One Step Closer
For some time now I have been drawn towards the dark side of wood work. Like a number of individuals, that twirling of wood has created some kind of vortex that is sucking me right in. You might say I have seen a light, and I am moving into it.
When I first caught this bug, I figured I would want to do some small stuff such as pens and bottle stoppers, the kind of stuff that we see here and on other web sites everyday. So my first look at a wood lathe was in the mini size category. I saw many a nice machine that would fill this need just fine. But in the back of my head was a thought; will I be happy with the limitations of such a machine. The more I looked into wood turning the more I felt that a bigger machine would be in order. After all, like it is often said; buy more and grow into it.
So now my search moved to bigger and better machines. The first thing I found out was that these machines did not fit my budget. No problem, I’ll buy a previous enjoyed unit was my thinking. I had a good look within my search area, both on Craig’s list and Kijiji. There were a lot of lathes available, most not worth owning. I do not like to buy junk; this just makes no sense to me at all. I wanted a machine to work with, not work on. But, being a thrifty type of guy (CHEAP), I did go look at a few of these. There is a lot of older Delta’s that interested me. The fact that these are still around and going strong proves they were built well. One that was right in my ball park for wants needs and cost was listed not to far from me. Unfortunately it was sold on my way to look at it. After reading up on these older machines and looking at the old tools web pages I found some of the parts for these Rockwell lathes can get mighty costly.
Still looking at the used lathe that were available, I widen my search area. I found a couple of used General 160&260 models; also very well built machine. Seems General has been making these monsters for ever, and still are. I guess they figure if it works don’t mess with it. Well surfing the net one night I found an upcoming auction that had a 160 variable speed model up for grabs. I had never been to an auction before, but this machine look to be everything I wanted. Well, all I can say is that this was an adventure; I got out bid. In hind site, I probably should have gotten off my wallet and stayed in, but it was that darn budget I wanted to stay within. I also went and looked at another 160 I found on Kijiji. The picture looked good, but there were many parts missing. I priced some of the parts and found it would cost as much update this one as it would just to buy something that was all there, and this seller wanted way to much for it. There were a couple of other 160 advertised, but did not have the VS, which I truly did want to have.
While all my searching was going on in the used market; I continued to search out the new stuff being offered as well. I must admit, I do like buying things new. I am a bit of a technology freak. I was looking at a Nova 1624.and the bigger Jet models. I really liked these machines and the reviews they were getting. They are priced well, but were still over my budget. Also, being in Canada causes problems getting one. I guess I could just jump over to Buffalo, it’s only an hour’s drive, but then there is the boarder and customs to deal with.
Then as luck would have it, this past weekend I saw an ad for a General International 25-650.
This unit was a bit out of my price range, but was being offered at a fair exchange. After a couple of hours of whining to my wife she agreed to a small increase in the budget.(got love that girl) I sent off an e-mail to the owner and set up a viewing time. It looked to be everything I wanted. Some discussion on price, payment made and I loaded it in the truck. Now I am truly one step closer to that dark side.
The GI 25-650 I bought is approximately one year old. I am told that it has only been driven once or twice by a little old man before he passed away. By the condition of the unit I see no reason to dispute this. This unit is powered by a 1 ½ HP AC motor with phase converter. In my opinion this is the best way of handling variable speed. In addition to this the mechanical step pulley allows you to maintain torque at low r.p.m. I have a couple of General products in my work shop and have been very, very happy with them. This will be my first General International. And as it is made off shore, I do have my concerns about this lathe. Time will only tell.
Also included in the sale was the 18 inch bed extension. At this point, I don’t really see a use for this, but what the heck; it was included. Also included was 8 Marple turning tools. These don’t look all that great to me. I believe this is a cheap set of boxed tools that are high carbon steel. The handles are some form of hardwood and are quite nice. I think these tools will be replaced; however for now they will get me started and be used to learn sharpening technique. As stated before, I will most likely be doing mostly smaller turning for now. I do want to get into more of the bowl type turning seen here so much. I believe this machine will allow me that as time and experience grows. The stand on this machine seems a bit undersized to me for the larger turnings; but I’ll deal with that when the time arrives. The current price on this machine through the General dealers is set at $2129 here in Canada. I paid about half of that.
One step closer to being a twirler; Now to set up a sharpening center, and join up with the local turner’s guild.
My new addition below……. click on thumb nail for full view
-- Brian, Ontario Canada,