Question about deal on Craftsman lathe

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Forum topic by Ted78 posted 01-21-2014 12:39 PM 2577 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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376 posts in 1966 days

01-21-2014 12:39 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning question

Hey guys, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at wood turning for a while, but funds, as always, are tight. I saw an old Craftsman lathe on Craigslist here. Looks like an 80’s era thing with a tube for a bed. He only wants $25 for it which seems like a good deal and cheap way to try my hand at turning (I have ZERO experience) BUT it seems to be missing the tool rest and banjo. E-bay sellers want about $20 for each of those pieces, add shipping and….More than I’m gonna spend. So my question is are these two pieces something one could cobble together on the cheap or is this the kind of thing where my heck of deal turns into spending $200 on a $50 tool?

-- Ted

32 replies so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2808 days

#1 posted 01-21-2014 01:00 PM

After getting that kind I deal on the lathe, I wouldn’t fret much over spending that much that the banjo.
However, if buying a new rest, I’d opt for a better rest.
Penn state, PSI, (sorry, not at my computer to post links) sells some decent rests.

I’ve had the craftsman single tube lathe and several if it’s china made clones.
It’s not a bad starter lathe and you can do a lot of work on it.

As for spending several hundred on turning, I have bad news for you.
When I first got into turning, I was told that the lathe was the cheap part.
I never knew how true that was.
If you start liking turning, it is a slippery slope of a pit, you’ll eventually spend much more than several hundred.


View PaulDoug's profile


1511 posts in 1670 days

#2 posted 01-21-2014 03:53 PM

I’m just going to throw this out there, I have never had one of the “tube” bed lathes, so take this for what it is worth. I’ve been around wood turning for a while and have not heard good things about the tube bed lathes. I’ve heard that the tubes flex and that causes problems with the turning. I’m just saying be cautious and do some research on them. I’d hate to read you had a bad experience and got discouraged. Turning is very fun and rewarding. And, yes the lathe is the cheapest part of the hobby, but you can move into it gradually.

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

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3051 days

#3 posted 01-21-2014 03:53 PM

William is speaking the absolute and minimal truth. You said you are a beginning turner, how experienced
are you at making things? The banjo and tool rest can be made for any lathe, but a certain amount of
skill and tools are needed. I needed to make some “things” for my lathe, so I acquired a cross slide rest
and some adapters, this is where the cost starts to escalate, or the time and handyman part are required
to make something without it being Rube Goldberg. It is a wonderful hobby and right now I have a few
rough bowls turned from about 10’ of spalted birch log that are drying. I do not know how they will turn
out, but I can always use firewood. Send a message to the seller and make sure the motor is included.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View dhazelton's profile


2756 posts in 2263 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 04:12 PM

The lathe could also need new bearings as well. I’d look for a complete unit – how about the Sprunger on your CL? If you’re gonna spend money anyway on a rest and a base….

View Bill's profile


404 posts in 2115 days

#5 posted 01-21-2014 04:36 PM

Don’t buy it. My first lathe was a craftsman tube lathe, and it was by far the most miserable piece of junk tool I have ever used. Harbor freight has new ones for cheap, and they have gotten great reviews.

Don’t buy it. I didn’t even grace mine with a trip to the scrap yard. Threw that sucker in the trash.

Don’t buy it. Anything that you get as an attachment will have to be retrofitted to this lathe, and won’t work when you upgrade.

Don’t buy it. I spent a lot of time reworking it, trying to get the centers to line up, and there is a little flat bar under the tube that is pop riveted on that will need replaced when you try to turn anything of decent size.

Oh, and one more thing, don’t buy it.

It would be better to take $25 and spend $8 on a premium steak, then take the 17 leftover dollars and start a fire to cook the steak on it.

-- Putting the "mental" in experimental since 1973

View Ted78's profile


376 posts in 1966 days

#6 posted 01-21-2014 05:29 PM

Think I may go ahead and buy it. I am fairly experienced at making ‘things’ I just have never had access to a lathe. dhazelton that Sprunger lathe looks nice, but I don’t have $200, and if I did there are a dozen people in line for it. I’m not going to spend money on a rest and base I don’t have money for those either. I was wondering if it was feasible to make those parts. Maybe someday I can just go spend money to buy a nice tool and enjoy it but that day it not here yet.

What I’m hearing here though is that this could be an aspect of woodworking I can’t afford. Where does the expense lie? turning tools? wood? I’ve been woodworking for a while now and I sure see the opportunity to spends lots of money on it I’ve managed to do it pretty cheaply so far utilizing salvaged wood, and second hand tools. Is there something unique to turning that makes it expensive?

