78 year old buying first lathe for use outside the shop

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ellsworth maine
I will indulge myself and buy my first lathe and turning tools shortly. Initially I will turn pens w carbide tools
but this winter I will take a whack at making a salad bowl set which I am thinking means I have to invest in quality HSS
tools and a Wolverine sharpening system (another $500+???) If I can get by less expensively pls tell me what is the minimum I need to turn a 10 or 12 inch salad bowl.

I have a summer lakeside cottage in Ellsworth Maine. I would like to take my lathe out of the shop and mount it on a heavy duty weighted stand at the water's edge. To me this means lathe must be less than 100 lbs and can be easily mounted to home made bench ....do most lathe's have holes in base making it easy to attach to a 2x tabletop.

I would appreciate your suggestions re what lathe to buy, what tools to buy and suggestions for getting started. I plan on joining a wood turners club in sarasota florida this winter. I hope to be an active participant in this forum sharing frequent projects. I am already thinking salad bowls and lidded cannisters as initial projects but I expect to get many more ideas at this forum.

Any recommended books for complete novice? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
 
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monophoto

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I haven't looked at every lathe out there, but my sense is that the feet on most mid-lathes have holes to accommodate either rubber feet or bench mounting. A bench made from '2by' pine boards should be totally adequate for your needs. And if you are clever, you could even design the bench to have wheels so that the 100lb constraint is less of an issue. One bit of advice - it would be a very good idea to decide on the lathe you want to buy before building the bench, and then design the bench to be longer than the footprint of the lathe. Trying to shoehorn a lathe onto a too-small bench is a real pain - DAMHIKT.

As to brands - the major names in the US midi-lathe market are Jet, Rikon, Turncrafter, Grizzly, Nova, Delta, Laguna, and perhaps a few others - but most all of them are good machines and if you were to do a survey here, you would find someone who advocates for each of them. And be aware that almost all midi-lathes are actually manufactured in China, and it's possible to purchase essentially identical lathes from various retailers where the only diference is the color of the paint and the label on the front. And the price range is probably $400-800 for the lathe, but be prepared to spend at least that much more for tooling and other accessories. So compare the specs and prices and make your decision. I strongly suggest getting a variable speed lathe - preferably one with electronic speed control. There are lathes that use the old 'reeves drive' technology for mechanical speed control, but they are fiddly and require more maintenance. And variable speed lathes typically still have belts that can be switched between pulleys to give different speed ranges. And it would be prudent to look only at lathes with 1"x8tpi, 2MT spindles - there are lathes with smaller (3/4"x16tpi, 1MT) spindles, but they would be limiting both in terms of what you can do and in the selection of accessories, and also full-size lathes with larger spindles that are well beyond your 100 lb limit.

When you do your comparison, think about things like dimensions, footprint dimensions, ease of belt changes, and reversability in addition to the obvious factors such as swing, bed length and motor horsepower. And don't overlook seemingly trivial differences - some lathes don't come with headstock handwheels even though that's an extremely convenient (and in my opinion, essential) feature. It probably would be wise to start doing research before you go to Florida, take the course over the winter so that you can try out several lathes, and then make the purchase in the Spring.
 
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philipff

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Jun 21, 2009
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Williamsburg, VA
Suggest you buy an old lathe, a Delta or Craftsman and just leave it in ME until u know if you are going to love this turning stuff. Some good tools can be made by you==scrapers. one great tool for bowls is a 3/8 bowl gouge. That and a couple good scrapers will get you startedl P
 
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webberville, mi
Couple things:
1 - Good names above. Quite a few options there.
2 - Although I don't normally use carbide tools, I've seen quite a bit of good work done (here and elsewhere) with that style. Save your $ now and get good quality HSS tooling later when you're totally addicted. It's quite a bit of investment to get tooling, a grinder and other "necessary" stuff (like CBN wheels and a sharpening system) in ADDITION to a decent lathe. I use the Wolverine for sharpening and LOVE it but there are other, less expensive ones out there (check out the Kodiak when you are ready).
3 - Turning a 10" bowl can easily (?) be done on a lathe with a 12" swing but not a 12" bowl. For that you'll need more like a 14" swing. And at that point they get pretty heavy. I can't imagine you'll find a 14" swing that's less than 100lbs. PLUS, lathe mass is your friend - mostly. When you mount a blank on the lathe for a 14" bowl, the blank will be in the 40-50 lb range (I think). If it's off balance (and it will be) a light lathe will walk right into the lake. You can weigh it down with sandbags, bricks, etc to lessen the effect but....
4 - STRONGLY suggest you look around and take a beginners turning class if at all possible. Books are great but you can't beat hands on learning and muscle memory. The class should stress safety. We all absolutely love turning here but the reality is this activity has the potential for really bad consequences when that potential is taken lightly or ignored. I didn't see any turning classes in Sarasota but I have taken turning classes at the John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. Awesome place! Great classes and instructors.
5 - Welcome to the IAP! Looking forward to hearing and seeing your progress.
 
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ed4copies

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Mar 25, 2005
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Racine, WI, USA.
When we did shows, I made an "inventory cabinet", built on top of this cart:

Large wheels, it rolled easily in the grass or wherever our booth was. Build a brace for the deck (legs that go to the ground) when you are stopped and using the lathe.

