Anyone Using Harbor Freight Lathe?

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Forum topic by RussInMichigan posted 10-19-2011 06:13 AM 9186 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2806 days

10-19-2011 06:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe

I’d like to have a lathe for handles, dowels, knobs and such, and have been considering my options. I’m always skeptical of Harbor Freight, so I’d like to hear from someone who’s actually used one of their lathes before I buy one. So, anybody out there using a Harbor Freight lathe and would you share your experience?

19 replies so far

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2658 days

#1 posted 10-19-2011 06:15 AM

I have their midi lathe It has been a wonderful lathe and is nearly identical to many more popular brand midis.

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2806 days

#2 posted 10-19-2011 06:40 AM

Thanks a lot, HawkDriver. That will save me a lot of money I’d rather put toward wood!

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2797 days

#3 posted 10-19-2011 08:12 AM

I have the same lathe as HawkDriver, I haven’t done a lot of turning and I’m no lathe expert, but I really like it. It functions well enough from what I can tell.

I think it’s a great lathe if you want to do occaisional turning, or if you want to dabble into it unsure if you want to sink a lot of money/time into turning equipment etc..


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2806 days

#4 posted 10-19-2011 01:47 PM

Thanks, Jeremy.

My usage pattern will likely be occasional dabbling. I’m thinking I’ll pick one up today.

Thanks to both of you, Hawkdriver and Jeremy, for the help.


View jayman7's profile


218 posts in 3530 days

#5 posted 10-19-2011 02:19 PM

Hey that looks exactly like my Penn State Industries lathe (except it’s red). If it’s from the same, then it’s a great lathe for the price

View wiredheart's profile


6 posts in 3393 days

#6 posted 10-19-2011 02:19 PM

Russ- I’ve been buying Harbor Freight Tools for many years now as their prices are considerably lower than similar types of name brand tools and the quality for the most part is not much different. For the hobby type or occasional wood worker, they are fine as the cost allows you the flexibility to purchase other tools or products for your shop. If you plan on doing a lot of work where accuracy long accuracy is a concern, then choose wisely.
My wife knew I wanted a small lathe and a few years back, she got me the small Jet lathe which was on sale as it was last years model but it was good and allowed for the purchase of better tools.
The difference is that an HBL allows you to upgrade on better turning tools which is as important as the machine itself only more so in some ways as they need to be kept sharp all the time and the steel needs to be able to hold an edge longer to save on constant sharpening.

-- wiredheart

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#7 posted 10-19-2011 02:26 PM

I have the same HF-65345 as HawkDriver and Jeremy and it fit my needs well. It works as it should and I have no complaints about it at all.

I got an extension bed from Penn State Industries for their 10”x 18” Commander lathe and it fits the HF perfectly. Probably cause the same foundry cast the parts for both, or at least the same pattern was used for both.

One side note. If I were doing this again I would have gotten the larger floor model, 12” x 33” because it has a bigger motor and would be better for bowls. I haven’t made any bowls, but would like to. I will probably get the larger one anyway but finding a space to put it will be a problem. From most of the reviews I have read, these two are the best lathes HF sells.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3023 days

#8 posted 10-19-2011 09:21 PM

I have one of the bigger ones. I also have one of their small metal lathes. Not perfect but they are perfectly serviceable lathes. I would advise getting a larger one. The swivel head one they sell is long enough to turn a table leg. Other than when moving one, I have never heard anyone complain about their lathe having too much capacity.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View dbhost's profile


5725 posts in 3257 days

#9 posted 10-19-2011 09:34 PM

I have the #34706, which is a Jet JWL1236 clone. It’s actually one of the better clones out there, better regarded than the now long discontinued Grizzly version… It takes a bit of getting used to the swivel head, and getting your centers lined up, but once you figure it out, it’s smooth sailing.

I considered the smaller models, but honestly, for the few bucks difference on sale (usually about $199.00 for mine) I opted to get the bigger lathe. I have turned baseball bats out of pecan on mine. They come out nice…

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View adaughhetee's profile


104 posts in 2708 days

#10 posted 10-20-2011 12:23 AM

I also have the jet clone and have been more than satisfied. I had considered getting the smaller one b/c it is well made but, my wife said “why not get the bigger one for the same money” I am glad I did.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3220 days

#11 posted 10-20-2011 01:27 AM

I too have the #34706 12” x 33 3/8” bed jet clone. I love it. Great starting lathe and large. I saw the new Wood Magazine had an HF ad with a coupon with it for $199 and there is also a 20% off coupon. My store allowed me to use both types when I bought it so I got it for dirt cheap. The stand sucks though so I built a table (pics on my workshop page).

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2806 days

#12 posted 10-20-2011 08:48 PM

Thank you so much my fellow lumberjocks.

You’ve once again helped me make a decision I feel good about.

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3572 days

#13 posted 10-21-2011 05:15 AM

Not a harbor freight fan, but have considered the lathe. We need one for a few turnings here and there.

If the bigger one can turn table legs, how thick of a leg can a person turn on it.

-- .

View Wellsw's profile


8 posts in 2454 days

#14 posted 10-26-2011 04:18 AM

I’m glad some of you had good luck. I did not. My motor died after about an hour. I hauled it Bach to HF and ordered a delta from amazon. The motor may have been a fluke but my Delta sure runs smoother. Like a whisper compared to the other.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3220 days

#15 posted 10-26-2011 02:47 PM

Odd Wellsw, my motor is super quiet. I think you got a lemon.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

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