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Thread: What kind of wood lathe do you have?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019

    What kind of wood lathe do you have?

    What brand and model of lathe did you get, and why did you pick that one? Things you do, and do not like about it....
    Where did I put those band aids?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Elmodel, Ga.
    Started out with a Rikon 70-220VSR midi. Great lathe for the money and did lots of smaller items. The only drawback for me was the bed ways were not long enough for some spindle work.
    I then graduated to a Laguna 18/36. Not one complaint with this machine. It has handled everything I've thrown at it. I say no complaints, but the add-on accessories are a bit pricey. I made my own vacuum adapter and mobile lift for it and saved several hundred dollars. I bought an aftermarket light for it that mounts exactly as theirs does for over $125.00 less than they wanted. Outside of that, no complaints.
    BTW, I still have and use the Rikon at times for smaller items, especially when the Laguna is tied up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Richardson, Texas
    Unlike all my other machines I decided not to start small and upgrade. My first was a Powermatic 3520B, really liked it but when I saw the features of the 3520C decided to sell the B and get the new C. I try to keep my tools like new so my resale was good.

    What I really like is the extended nose on the spindle, magnetic movable controls, Pinch type tool rest clamp and Acme threads on the tail stock. I did like the open base better on the B. Also purchased the swing away setup, highly recommend.
    Pretty sure this one will be the last one I buy.
    Last edited by Jay Rasmussen; 12-08-2019 at 5:12 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    Currently a Conover, as of early January a Robust American Beauty.

    When I bought the Conover it was the must-have "heavy" lathe, unless you could score an old Oliver, or something exotic from England. Times have changed! I particularly liked being able to make my own wooden ways, allowing me to turn 6 ft bedposts, and I still love the look and feel of the thing. All of the hardware was super heavy duty for the time and nicely machined. Being able to bore through the tailstock is a nice feature that some modern lathes don't have. It came with a variable speed DC motor, which was a very unusual feature at the time, most lathes either had four speeds by changing belts or something complex like a Reeves drive. What I don't like is the tendency of the tool rest to slip with vibration, that anchoring the tailstock firmly takes Popeye arm strength (particularly to unscrew the hand wheel once it wedges into place) and the fussiness of maintaining the headstock, tailstock and ways in perfect alignment-- not an issue for bowl turning, but requiring care when remounting work between centers.

    The tilt-away tailstock and sliding headstock of the AB are huge selling points. I expect as well that the tool rest won't slide around on me, and the tailstock will stay put without undue effort. I turn big, out of balance chunks of tree with some regularity. I have a couple hundred pounds of lead on the bottom shelf of my Conover, I'm expecting not to need that on the AB. I'll know more after it arrives and I get to use it for real.

  5. #5
    First lathe was a 1/2 hp 4 speed Atlas. Upgraded that with a 1 hp motor. Next was a 3520A, which I used for maybe 8 or so years. Next was a Robust American Beauty with the 3 speed pulleys. I added a Robust Liberty which they don't make any more. I picked up a Vicmarc 240 last March, the one with the pivoting headstock and 3 speeds pulleys. I am starting to think of it as my favorite for bowls, though I do switch back and forth between it and the Beauty. The Liberty is for teaching. I do have an old Jet Mini that I bought to do threaded boxes on with the Bonnie Klein jig. Not sure if I will add another lathe or not. I want to do more work shops in the new place....

    robo hippy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Quote Originally Posted by Dueane Hicks View Post
    What brand and model of lathe did you get, and why did you pick that one? Things you do, and do not like about it....
    My primary lathe is a PM 3520b with bed extension. Plenty of length, plenty of power, excellent lathe.


    My secondary lathes are two Jet 1642 EVS, one set up in the shop all the time and the other in storage as a backup. Perfect for students, to setup special jigs when turning on the other, or to quickly turn a special support or jam piece without disturbing the work on the other lathe. I can demonstrate on one lathe while the student turns on the other, or each of use can turn at once. I can have two students at once or more if I bring in another lathe. Excellent lathes and reasonable in cost.


