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The Lathe

Toothpick

Moderator
Seems to be necessary for turning a brush handle. I’m in the exploratory phase right now. Winter is here, I’m bored, thinking of things to do with my time.

I don’t know much about them. I know variable speed could be useful, and reverse. I do know I want a table top lathe. I have a work bench in the shed to use. My cousin works at Harbor Freight so I can get a 20% discount there. Other than that I’d probably have to order online because there isn’t many (if at all) available in the small town I live in.

So let’s say my requirements are
* Variable speed
* Reverse
* Table top
* Sub $200 (?)

What ya recommend?
 
I have a harbor freight lathe. It works well, but I would also consider a used lathe, especially at that price point. Just about any lathe should be sufficient for brush handles, as well as pens. Turning is a great hobby. Consider something for bowls as well.


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ajkel64

Moderator
I had a look around here in Australia, can be mind boggling when you get right into it. I found out that my father has a wood lathe in his shed covered over with tarps. I stopped looking as I will eventually finish up with it. I have a mini lathe that I could also use but it needs a motor. I thought that I could get away with a sewing machine motor but I was advised against this.
 

Graydog

Contributor
My son Seth bought Me a Harbor Freight Lathe that was under $200 for my birthday in 2016
It served me well and did not break the bank until I was able to see if I liked it .
I was able to learn and make a ton of mistakes before I invested any more money.
 

Toothpick

Moderator
I think that’s the option I’ll go with. Everyone really seems to like Harbor Freight tools. Plus I can get 20% discount.
 

ralph029

Contributor
After doing a search on the forum... yay for me, huh?
I am also in a similar situation and have been looking at the Harbor Freight and Excelsior lathes. There is also a Wen Tabletop out there that is even less expensive than the Harbor Freight lathe.
It seems that <$300 is the entry level point. I would hate to spend $200 this year and then decide in 8 months that I liked this hobby and have to spend another $400 to get a tool that will be what I need to grow some.
Toothpick... Where did you land on this? What was your experience?
 
You won’t get a new VS lathe with reverse for that, check for a used one. The old Delta lathes are known for quality, you just might get lucky and find one. With the features you want, try to find a used Jet or Rikon - preferably Jet. You still have to swap pulleys on a Rikon to sand even though it’s VS, you don’t with a Jet. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it will be after stopping, switching pulleys, and starting back up again for 1000th time. If you go used give it a test drive first. Lots of people decide to sell when the spindle bearing goes bad. You can save a lot of money that way but they’re a huge pain to change.
 

ralph029

Contributor
You won’t get a new VS lathe with reverse for that, check for a used one. The old Delta lathes are known for quality, you just might get lucky and find one. With the features you want, try to find a used Jet or Rikon - preferably Jet. You still have to swap pulleys on a Rikon to sand even though it’s VS, you don’t with a Jet. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it will be after stopping, switching pulleys, and starting back up again for 1000th time. If you go used give it a test drive first. Lots of people decide to sell when the spindle bearing goes bad. You can save a lot of money that way but they’re a huge pain to change.
Thanks for the advice. I've been looking for used but no luck so far.
 
I would hate to spend $200 this year and then decide in 8 months that I liked this hobby and have to spend another $400 to get a tool that will be what I need to grow some.
Many of us have done that... Look at it this way, a cheap lathe is a great way to try the hobby out. You may find you don’t like it as much as expected. Sell it and you’re not out much. If you want to advance, get something bigger & better, the smaller lathe will always come in handy or again, sell it and buy another chuck, tools, whatever. Mine is a dedicated buffer now, which you’re going to want/need anyhow if you stick with it. You’ll take a bigger loss on a nicer lathe if you decide it’s not for you. Don’t skimp on tools though. Get HSS, and not HF either. Benjamin’s best has a good reputation as being the best entry level turning tools. Whatever you do, stay away from carbon steel, they’re useless. You’ll spend more time sharpening them than using them, and it’s very easy to burn the edge when sharpening which loses the temper and they won’t sharpen well or hold an edge after that. Even if you blue the edge on a HSS tool it doesn’t lose the temper. Trust me, when learning how to sharpen, it’s gonna happen...
 

ralph029

Contributor
Many of us have done that... Look at it this way, a cheap lathe is a great way to try the hobby out. You may find you don’t like it as much as expected. Sell it and you’re not out much. If you want to advance, get something bigger & better, the smaller lathe will always come in handy or again, sell it and buy another chuck, tools, whatever. Mine is a dedicated buffer now, which you’re going to want/need anyhow if you stick with it. You’ll take a bigger loss on a nicer lathe if you decide it’s not for you. Don’t skimp on tools though. Get HSS, and not HF either. Benjamin’s best has a good reputation as being the best entry level turning tools. Whatever you do, stay away from carbon steel, they’re useless. You’ll spend more time sharpening them than using them, and it’s very easy to burn the edge when sharpening which loses the temper and they won’t sharpen well or hold an edge after that. Even if you blue the edge on a HSS tool it doesn’t lose the temper. Trust me, when learning how to sharpen, it’s gonna happen...
I don't want to hijack this thread so I replied here. Thanks!!!!
 
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