FWIW,
Ed
 
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monophoto

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Suggest you buy an old lathe, a Delta or Craftsman and just leave it in ME until u know if you are going to love this turning stuff. Some good tools can be made by you==scrapers. one great tool for bowls is a 3/8 bowl gouge. That and a couple good scrapers will get you startedl P

Phil is onto something here.

I suspect that after setting up a turning shop by the lake in Maine, or in a garage in Florida, the challenge of seasonally moving it to the alternate location will be more than you really want to undertake. It's not just the lathe - you will need a sharpening setup, turning tools and other lathe accessories, measuring tools, glues, drill bits, abrasives, finishing materials, and, oh yes, a supply of wood. Frankly, the thought of moving my shop once is more than I would want to think about, much less moving it twice a year.

On the other hand, setting up duplicate shops is also a daunting concept, not least because of the cost.

There are folks who have opted for a mobile shop (Carl Jacobson has a pretty neat setup), and I suppose that if you were an RV person, you could find a way to include a turning shop in the mobile home (with spousal permission, of course).

My other thought here is that I am a native Floridian who is only a few year younger than you and who has lived in upstate NY for the past 50 years, and there is no way that I would ever consider going back to Florida. Too hot, too humid, too many insects, too many hurricanes, and far too many transplanted old people whose primary concern is for how they schedule their many doctor's visits, unlike the Seniors who live in the North and who go about living normal lives.
 
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DrD

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Columbus, Mississippi
I believe Ted's comments above about cutting tools is spot-on. Depending upon the route you would choose with carbide, you'll end up with 2, 3 at the most tools for pen making: a rougher ( square cutter, or slightly radiused cutter, i.e. 2"); a finisher (circular); and maybe a detailer (diamond? shaped). You can get these with fixed or removable handles, and you can get different shaft geometries, square or based on hexagon; there are even some with a round shaft. You would then load up on regular cutters and negative rake cutters. All of this and you have all you could ever need for pens and bowls, at a lower cost than buying say a complete set of Crown cryogenic tools. Unfortunately I have both and I now only use my carbide tools - in fact my HSS tools are still packed away someplace. Plus you don't need a slow speed grinder (expensive), tool hold jigs, cutting wheels, etc., etc. with the carbide cutters - just 2 or 3 tools, and some cutters.

Since I typically don't do tight bead work, I rarely use my carbide detailer, so really, I get by with just 2 tools. now, for bowls, I do have need for a parting tool, which comes in either carbide or HSS; mine is HSS, but not cryo treated.

As far as age, you have me by 3 years. Happy turning!

Dr.D
 

GaryMGg

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Nov 23, 2006
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McIntosh, Florida, USA.
For a stand, make a sawhorse on steroids:

2” X 10” (or 12”) top fastened to 2” X 6” legs.
Top and bottom of the legs are mitered at 12-15 degrees, depending on what you’re comfortable with.
Cross members joining the legs at the top create an attachment location.
2” X 4” (or 6”) cross members dadoed into the legs will be completely stable. No racking. You can add sandbags for ballast if you get heavy, out of round rough stock.
It took me about 1-1/2” hours to make one.
I’ll see if I can get a picture uploaded...
C442D0C1-AF0B-4AEA-9896-FA911B09A36C.jpeg


I sold the lathe which was bolted to it but I kept the stand. Right now, it’s storing ‘stuff’.
 
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EricRN

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May 16, 2019
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I’m partial to the Laguna 1216. I think it fits your specs and performs well. But everyone here tends to like what they turn on(I think). I put mine on a husky cart I got at HD. The wheels resulted in the lathe being a bit too high for my stature so I took them off and put it on a Bora mobile base. Works well for me. I wouldn’t want to transport it from Florida to Maine though. Although turning by the lake in Maine sounds pretty awesome.

As for tools, I use carbide for acrylic and HSS for wood. I liked the HSS better. Makes me feel more connected to the piece. But I’m not yet good enough with a skew to trust it with acrylics.
 

PenPal

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Nov 29, 2006
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Canberra, A.C.T., Australia.
I must comment that the largest platter/bowl I have watched being turned was made by a Dutchman using a quarter inch bowl gouge. You do not need to attack large items but patiently turn,this was at a community turnathon and was sold immediately for 380 dollars (made from a burl whats more.

Peter.
 

Pen_man_ship

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Dec 29, 2019
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Boothbay, Maine
Welcome from Boothbay, Maine...we're almost neighbors!
If you are up for road trip please stop by my basement shop. I have several lathes and plenty of tools you could try.
My work:
 

howsitwork

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Jul 9, 2016
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Thirsk
Can I just make an observation re lathe stands. If you make the stand lighter weight with a shelf under it , or hollow legs , you can always put plastic bottles or jerry cans full of water to give weight and stability. Wehn you want to go inside at end of day, take out the bungs and the water , and weight , runs away allowing you to easily wheel or carry it back inside. A larger top area gives you more flexibility and somewhere to stand the tools, face plates, chuck and or coffee mug !

If you were over here ( In UK ) we would probably use some of the water during the day for making tea as well !👍

I think the most used tool I have for bowl making is my 3/8 bowl gouge with a nice long handle and good solid curved rest to make the hollowing easier. A decent negative rake scraper with a fence curve type profile might also have multiple uses for you.
 
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