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Forum topic by Gopher posted 541 days ago 1545 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gopher

19 posts in 544 days


541 days ago

Got my eye on the Harbor Fright # 34706 12×33 lathe.
Would like to be able to turn pins and small items as well as spindles.
Anyone know of problems with this, is this lathe worth buying or should I
opt for a better model, brand ?


25 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4746 posts in 1175 days


#1 posted 541 days ago

http://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-x-33-3-8-eighth-inch-wood-lathe-with-reversible-head-34706.html

Some reviews on HF as well. Seems like you might have to budget in some replacement
parts, if need be.

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Gopher

19 posts in 544 days


#2 posted 541 days ago

What replacement parts, I don’t want to buy something I have to rebuild to work with.

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

501 posts in 634 days


#3 posted 541 days ago

The Reeves Drive is the problem. I’d stay away from any lathe with a Reeves Drive.

I’d either drop down to a direct drive Jet 1014 or the 1220, or jump on up to a Nova or Jet 1642 with the EVS drive.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2247 days


#4 posted 541 days ago

I don’t want to buy something I have to rebuild to work with

from my experience there aren’t many if any HF items that this would apply to. the whole idea about HF purchases is that you buy something dirt cheap knowing you’d have to put some work/parts/replacement/rebuild into it to make it work like it should/expected.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1121 posts in 1361 days


#5 posted 541 days ago

NO Reeves drive

-- BELT SANDER: Used for making rectangular gouges in wood.

View Mike67's profile

Mike67

96 posts in 1934 days


#6 posted 540 days ago

I had one for a while. It worked fine for spindles and small bowls but I eventually wanted more power and capacity so I upgraded. That HF lathe didn’t owe me a thing. It did have a few issues. The reeves drive is not the best but if you lube the shafts and keep the dust blown out it works. I actually liked that it would slip sometimes when I’d have a major catch. I also had trouble with the spring loaded little handles for tightening the tool rest. The plastic part strips after a while. Also, there were lots of times, especially doing bowls, when I really wished for more power so I could take deeper cuts.
With the HF you get a little more than you expect for something so inexpensive (I paid well under $200 on sale with a coupon), but you’ll still end up wanting more.
I hope this helps.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1596 days


#7 posted 540 days ago

You really cannot make a comparison of a $250 lathe and a $2500 lathe. For not much money, this HF lathe is a nice basic lathe. You are not going to find anything in it’s price range that has it’s capabilities. It is a lot nicer than the cheap lathes with tubular ways. The next step up in quality will be in the $600 or so range up to the lifetime investment type of lathes.

The reeves drive has some disadvantages. The lowest speed isn’t that low (about 500RPM.) You have to be turning to adjust speed. It can be a bit sticky if you don’t maintain it. I would still rather deal with a reeves drive than changing pulleys.

Disclaimer: I have the HF lathe and if it were to disappear, I would replace it with the same model.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

501 posts in 634 days


#8 posted 540 days ago

I had one of these in my shop for a time, then heard a noise…bang bang bang… as the spindle turned. The belt had started coming apart and was hitting the housing. So I took the covers off and discovered the pulleys weren’t lined up. This was probably why the belt was coming apart in the first place. So being the mechanic I was, I loosened all the set screws and tried to move the pulleys back into alignment. And that’s when the pulley shattered into million pieces. It’s just a cheap thin Zinc/Aluminum alloy after all…..

Sure, the part cost was only about $10 or so, but then you have to wait for the thing to come across the pond, and hopefully nothing else would break when doing the replacement.

Since nearly all the locking handles had broken as well, I cut my losses and sold the thing on Craigslist, bought the Jet 1014, and then several years later upgraded to the Jet 1642.

