Talk me off the ledge (first lathe)...

Discussion in 'Brush Making and Restorations' started by ralph029, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    Alright folks...
    I didn't want to hijack another thread I was on since while similar, the criteria is not quite the same.
    I'm in the market for a first lathe to turn brush handles (not bowls, not pens, not chess pieces, ice cream scoops, bottle toppers, etc (sorry about getting carried away there).
    I want to keep the cost down but not buy something that should I enjoy doing this will need to replaced this year.
    After looking at Harbor Freight, Excelsior, Rikon, Grizzly, and Delta (I think there was one more), I landed on this one. Here's why (PLEASE feel free to correct me with experienced advice).
    Cost: Sub $300
    Multi vs. Variable: I can learn with multi. The cost was an extra $150 for the variable. They also sell a kit to turn it into a variable for $150. If I don't like it, I can sell it and lose minimal $$$.
    Specs: Motor is 3/5 hp vs 1/2 on all but the Delta for similar size. Headstock is 1" X 8 tpi (very common). Tailstock is #2 MT (also common). Swing is 10" (pretty standard). The bed is 18" BUT it is expandable (I might imagine that if I needed to go too much further that 18" center to center, the lathe might not be the right one.)

    Talk me off the ledge folks!
  2. Looks like a decent setup for what you want to do. Just keep in mind that once you start, you may get the itch for bowls, platters, hollow forms, and pens.

    Sent from my DROID Turbo using Tapatalk
  3. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    I have taken that into consideration but tried to make sure that my decision was not based on a general hobby. From what I can tell (and have learned), I "think" this should be able to handle some small projects if the spirits move me. Again, anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong.
  4. I think you will be fine with what you are looking at. Of course, I would see what others think as well.

    Sent from my DROID Turbo using Tapatalk
  5. I posted in the other thread but I’ll add this. You’ll be a lot happier with a used Jet, Rikon, Nova Comet II or Delta than a new any of what you listed. Please read my other post though, having a second isn’t a bad thing by any means should you go with one of those and decide to upgrade later. There are pros and cons to getting any entry level lathe, only you can decide which is best for your needs, now and in the possible future. I’ll say this though, both @Graydog and myself started on a HF and moved up to a Rikon. I think @DCRIII started on a Jet and never needed to upgrade. Steve, Dave, care to chime in with your thoughts?
  6. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    I read your post in the other thread as well. I am still hunting for used. I never thought about the "first" lathe becoming a dedicated buffer (or any other step in a process). Kind of makes the decision easier and harder. In your other post, you mentioned HSS... not familiar? You also tools. No need to worry there; I'm a huge believer in always buy the best quality tools you can. I do have some machining in my background. Coming from that perspective I have to ask, why would you buy tools that need to be sharpened when you can buy them with replaceable carbide tips? I have many knifes and spend a great deal of time sharpening. I actually like to sharpen and hone, but with my collection and my EDC, I get to do that on my time and terms.
    Thanks for the advice and thoughts. I'm a cigar and whiskey guy. If you're ever in Phoenix, give me a shout, first round is on my.
  7. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    Sometime I should just use google before I ask questions, duh! I was thinking HSS was a manufacturer. Found a quick article on HSS vs. carbide that I thought someone might be interested in looking at here. I'm still not sure sure why you think HSS and not carbide. One of the cons listed in the article for carbide was the limit of shape availability in carbide. Is that an issue in making our brushes?
  8. He didn't say not carbide, unless that is HF, he said no to carbon steel. Though with how hard carbide is to sharpen, I would probably skip it. And it is overkill for wood.
  9. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    I didn't understand his post to say no carbide. I just saw no talk of carbide so I thought I'd ask. I was under the impression that HF = Harbor Freight.
  10. I come from a family of machinist and am one myself. My grandfather was a machinist by day and a woodworker as a hobby and on into retirement. Machining translates to woodworking quite well.

    He preferred steel/HSS tools over carbide due to the fact he could get whatever shape he desired. He would buy one that was close to the shape he wanted and modify it or he would buy blanks and just grind it himself.

    I will advise you to beware though as others have said here. If you really enjoy it and have a knack for the craft, it is addictive and you will end up doing more than brush handles.

    I can’t add anything about machines that hasn’t already been said.

    Enjoy and good luck.
  11. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    Modifying tools for specific tasks seems so far down the road...