    Two other wood lathes are Jet minis, great for carrying somewhere or bringing into the shop for a larger group. Not variable speed, limited in size of turning, but easy to transport and set up. I can carry one in the back of a car.

    My first lathe was a copy of the old Craftsman tube lathe. Possibly the worst lathe ever made. Difficult to keep in adjustment, underpowered, the best manual ever, learned a lot of technique then bought a new Jet 1642 and gave the tube lathe away.

    My last two lathes are metal-cutting lathes. Along with a small milling machine and other welding and metal-working equipment lets me make or fix anything that strikes the fancy.


    Is that enough for one person or do I need more?


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    grizzly 0766 price , I got # 33 I think off the boat, I like john k above had a tube lathe it was just a little better than not having one I guess. have no regrets on the griz .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Mountain City, TN
    Delta iron bed 1440. I like to slide the headstock close to the end of the ways for bowl turning. I bought it about 10 years ago. Hate the fact that the pulleys in the Reeves drive are cheap pot metal. Delta no longer stocks parts, so when the pulleys break, you need to get parts from Jet or Grizzly. I re-engineered mine to use step pulleys. Next lathe will be a 3520 b (if one ever comes up for sale) or a 3250c.

  9. #9
    started out with a general midi and turn and turn on it for about 5 years an then bought a grizzly G7066 no regrets great lathe. why I bought it was the price bought it back in 2015 and paid $1667.00 for it. now with the tariff it is up around $2250.00 but still worth the price great power and size
    Last edited by Keith Buxton; 12-09-2019 at 12:39 AM.

  10. #10
    Like Jay, I wanted to buy my last lathe first and ended up with a Vicmarc VL200 Swivel Head that I bought a few weeks ago. It has a bed extension, 2HP variable speed motor (AC 3PH with VFD), 44" between centres, extra banjo with a 24" rest and a magnetic moveable speed control/on/off switch. Ticked all my boxes for a quality lathe to turn furniture spindles and allow for some bowl turning and most anything else I could see myself wanting to turn. This lathe was a small batch of lathes they made just prior to going into full production with the VL240 (that has an extra 1.5" swing. It was this or a Laguna 18/36 but in the end the Vicmarc reputation for quality and longevity is what swung my decision - also the extra mass and swivel head were advantages for me.

    Cheers, Dom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Cambridge Vermont
    I bought a Grizzly G0766. I wanted big enough to not feel size limited but without spending the big bucks some of the other brands cost until I felt that turning was something I would stick with. Back before the tariffs someone here posted a discount code so I got a smoking deal. With the tariffs the price jump puts it near the price of the Laguna lathes so I can't say for sure what I would have gotten but I can' see myself upgrading any time soon.

  12. #12
    I currently have a Delta 46-700, that I got second-hand ~15-20 years ago. At 12x36 it is similar to the Rockwell Homecraft lathe that my dad has, on which I first learned to turn ~40+ years ago. As things go, my lathe has been in "storage" for at least the last decade, but having gotten it out recently and started turning again I am quickly running up against some of it's limitations and am starting to think about an upgrade....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    sykesville, maryland
    I had been using an old craftsman with plans to save for a Powermatic. But then the Craftsman died unexpectedly and I wasn't in position to pay the premium for a PM. So, I had narrowed it down to a Laguna 18-36 or a Grizzly G0766. Price was close enough. I went Grizzly as it was more lathe and some of the early Laguna customer service issues scared me. Plus I have always had good service from Grizzly; just a great value. I've had it about 10 months now. So far it's been great. Can't see needing more lathe, ever. If big isn't needed consider a table top model like a Nova Comet or the Grizzly G0844.

    If you've used a lathe and are certain you will use it a lot, I suggest getting a "lifetime" lathe - one big enough and capable enough for whatever you might need.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Tom gave you sage advice about considering getting a "lifetime lathe". I have no clue where "Hoodsport" is, but if you have a good turners' club nearby or a few turners who will share time on their various machines, you can learn a lot by asking them what they like or hate about their machines. If you want to make a few big things but mostly small things, and have access through a local club to a lathe for your few large projects, get a middle sized lathe of great quality!

