MADE IN U.S.A. #1: Lathes

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Blog entry by LeroyTheLips posted 02-07-2014 05:43 AM 11300 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’ve been looking at large lathes the last few years and would eventually like to get one. I prefer those made in U.S.A but am finding it difficult to find one. Some same made in U.S.A. but upon further correspondence I find that the steel comes from Asia but assembled here. I don’t know if the US policy has changed as to what determines that title. The government site shows an older version (think it is 1995). I contacted Oneway and they assured me their lathes are made in Canada with Canadian steel. That would be my choice if I couldn’t get a good U.S.A. one. I believe Vega bowl lathes are U.S.A but am not sure about the steel. To be called “Made in U.S.A.” requires a certain amount of products to be from the United States. I own equipment and tools from all over the world, like many woodworkers. I am a woodcarver so many tools are European, Japanese, Native American. I have power equipment from Asia too. My table saw is a Powermatic 66 with 5hp Baldor motor. Before it was bought out by Jet. I guess I’m getting tired of other countries making things that we used to. Or buying our companies like Japan owning Jim Beam or the Seattle Mariners or China owning AMC theaters. I know it is just as much our fault as theirs. But is it that difficult to get a large wood lathe made entirely in the U.S.A.? I wish there was a list of lathes that had a “list of their ingredients” that we could check before we buy it.

6 comments so far

View Doe's profile


1440 posts in 4078 days

#1 posted 02-07-2014 11:38 AM

It is getting difficult to find equipment made in America. I bought a Delta band saw at a show a few years back and they said, with considerable pride, that the company was American and that it was made in America. A while later I heard the company was sold to an Asian company. That’s pretty sad.

I will pay more for stuff if it’s made in North America (I’m Canadian), but I think most people just want cheap. Given the economy as it is, I’m not surprised.

Oneway makes excellent lathes and accessories and I would recommend them. I’ve never heard anything bad about them. I have some of their lathe accessories and they’re really well made and reliable (I must admit to just admiring the live center before using it). If I ever decide to upgrade from my Delta midi lathe, It’ll be a Oneway.

Good luck and let us know what you end up with.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View Xtreme90's profile


193 posts in 4441 days

#2 posted 02-07-2014 12:43 PM

I agree with doe,
It is getting harder and harder to find American made equipment. :( what’s real sad too is how a kid like me it’s a matter of owning the machine or not. I have a shop full of grizzlys higher end machines but its all from overseas. Lets face it, American made stuff is expensive.. But it’s quality and built with pride, just like Martin machines. However just for example tho 1 Martin jointer $30,000-50,000.. 1 grizzly jointer $5,000. I could buy just about 10 grizzly jointers for that one Martin, and I’m pretty sure wood can only be machined so close. :)

Just my two cents.

-- "I don't cut wood. I machine it!" G.M. The wood machinest

View doorslammer's profile


108 posts in 4817 days

#3 posted 02-07-2014 01:18 PM

Robust tools in Wisconsin Not sure about the origin of the steel. Frankly that’s getting a little too picky for me.

-- Aaron in TN -

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3628 days

#4 posted 02-07-2014 05:05 PM

The steel/iron probably comes from America, shipped overseas to be recycled then shipped back as a product, if that makes you feel any better … probably doesn’t.

Robust lathes are made in the USA, not sure about all the metal.

-- Rick M,

View LeroyTheLips's profile


248 posts in 3496 days

#5 posted 02-07-2014 05:55 PM

The steel is important to me. I retired from the power industry in engineering where I worked at our hydro-electric dams. The metal that came from India was crap but they were low bidder. I do like the powermatic but can’t bring myself to pay the huge amount for an Asian piece of equipment. I think Robust is one of the company’s I contacted but lost my hard drive last year so am unable to go back and check. I recently contacted Oliver but the response was that they were on vacation. Picky? Yes. I want to know what I am buying and I want something reliable and made well. Probably a result of my engineering. German and Swiss tools…great. Australian Stubby…great (but don’t know the origin of steel). Don’t know about the recycling but if they “smelt” it wrong it could still be crappy. I bought a Porter-Cable dovetail jig years ago for a really good price thinking it was the Omni-jig but it was made in China and the quality was nowhere as good as the original. I love my U.S.A. 5hp Baldor motor on my Powermatic 66 with Besemeyer fence. The only regret is I wish I would have got the 12” blade. I want a lathe with the quality and precision that this saw gives to me.

View LeroyTheLips's profile


248 posts in 3496 days

#6 posted 02-08-2014 08:19 PM

Checked with Robust and they seem to meet my criteria for a good lathe that is Made in the U.S.A. They also sub out work locally in their area and other states. I like that. The Serious has the metal (cast iron) from India so that one goes off my list.

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