Newbie Turner Buying First Lathe

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Forum topic by Tesla77 posted 11-15-2013 04:50 AM 1676 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 2297 days

11-15-2013 04:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe question

Is this a decent lathe for a beginner?

Assuming I will want a chuck for the headstock, are those hard to come by? What other accessories might I need?

Thanks in advance!


32 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10382 posts in 3644 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 05:15 AM

It is not a great lathe but for spindle work it will do fine
to learn with and the copier has some value and you
may enjoy that aspect of turning (duplication).

Sears and Delta are good bets on basic lathes because
they made so many the accessories are plentiful
and cheap.

View tomd's profile


2155 posts in 3767 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 05:18 AM

Go to HF and get their Jet knock off, it’s close to the same price with a lot more refinements. It’s a good beginners lathe.

-- Tom D

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2582 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 07:16 AM

Note when tomd says “get the jet clone” I’m pretty sure (or at least hope :D) he means the jet clone, not the other POS that HF passes off as a lathe. I’ve never used either, but I have seen both and the one is a tin can (albeit a larger tin can) whereas the other is actually made from something almost resembling cast iron. Specifically this one: The small rikon which is about the same casting but nicer accessories was on sale for $200 a couple months back, you might get lucky and find someone selling one of those :D

Having said that if it was my money I’d hold out for a more capable unit used over the HF (or indeed the pipe lathe here).

A few notes on the listed lathe
  • the chisels are (I think) all carbon steel, usable and easy to sharpen but you’d be upgrading before to long. I wouldn’t attach a huge amount of value to them (maybe $20 used).
  • It looks pretty clean, which is nice
  • Its a very lightweight lathe. Ok for light spindle turning but you’ll be doing a yeeehaaa dance to do any size of bowls on it.
  • low power, it won’t be to hard to bog it down.
  • I can’t tell what if it just has the threaded attachment on the headstock or also has a moris taper so you can use a third party spur drive? Anyway check out the specs carefully to see what may/may not be available for it. It appears that getting a chuck would be easy, but again its not a bowl lathe (at least not over maybe 6” tops and true it up careful first so it don’t walk off on you).

If you want to just play around a bit, I suspect you could easily get your money back at around $150.

A few things I would look for in a lathe in increasing order of priority:
  • Cast iron bed. I personally wouldn’t settle for less than that and wouldn’t get a pipe bed like the one you showed if I could possibly help it. The pipe bed lathes are .. painful .. to get aligned if they get off kilter and comparatively lightweight.
  • Weight counts. More is better (cast iron++).
  • bearing and head/tailstock assembly (heavier built is better – these tend to come with the above somewhat).
  • Think about what you want to turn and dimension the lathe accordingly. If its to small its not going to get the job done.
  • Speed, lower is better especially if you are planning to turn any bowls. A lot of the cheaper ones bottom out to high which can get a little bit exciting if you’re trying to do “found wood bowls”. I sprung for a variable speed and really appreciate that feature (but am also inclined to push things a bit – if I was doing mostly pens/spindle work I wouldn’t really miss it much).
  • Speed shifting mechanism. Electronic VS is of course the nicest. Below that I’m torn between manual belt change and reeves drive. The manual belt change is of course slower but it just works, the reeves tends to be “finicky”. If you can adjust the reeves and lubricate it nicely and the moon is aligned right.. a lot of people have no problems with them, but then there are a lot who do.
  • horsepower, imho this is lowest on the list as you can somewhat compensate with sharper tools and smaller cuts but it can be real nice if its there (can also get you into trouble :D)

If I HAD to use a pipe bed I’d try to find a two piper. I wouldn’t bother with one of the square “pipe” lathes, they just flex and wiggle and well. are scary (hence my dislike of the 14×40 HF – I saw one at an estate sale and it frankly would scary the tar out of me to try and use it – I’m sure people do though – so hats off to y’all you’re braver than I am!!).

You do appear to be in a bit of a low spot for reasonably priced tools (based on cl search) so maybe this isn’t to bad of a deal. I’d still bet you could probably do better if you keep your eyes pealed.

View Woodknack's profile


11616 posts in 2376 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 08:03 AM

Waaay overpriced at $200; $100 – 125 tops.

-- Rick M,

View Quanter50's profile


278 posts in 2292 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 10:36 AM

I agree the HF lathe (Item# 65345) is a good buy. Right now it’s on sale for $194.99 and with a 25% off coupon brings it down to $146.24. I bought this lathe as a second lathe and I love it.

