lathe – -

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Wood-Lathe-With-Digital-Readout/G0462

It costs just a little more than a bench top lathe. It will do everything a small lathe will do except be portable to a different location. And it will do a lot of things a small lathe cannot do.

I have this particular lathe and there is a review of it that I wrote in the review section.

b.t.w. – I have borrowed a friends small lathe to take to a demonstration I was doing. Yes, it is easier to transport a small lathe than a big lathe – - but it is still not easy. Even the small lathes are quite heavy.

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2154 days


#2 posted 05-24-2011 10:41 PM

Some of the full sized JETs are not that far above the mini’s once you add the bed extension, stand, and stand extension. I wish I had gone with a larger JET lathe than my mini. What about a used lathe?

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 2731 days


#3 posted 05-24-2011 10:57 PM

It depends on what you want to turn…and how much turning you want to do.

For pens and small bottle stoppers…there are very compact lathes for that – as most mini lathes are really made for pen making. For hunting calls, pepper mills and for bowls…a midi is preferable…something with at least a 12” drop from the head stock to the bed (this determines how large an object you can fit on the lathe 12” means you could turn up to 24” in diameter the 12” is measured from the center of the headstock spindle to the top of the bed…it is a circles radius) – weight is the other factor here though…if the blank is too heavy….a small lathe may not be able to handle it.

For smaller lathes, I really like the Jets…..they are the one that most companies imitate. Their JWL1220VS is a great lathe…I have one for spindle turning…..but for the majority of turning I do…I have my powermatic 3520B – which is a full size lathe.

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

View peteg's profile

peteg

3853 posts in 2284 days


#4 posted 05-25-2011 12:21 AM

It can be costly if you later decide you want to go bigger, as Rich said you can turn small on a bigger lathe but not the reverse, same with tools you can turn delicate work with quite large tools but not so easy the other way round.
I would try & get any chucks with interchangeable thread inserts, then if you do decide to change lathes later you can keep you chucks & simple change the thread inserts, ( headstock drive shafts come in a wide range of threads depending on the manufacturer)
Wish list
Electronic speed control (if not check that their is a good range of speed, & the steps will suit your needs)
Swivel headstock (saves you back from a lot of bending over the bed)
free standing ( you can work both sides of the machine if you have…
Forward / reverse
Just a couple of ideas to possibly help, I am currently on my fourth lathe, Good luck & have fun

Between centres will depend if you want to do spindel turning (legs etc)

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3558 days


#5 posted 05-25-2011 01:18 AM

Also, be warned that the lathe is just the beginning of the cost assocated with turning. You will need tools, chucks, sharpening equipment, etc. It is lots of fun but there are lots of stuff you will need.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Moose82's profile

Moose82

91 posts in 2132 days


#6 posted 05-25-2011 05:27 PM

Thanks for all the advice

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2536 days


#7 posted 05-25-2011 09:15 PM

Let me pick up on what Wayne said. I’ve been criticized for saying this in the past, but I believe it to be true. If you are going to enjoy turning, you really need sharp tools and to have sharp tools, you really need a good sharpening system. You can do it for less, but I tell people to plan on about $300 for a good grinder and jig set-up.

Also, you don’t need the top of the line cutting tools, but you should avoid the cheap stuff. Plan on $100 – $200 to get a good starter set of cutting tools.

Many people think you really need a good chuck to do much turning. I disagree. Faceplates can work very well and in many situations are superior to chucks.

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

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

13003 posts in 2154 days


#8 posted 05-25-2011 09:27 PM

Along Rich’s lines, I like the Thompson tools. . They’re not the cheapest, but they’re very reasonable. I’ve got a nice chuck, but I rarely use it. I guess it all depends upon what type of work you’ll be doing. You can master spindle work while you save up for a chuck!:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View oblowme's profile

oblowme

91 posts in 2025 days


#9 posted 05-26-2011 12:32 AM

Stay away from any of that China crap. if you look around some you can find a good used Delta, Jet etc often less than 300 bucks. I just bought a 1940’s Delta for $100 compleat with the orginal motor and a bunch of tooling to boot.

-- A TOOL JUNKIE- There, I just admited it to myself...

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2656 days


#10 posted 05-26-2011 03:18 AM

Harbor Freight’s Central Machinery 33 3/8” lathe is excellent. http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-x-33-3-8-eighth-inch-wood-lathe-with-reversible-head-34706.html

Its pretty much identical to Jet’s, actually it is identical but with different paint. I love it. I can’t speak much though as its the only one I’ve used but I’m very impressed with the quality of it. The stand is another matter though so I made one for it, check out my workshop pics or blog. I waited a few months to purchase it as it goes on sale once or twice a year. It will occasionally go to $199. They even accepted the 20% off on top of the discount so I ended up getting it for around $160 +tax. Its solid cast iron, 12” bed with rotating headstock. Speed changes are done with it running with a simple dial change :) I couldn’t be happier with it. Just make sure to do something about the stand.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View oblowme's profile

oblowme

91 posts in 2025 days


#11 posted 05-26-2011 02:40 PM

Actually the HF job is a China knock off, they do it all the time. You might be lucky and get castings that are not full of voids, but the material used will still be the cheapest they find that will remain in one piece until it leaves the show room. Just saying something like ‘Cast Iron’ is meaningles, cast iron comes in alot of alloys formulated for a specific application. Some (malable) are even arc weldable.
If you think you might subject this machine to heavy use I’d say you will regret your choice. After all how good can a machine be if it’s sold for half the price of a good new one?
Think about it.

-- A TOOL JUNKIE- There, I just admited it to myself...

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