    My personal history started with a ShopSmith clone and some related medium-quality tools. That tool provides a swing of about 16". The largest I ever turned on that machine was a trivet, 10 inches by 3/4" thick. Most of what I turned on that machine were cute little solid wood ornaments of maple and butternut. They sold well for me. I was able to buy a couple of quality tools. I was able to score a Carbatec mini-lathe at a moving sale. I still use that machine. I used it with a couple of really cheap pen lathes to teach middle school kids how to turn on a few Saturdays. Church-based project that was great fun for me and for them (I also taught them how to use a scroll saw). I then bought what will likely be my last lathe, a Jet 1236 which is a 12"x34-1/2" non-variable speed machine. It is a sufficient machine for the things I like to do. I'm a geezer who doesn't have stamina or tools to go hunting big chunks of wood for turning or time (or patience or storage space) to wait for green wood to dry out before final turning. I got what I thought was a great deal on a good and well-cared for used Jet. My price included delivery and set-up! That's helpful for a geezer shop. It's big enough for my personal projects. For larger projects, my club has two larger lathes that would accommodate me.
    Last edited by Dean Thomas; 12-09-2019 at 10:33 PM.
    Dean Thomas

  15. My first lathe was a Craftsman 15" variable speed lathe. It had a D/C motor and controller with geared spindle instead of belt driven spindle. That thing broke on me, and no available parts on planet earth...believe me I looked everywhere for months. Ended up making scrap metal out of the thing.

    I moved up to a Grizzly G0698 18/47 lathe, which also had a D/C motor and variable speed with belt driven spindle system. Used that lathe for about 6 years, sold it to one of the clubs I am a member of, and that lathe is still being used all the time, without a single issue for about 13 years of its life so far.

    I wanted bigger, so I got the G0766 Grizzly which is a 22/42 lathe, with 3 hp, variable speed with premium Delta Electronics "M" series inverter motor combo, which is more advanced than the inverter on the Laguna and Powermatic/Jet lathes which use the Delta "S" series inverter. I have had super service from that lathe since I bought it on January 1st of 2015. It has turned some really large wood, and I am extremely pleased with the service and performance of the G0766.

    I've had such good service and performance from my Grizzly lathes, that I bought another one......the flagship G0800 24/48 lathe made for them by Harvey Industries Machine Company, the same manufacturer that makes the Powermatic lathes, and the G0800 is comparable in class to the Powermatic 4224b. A truly fine piece of premium equipment if there ever was one!

    Before purchasing the G0766 back on New Years Day in 2015, I had turned on all sorts of lathes, the Powermatic 3520b [eleven different lathes of that model] so I knew it well, and 6 different Jet 1642 evs lathes, numerous midi lathes, and such, so I knew what all of them were, and have a friend who owns a 3 hp Oneway 2436, and a friend who owns a Robust American Beauty.

    I was saving for a Robust American Beauty, and was close to pulling the trigger on one......I had turned on a friends Robust AB a couple of times, and they are truly nice units. I kept having this feeling I needed to really dive deep into the build of the G0800, the Oneway 2436, the Robust AB, and when I did, for the value and the very heavy duty build of the G0800, I decided for me it was the best combination of value, build, and premium features. After two years of using it, I still could not be happier with my choice! It has swing away tailstock, and many other features that are great design. It has 3 massive spindle bearings which are all bigger than a baseball, and the Lagunas only have two spindle bearings. Truly heavy duty!

    I turn some large wood, I sell my work, and I am a stickler for performance and reliability. Both my G0766 22/42 lathe, and my G0800 24/48 lathe have given me exceptional service and what I truly believe is the best value for large lathes on the market today. I also have one midi lathe in my studio, but use the large lathes mostly.

    Good luck with your research and hope you get the lathe that fits you perfectly!
    Last edited by Roger Chandler; 12-10-2019 at 12:12 PM.
    Remember, in a moments time, everything can change!

    Vision - not just seeing what is, but seeing what can be!

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