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Thread: In the market for a new lathe

  1. #1

    In the market for a new lathe

    So, Iím in the market for a lathe. Iíve turned on a lathe exactly 2 times in 46 yrs. First time was about 6 months ago at my local woodcraft where I turned a small bowl as part of a class. Second time was 2 weeks ago at my local base where I learned to turn a pen. It seems to be something Iím getting more and more interested in and I think itís time to get a lathe. Iím looking at a midi sized lathe currently. The three lathes that I have in mind at WGT Jet 1221vs (thatís the lathe Iíve used both time), the Laguna 1216, Nova Comet 14DR, and the 12Ē turncrafter from PSI. They are all in the same -ish price range, so Iím looking at pros/me for each. Most likely, at least in the interim, I will just build a mobile cart for it, vs getting a stand. That may change in the future however. Iím not sure if I want the reverse feature on a lathe or not (didnít use it in either class). Also, realistically, what size bowl can you turn on a 12/14 swing? The way in understand it is that is the sozed blank you start with, so a 12Ē blank could realistically get you a 10-11Ē bowl? Iím not too concerned about the length of the bed as I donít (at least at this time) anticipate turning long spindles, peppermills, baseball bats, etc...just bowls, players, pens, etc...

    I am really unsure about having to change belts over for different speeds, as I just ďturned the dial up on the Jet 1221vs that Iíve used. So some insight there would be appreciated as well.

    Anyone with recommendations not listed in the 4 above?

    Anyone have any issues with the 4 listed above?

    Anything Iím not thinking about? I know everyone says the lathe is the cheap part of turning and Iím ok with that. Tools, chucks, blanks, pen kits, etc are another ďbudgetedĒ item that is not taken into consideration with the above 4 lathes.

    I did some searching for this question, but it was all over the map, so if there is a direct link to similar posts, you can point me there and Iíll be just fine...

    Thanks!
    Kevin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
    Posts
    768
    Lots of lathes show up used, it would help to put your location in your profile. Many of us here are members of local woodturning clubs and see used machines being sold by members.

    I bought my first lathe a couple of years ago, a used Oneway 1224. It was a great lathe, but after turning a few bowls, I found the 12" swing just a little on the limiting side.

    So my recommendation, if you plan to turn bowls, give yourself a little more capacity, "Buy Once, Cry Once"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    187
    Welcome to the madness. Be prepared for your wallet to be sucked dry of any green stuff. There are a lot of good machines out there. What you really want to be aware of is #2MT and other standard items. Personally I would not be afraid of; Jet, Delta, Rikon and just so happens that I own a Grizzly midi lathe, owned and operated for 5 years now, or so. Don't forget to check your local Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I would not be hesitant to buy a name brand used lathe at all! Nor would I be scared of some 50 year old Walker Turner or Delta machine either.
    I'd suggest that the starting out small with the pens, wine corks, pepper mills, bottle openers.......... a lot of that stuff is fine, relatively easy and inexpensive to get into. Those are all about as low-budget as you can get. Start making some stuff and pass it out to friends, next thing you know you will be getting orders here and there. I keep a small portfolio on hand, probably 30 or so pens and maybe 10 wine corks, good way to keep samples on hand and every now and then I actually sell some. Also helps people see what you can do and they may make further inquiries?
    My most popular pen by far is the "bolt action pen".
    As far as the reverse switch, you can do it yourself and it is beneficial to sand in reverse. I'm guessing that most guys on here have the reverse option or have installed one on their own machine, it's easy to do.
    Do some research on You Tube, lots of good videos out there.
    The initial investment of the or your machine is not even going to be half the cost, if that was what you were thinking.
    Tooling, tooling and even more tooling...............then gloat about even more tooling.......from cutters/gouges/chisels to jaws, centers and bearing or free centers........collect stuff adds up after awhile.
    Some of the tooling you can make yourself, like the carbide cutters, just buy the cutters and make the holder for your cutter out of 3/4" square steel stock, easily and cheaply purchased from hardware stores or big box stores. The handle for it you can make yourself, after all you do have a lathe (or will).

  4. #4
    Thanks both. As for location, it's North Alabama, specifically the Huntsville area. I'm an hour and a half-ish to Nashville. I look at CL and FB nearly daily and nothing that screams "good deal" has come up. For example, there was a Rikon 70-100, green paint scheme with Pinnacle branded tools on FB recently that the person wanted $850 for. Currently, I can get the same lathe and tools from Woodcarft, brand new, for less than that. People here in my neck of the woods value their stuff way too much. I'll look into a local woodturning club as well. As for the lathe, I anticipate it being the cheap part of this hobby!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elmodel, Ga.
    Posts
    520
    I own the Rikon 70-220 Midi. It has a 12 1/2" swing and is an excellent machine. If I was in the market for another smaller machine, I'd look hard at the Laguna 1218 that you mentioned. I have it's big brother, (1836), and have been well pleased with it.
    SWE

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    187
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Smira View Post
    Thanks both. As for location, it's North Alabama, specifically the Huntsville area. I'm an hour and a half-ish to Nashville. I look at CL and FB nearly daily and nothing that screams "good deal" has come up. For example, there was a Rikon 70-100, green paint scheme with Pinnacle branded tools on FB recently that the person wanted $850 for. Currently, I can get the same lathe and tools from Woodcarft, brand new, for less than that. People here in my neck of the woods value their stuff way too much. I'll look into a local woodturning club as well. As for the lathe, I anticipate it being the cheap part of this hobby!

