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Forum topic by sudbrinkm posted 02-05-2014 06:32 PM 3431 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View sudbrinkm's profile


22 posts in 2127 days

02-05-2014 06:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe opinion turning

I was hoping to get some advice from some of you out there. I am looking for a new challenge in the shop. In high school i used the lathe a couple times and remember it was pretty fun. Now I am older and looking for something new to challenge myself in the shop. My wife has given me permission to purchase a lathe.

I was wondering if you could give me some opinions on what to buy.

1. I can spend around $400
2. Has to be benchtop so i can put it away when not in use
3. Would like variable speed
4. Prefer new to used

I have looked around a little bit. So far i have found:

Grizzly G0675
Nova Comet II midi lathe
PSI Turncrafter Commander 12in.
Jet 1015vs -edge of price range
Rikon Model 70-100
Jet 1221VS – out of price range
Delta 46-460

I thought I have seen that the turncrafter was the best bang for the buck, but not sure how well it holds up over time.

Any input anyone can give me would be helpful.


-- Matthew

16 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3689 days

#1 posted 02-05-2014 06:46 PM

I have a Delta 46-460 and love it, but … if the $400 price and requirement for new as opposed to used, you’re not likely to wind up with the Delta.

There is nothing wrong with a used lathe … I know some guys that have gotten very good used lathes for well within your price range. CraigsList is one possibility, but if there is a turning club near you, find out when they meet and drop in. If they are an AAW affiliate ( see: for info on local clubs) they will welcome you as a guest. Many clubs sponsor a ‘tool bin’ where members can buy/sell tools (including lathes).

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

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3082 days

#2 posted 02-05-2014 07:58 PM

I agree with TheDane, search the used market. I found my first 2 lathes on Craig’s List. The AAW advice is spot on too. I think you will be able to get much more lathe for your money on the used market.
Good luck.

-- Glen

View Jokker78's profile


136 posts in 1723 days

#3 posted 02-05-2014 08:16 PM

I have been looking at a shop fox mini lathe. I am thinking about making the jump

-- Measure once, cut , measure again, cut and damn its still to short

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3611 days

#4 posted 02-05-2014 08:19 PM

I too agree with the DaneGerry wood lathes are generally simply made, and it should not be difficult to buy a good underused one for a fraction of the new price, or a better more costly model for your four hundred bucks.
Have safe fun but please remember buying the lathe will be useless without expensive accessories therefore iMHO buy a complete set up from someone who has spent the big bucks and changed his or her mind for a whole variety of reasons. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2160 days

#5 posted 02-05-2014 09:59 PM

I would look at the Turncrafter lathes because of swing, horsepower & price. I include one on sale with bed extension might want that extra length for some projects and might be cheaper to get now than later on.

You can read owner reviews at the web site

Yes, if patient might find a prince of a deal on a used wood lathe, but will kiss a lot of frog before finding that great deal.

-- Bill

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3258 days

#6 posted 02-05-2014 10:10 PM

I have heard decent things about the Excelsior lathe that Rockler sells. However, IF you can fenagle the extra room for it, the Harbor Freight Central Machinery #34706 12×36 cast iron bed lathe has a very good reputation for good reason… I have had mine for a few years now and it is holding up great, and has been a blast to turn on…

For a starter tool set, I would go for the Benjamin’s best 8 pc HSS set…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View jimintx's profile


801 posts in 1610 days

#7 posted 02-05-2014 10:52 PM

To follow up on the post above by dbhost, I too recently purchased the HF full-size machine and i can find nothing at all to say negative about it. I have not used it as much as he has, but the overall machine is just fine, truly.

Therefore, if i was getting into a starter, mini-lathe, I would certainly give those available at Harbor Freight a good look.

just my 2 cents, of course.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View DaveDelo's profile


86 posts in 2920 days

#8 posted 02-06-2014 01:57 AM

I should wait until after you buy something to post this but here goes anyway. I got a chuckle about your 400 buck budget. Is that what your telling your wife????? Sure go ahead and spend your 400 bucks for your “challenge in the shop” and see where that gets you. Go ahead and get hypnotized by that pretty little piece of wood spinning around and around and around and around. Go ahead and run into the kitchen to show off to your honey what a nice little nik-nak you made her.

