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Thread: Mini Wood Lathe (Excelsior 5-Speed)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Prescott, AZ
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    Mini Wood Lathe (Excelsior 5-Speed)

    Hello fellow Wood Lathe Aficionados..

    Just purchased and yet delivered an Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe with additional body extension to do future table legs. While it's not the best of Lathes but Central Machinery(HF); Grizzly, Rikon, Delta, Shop Fox and Jet employ the same Chinese cast iron-structural body, perhaps with better paint or even more polished cast iron.

    The cheapest is $199 at HF(Central Machinery). Many evaluations are considering the HF lathe " junk", therefore I purchased the Excelsior...which to my surprise others consider also "junk"!, primarily that the motor is underpowered (1/2 hp), doing as a 10" bowl is not possible.

    Are there motors available on the market for replacement/purchase in at least 3/4 hp or even 1 hp that will underneath fit these machines?

    Thank you...


    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elmer Hayes View Post
    ...which to my surprise others consider also "junk"!, primarily that the motor is underpowered (1/2 hp), doing as a 10" bowl is not possible.
    I know nothing about that lathe but I have owned and turned on three small lathes with 1/2hp motors.

    Forget what people say - You can easily turn 10" bowls on a small lathe with a 1/2hp motor. It's not about the HP as much as the type of tool, the sharpness, and the tool control and expertise of the turner. Yes, you can bog down or stall a lathe with a 1/2hp motor if you jam the tool into the wood or get a catch or use a low-torque belt position. But you can make beautiful shavings and turnings on a small lathe with sharp tools and good technique.

    I even read complaints that my first "real" lathe, a Jet 1642 was underpowered and unsuitable for turning bowls due to it's 1hp motor. I turned a lot of things including almost 16 bowls and never stalled it but I suspect a unskilled or heavy-handed aggressive turner might have a problem.

    My advice: start with turning spindles which will teach the tool control. Learn to use finesse rather than force. Stick to turning smaller things at first. Keep away from flat topped carbide tools but learn to sharpen and use conventional gouges. For those who have not yet developed expertise at sharpening, the incredibly sharp Hunter carbide tools work well and require no sharpening.

    BTW, there is a possible danger of damaging a small lathe with a motor larger than it was designed for, perhaps with a good catch, especially when learning.

    JKJ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    Prescott, AZ
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    Thank you JKJ. Much appreciated for your input. While I am an experienced wood worker but have yet to own a wood lathe. Agree: sharpness of tools and of course gentle control with your tools. Will let you know of what I have turned in!

    Happy New Year

    cheers...
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
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    Spending money to upgrade that lathe will be money ill spent in my opinion. Play around with it, while saving more money and watching the used lathe market. Curious how you deduce the quality comparisons on the lathes while not owning any of them. You suspect that the other companies are just profiting by selling the same machine with better paint and polish? I've been turning for 34 years. I have not found your theory to be true.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2016
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    Prescott, AZ
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    "Curious how you deduce the quality comparisons on the lathes while not owning any of them.". Sorry for my overreaction.. correct and not having had one yet. It's on the way! Browsed multiple postings regarding this model..from there I became a bit nervous after many negated this model. Hmmnn.. my bad! Will let you know of my likes and dislikes.

    cheers...
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    San Diego, Ca
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    1,310
    My first lathe was a 1950's craftsman 9" x 36" with a 1/2 HP motor. I made a whole bunch of bowls, goblets, etc. and thoroughly enjoyed it. My friend bought a 12 x 36 (?) HF (with the Reeves drive) and he also enjoyed his. For both of us, we made a minimal investment to first determine if we enjoyed wood turning enough to want to upgrade.

    If your Excelsior lathe is essentially the same as a HF, the good news is that if/when you need spare parts you could probably order from HF as they have a pretty decent inventory of parts at reasonable prices. There is a wood turning club in Prescott. You should consider joining. I see from their website that they hold meetings, have demonstrations and have a mentor's program.

