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Old 03-05-2013, 11:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
Ardy's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Oliver, BC , Canada
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Default Need a new small lathe

I need a new small lathe. I had a Mastercraft for about 10 months which I liked until it starting ... misbehaving (the mandrel would go in a circle causing vibration or chatter). Took it back for warranty and they said nothing was wrong.... Foolishly I bought another Mastercraft and it lasted 3 months before the same problem. I only make pens at least on the newer one. Prior to those I had a Turncrafter. Nice but too big and heavy.

I live in a condo which has a shop with a locker. I need to be able to fit the lathe in the locker when I am done turning. It has to be light enough I can move it myself (I'm a grandmother). I can handle around 40 lbs. The two I am looking at are the Apprentice 812 VS Mini Lathe and 8" x 12" Bench Top Wood Lathe from Harbor Freight. Does anyone know if either of these are good products. The Apprentice says it has a 5 year warranty which I like the idea of.

Any assistance would be appreciated.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Philla., Pa.
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Look like the same lathe, except for color? The CSUSA is $200 + shipping. The HF can be had right now for $104 with 20% coupon, and pick it up in store. Having handled the HF version, they are cheap lathes, but will get the job done. I don't know that there is much else out there that would fit you. Maybe the micro metal lathes? Much more money for those.

Last edited by Chatham PenWorks; 03-05-2013 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jackson,Ga
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I have the HF one, it is the same lathe as CSUSA. It works better that I thought, the only problem is the tool rest does not go down far enough for tools such as a gouge.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
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I have the ShopFox W1704 - which appears to be identical to the HF except that it is painted white rather than green. I've had it for almost three years now. Observations:
- its OK for pens and other spindle projects that fall within the physical swing and bed constraints.
- its also OK for face turning except that if the diameter is too large, it is necessary to take very light cuts to avoid stalling the motor, especially when turning at low speeds (ie, roughing). See the next bullet - - -
- drilling is a challenge - the motor is small, and because the VS function relies on variable voltage, it doesn't develop a lot of torque. I can drill with twist drills, and I can drill slowly with paddle bits, but I'm limited to very small forstner bits.
- it doesn't have a handwheel on the headstock. That's not a showstopper - there is another posting right now on making a handwheel for this lathe.
- the tailstock has some lateral slop, but it seems to line up well once I tighten it down. I found that the quill extension mechanism is touchy - you have to get the set screws just right for the knob to advance or retract the quill. Putting a piece of duct tape around the tailstock to keep the set screws from falling out is a good idea.
- mine came with two tool rests. The post on one of them snapped off when I got a minor catch. Rich Herrell made a replacement that is much better than the original.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Portland, Oregon
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I bought a used HF 8x12 6 years ago. The only problem was the speed control/switch went bad 3 years ago. I ordered the complete electronic box for less than $15 then and have not had any problems since. A cheap lathe but does the job.

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Old 03-05-2013, 12:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: TX, NM or on the road
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Could the problem be a bent mandrel? Or the mandrel not seating correctly in the Morse Taper? I find it hard to believe that 2 lathes developed the same problem that soon, it could happen, they are not the best of quality.
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