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Forum topic by DustyCellist posted 04-29-2014 04:44 PM 1812 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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71 posts in 1556 days

04-29-2014 04:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe

(Thanks in advance for reading my novella I wrote here, and apologize in advance for any tedium!)

I went in a HF store for the first time a few days ago and picked up the 5 speed midi lathe (the jet clone). Before opening the box, I checked my local cList for chucks and other attachments, and found a 1938 Sears Dunlap lathe for about what I paid for the Harbor Freight Lathe (with coupon).

A couple things: the Sears is obviously very serviceable with the motor separated and easily replaced, or maybe even changed to a flywheel and treadle. Also, it has last 75 years so far, it should last another 75, right? the HF, not so much.

My concern is the size – it is like 40” long, and one of the things I like about the Midi is that I might be able to take it outside on warm days. Also, I don’t plan to do anything longer than 18”, but would rather do bowls (if I go up in size). Also, I like that it’s already at my house… And even if the guy delivers the large Dunlap, I am not sure how I would get it into my basement.

Here is a link to the ad, and I can’t pick it up, but he said he’d deliver it for the modest price of gasoline.

The other option is to return the 5 speed midi 65345 and buy the HF 34706 Jet Clone everyone raves about (they are both jet clones)

I am told the Dunlap takes a #1 morse taper, and has 3/4”x16TPI on the headstock. And to tilt my hand to save time (I’ve been reading lots and watching every youtube video I can find for weeks now) I admit I don’t know what a morse taper does (I know what it looks like…) or what the difference between #1 vs #2, and what the threading means on the spindle, because a morse taper can go in the headstock, does the threaded portion come out? I am ignorant on a few things here and it’s hindering my ability to make the informed decision.

My budget for the lathe itself is under 200 so I could get either HF lathe or this used sears. I’d like to hear any and all thoughts!

30 replies so far

View LeeinEdmonton's profile


254 posts in 3609 days

#1 posted 04-29-2014 05:17 PM

Heck…a lathe is a lathe, I bought mine when I was 14 yrs. old….it is now 69 yrs. old & I still use it . I think there is a picture in my projects of a spinning wheel made with this late. I use 5 step pulleys for speed changes instead of electronic baloney.


-- Lee

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#2 posted 04-29-2014 05:26 PM

I agree, but some are more serviceable (and some are different sizes…)

If I keep the one I got, I have to at least build a stand for it, that will cost probably as much as the difference between the 5 speed midi and the 33” one with legs.

I guess these old lathes pop up all the time, but why wait to upgrade to that if I can get it for the same price (and it includes a faceplate and some other small bits).

The real question is: would it really be an upgrade? Or should I keep the midi and make pens and chess pieces and bowls and small candlesticks?

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2229 days

#3 posted 04-29-2014 05:32 PM

The difference between a #1 Morse taper and a #2 is basically the length and the “section” of the taper. Think of a long, tapered rod that starts at a point and gets larger in diameter the farther down the rod you go. You could cut a section out of any place along that rod and have the same taper. Both the #1 and 2 have the same taper per inch, but the #1 starts a bit closer to the “pointy end” of our imaginary rod. Also #1 is about 2 1/8 long and the #2 will be 2 9/16 long…..

I would just get keep the HF 65345… A Midi lathe is handy to have around for the smaller projects…. If the Dunlap was in my neighborhood I would buy it just because I love the old equipment…

So if your looking at a bigger lathe just get the other HF one….. The size of the bowl you will be able to do will be determined by the distance between the headstock spindle to the lathe bed unless your lathe has the ability to swivel the head. Hope your not more confused….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#4 posted 04-29-2014 06:13 PM

I’m much less confused, thank you – also I think that means you could get a #1 chuck permanently stuck in a #2 lathe but if I have a #1 taper and buy a #2 chuck it just won’t go in? Either way, I’ll always be careful of that.

