Entry Level Wood Lathe

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
I am interested in an entry level wood lathe, any suggestions or know of a decent one for sale?
Thanks
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
If you can lay your hands on a OLD used Delta say 1940s to middle 50s buy it. It's almost indestructible and what shop classes of that time used to train students.

Pop
 

PeteM

Pete
Corporate Member
Just a heads up . . . If you're just starting you should be aware the cost of the lathe is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It's the tools and accessories that really add up fast. If you're on a budget be sure to check out what it will cost to acquire all the stuff you will need to do whatever it is you plan on doing. Don't ask how I know!
 
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beloitdavisja

James
Corporate Member
What are you looking to turn? HF's also has a benchtop lathe that a lot of people start with, especially for pen turning. I had a Rikon midi-lathe that I started with (model 70-100). I used that for a few years before I upgraded to a full size (Nova Galaxi) and it was a great little lathe.

I would avoid the cheap ones on amazon that you see (like this one) - you'll end up more frustrated than anything.

Like Pete said, the lathe is just the start. You'll want some good chisels/gouges and a way to sharpen them. Dull tools are as dangerous as they are frustrating.
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
Perhaps there is someone near you that would let you try your hand on their lathe. Maybe find a place near that offers classes to get the feel of a lathe. I had a craftsman from Sears that I bought in the seventies, being a bench top it was a light duty lathe and limited. Think about what you want to focus on in your turning. Buy accordingly. My second and probably my last lathe is the Powermatic 3520 with an 18" bed extension. I love it------I can turn anything from pins to 20" diameter bowls and over 40" long spindles. It is the accessories that can really add up quickly.
 

Michael Mathews

Michael
Corporate Member
I am interested in an entry level wood lathe, any suggestions or know of a decent one for sale?
Thanks
Robert, Reach out to Sam Knight and see if he sold his yet. He has/had one he was going to sell. It's a bit bigger than a starter lathe but if I recall, he was going to ask a decent price.
 

NOTW

Notw
Senior User
The Turncrafter lathe by Penn State industries isn't bad, i've had their 12" one for a while with no major complaints.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
If you haven't really bought anything yet - give the Goodwill Lathe a try before you buy. That way you know whether you really want to make the financial plunge.

BTW - where is the Goodwill Lathe? Who has it? How many are on the list?
 

bowman

Board of Directors, Events Director
Neal
Staff member
Corporate Member
If you haven't really bought anything yet - give the Goodwill Lathe a try before you buy. That way you know whether you really want to make the financial plunge.

BTW - where is the Goodwill Lathe? Who has it? How many are on the list?
I believe Hank was tracking who has possession.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Pete do not anger the Lathe Gods by revealing their deviant plan.......... :p

But Pete has a point, You can find a lathe , but then lathe chisels, then, you might want a 4 jaw chuck, the centers, then ........ But TBH, you can get into turning to see how much you like for 3-500 dollars, maybe less right now with the Covid issues suppressing markets.

One thing, if you can, get a lathe with 1-2 hp motor, that means 8.5 amp/120v to 15 amp/120v. That way it has the power to turn material better and you will appreciate that.

Craftsman rates their motors incorrectly making them seem to have more power than actual.

ALSO, there are a lot of older Craftsman Lathe models out there that are are not good, so if you find something, ask here in the forum, lots of people really know their stuff and can help prevent you from getting something that will not work well for you.

Just a heads up . . . If you're just starting you should be aware the cost of the lathe is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It's the tools and accessories that really add up fast. If you're on a budget be sure to check out what it will cost to acquire all the stuff you will need to do whatever it is you plan on doing. Don't ask how I know!
 

joec

joe
User
I started off recently with the Jet Midi. I have spent more on turning tools etc, than I did on the lathe since.
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
Yes the lathe is only the beginning of the investment. But. Depending on how you look at things and how willing you are to invest time and a little creative thought into the process you can save a portion of that expense. My first lathe was "the black beauty" given to me by Mike Davis, it had no motor and he had moved on to his giant lathe. $10 later at the surplus store I had a functional lathe. I also had to fabricate some handles for the tool rest and tail stock lock down.

Then came the HF lathe. Included as "parts" in a purchase a friend made when he saw how much fun I was having. Again, no motor and I had to replace some parts in the reeves drive. Then I came across a 2hp treadmill motor from a member here. He had too many projects laying around and wanted it gone. It included a variable speed control. So now I have a 2hp variable speed lathe. Anybody need Reeves drive parts?