    Trying desperately to stay focused!!!
  12. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    I have a buffing question... For non wood handles has anyone used tumbling media instead of a buffing wheel? Just curious. I have a pretty big tumbler/vibratory set up I use with my reloading. I know that you can get media for just about anything these days.
  13. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

    Some of my favorite Brushes I made on the Harbor Freight and I am glad that I went that way
    in the beginning .
    There are plenty of $$$$ lathes that are being resold or sit in the corner of the shop when the newness of it wears off .
    Turning is not for everyone and for me like I said ,I am glad that I started the way I did before I invested any "big money" . My Rikon was a big upgrade from the HF . I learned what I liked to make and what I needed in a lathe
    with that HF and The Rikon has worked out perfect .Besides I don't have the room for a Robust "American Beauty" :)
    It is also nice to have someone that You can talk to and get advice ,@CigarSmoka and @DCRIII and
    @Rudy Vey always have answered any questions that I had after I first started turning .
    As for Chisels , I find that I prefer the standard wood turning chisels over the replaceable tipped carbide chisels
    I really like my Thompson 3/8 detail gouge and my 3/4 Sorby oval skew and my 1/2 Craftsman spindle gouge .
    I also like my 1/2 negative rake scraper .
    When I first started I went on ebay and purchased some hardly used chisels sets of 5 each ,some Craftsman and some Shopsmith chisels that a Friend gave Me.
    I found out what I needed and liked and upgraded to Thompson and Sorby
  14. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    Thanks so much for the advice. I appreciate the thoughts and guidance. My gut says carbide carbide carbide but I think in this case taking advice from folks with experience is the path I'll take. Damn all you guys for adding one more thing to the pile of things that need to be sharpened around here (that includes ski edges too). I'm just glad nothing in reloading or bullet casting requires sharpening.
  15. I'm with @Graydog as far as traditional tools vs carbide. I love my Sorby oval skew & 3/8" spindle gouge w/a swept back grind (similar to a detail gouge only the flute isn't as shallow). There's not much I can't do with those 2 tools. As for carbide, yes they're easy to use and without much of a learning curve you'll be making stuff right away. But you won't progress like you can with traditional tools, you'll spend way more time sanding because carbide scrape, they don't cut, and this can be a real issue on woods with interlocking grain, and you'll quickly find that you're limited in what you can make due to the shape/size of the cutter. You can always reshape a traditional tool if need then take it back again. True, you don't have to sharpen a carbide (you do, but I won't get into that) so that saves money on a grinder & jig setup, but at around $20-$25 per tip it doesn't take long until you've spent more money replacing tips than what a sharpening setup would cost, and will last you the rest of your life. And then you'll still keep replacing tips, whereas the money could go to another traditional tool or wood or whiskey and cigars... I will say a round carbide is nice for resin, but that's about the only nice thing I can say about carbide.. even then you're limited to how small of a cove you can make. I have a set of carbide tools I bought when I first started turning. Every once in awhile I blow the dust off them with my air compressor. Take the time to learn to use a skew & gouge properly, as with anything learning to do it right pays off big time in the long run.

    Tumbling a resin handle? Hmmm.. I see no reason why it wouldn't work, but why wait 3 weeks? I can polish one from freshly cut to a diamond shine in less than an hour...

    As for whiskey and cigars... I love a good cigar, gut can't take whiskey... and I am, in fact, in the Phoenix area. I'm meeting friends at Ambassador Cigars, SWC Bell Rd /75th Ave around 6 this evening... feel free to stop in if you're in the area... I'll be the little guy in scrubs with his arms covered in tattoos. They have a wine/beer bar, no spirits, but a few of there craft beers are very good.
  16. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    It was just a thought. 3 weeks???? I would imagine with the right media, hours is all that's needed. Again, I was just curious.

    I can't get over there tonight but will be out there tomorrow about 3:00'ish. If you see Sam tonight, tell him Ralph and Steve will be stopping by tomorrow. If you have been an Ambassador's regular for any length of time, we have probably already run into each other.
  17. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

    Jay ,How are the wings ?
  18. I was thinking of tumbling stones, which takes a few weeks. Resin is considerable softer but I'm guessing it would take a bit more than a few hours, but that's a guess... It's safe to say I'm a regular, we may have met. Steve wouldn't happen to be your son, would he?

    I'll take a pic and either post it or email it to you. I set my Wolverine Vari-Grind jig to 23.5 degrees, the gouge has a 2" protrusion, and I use a Raptor setup jig for a 40 degree bevel angle. It sweeps the wings back quite a bit further than your standard fingernail grind, which is what it was when I bought it. I find the 40 degree bevel angle to be more forgiving (for me at least) than the 45 it had before, plus the lower profile allows the tip to get into tighter spaces. I still want a shallow flute detail gouge with a 35 degree bevel, but then again, I want a lot of things...
  19. ralph029

    ralph029 Contributor

    Tumbling media has come a long way over the last several years but I fear that I'm trying to reinvent the wheel here. Maybe in a large scale production operation this approach would make more sense.

    No, the Steve I am talking about is the Steve that worked over in the east side Ambassador a few years back.
  20. DCRIII

    DCRIII Contributor

    I definitely enjoy using my variable speed mini Jet lathe. It cost more than a Harbor Freight lathe but it didn't break the bank for me either considering how much others cost.
    Haven't had any issues with it and it seems to be built to outlive me. The only part on it that would ever need replacing from normal wear and tear is the pulley belt and they are relatively inexpensive.
    I have no experience with comparing my Jet to other lathes, but I have to say that unless I need a larger lathe to make a larger project, I do see myself getting anything else.

Share This Page