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Thread: New Lathe

  1. #1
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    New Lathe

    First, let me unequivocally state that I am a Woodworker who turns occasionally when the need arises.
    I have a Jet Mini lathe, but am finding I would like to be able to turn larger pieces ( not longer).
    I have started looking at the larger Jets and also Nova. I would want as much flexibility as possible as this will in all likelihood, be the last lathe I ever buy.
    It sounds like the outboard capability is a nice feature that allows one to occasionally do larger pieces.
    What all should I be looking for in a larger lathe?

    Thanks for any advice and suggestions,
    Jim

  2. #2
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    It all depends on your budget. I have a Powermatic 3520B and I love it. I turn everything from pens to large platters on it. While it may be out of your budget, it's a really nice lathe. For a little less money, there is the Laguna lathes. I haven't turned on one but they look really nice and have some nice features.

    Also, I would look for a heavier lathe and something with at least 1.5hp. The heavier lathe will allow you to start with an out of balance blank and the lathe won't bounce all over shop when you turn it on. The higher hp comes in handy for those heavy blanks and should you ever get into coring your bowl blanks.

    I could turn outboard on my 3520 but since it already has a 20" capacity I haven't needed to turn outboard yet. That's one of the nice things about a 16" or larger lathe.

    Hope this helps!
    Doug Swanson

    Where are John Keeton and Steve Schlumpf anyway?

  3. #3
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    I agree with Doug - much depends on your budget. It is almost never a bad idea to buy a lathe larger than you now imagine you need! Most "full sized" lathes take up roughly the same floor space so that shouldn't matter much. If you don't have easy access to 220v power that might suggest looking at a 110v lathe.

    Mostly turn spindles with occasional bowls? A used Jet 1642 is a respectable lathe, even the 1 hp version. I keep one set up in the shop along with a larger PM 3520b, with another and a couple of Jet minis in a storage building. I mostly use the PM but the 1642 will do almost anything I want. The headstock can be pushed down to the end if you want to turn things larger than 16", but a 16" bowl is a pretty large bowl. The 1642 has a long bed I've used for shovel handles and such - I don't use the full length much but it sure is handy when I do. Some people consider the 1 hp motor too small but I've never stalled mine, even with larger pieces. (Sharp tools, skillful use, no problems.)

    There is a bed extender available for the Jet mini to give more length. However, the electronic variable speed and the heavier duty components (and heavier weight) of the larger lathes are all big advantages. The 1hp 1642 runs on 110v power if that's a consideration.

    There are many more useful lathes out there that would work. These are just the ones I am the most familiar with.

    JKJ

  4. #4
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    You can turn small things on big lathes, but can't turn big things on small lathes. So, bigger is better. But we have to live with our individual constraints, whether space, power, or money. Until recently I had access to a large PowerMatic lathe that was wonderful, even though I usually turn small things. That said, I took a couple classes at our local Woodcraft that uses a (much) older model of the small Rikon lathe. It was very usable within it's size limits and I wouldn't hesitate to look at the Rikon midi-models if budget or space guided me that direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Tobias View Post
    ... turns occasionally when the need arises....
    This is the boat I'm in too. The experts here will (usually) tell you variable speed is a nice but very optional feature. I believe it is for them. But, as an occasional turner, I'd rate it as almost essential. If I could look at a work piece and judge the exact speed I wanted to turn it and could accommodate the increments in speed with technique, belt changes aren't that awful. But being able to start slow to spin a piece while I judge its balance or being able to slightly tweak a speed to get a more comfortable cut is something I use almost constantly. (I can't really explain why dropping 50-100 rpm can so significantly change the quality of cut for me. Maybe it's psychological, but it has a very real effect on my enjoyment and the quality of my results.)

  5. #5
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    Thanks for responses so far. As for power supply and space, I'm not restricted by either. I have enough room in my shop and have power supply available. As for $, I don't want to be frivolous, but I like to buy 1 time and be satisfied. Don't want to buy and then regret not stepping up higher on the model scale.

    Jim

  6. #6
    "as this will in all likelihood, be the last lathe I ever buy."


    Depends what you want to turn.

    If you do a lot of bowls, then even more critical than swing (IMHO) is sliding headstock (makes it ergonomic to hollow) and tilting tail stock (it gets heavy to move it out of the way manually).

    I like variable speed without (too many) belt changes and speed that goes down below 100 so you can sand easier.

    Get as much power as you can. I find that it makes roughing blanks much more enjoyable and less fatiguing.

    John Keeton has a good review of the Laguna 18-36 (which I ended up with). It has a lower stance than other lathes which makes it more accessible if you are shorter; it also helps stability.