View PaulDoug's profile


1535 posts in 1700 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 01:57 PM

I started on the HF lathe and it is one of their few jewels. I used it for about 5 years then sold it for a little less than I paid for it. That lathe you show off CL is not a good lathe for bowls. The tube will flex too much, you could only do light work on it IMHO.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1928 days

#7 posted 11-15-2013 02:11 PM

I agree with the HF lathes. I have 2 1 small bench top VS that I do small bowls pens and stoppers and the large one that I do all large bowls on. You will be surprised just buy the extended warranty so that in case something goes wrong they will replace it . The warranty is great because they do not fix it the replace the whole thing with a new one. Have not had to replace either one yet but it is peace of mind. I am very happy with both. You will buy either one for less money then the used one on CL

-- Coach Mancuso

View bigblockyeti's profile


5112 posts in 1717 days

#8 posted 11-15-2013 02:31 PM

I have a similar Craftsman, albeit a little newer that I paid $100 for with a set of Craftsman tools that had clearly never been used. It’s an okay lathe, though I’ve only done three or four real projects with it, I’m ready for something more capable. The nice thing about getting these cheap is you can usually get your money out of them when you’re ready to upgrade. When I was shopping, I missed a nearly new looking late sixties delta gap bed lathe that looked lightly used with zero rust, and everything was there. The good deals always go quick and you’ve got to be ready at a moment’s notice to go and check something out with cash in hand. BTW I bought a Grizzly aluminum face plate and three jaw chuck for ~ $90 shipped. The face plate was of poor quality, but the chuck was ok even if the jaws seemed to have quite a bit more slop than I’m used to, still very concentric when tightened though.

View ckorkyrun89's profile


65 posts in 2020 days

#9 posted 11-15-2013 02:34 PM

I agree with Rick. I have the same lathe and I definitely wouldn’t pay that much. The tools aren’t worth much either. They do not hold an edge very long.

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2032 days

#10 posted 11-15-2013 02:53 PM

It looks like the lathe has been well taken care of, and it would be a fair starter lathe. It’s priced a little too high though. I’m not sure what kind of spindle it has either. If it had a 1” x 8tpi spindle with a Morse 2 taper, I’d say offer him $125-$150 and see if he’d take it.

If not, I’d say, either wait on a sale for the Rikon or Jet mini, or buy a used Delta, Rikon, or Jet mini.

They have all the features RUM mentions- cast iron beds etc. They also have standard size spindles (1” x 8tpi), and they have the Morse 2 taper. Why a Morse 2 taper and a standard size spindle? Because so many accessories use that size taper and spindle.

Good luck! I hope you get into it. Turning is a great hobby.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2032 days

#11 posted 11-15-2013 02:56 PM

The other thing about the Rikon, Jet, and Delta minis lathes is that they have a proper banjo and lock handles on the tail stock and tool rest. You don’t know what you’re missing until you use one, and don’t have to break out a wrench just to adjust the tool rest…

It’s about like having Variable Speed… You don’t realize what you’re missing until you don’t have to change belts to change the speed.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Tesla77's profile


28 posts in 2297 days

#12 posted 11-15-2013 03:30 PM

Wow, what great responses you all had. Really appreciate taking time to walk me through this. I heart Lumberjocks

Okay, so luckily I am only 15 min away from HF so this one is temping. (HF Lathe)

However I feel like I would be selling myself short, literally, by going with a shorter length. 36’’ seems nice because I wouldn’t be limited to size of legs for tables and such. Perhaps it’s a moot point if these types of lathes are not designed for this?

Also, where is the coupon for 25% off at HF?

I dunno. Think think think….

View waho6o9's profile


8189 posts in 2573 days

#13 posted 11-15-2013 04:22 PM

Google or Bing:
25% off harbor freight

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1928 days

#14 posted 11-15-2013 05:03 PM

What are you looking to make with the lathe that would determine what one you should get .

-- Coach Mancuso

View Tesla77's profile


28 posts in 2297 days

#15 posted 11-15-2013 05:08 PM

I suppose the usual gifting items. Pens, bottle stoppers, small bowls. I have zero experience so there’s that.

I envision making tables eventually once my Roubo bench is completed so turning my own legs would be a plus.

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