Oh and Bluepine, I’ve got no problem with Rube Goldberg. Rednecked, cobbled together and jury-rigged are all good friends of mine.

-- Ted

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1280 posts in 1696 days

#7 posted 01-21-2014 05:29 PM

I think bigogre should be rewarded for his comment. It’s the best advice I’ve seen a in a looong time…..... hehehehe….... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2808 days

#8 posted 01-21-2014 05:54 PM

Ted, learning to turn is not really expensive at all. The problem is that once you get some practice at making some real pretty firewood, you’ll wish to start acquiring all the tools and accessories to make all sorts of things.
Presently, we won’t mention the cost of the lathe, but I have hundreds tied up in bowl turning tools an accessories. For pens, if I include all the kits I’ve bought to date, it easily goes over a thousand.
Now, before you jump to any conclusions that I have money, the pens I’ve made with all those kits just happens to be what has helped me finance all the other expenses.

Oh, and I am also dreaming up ways daily to pay for a better, and much more expensive, new lathe.

So turning itself, in my opinion, is not expensive at all. I got into turning on less than a hundred bucks. Almost immediately though, it started getting much more expensive, and fast.
Just a couple of weeks ago I ordered close to two hundred dollars worth of spindle gouges.


View Woodknack's profile (online now)


11479 posts in 2346 days

#9 posted 01-21-2014 06:42 PM

Tube lathes are not the most popular but for $20 I’d buy it for parts. I bought a Craftsman lathe (not tube) that the previous owners hated as much or more than bigogre hated his so I got it cheap. I took it apart and realized that someone had assembled it poorly, an hour and some small effort on my part and I had it spinning like a top.

Shopnotes designed a decent wood banjo/tool rest and actually a whole lathe if you want to build your own. Here is the tool rest.

-- Rick M,

View Ted78's profile


376 posts in 1966 days

#10 posted 01-21-2014 07:31 PM

bigoger, That’s a pretty convincing argument. I had an 80’s Craftsman direct drive table saw that deserves a special place in hell right next to your lathe. The instruction manual for ripping a 2×4 should have read
1. locate vise grips
2. Attempt to get fence roughly parallel to blade
3. remove battery from smoke alarm
4. don hearing and eye protection (not for the ungodly loud saw and bits of carbide teeth that are going to get thrown at you, but for the much louder and visceral onslaught of curse words that are about to spew from your mouth.)
5. remove wood mangling wood hurlers. They are sometimes quite ironically called anti-kickback pawls.
6. Attempt to get fence roughly parallel to blade
7. remove wobbly piece of tin can (sometimes referred to as a splitter and strategically placed by the factory about 4 foot behind and about 1/8” to the right of the blade
8. call the USGS and let them know their seismograph readings they about to read are not tectonic plates shifting deep within the earth’s crust, just vibration from your saw.
9. decide a zero tolerance throat plate might be a good idea, but realize bizarre design of aluminum table makes anything but the stock throat plate near impossible to fit.
10. Attempt to get fence roughly parallel to blade
11. Begin feeding stock through and wonder if you installed blade backwards as your scroll saw cuts faster
12. determine blade is not in backwards but install a brand new sharp one just in case
13. continue feeding stock through before realizing visibility in shop has been reduced to about 2 foot.
14. Open windows to clear out smoke.
15. Use butter knife to finish ripping board and marvel at it’s speed, efficiency.

-- Ted

View Ted78's profile


376 posts in 1966 days

#11 posted 01-21-2014 07:33 PM

Rick M. That’s exactly what i need, thanks for the post.

-- Ted

View Wildwood's profile


2300 posts in 2101 days

#12 posted 01-21-2014 08:29 PM

Is this the one? Do not waste your time or money.

Would rather see you save some money and make an offer on a lathe that looks like this one.

Definitely stay away from junk like this:

-- Bill

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2808 days

#13 posted 01-21-2014 10:04 PM

Rick, what issue of shop notes is that?
I may be interested in building the whole lathe.
I have two lathes (one is the ridgid version of the single tube) but I love building my own tools.


View JollyGreen67's profile


1663 posts in 2729 days

#14 posted 01-22-2014 03:00 AM

I had one of them Craftsman tube thingee lathes, what a bunch of crap!

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected !

View ART LACKEY's profile


113 posts in 3345 days

#15 posted 01-22-2014 03:20 AM

I agree with DON’T BUY IT ! JUNK! JUNK! JUNK! It’s like buying a cheep guitar to learn on. it looks bad,sounds bad,tunes bad,and you loose interest fast. Get something made out of cast iron. Even if you have to put bearings in it you will be ahead of the game.

-- Old turners don't die, they just turn to dust!

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