But Sir, be advised your about to step into THE VORTEX OF NO RETURN. There is no escape, there is no get out of jail free card. Once you get set up and can start making a few things without any fear of hurting yourself or others (usually around 2-3 weeks), you’ll realize this is a pretty neat hobby. Then you’ll want to move on to something else but you’ll need a different tool or a bigger chuck or a different type of center or a bigger/better of you take your pick of about 300 different accessories. But if you still decide to proceed and step into this vortex just realize that in about 6 months, you will begin to resent your little 400 dollar lathe. You will decide it’s holding you back from reaching your full creative potential and you’ll have to get a bigger lathe. IF THIS HAPPENS, you truly will never return to a normal life. You’ll make excuses just to drive over to the local Woodcraft or Rockler store just to see if they have a jar of that new friction polish that everyone says is the cats meow. Or you’ll get up early before going to work just to web search the latest how-to video. And last but not least, you will find yourself hanging out one Saturday a month with all the other geezers in town at the local woodturning chapter eating donuts and finding out about the next best gizmo.

All kidding aside, welcome to the Vortex. It is fun and as challenging skill wise as just about anything else in this woodworking arena. Good luck and use good safety practices.

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 3947 days

#9 posted 02-06-2014 02:19 AM

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2987 days

#10 posted 02-06-2014 12:14 PM

I had the HF 34706 and don’t recommend it. It has an outdated Reeves drive which is a variable speed dependent on squeezing pulleys to change the ratio. Mine froze up and was stuck on the lowest speed. I scrapped it and bought a Rikon 70-050VS which is discontinued but got a great price. As mentioned, you will have more in tools and accessories than the cost of the lathe. Some quality turning tools are over 100 bucks…..each.
I joined a local chapter of AAW and enjoy the information that is freely given to us newbies.
Look at different lathes and you will see that the PSI is the same as some other lathes made in the same factory in China. Just different paint and labels.

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

160 posts in 3085 days

#11 posted 02-11-2014 02:33 PM

I think maybe you’ve got the cart before the horse…so to speak. If I were you…

1. I’d find a local woodturning club (gotta be one in Peoria), they LOVE new people
2. Start immersing myself in catalogs from Packard, Craft Supplies (you can learn a vast amount)
3. Start watching video’s on youtube, note the tools, the lathe, the projects
4. Remember #1? Ask for a mentor, they’ll provide one or more for you to ask questions and try stuff out, often on their lathe(s)
5. Concentrate on making a list of which tools to buy in what order, try to learn about each one before you buy one
6. Now that you have some knowledge, have an idea of what projects you like, and the tools to buy
7. THEN go out and buy a USED lathe, and turn baby turn!!

Finally, if your ever in the Southern Missouri (Branson), area call me and I’ll help you. Also, I’ll be demonstrating in Phoenix at the AAW National Seminar, in June, which leads me to say: When you get a chance join the AAW! you’ll get insurance, and a really cool magazine.

Good Luck!

-- Les, Missouri,

View jimintx's profile


801 posts in 1610 days

#12 posted 02-11-2014 03:03 PM

i researched the heck out of lathes. I am an engineer by original training, and have spent decades in industry, and beyond that i totally love the way we can research anything via the internet these days.

So, that leads me to simply say that you can find people that had issues with any lathe out there. My personal experience after a month with the HF 34706 is it does exactly what a lathe should do. Beyond that, it most definitely does not gain you any bragging rights among the turning cognoscenti about the quality of the machine you bought.

There is another thread on here, a review, where there is discussion of how to make these lathes run to the optimum, and the advice there might apply to any turning machine, in part or in whole.

Continue researching, reach your saturation point, and make a purchase, and then have fun with it.

I suggest it is good to keep in mind that some of the grandest pieces of furniture ever built in the world were done using a foot-powered, spring lathe, that was constructed from natural materials harvested and hand-cut into the pieces to make a wooden lathe, to turn wooden stock. The characteristic of being “out-dated” is not always a bad thing.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View sgv's profile


266 posts in 1918 days

#13 posted 02-11-2014 11:25 PM

I have the nova II came with a free chuck, free shipping for $400 LOVE it, I am new to turning have made some bowls,tops, sawdust. there is a good review of this lathe on this site hope it helps 8)

-- Tite Lines, May the wind be at your back

View Norm192's profile


74 posts in 1668 days

#14 posted 02-13-2014 12:38 AM

The Rikon 70-100 is a tough and capable lathe. I turned a lot of bowls on mine even up to 11-1/2” in diameter. Changing speeds is quick and easy. I turned on mine for about 5 years before upgrading. No regrets with the Rikon here.
Be warned! Turning is very, very addictive!

View Jokker78's profile


136 posts in 1723 days

#15 posted 02-14-2014 04:12 PM

I had a friend give me the shop fox mini lathe. I can’t make
Anything neat looking yet but it is almost like crack . Just can’t get enough

-- Measure once, cut , measure again, cut and damn its still to short

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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