  7. #7
    There seems to be another brand from the same Chinese Factory, for the small lathes. Vevor, painted a medium blue color. the 10 x 18 appears the exact same as the HF 5 sp 10 x lathe., except the lathe is electric variable speed. They also have a 12 x 18 which looks identical in all respects to the Rikon. The companies currently selling this brand tell you everything but the voltage and head spindle thread. Despite many emails to the various sellers about spindle thread, I do not get the courtesy of a response. I have seen the little 10 x 18 central machinery lathe beat rather severely by a production turner that used a cup chuck and just used a mallet to pound in his turning wood. I know this guy turned hundreds of pieces a day.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Prescott, AZ
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    Thank you Gentlemen for all the input. Lathe isn't arrived yet and will let you know soon. One more question: Since the Excelsior does not come with a variable Chuck. Do you think that: https://www.cpooutlets.com/nova-2309...SABEgKgJ_D_BwE is a good choice for the Excelsior!? Does it simply screw on its spindle (do they universally fit ?) I am experienced wood worker but have never owned or operated a lathe.

    cheers...
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  9. #9
    The Excelsior has a 1" diameter spindle, 8 threads per inch. This is a standard spindle size for smaller lathes.

    The Chuck that you linked to come is designed to thread onto a spindle that is 1-1/4" in diameter (also 8 tpi), which is a standard spindle for larger lathes.

    So that particular chuck won't fit your Excelsior lathe, at least not without a spindle adapter (1x8 to 1-1/4x8). You would probably be better off looking for a chuck designed for the 1"x8 spindle....

  10. #10
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    Nov 2016
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    Prescott, AZ
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    Thank you Timothy for the recommendation.. Could you suggest a reliable parts provider of such chuck? Thank you.

    cheers...
    Last edited by Elmer Hayes; 01-04-2020 at 7:56 PM.
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elmer Hayes View Post
    Thank you Timothy for the recommendation.. Could you suggest a reliable parts provider of such chuck? Thank you.

    cheers...
    The Nova G3 chuck might be a good match for that lathe. You buy a separate insert that fits your lathe. If you ever upgrade to a larger lathe you can keep the chuck and just get a different insert. From my experience the G3 will handle anything that can be turned on that lathe.

    There are a number of G3 chuck options available on Amazon, for example this one.
    https://www.amazon.com/Nova-48202-Tu.../dp/B0064JJ52U

    You can also buy a G3 chuck directly threaded for a 1" x 8 tpi lathe spindle, for example this one.
    https://www.amazon.com/NOVA-48232-Re.../dp/B0074HJ1V6
    However, if you get a larger lathe some day this chuck probably won't fit.

    An adapter similar to this will fit your lathe if it in fact does have a 1" x 8 tpi spindle thread.
    https://www.amazon.com/IDNS-1-Inch-T.../dp/B0064JJ624


    JKJ

  12. #12
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    Nov 2016
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    Prescott, AZ
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    Thank you

    cheers...
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Prescott, AZ
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    Thank you John K Jordan and others for your undivided advice regarding my questionable 1/2 hp Excelsior Lathe. Going slowly, patiently and using sharp tools, I have prevailed. Used Maple and Alligator pine wood for these creations. So far so good. And of course added a few bells and whistles: Nova G3 chuck as you suggested. Here are the products. Wine glass with 2 captive rings...

    2020012718061806--6994948235676944484-IMG_1773_heic-M.jpg

    cheers...
    Achtung: Schlau Holz

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Excellent! Are the table legs next? Get lots of spindle practice!

    BTW, I can't remember if I mentioned it but I can recommend two books - I learned woodturning from them:

    Turning Wood by Richard Raffan
    Fundamentals of Woodturning by Mike Darlow

    Both of these have lots of advice and exercises that will show how to develop expertise and fine tool control so you can turn anything.

    JKJ

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kapolei Hawaii
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    2,981
    Welcome! What the others said. Use your lathe and learn on it. Keep looking for a bigger one. I turned many years on a Jet Mini with that weak underpowered 1/2 hp motor. I even cored bowls with the McNaughton. It is a chore to core on it, but I did core on it.
    I would not try to upgrade the motor. Better money spent would be to upgrade to a bigger lathe. Yes, learn to use the tools get to know them. I may even be better to learn technique on a weak lathe as bad tool presentation will stall it.

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