  7. #7
    Well, there are far more choices than there were years ago. Seems to be 3 size ranges, 12 and under which are kind of the mini lathes, great for small projects, and small bowls. Mid sized lathes are in the 16 to 18 inch range, which are great for most smaller bowl turnings, if you want to get into bowls, having 2 hp is a necessity to me, but not at the hobby level. Then there are the big lathes, 2 or 3 hp and in the 20 to 25 inch range. High end quality made for use and abuse are the Robust (made in USA and probably the best height adjustment set up), Oneway (Canada), Powermatic (2 models, 20 and 24 inch made in China and one of the most popular), and Vicmarc (Australia). I prefer the sliding headstock myself, so that leaves the Robust and PM. The Vicmarc is the only one that does the pivoting head stock the right way, and I am considering adding it to my arsenal. Laguna and Grizzly are also serious new comers in the lathe business, and Grizzly seems to have over come some quality issues. The Nova is pretty popular, but I never really cared for them. Best to check them out in person if possible. If there is a club any where near, then you can probably get some play time on most of the models. Other than that, if you can come out to the AAW Symposium in Portland, OR this summer, that would be the best place to see them all at once. The vendor area is dangerous for your pocket book....

    robo hippy

  8. #8
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    [...lots of bowl lathe recommendations...]

    Since you are a "Woodworker who turns occasionally when the need arises.", you may want to consider spindle capabilities. What specifically you'd want depends on your work. Chisel handles can easily be turned with 12" to 14" between centers. (6" for the handle and 6" to 8" for a drill & chuck to bore a tang hole.) If you want to do an 18" lathe gouge handle, or chair spindles, or.... E.g. if you want to turn stair balusters, well you'll want one of the real biggies.

  9. #9
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    I think that there are two ways to figure out what to buy: (1) what you plan to turn (and it seems like you are flexible or haven't really nailed that down or (2) what is the dollar amount that you want to spend?

    If you said $10K you'd get one group of answers and range of candidates - - similarly if you said $1700 you'd get a second group of candidates.

    Why don't you mention what range you are thinking of. If price is no object go for a Oneway or Robust. If you have a range in mind let us know and we can give you better advice.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the advice.
    Brice .. I am probably looking at a lathe in the $1750 to $3500 range.

    Jim

  11. #11
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    I have both of these in my shop, and they are in the range you mention....well, the G0800 is a few hundred more, but either of these will perform as well as any Powermatic. [Btw, I like PM lathes, and have turned on numerous of them!]

    The G0800 is a BEAST of a machine, for the money, and has power/performance, with it's advanced premium induction motor/inverter combination, and heavy weight and other premium features. I have turned on both a Robust American Beauty, and a Serious SL2542, which are premium lathes. To me, the G0800 feels like turning on those units........I consider it a high end lathe with premium features and build, at a super value. It is Grizzly's clone of the Harvey Turbo 60, made for them by Harvey Industries. [same manufacturer of the Powermatic lathes]

    Laguna has a clone made by them as well, which is the Revo 2436, which only has two bearings in the headstock for the spindle, and both are smaller than the 3 in the Grizzly G0800. All three spindle bearings in the G0800 are bigger in diameter than a baseball. It is really heavy duty.

    The Laguna Revo models do offer the tailstock pendant which is very nice, and they have steel bed ways vs. the heavy alloy cast on the G0800.

    For me the extra heavy build was more important than the ergonomic feature like the tailstock pendant. That might not be the approach some would take, as ergonomics are important, but in every other way the ergonomics of the G0800 are like the Revo 2436. Most turners would likely not even notice any difference in the bearings, and that might only come into play if one turns as a production turner with a steady diet of very heavy wood.

    Just giving information, not trying to sell anyone on anything here, but I did a LOT of research, was saving for a Robust American Beauty, and the G0800 really got my attention. Have owned 5 lathes, turned on dozens of different ones, and numerous models. I am an experienced turner, and dive deeply in the build of the machines, and I've had the G0800 a couple months now, and have absolutely ZERO regrets getting either of my large lathes, the G0766 [had it for about 2 1/2 years] and now the G0800.
    Last edited by Roger Chandler; 04-11-2018 at 2:21 PM.
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  12. #12
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    If I had $1700 to spend, I'd buy the G0766. It's specs (3 HP motor) and capacity (22 x 34") is what is supplied by lathes costing perhaps $7 or 800 more.

    If I wanted to spend $3500 I'd consider the G0800. If I had $4500 I'd go for the PM 3520C.

    I own a G0766 and it does everything that I need. I'm quite pleased.

  13. #13
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    Don't shoot me for this but....

    How would a used ShopSmith Mark 5 do as a lathe? It has variable speed and enough horsepower. There's one not too far from me that they are asking $750 but seem open to an OBO offer.
    Marshall
    ---------------------------
    A Stickley fan boy.

  14. #14
    I have a Shopsmith and it can be used as a lathe. It makes a terrible lathe. It's underpowered, doesn't have low enough speeds, the tailstock is a joke, and the tube system that supports the tool rest is way too flexible. The spindle on mine only had one whimpy bearing. It's ok for small things...

    I like the Shopsmith but not as a lathe.

    c

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Tobias View Post
    .... as this will in all likelihood, be the last lathe I ever buy.....
    This has been the famous last words of many a woodturner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Tobias View Post
    ..... As for $, I don't want to be frivolous, but I like to buy 1 time and be satisfied. Don't want to buy and then regret not stepping up higher on the model scale....
    I don't think that any lathe is frivolous, but only you can say how much you want to spend. After having buyers remorse on a previous lathe, I went for the top and bought a Robust American Beauty. For me it was the perfect decision (especially because my wife encouraged me to get it), but that doesn't mean it is the right lathe for everybody's needs. It would be way outside your stated price range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall Harrison View Post
    Don't shoot me for this but....
    Get a rope.
    Bill

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