And I replaced bearings along the way.

So you can make things spin quite nicely without a huge investment. What you can't (or at least I can't) get around is the cost of tools and a decent chuck. I tried all the old work holding methods and as much as I like messing with stuff to make it work, when I'm turning, I just want it to work- I like a chuck. Got a Oneway Stonghold chuck used from another member here. Even used it is the single most expensive item in my shop ( did I say I'm cheap) but worth every penny. As are good tools. You don't need many but you want good ones and a way to keep them sharp.

I would venture to say that even with my "free" lathe, I have as much $ in turning as I do in the rest of my shop equipment combined.
But then again, I spend more than half my shop time turning, so that makes sense. At least to me.

The other thing worth noting is the generosity of the members here. None of this would have been possible without Mike Davis, Mark Gottesman, Adam (aka Allisnut), and Hank. All of them had a hand in the hardware accumulation. Fred P gave me beginner turning instruction at a "train the trainer" event, and Chris Goris spent an evening with me and Mike Davis showing me how to turn bowls.

Thanks to you all!

Time to go buy some raffle tickets.
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
On the 'accessories' side of the lathe, I too quickly saw that my meager budget could be swallowed whole in an instant. However there are ways to limit the spending - assuming you know what you want (to turn).
Given that you don't have lathe experience, how could you know that? The advice of finding local turners to provide a tour, some advice, and a spin is the best advice - BEFORE you purchase. Or take a class (once we can be close enough to do such things). Or the traveling loaner lathe that NCWW has - may take a while to get that though. Either way you'll get a feel for the types of things you like to turn. Spindle or pen turning, for example, does not need a chuck.

I have a mid-capacity lathe (16"), purchased used, and while I might love to have a top of the line model, I can't justify it. I started with a cheapo set of tools from HF to get my feet wet, figuring that I'd learn to sharpen on cheaper steel (not that I recommend this strategy - cheap tools don't really sharpen well, and sharp tools are necessary for safe turning). I added a decent bowl gouge, which is what I use for 90% of my turning (because I like to turn bowls).
I sharpen on a stationary belt-disc sander (that I already had)- with a home made jig for turning a fingernail profile on my gouge. Works great (for bowl gouge, ok for other tools).

I consider a chuck (yes I only have one) to be essential for enjoyment (of bowl turning) - although you can certainly get started without one. I have a Nova G3 chuck, which is about $100-120 when on sale.

So for me a lathe, a bowl gouge, and a chuck were the essential purchases. Realize that there is sooo much more that can be done with more and varied tooling. Also realize that buying new tools doesn't make you a better turner (practice, practice, practice and use good technique) - although things can be done more easily with a broader range of tools.

I enjoyed books by David Ellsworth and Richard Raffan (I think that is it). On YouTube there are many examples of what not to do - but I can recommend John Lucas (john60lucas)
john60lucas
and Lyle Jamieson (on sharpening woodturning tools)

So your budget CAN be eaten up by accessories, but it does not NEED to become an expensive habit to get some enjoyment and produce decent turnings.
 
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smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
+1 on everything Henry says. From tooling to books. All good.
If I could only have one turning tool it would be the bowl gouge.
As an experiment I turned a hickory log into over a dozen bowls using only that one tool. From roughing to hollowing to finishing.
I learned a lot.
For a while I tried a shop built "Ellsworth" jig for sharpening. Ended up with the Wolverine.
 

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
I have been watching some YouTube videos on making your own carbide tip tools. Anyone have any experience with this? Can one save money on the hand tools like this? Looked easy enough.
 

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Secretary
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
There are a number of ways to save money on the process. The Rikon lathes that Klingspor sells are terrific and come in several sizes. Grizzly makes some nice ones as well. Contact Hank (HMerkle) here and ask about the Goodwill Lathe. It is not only a lathe but all the tools, chucks, and sharpening equipment you'll need to get started. It should be time to rotate it to it's new victim owner.
 

Robert166

robert166
Senior User
Ken,
I have looked at those and recently bought a Rikon bandsaw, and I like it. With recent events I kinda been thinking about buying made in USA only tools. But wow are they pricey. I will attempt to contact Hank.
 

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