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Old 05-03-2013, 07:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
Joe S.'s Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: South Lyon, MI
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Default Big Lathes.

Looking into getting a big lathe for bowls and stuffs. Any opinions on what to get?

What I already have: Buy Jet Wood Lathe 12 x 20 Model JWL-1220 at Woodcraft
I like it so far, but I'm looking for more swing, length, and power to do bowls and other "big turnings". This little lathe will still be my pen machine too, it's not going anywhere!

Buy JET 12 Variable Speed Wood Lathe Model JWL-1236 at Woodcraft seems like its just a bigger lathe with the same 3/4hp lathe motor... I'm wondering if I would want more power for bigger bowls.

Buy Jet VS Pro Wood Lathe Model JWL-1442VSK at Woodcraft Looks sturdy for sure, but its at the absolute pushing-the-limit max price right now. Worth the money?

G0462 Wood Lathe With Digital Readout
This one is tempting being the cheapest, and its got a 2hp motor! I have a few small Grizzly tools and they seem to work fine, but I've heard a few negative reports on Grizzly... I've also heard they are all the same tools with a green paint job, so who knows?

If any of you have these lathes I'd love to hear from you, or any other opinions on "big lathes" that are less than $1500. Just don't turn this into an argument about quality (Grizzly vs. Jet) tell us YOUR experience with what you have and don't worry about other turners who had a different experience!
Joe S.

5th place 2014 tube-on casting contest.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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In my opinion of the lathes you listed only the Grizzly gives you enough increase in swing to make it worth spending the money. Honestly, if it was me, I think I would take the $1500 I can spend right now and put it someplace where it won't get spent and then save up the money for the Jet 16-42.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Save the nickels and dimes and look for a powermatic 3520, a stubby, a robust, a bigger onyway

Some good deals can come up on craigslist if you have the money.
Ken Vaughan
Old Apprentice Machinist - learning a new knee in Tucson
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have the Grizz

For the money it is an excellent lathe. The only problem I've really had with mine is the set screw on the tailstock will wear away the cast metal of the handwheel. I fixed this by replacing the setscrew with one made from delrin. No issues since.

Grizzly has excellent customer service too.

Is it the best lathe in the world? No. But for $700 it's hard to beat (I bought mine back when it was less than $600, but I would find the extra $100 if I was doing it again).
Martinsburg WV

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Last edited by Russianwolf; 05-03-2013 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The other factor is I would like it to have 1" x 8 spindle thread so I can use the chucks I already have. Will loading the grizzly with cement or sandbags dampen the vibration enough, or do I need a heavier lathe?
Joe S.

5th place 2014 tube-on casting contest.
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Old 05-04-2013, 07:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Have you considered a vacuum lath? Dont know how to attach pics in this format, but if you email me can email back w/attachments to show 20" dia x 7" deep bowls done on a vacuum lath with a 2" vacuum pipe
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:25 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Save the nickels and dimes and look for a powermatic 3520, a stubby, a robust, a bigger onyway

Some good deals can come up on craigslist if you have the money.
I have the 3520 and used it extensively especially for bowls up to it's max. Great lathe and have never regretted buying it for one minute. I used the difference between it and a similar sized Oneway to buy additional tools!
Martin Beauford
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I've got a 10" Jet and a 14x42 Jet. I recently sold my 12x36 Jet.

It looks like you get a lot of lathe in the Grizzly - but here's a major downside...the slowest speed is 600 rpm. That is very fast for an unbalanced piece of wood, where a lathe with much more mass (Powermatic, Stubby, Robust, Oneway) would handle it easily.

The tailstock on the Grizzly also looks like it has a "foot" on it that sticks out towards the headstock a lot. Look at Jet/Powermatic tailstocks to compare. That foot will DEFINITELY get in the way of your larger pieces when you are starting them out between centers.

The next move up I make will be to a lathe with true variable speed, so that means a 16" Jet, or a 3520 Powermatic, but my goal is to get my wife through her master's degree than get a Robust lathe.

if you're wanting to turn larger pieces - you need to go ahead and count on investing in larger chucks to hold them. I don't think I'd trust my VM100 on a 16" bowl, even using the largest set of jaws I have.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:21 AM   #9 (permalink)
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If you are looking for a Lathe to do bowls with remember that anything with a 2hp motor or bigger will require a 220 outlet.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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All three of the lathes you linked look to be Reeves Drive lathes (spring loaded pulleys adjust to change the speed). My first lathe was the Jet 1442 you linked with the reeves drive. Loved the lathe, but came to hate the reeves drive over time. Would never recommend a lathe with a reeves drive to anyone.

Look at the low end speed on the lathes you listed. They range from 450 - 650 rpm on the low end. They are designed for spindle turning with the ability to make bowls / larger diameter stuff from very well balanced stock. You put a large unbalanced chunk of wood on any of those, turn it on and you will not like the results. At best the lathe will buck like a bronco. Alternative outcomes get really bad really fast.

450-650 rpm is really too fast for power sanding / power finishing on larger diameter turnings. You would be a lot happier with a lathe with a low end below 100rpm.

I made a lot of really nice large bowls and hollow forms on the Jet 1442. For large pieces (you want the swing for bigger pieces right?) I think the largest piece of wood I ever put on it weighed more than 300 lbs. I almost always had to rough out the large workpieces by spinning the work by hand (with the lathe off) with my left hand while holding the roughing gouge with my right hand. Once the work was roughed out and pretty well balanced, it was no problem. But until then.....the 450 rpm minimum speed was just too fast. I found a work around, but I can't imagine too many people wanting to do it the way I did it.

On my Powermatic 3520 with 50rpm (and lots of torque) at the low end, I can rough out anything.

You can do a lot with any of the lathes you listed, but you will have to adapt to the limitations of those lathes. And there are a lot of limitations for large turnings.


Last edited by Ed McDonnell; 05-04-2013 at 10:10 AM.
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