I bought one is 2017 so I could try my hand at turning pens. As mentioned above, pens and key chains is about all I turn on it. Anything bigger goes to my large lathe. It's quiet, doesn't have a big foot print but, in my opinion, it's underpowered. But it is a great way to get started and comfortable turning pens etc. Get comfortable with it and make the move to a larger lathe at a later date.
Thanks for the helpful advice he has been turning on a 2hp lathe and turns pretty aggressive so it sounds like he will have problems with bogging it down, guess be better to wait for one a little bigger.
I am on the fence about the Pen Pal or the Harbor Freight mini lathe. Weight is the different. The pen pal is 15lbs and the HF is 75lbs. Still trying to find reviews about the PenPal. I guy did a comparison with 5 mini lathes and the Penpal came in last stating that it barely worked, bogged down and cheaply made. It fits my budget but I am seeing if it consistently works. If all it does is turn pens, I'm good for now.
I bought one a few years ago when I first thought about trying pen turning. At that time I hated it and felt it was terribly under powered to do anything with so I sold it and didn't think about turning pens again til recently.
Though now that I understand a bit more about pen turning than I did at that time I think I could work with one, albeit with patience. I think if I had to use one I would definitely have another avenue to drill blanks for tubes... a hand drill at least. If I remember correctly it had adaquate rpm's but lacked torque.
Also I had only hss tools then, I think carbide tools would have been a much better fit.