buying a mini lathe,,

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Forum topic by 3285jeff posted 09-21-2013 11:33 AM 1778 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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152 posts in 1556 days

09-21-2013 11:33 AM

I have been shopping around for a mini lathe,,turning pens and bowls is mostly what I will be doing,,i have looked at them all but the ones at penn state I kinda lean too,,the 12in variable speed,,can anyone give me any info on these mini lathes,,,thank you

13 replies so far

View Rob's profile


308 posts in 2825 days

#1 posted 09-21-2013 12:41 PM

I have a Delta 46-460 Midi lathe and love it. Not only is it variable speed but it also has reverse which is fantastic when sanding!

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


211 posts in 2011 days

#2 posted 09-21-2013 02:23 PM

I bought my wife the Jet from CPO, my only regret is I did not get the variable speed model which would have been much more convienent for pen turning/finishing

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

View TheDane's profile


5332 posts in 3501 days

#3 posted 09-21-2013 06:09 PM

I bought a Delta 46-460 a little over two years ago … great lathe.

I shopped all of the available offerings (including the PSI and Jet lathes) before I bought the Delta. At the time, I concluded the Delta was a better engineered piece of machinery. Given my experience the last 2+ years, I would make the same decision today. I will say that the new Jet 1221VS looks to be very competitive to the Delta.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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Arlin Eastman

4040 posts in 2399 days

#4 posted 09-21-2013 06:20 PM

I also have the Deltaa 46-460 and like it alot.
One thing however I do not like and it is that all the power is at the back of the headstock. When I turn anything different then pens and need to stop it fast I have to reach over the wobbeling piece of wood.

However, also I called and emailed Delta and they told me to unscrew the 4 phillips head screws on the back of it and all I had to do was lengthen the 2 grounding wires to the length of the power cord which was 12”
They told me to use wire nuts to put the wires together.

I also had the PSI 10” lathe several years ago and I really liked that too, but with only 1/2 hp it was limited on what it would turn. Now with the 12” Commander with 1hp I would thing it would do almost anything my Delta would. I think it would be a great starter lathe.


-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4806 posts in 3798 days

#5 posted 09-21-2013 06:47 PM

With what I’ve been reading about the changes at Delta about parts and service, I’d be cautious.
Just what I’ve heard…...............


View TheDane's profile


5332 posts in 3501 days

#6 posted 09-21-2013 07:07 PM

Bill … With all due respect, I think the stuff about Delta is just FUD. I talked to the parts manager at a Delta-authorized distributor/repair center near where I live … he said he has had no more trouble getting parts for Delta than any other brand they handle.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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Jim Jakosh

19797 posts in 2943 days

#7 posted 09-30-2013 01:46 AM

I have heard that the Delta 46-460 is a great lathe!

I have a Harbor Freight mini lathe and it is underpowered at 1/3 HP but it would be great for pen turning and bowls up to about 4”....... Bigger than that will stall it. It has variable speed and that works great. It is my traveling lathe just so I have something to work on when we take the motorhome out.
It has a 3/4-16 spindle thread and a #1 MT tail stock which does not inter change with the stuff used on my Craftsman lathe, but that is okay.
I bought one for my buddy and with their sale and 20% off, I got it for $80!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7658 posts in 2752 days

#8 posted 09-30-2013 02:01 AM

+10 on Delta. I bought my Delta 46-460 Midi-Lathe this past Jan. 2013 and could not be happier. Even had a customer malfunction, where I fouled up and got the tailstock stuck in the Morse Taper. Delta got me a replacement under warranty no questions asked. And it did not cost me a penny. And since then I have had a great time learning to turn. Just love that variable speed motor on each of three different belt settings. Actually rarely need to change belt settings because of the variable speed motor.

BTW, I got the Nova Chuck for Delta and without a question, that was the best thing I could have done to maximize the utility of this lathe.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ihmserv's profile


34 posts in 3608 days

#9 posted 09-30-2013 02:26 AM

I’ve had this turncrafter from penn state for 9 months now.

this was bought as a secondary lathe for shows and demos. my other lathe is a pm3520b.
when I first got it, and set it up, I thought the tail stock is a sloppy ( compared to the pm3520) but after using it a few times it is not much different that some of the other mini lathes I have turned on.
the only real problem I had with it was the indexing/spindle lock. the boss on top of the lathe had not been ground down far enough for the pin to fully engage into the nylon indexing gear. I ground down the boss and penn state sent me a new gear. problem solved.

the lathe was loaned to my local turning group for a couple of hands-on sessions. no problems were reported.
with other turners using it and at least one person has bought the same lathe since using mine.

I have turned a bunch of pens, some bowls up to about 8 inches ( note I do own a 600 lb lathe for bowl turning)
a number of boxes. I used it to do a couple of demos on offset spindle turning and had no problems .

the only thing that surprises me is how much I go to this lathe to turn, even though I have a big lathe right next it.

hope this helps


-- woodturners keep things spinning.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7658 posts in 2752 days

#10 posted 09-30-2013 05:21 PM

I forgot to mention this earlier, so here is a link to a thread I started when I was starting my shopping for a mini-lathe. A lot of LJs posted (+100 posts) on this, so you might find something to help guide your purchasing decisions.

DELTA WINs -- RIKON Mini Lathe Model 70-100 or the DELTA 46-460 ????

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View PurpLev's profile


8532 posts in 3486 days

#11 posted 09-30-2013 05:35 PM

Since you mentioned bowls but still opt for a smaller lathe – I would look at the ~12” models. VS is nice to have, but not a deal breaker for the occasional turner, so if you are looking to save some $$$ the non-vs models would do just fine. Other than that, I think they are all very similar in specs and capabilities and it boils down to personal likes and dislikes, and what you would feel the most pleased about owning (ford vs. chevy argument). Rikon, Delta, Penn State Ind would all be good quality alternatives.

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

View Ozwald's profile


42 posts in 1551 days

#12 posted 09-30-2013 05:35 PM

The 10×18 5 speed Harbor Freight lathe is probably the best tool I’ve ever gotten from them. I’ve had it about a year & have spent numerous long days on it. I would guess a grand total of over 1000 hours with next to no complaints. I wish I had a larger lathe and variable speed would be nice too, but for the price you can’t beat it. If you’re going to spend more money on a similar lathe, make sure it’s got plenty of bells and whistles or it’s just not worth it IMHO.

-- When at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer.

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8032 posts in 2415 days

#13 posted 09-30-2013 09:06 PM

Penn State Ind. has a promo going on:

Looks like a nice lathe with 1hp.

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