The issue with the size is mainly that if I keep the midi I don’t have anything to put it on, and a stand would cost $50 I’m guessing. The larger lathe is $50 more expensive (and also has a larger motor and lever speed control instead of belts, and might be able to reverse? Or could mount something on the back of the headstock like a 20” bowl? I don’t really know what I’m talking about now… it said “reversible head” on the larger HF lathe…) If this means I can turn a large bowl, then this could be worth the switch. The only thing is people report the motor gets hot, maybe that’s why it’s cheaper than a JET…

btw, I also like old tools, worked in my father’s machine shop as a boy a few times, that place smells like home to me. That was in my grandparents house, and my grandmother just died so it’s all going to estate sale and the house being demolished for new construction. I’d like to build my own version with 1940s sears tools someday… I am picking up a 1950 sears scroll saw today for $20 with a stand and a lamp locally. Now I can return the HF one I just bought for $90. I’m going to wait to see if I am taking back the midi so I only have one trip though. The scroll saw was an impulse purchase, but now I want one because I feel like I can make some $$ doing little custom name projects at fairs and such.

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2162 days

#5 posted 04-29-2014 08:53 PM

Not sure why you bought a HF mini lathe, but would stay with that until think need a bigger lathe. Essentially get some experience turning before start looking for a better deal.

You have not told us what other accessories and tools you have now. Hope you have room in your budget for them.

Both HF lathes you mention can go back to the store before 30 day for replacement or money back. You have an opportunity to buy a protection plan.

That Sears model is where is as is, if you break it, finding parts and paying shipping might prove very costly! Yes, that Sears lathe is an excellent first lathe too because it comes with some tools! Cannot tell about quality of those tools from pictures.

Like the song says, ”have to make up your mind pick up on one and leave the others behind.” Good luck with it!

-- Bill

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#6 posted 04-29-2014 09:10 PM

It’s not mini, it’s midi (10” swing) and I can almost carry it up the stairs by myself to take it outside on sunny days (it has no handles, so my wife helped me carry it into the basement).

I have chisels and it came with a small faceplate, drive spur and live center. I plan to get a bench grinder for sharpening (or maybe belt sander for “scary sharp” machine…), a drill chuck for the tailstock, and maybe a pen mandrel to help me pay myself back for the investment.

The return is 90 days, btw. I will know within the first 90 days if it is the one for me. The only thing that’s not great so far is the belt changing. I am not sure how to keep proper tension on the belt while I’m tightening the holding screw. The larger HF lathe has a lever for speed control, not sure if that’s moving a belt like a bicycle shifter, or what, but VS DC would be nice. Can’t be too picky in my price range, of course!

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3613 days

#7 posted 04-29-2014 09:30 PM

I don’t know the particulars of these lathes. Although for pens I have the smaller type similar to the harbour feight but mine is the little delta.I find it great for small stuff and it is very smooth and accurate.I would however offer you this advice wood lathes generally don’t break down during their lifetime, and if needed bearing changes are usually easy enough other than that or real damage from a fall etc .I would advise you therefore not to buy new but good condition used hopefully with a load of tools and a chuck at an all in one price usually well below new price.
Buying the accessories will be the thing that usually floors you or any other buyer of woodturning lathes. It can get out of hand, once you add it all up.If you find someone who has taken up the hobby spent out a lot of money buying all the gear bit by bit and then either not liked turning in the long run, or not having the time any more and advertises it in one package to get it all out of his woodshop.Then you step in like a knight in shining High speed steel armour and buy the lot at a reasonable or even great price and this is what is definitely do-able it has been a formula I have advised many people to do.Like any hobby people buy get all the goodies (whether it is woodturning,photography, golfing,etc etc,) that pertain to the hobby, and end up losing heart or have no real flare for it.I really wish you well Kindest regards Alistair

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

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2145 days

#8 posted 04-29-2014 10:10 PM

I have a 1939 Dunlap it’s a good little lathe 9” swing x 45” bed.

I got mine for free missing a motor and in need some cleaning so I was not in the same boat that you are. Fortunately, I had an appropriate sized motor available so I got into mine very cheap.

The Dunlap does use MT#1 (which is the smallest size) in both head and tail stock.
MT#2 will not fit in MT#1, MT#1 tapers will not lock into place on a MT#2 They are NOT interchangeable. You can get MT#1 to MT#2 adapters though.

The travel on the tail stock (The distance the tail stock moves when you turn the wheel) is only a couple of inches so drilling is not very convenient but this can be worked around.

Headstock Threads are another way of attaching accessories like face plates and scroll chucks. The threading on the Dunlap does use a 3/4” x 16 TPI Threading fortunately this is fairly common for small lathes so adapters are readily available.

Mine has the oilite bronze bushings which do require regular oiling. If the bearings on the one in the ad have been changed and replaced with new bearings (Fairly common) then no big deal. The oillite bearings can be a bear to adjust and if they are too worn then replacing may become an issue if adjusted incorrectly they can also get very hot!