I’d look for something a little more robust in the way of drives. Either get a straight belt drive on the mini lathes like the Rikon, Delta, or Jet, or just jump up to a higher HP with an EVS (much better anyway!) like the NOVA or Jet 1642, or the Powermatic 2035.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1452 posts in 1696 days


#9 posted 540 days ago

here’s another option. I have one and love it.
Woodcraft has them on sale now and then.

http://www.woodcraft.com/category/2005508/rikon-mini-lathe.aspx

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

501 posts in 634 days


#10 posted 540 days ago

Oh, and I was going to say, that a lot of times that headstock won’t line back up properly with the tailstock and folks have come up with double ended morse taper to remedy that situation.

It’s an OK lathe, but my preference would be for something else.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3337 posts in 1569 days


#11 posted 540 days ago

A “Reeves drive” has been, and still is, a functional variable speed belt drive design.
It was used on many high end lathes and drill presses by companies like Delta and PowerMatic for example.
It was the most affordable way to have variable speed drive in the past.
Since the design uses deeply tapered adjustable width sheaves and runs only on the edges of the belt there is wear and, in time, slippage. Some maintenance, including belt replacement, is required to keep the system running at top efficiency.

Modern variable frequency electronic drives are becoming more affordable today, but they are still more expensive right now. No doubt, some day they will replace mechanical systems like Reeves Drives, but right now they cost much more. The biggest problem with variable frequency design is the lack of torque at low speeds. This has to be compensated by using over size motors and self regulating speed controls with feedback circuits.

I have read good reviews, generally. on the 12×33 HF lathe. I don’t have one myself, I have the smaller 10” x 18” 5-speed machine, but if I buy a bigger machine, the 12 X 33 is my most likely step up. I might put a bigger motor on it someday, maybe even add a VS drive to enhance the Reeves system.

The biggest negative I could think of with the Reeves is the limited low speed range. It won’t go any slower than 600 RPM. I am sure I’d put a jack shaft and another stage of reduction on that machine to get the speed down to about 200 RPM when I need it. This is only a factor for turning bowls or other large diameter pieces. Would not be an issue for spindles or pens.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Leslie's profile

Leslie

44 posts in 1651 days


#12 posted 540 days ago

I got this lathe about 3 yrs ago. It was a good starter lathe, but have up grated to a nova. If you just wont to see it turning is something you like, its a good place to start along with some of there tools to pratice sharping. Its much better to grind away a 10.00 tool than a 200.00. You will need to replace the belt, just go to an autoparts store.

-- Leslie, TX

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

501 posts in 634 days


#13 posted 540 days ago

Crank says:
“It was used on many high end lathes and drill presses by companies like Delta and PowerMatic for example.”

I would argue (respectfully) that the operative word here is “was”. I’ve used heavy duty Reeves drives on moulders before and they were nothing but trouble. I’ve replaced them a few times.

I’d buy one of the aforementioned mini lathes before I bought one with a Reeves Drive. ESPECIALLY that CHEAP Reeves Drive from HF. (And just so you know, the Jet Reeves drive is basically the same, and I wouldn’t buy it either.)

If you have to have the capacity for a reasonable price, then look for a used, or on sale, mini Jet 1220 with a bed extension.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1596 days


#14 posted 540 days ago

crank49

I keep thinking about replacing the drive with one of the nice “servo drive” industrial sewing machine motors (they are not really servos.) A 3/4 HP brushed version is about $100 and brushless for about twice that on ebay.

I rarely go above minimum speed on mine anyway and would prefer to gear it down anyway.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View crank49's profile

crank49

3337 posts in 1569 days


#15 posted 540 days ago

Here’s a link to a fellow LJ who replaced the drive on one of these lathes with a DC motor and speed controller.
http://lumberjocks.com/MMuntz/blog/26340

FYI, I have a 1967 John Deere garden tractor with a Reeves Drive in it that still works. 46 years says the technology can’t be all bad, if designed properly and maintained.

Now, did HF design it correctly? Doubt it. But, like I said, it’s a starting place, a base on which I can work and being an engineer I enjoy improving machines. It’s what I do.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

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