Lathe or CNC

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Forum topic by Kristopher posted 11-28-2013 11:30 PM 1438 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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78 posts in 2511 days

11-28-2013 11:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe router milling shaping turning finishing refurbishing sanding traditional modern shaker victorian rustic arts and crafts

I’m thinking of buying either a Lathe or CNC, which I haven’t a clue. I have used a lathe before but, it’s been over 35 years. I’ve never used a CNC. I use to own the Legacy Ornamental Milling machine model 1800, I sold it last week. I never really used it for what it meant for. Besides, I felt the Legacy was always a pain in the rump to set up. So, I’m leaning towards a Lathe or CNC. I’m just wondering what everyone feels out there about these two machines. And what models I should look at. I only do minuscule woodworking, I’m not in it for a business, just FUN.

So, I’m asking y’all for your inputs. I have about 50 square feet of space I can place the machin in, more if needed.

May you always have LOVE to share,
HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care…

And may you always believe in the magic

Kristopher Ewing, US Navy Chief, retired

-- Kristopher, Westminster, SC - May you always believe in the magic!

13 replies so far

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2236 days

#1 posted 11-28-2013 11:40 PM

a CNC what? CNC lathe, CNC mill,CNC router, CNC lobotomizer???

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2447 days

#2 posted 11-29-2013 12:13 AM

I cannot speak to the lathe. If you are considering a cnc router there are several desktop machines out there. Most of the makers have forums that you can see end projects and product discussions. I have a shark which has a forum. You can also look at the shopbot site. For software I would visit the vectric site which also has a very good forum. Doing this research would give you an idea what the cnc entails and the learning curve it would take.

View TheDane's profile


5545 posts in 3861 days

#3 posted 11-29-2013 12:13 AM

I think it depends on what kind of work you want to do, what sort of budget you have in mind, and how comfortable you are working with computers.

I have a friend in our local turning club that has a CNC machine … he has close to $10K invested between the machine itself and software. He also has a pretty decent lathe (PM 3520B) ... he gets a lot of use out of both.

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

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2122 days

#4 posted 11-29-2013 04:56 AM

Chief what do you plan to do with the CNC?

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


12430 posts in 2578 days

#5 posted 11-29-2013 05:08 AM

A lathe if you want to do woodworking ….......................... {kidding, kidding} .......... sort of

-- Rick M,

View Kristopher's profile


78 posts in 2511 days

#6 posted 11-29-2013 10:20 AM

Basically, would like to have the luxury of turning intricate bowls and carvings. I like the idea of doing both. But, I know I won’t be able to do both on one machine. So I just have to decide on which I want to do, right? :). Thanks for the quick responses so far. I’m definitely soaking up your inputs. :)

-- Kristopher, Westminster, SC - May you always believe in the magic!

View Sandblastguy's profile


42 posts in 2309 days

#7 posted 11-29-2013 01:51 PM

I have both lathe and CNC router. You can make bowls with the cnc machine and of coarse you can do unlimited carving designs. I find the difference is with the lathe it’s hands on from start to finish no matter what you are turning. With the cnc machine it is all computer work then just sit back and watch it go back and forth. There are lots of things that are specific to each machine. So now you must decide if you want to watch or participate. Good luck

-- Sandblastguy Orangeville On. Creating Art From Nature

View Wildwood's profile


2470 posts in 2333 days

#8 posted 11-29-2013 02:06 PM

Looked into CNC machines, confused, so decided did not need one.

Deciding on a wood lathe not an easy task as well, besides the lathe, need turning tools, and way sharpen those tools. Whether to look at mini vice full size lathes all about size of wood you have access too!

Nice to have accessory for tuning bowls is a scroll chuck. You can carve while bowl is on the lathe if lathed equipped with indexing. They do sell after market indexing systems. Turners use routers to carve on lathes with homemade or commercial jigs. There are several types of hand and power carvers & bits on the market. Of course if like burning/carving even more ways to go and spend your money.

Another accessory might like is “Woodcut Pro-Mount” for carving away from headstock.

To give you some idea on what is available turning & carving, order a catalog from

-- Bill

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2510 days

#9 posted 11-29-2013 02:14 PM

Just the fact that you ask the question, tells me you need to pause a bit. I would think a major tool purchase like that would be need (desire?) driven.

You can actually learn to turn on a very cheap lathe from Craigslist, we are thick with them around here. Then, if you find yourself drawn to the lathe more, consider further investment, secure in the knowledge you will use it.

Do you play around on CAD? Goggle Sketchup? Are you a computer nerd? Do you have money to throw away on tools?

Do you already have a table saw, drill press, and router table? Band saw?

Another consideration- resale on a lathe should always be pretty good. Not too sure what a CNC router/ mill would be worth in 3 or 5 years, I suspect that market will be changing a lot.

More I think about it- I’d have to say, that question should have it’s own answer for you, else I’d skip both.

All that said- I find the lathe to be the most relaxing, enjoyable tool in my shop, turning is VERY enjoyable, for a lot of guys.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View TheWoodenBoxes's profile


42 posts in 1854 days

#10 posted 11-29-2013 02:28 PM

I’m sorry but you hit a nerve with this one.

In my opinion turning should be done on a lathe and carving should be done with hands. CNC michines are good for making rough outs and such, not detailed carving.

Technology has distroyed the art of hand crafting. People would rather scan a pattern in a computer and let a machine do the work. Instead of learning the art of what they want to create by hand.

That is my 2 cents, take it for what it’s worth.

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3065 days

#11 posted 11-29-2013 02:31 PM

That’s a hard question to answer for someone. If I were you I would do a lot of research and then some hard questioning about what I wanted to do as a hobby before I did anything.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Kristopher's profile


78 posts in 2511 days

#12 posted 11-29-2013 03:00 PM

Thanks for all the great inputs. Think I’ll just buy an inexpensive lathe, bench mount. See if I still like it and go from there. In not too computer savvy so it would have to be a lathe for now. I’d prefer to be hands on with whatever I’m working on rather than watching a machine do it all. Doesn’t sound like much fun in watching the machine do it for ya, I got the same feeling while using the legacy 1800 and that’s one of the reasons I sold it. So, again thank you for all your inputs.

-- Kristopher, Westminster, SC - May you always believe in the magic!

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2218 days

#13 posted 11-29-2013 06:39 PM

I think that’s the right choice. I’m not anti CNC by any means, but if you’re looking for “fun”, getting your hands dirty using the lathe is just the ticket.

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