Things to consider when getting in to turning. The tools and accessories can be as expensive or even more expensive than the lathe itself (depending on how creative you are) and can take some time to get a collection going. The machine is actually the least expensive part. (Until you move up to the monster big or high end lathes)

Only you can determine your priorities and desires.

FWIW I like my old machine. It does everything I ask of it.

I also have a 1955 Shopsmith Mark V which has a 16” x 34” lathe with a 3/4 HP motor and ranges in speed from 700 to 3500 or so.

The Robust American Beauty is on my long term dream list.

Like when I win the lottery kind of dream ya know?

-- - Terry

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#9 posted 04-30-2014 12:41 AM

I think I will keep the one I got. #1, it fit down my stairs, so there’s that. #2, if I outgrow it, then GOOD! (and I’ll have learned a lesson.) #3, I have been looking at pole lathe turning a lot lately, so I think I will be ok with a minimum of attachments. If windsor chairs (and bowls of that era) are fine without fancy chucks, then so will I be.

Ok ok, maybe a drill chuck for the tailstock for making pens (cheaper than a drill press…) and also for starting cuts for goblets and bowls (easier than making that first cut, I’d imagine, we’ll see.)

I am going to price out materials for building a bench for it, and that could very well be the deciding factor. If a stand will put the cost higher than the 34706 with legs and reversible head, then I’ll exchange it. Otherwise, I’ll keep it and love it like a red headed step brother.

View turnkey47's profile


274 posts in 2719 days

#10 posted 04-30-2014 09:19 PM

just got my new issue of wood magazine and there is a coupon for the hf 34706 lathe at a cost of $199!!!!!!

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#11 posted 04-30-2014 09:37 PM

that’s cheaper than sale + 25% off… I might have to find a copy… That’s only like $30 more than I paid with tax…

I know they don’t resell for much, but nobody in my area (philly suburbs) seems to not want theirs. I’ve been checking for a couple of months. I would be thrilled to buy a used HF crap lathe for $40, but oh well.

That 34706 is 175lbs though (and I read people do things like attach plywood to the legs to make them stronger/heavier… seems like it should rather be on a bench at that point, no?)

Either way, I still have like 85 days left to return the one I got, who knows, maybe I’ll outgrow it by then. Once I build a bench/stand, I plan to try to work on it full time (~3-5hrs/day). I’ll post an update when I get it set up.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2211 days

#12 posted 04-30-2014 10:01 PM

The HF lathe you have is a decent lathe. It’s compatible with the Jet and the other PSI/Rockler clones for extension beds, etc. The MT2 taper and spindle size means it’s easy to find accessories. If you don’t have the space for a big lathe and don’t need to turn large bowls, it will do just fine.

I’ve got that model, and I have no complaints about its performance.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#13 posted 04-30-2014 10:54 PM

The 10×18 is compatible with the extension bed for the jet 10×14? I didn’t expect that. I’m actually quite happy with the fit and finish, and if there was anything I’d change about it, it would be the speed change system and install a fan on the motor.

I might see about making an alteration so the motor doesn’t get covered in chips/dust as well. As it is, it looks like dust will cover the cooling vents. Not sure where to install a cooling fan, though.

View Woodknack's profile


11813 posts in 2407 days

#14 posted 05-01-2014 03:48 AM

If you want to do bowls, get the 12” lathe. Unless you are very careful about cutting out your bowl blanks (or make segmented bowls) you’ll lose 2-3 inches just turning it round. Also variable speed is really, really, nice to have.

The old Dunlop is probably a decent lathe but only buy it for love of old machines. I have a ‘58 King Seeley and would trade it in a heartbeat for that old Dunlop. A correction to Terry’s post above—#0 is the smallest Morse taper although uncommon but I do have an old lathe with a #0 taper.

-- Rick M,

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 1556 days

#15 posted 05-01-2014 04:35 AM

I’m not concerned with rounding rough blanks with axe or spokeshave, but the 12” doesn’t have variable speed, it’s a lever with (5?) stops. Does that move a belt like a bike chain? Or is that considered VS?

Btw, just set up my new 1951 Sears scroll saw and I love how the motor is hinged under the stand so the belt tensioned by the weight of the motor. Ever seen this done with a lathe? That would make speed changes much easier – and there could even be pinned stops along the stand to keep the speed steady…

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