Help Me Pick a Lathe, Please!

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Joined
Mar 2, 2017
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12
Location
Columbus, TX
Hello, all!

My name is Parker, and I am new in the world of turning. I have been turning for a couple of months and have turned roughly 20-25 pens. I specifically like maple burl and deer antler. I also enjoy turning Olive Wood from Jerusalem because it gives me the opportunity to talk about Jesus, which I enjoy.

I have been using a friends lathe, but am interested in purchasing my own. I am willing to put money towards a quality product, but don't want to break the bank. My fiancee would not like that too much.

Anyone have any suggestions on what to buy?
 
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Edgar

New Member Advocate
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Feb 6, 2013
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Alvin, TX 77511
Hi Parker & welcome to IAP.

My wife is from Columbus & we still have a farm there, so "Howdy Neighbor!"

Your question is a tough one to answer - so much depends on your budget & your objectives. Since you are already somewhat experienced at turning, I would say get the best one you can possibly afford - midi or full size.

I highly recommend at least taking a look at the Nova DVR Galaxi 1644 - I think it's available for about $2,000 right now. There are several excellent midi lathes in the $500 - $1,000 range. I can't speak for any of them myself, but others may offer their thoughts & personal preferences.

There is also an excellent tutorial in our library by Dan Masshardt on selecting a lathe. Just click on the library link on the home page & use the pull-down menus to find it. I'm on my iPhone right now or I would post a direct link for you; however, there's lots of great info in the library, so it's worth spending a little time browsing through it.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2017
Messages
12
Location
Columbus, TX
Thanks so much! I am looking at getting a midi lathe because I only have interest in pen turning (and the occasional small project), but not much in larger projects.
 

Charlie_W

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Nov 16, 2011
Messages
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Location
Sterling, VA USA
In the Midi range, most popular are the Jet and Rikon. Nova makes the Comet lathe which falls in the Midi range but is a little lighter, 3/4 hp instead of 1 hp.
All the Midi lathes should all have #2 Morse tapers making buying accessories easier and these can be used on most full sized lathes.
Do pay the extra and get variable speed....you won't regret it. Also, resale is better on the name brand variable speed lathes.....in case you want to move up to a bigger lathe sometime.

Good luck!
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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8,642
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Tunica, MS,
For people who stay with turning more than a couple of years, there is one item that makes a difference besides the size - EVS. Electronic variable speed. There are other kinds of EVS but they are more expensive.

Changing belts becomes a pain when going from turning to sanding to finishing and then back to turning. When one has not experienced this, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it slows down the transition time. AND when changing belts, you are in a hurry, reach in and change the belt, get a bit of grit from the belt on the finger and without thinking - transfer it to a nicely turned blank, causing even a swear word to a preacher! :rolleyes: :biggrin: EVS eliminates that!
 
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oldtoolsniper

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Joined
Mar 19, 2007
Messages
236
Location
Iowa.
I just finished un boxing and wiping the preservative of my third Jet
lathe. This one is the Jet 1221 variable speed. It's complementary to my older no longer sold Jet 1014 Variable speed. It's 7 inches longer and that makes a difference. It's also 1 Hp and has digital speed readout. It goes down to crawling slow compared to my other lathe. It reverses to and that feature is a shift on the fly deal, just flip the reverse switch with it running it will slow and then reverse on its own. According to the manual you do not need to stop the lathe just flip the switch.

You will want a chuck that will work in reverse, if not, your chuck will unscrew in reverse. I'd think a chuck flying off your lathe might make a cool video but it may turn out painful and expensive. You have to switch it to do this and it is set up so you intentionally have to switch it. It's not something you will bump and suddenly find the lathe in reverse with parts unscrewing at high speed.

My first lathe was a jet and it's still churning out pens after 12 years. I sold it to a friend. Name brand will hold value if you care about that.

Here is what transpired with my lathe purchasing adventure. This is not a bashing or rant about Amazon, UPS or anyone, it's just what I went through.

Ordered the Jet1221VS Amazon Prime. Three days later the UPS center called me (My brother is a driver there) I drove over to the center and refused shipment. It was a wreck. Amazon promptly shipped again, same result. It's a heavy beast and apparently the shipping gorillas just roll them when they move them. In appears as though they roll them off the dock onto the concrete and then drag them to the truck, do a two man lift and hurl them in to load them. Amazon was willing to ship a third one but I declined and was promptly refunded what I paid. Frankly I don't see how they can afford that sort of stuff but they must be able to.

I found a Jet dealer 125 miles from me, called and explained the situation. He had one without a dent on the box. I made the trip down, we opened it doubled checked the condition and now it awaits its maiden voyage on the bench downstairs.

When they are shipped by FedEx, UPS or possibly the USPS it is just that box and it gets thrashed. Imagine dragging a 136lbs box around in your truck all day that is not yours.

When they are shipped to a dealer they come in on a pallet packed and stretch wrapped to be moved by forklift. The difference is the box mine was in did not even have a smudge mark on it.

The boxes handled one at a time in the back of those UPS shipping trucks were hardly identifiable.

For a small sized lathe it has a lot to offer. It's 10% off right now as well so that's $80 you can put to a chuck.

I've never reversed a lathe so I'm not sure I need that feature.

It really goes slow and that is nice for drilling.

The variable speed is not something I will do without again. On this one I doubt I will have to change belts as the range is pretty substantial compared to my other lathe. Pay attention to the speed range that you have on each belt setting. Not all of them are the same. You want slow for drilling.