    I understand exactly what you are saying about used prices some times. To me if something is of the used category then it should be close to 50% less of new. Now there can be some very lightly used machines out there that might actually command a little bit more, maybe? But once you cross onto the high side of 75% of new, well guess what I'm going to just go get new!
    But to really find a Craigslist or a Facebook Marketplace steal you have to be diligent and determined, helps to be patient to. As those really good deals do actually happen, it is just that they are snagged up really quick as well. Posted/Listed and gone before you even knew it was there.
    What gets me about some of those places is I think people post things, get a lot of inquiries and then think that they must have posted it for to little money. Example; recently a guy on FB Marketplace posted a old treadle sewing machine, for $35 bucks, no machine. I finally get a hold of the guy and he tells me pending pickup at 7 that night, 7 o'clock rolls around, I see it still active so I'm like "I'll take it" then he was all, ohh they are coming by tomorrow, I will let you know. Same story the next day, so I reported his arse!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    1,379
    If you get a midi, you'll need a table or other support you can mount it to, at the right level, etc. Thats extra cost or time to make one. So I'd prefer getting a bigger used lathe that is mounted on a stand. Also noting my Jet midi gets bogged down fairly easily on a lot of things bigger than a pen.
    Maybe just me, but I got a permanent aversion to making pens after I made one for everyone I know. Surprisingly, a lot of the younger folks couldn't quite figure out what they were (no, its not a stylus).

  8. #8
    Thanks everyone. The only thing that comes up in FB/CL is a used Oneway 2036 for $3200...that's a little more than I want to spend...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
    Posts
    768
    There a Jet 1220VS with stand, listed by the Tennessee Wood Turners Assc on 3/5/20 for $350.

    I sent you an email via this site.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    9,472
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Smira View Post
    ...what size bowl can you turn on a 12/14 swing? ...
    That depends on how carefully you can round the blank (usually with a bandsaw) before turning and how perfectly you can center it on the lathe.

    Many lathes let you turn outboard eliminating the swing limitation.

    But if size matters, consider saving up and buying a lathe with a larger swing in the first place. Many of the larger lathes are better made, heavier and more stable, have heftier banjo and tailstock, better bearings, variable speed and reverse, etc.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Mountain City, TN
    Posts
    511
    If you buy used, stay clear of the Delta ironbeds with the Reeves drive. They break easily and no spare parts available from Delta.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    San Diego, Ca
    Posts
    1,334
    Here is a DIFFERENT thought. I'll throw it out and then duck.

    If you KNOW that you love wood turning and want to make it a long-term hobby, then go bigger. But if you aren't sure, then perhaps buy something as an intermediate. Turn a bunch of pens, smaller bowls, "objec d'art", etc. My first lathe was a 1950's cast iron bed 9" craftsman. It came with a set of 6 Craftsman tools (all of which I still use plus a whole bunch more). I turned dozens and dozens of things on that little lathe (some pieces all the way up to 9") then upgraded to a 22 x 36" lathe (G0766). I'm still hooked.

    But here's a thought - - buy a $260 Harbor freight 5 speed (probably a pulley with 5 grooves and readily available - - unlike a Reeves drive) 10 x 18" lathe. If you like turning and "itch" for doing bigger things or more features, then, and at THAT time, upgrade. With a 20% off coupon you are only out around $200 and you could probably sell it for half of that. So, you don't have a lot to lose. Who knows? Maybe you will find that you don't want to turn much after 6 months or so. Or maybe you'll be "hooked" like the rest of us. If you keep looking on CL, you'll find someone like you who bought an entry lathe, got hooked and then upgraded. They'll sell at about 50%.

    Now, I'm going to duck for having suggested a low-end Harbor Fright lathe rather than a 600 pound plus piece of iron. ha ha.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
    Posts
    694
    Our club has 4 Jet minis that we bought years ago. Only 1 has variable speed and members always try to get it first. But for the same price you can get a Laguna 12/16 which IMO is a much better lathe. Our club just ordered it's 2nd Laguna. We ordered them with stand, mobility kit, and bed extension. The Lagunas are first to go now. Our local Rockler store replaced all 5 of their Jet full size classroom lathes with Laguna 12/16's also.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Inver Grove Heights, MN
    Posts
    700
    To the question of how big, here is a 12 inch bowl on a 12 1/2 inch swing lathe. It takes careful preparation of the blank, and planning for which side you want the banjo on, but it is not hard to do.

    E bowl on vacuum.jpg

    While I don't want to downplay the idea of buying a cheaper lathe and upgrading at a later date, my experience was different. Many, many years ago I built a kit lathe that was similar to the Craftsman two tube lathe that many of us have owned. It was OK for some spindles and I turned several table legs on it, but never really enjoyed the process. Years later I got interested in turning again and bought the Delta midi. Fell into the vortex and have been buying lathe tools and accessories ever since. It is a great hobby that could more than pay for itself if I just quit buying more stuff.

  15. #15
    Thank you all again. As for the HF lathe...no shots fired or arrows thrown. However, I said something about it to the wife, and she said no. She won't let me buy a HF lathe. Variable speed is really the driving factor for me right now. Not that I mind changing belts on a lathe (do so now on my drill press), but I'd rather not have to worry. As for my drill press, it's a HF model and the motor won't move anymore to change belts, so I have to "walk" them up the pulley, and they are loose. I know that not every thing is like that, but I'd rather have VS on my lathe. The only other one that I'm considering aside from the midi's listed is the Nova 1624 II. However, that is not a VS model. The reason I considered it is the larger swing, and at the price point, it's not much more than a Jet 1221VS and a stand. I also would have buy a 6" tool rest as well as I think 12" is a little much for a pen for example.

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