I've learned from the folks on this forum to do my drilling on the lathe. It's a lot better than on the two drill presses I own.

Of course I've turned nothing on it yet but I will tonight.


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Charlie_W

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Nov 16, 2011
Messages
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Sterling, VA USA
Just as a measure of pricing, check out the OneWay 12/24 lathe and then look at the Robust Scout lathe. Then you won't feel like a Jet or Rikon are high priced.
Both the OneWay and Robust are North American made! Robust in the USA and the OneWay in Canada.
 

TonyL

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Mar 9, 2014
Messages
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Location
Georgia
Here's a thought, but it is a very limited one given my experience with only a handful of lathes (all under $800); I am also lazy when it comes to changing chucks, belts, etc.
You may want to start with a 2MT harbor freight...and see how you like it. If you do, you found your lathe and you are done. If you don't like it or get curious, try a EVS with or without reverse like Jet 1221 or 1015 (no reverse option) or similar Rikon ( you can save money by building your own stand). The HF lathe with not go to waste...you can use it as a dedicated something else (buffer, sander, CA applier, etc.) or have a another lathe for you or a guest. I have the HF, but only for applying CA (but have made a pen on it for someone who had the equipment and I wanted to teach her with what she owned. The pen came out fine!), the Rikon 70 - 100 (which is my dedicated buffer..but can turn a pen on it without a problem except I don't like changing belts), a Jet VS 1015 (I bought for a guest to use or I will us if the 1221 EVS is doing something else), and the Jet 1221 EVS with reverse..which I love and almost bought another one today. I have seen folks turn beautiful pens with HF and the like equipment. If I turned more than pens, I would buy a Powermatic or a small Robust...but after 3 years, I haven't had the desire.
I like Jet over Rikon because I like to change speeds often and Jets' has a pulley configuration that allows one to vary rpms between 180 and 3500. The last time I checked (about 6 months ago when I bought my Rikon) Rikon's answer to the 1221 did not allow the same range of rpms without changing the belts...but turners change belts all of the time or turn without the need to vary the speed to the degree that I do.

You have lots of choices...what I presented are the only lathes that I have used. More will chime-in with sage advice. I didn't get the another 1221 because I wanted 15% off not 10%...I didn't need another lathe, but I like a bargain.

Remember, this is just my limited experience. Only you will what suits your style of turning and budget. It's a fun process. Much success with your decision.
 
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JPW062

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Nov 3, 2016
Messages
156
Location
Ohio
The Nova Comet II is very impressive. I don't own one, but have a friend who bought one of the G3 included sets last fall and he loves it. I have inspected a number of Nova lathes and have been thoroughly impressed by all of them.
Quality parts and they seem better thought out than the Rikon or Jet IMO.
 

WriteON

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Aug 21, 2013
Messages
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Boynton Beach ,Fl. - BlueBell, Pa.
Here is what transpired with my lathe purchasing adventure. This is not a bashing or rant about Amazon, UPS or anyone, it's just what I went through.

A 125lb lathe does not ship well in a cardboard box. It is impossible to ship without damage. Went through this with a 1221. BTW...excellent lathe. Buy right the 1st time you're good for a long stretch.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2017
Messages
227
Location
Kansasville WI 53139
One lathe I have been looking at recently is a shopfox https://www.woodstockint.com/products/W1836
I have been looking around a little for a small lathe, and this particular one looks nice , but I really don't know anybody that has one for real feedback. I own one other shopfox machine, and am happy with it.
** is there anywhere to locate a G3 included Comet II lathe currently,at an uninflated price, or was that a special promo deal, as that is appealing!
 
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Cmiles1985

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Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Messages
1,596
Location
Aransas Pass, TX
I have the Jet 1221VS, and I would buy another in a heartbeat. It's heavy enough for slightly larger turnings. My favorite feature is the speed range. I never realized how amazing that was until doing a demo on my local club's Delta 46-460. I had to change belt positions for everything. It may as well have been multi speed. I have zero desire to turn anything big anymore (i had a bowl blow up, so I'm a little gun shy). And, when I bought that lathe, I spent a long time going over lathes and features because $800 sounded like a lot of money for one tool. Looking back through this hobby, $800 is nothing for what that lathe has allowed me to do.


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farmer

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
749
Location
NV
Lathes

Hello, all!

My name is Parker, and I am new in the world of turning. I have been turning for a couple of months and have turned roughly 20-25 pens. I specifically like maple burl and deer antler. I also enjoy turning Olive Wood from Jerusalem because it gives me the opportunity to talk about Jesus, which I enjoy.

I have been using a friends lathe, but am interested in purchasing my own. I am willing to put money towards a quality product, but don't want to break the bank. My fiancee would not like that too much.

Anyone have any suggestions on what to buy?

I did a Craigs list search in your area On Lathe , I wished I was there I would be buying this lathe ...
https://dayton.craigslist.org/tls/6015073058.html
There are several lathes in your area that seem reasonable enough in price .
 

Cmiles1985

Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Messages
1,596
Location
Aransas Pass, TX
It depends on what all you do on the lathe. If you're drilling, you'll want to be around 750 rpm (depending on hole size and material being drilled). Turning pen blanks down: speed is your friend. I turn pens at 3600 rpm. Buffing with the Beall setup? 2000 rpm. Sanding? 1000 rpm. Tapping threads? 60 rpm.
Many people turn great things without variable speed, but it is a very nice feature.


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