Shop Fox midi lathe, Seems to be a winner

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Review by jred posted 11-09-2010 05:06 PM 9628 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shop Fox midi lathe, Seems to be a winner No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

My wife spoke words to me recently that I thought I’d never hear (at least not on her own volition). She told me that I should get a lathe! What a woman!
I have been looking at “midi” sized lathes for a long time and really like the jet 12×20 I used at a woodcraft class. Two problems: There has not been a reasonably priced used Jet lathe go up for sale in the entire state in over six months (I’ve checked Craigslist and Ebay regularly). Second problem: new lathes are almost twice as expensive now as they were two or three years ago.

I came across this lathe two weeks ago, at the same time I found out that Jet would be having a lathe sale this month. $299 + tax = $320 for the Jet 1014 (non VS) which has favorable reviews all across the net, or $250 (Free shipping) for the Shop Fox which has had almost no review anywhere besides Amazon and those merely talk about the shipping problems they’ve had. What a decision! For most of you that wouldn’t be so hard… get the Jet! But, this is my first lathe and funds are really limited and I’m told that tools cost as much as the lathe itself. So…. I took the risk and bought the Shop Fox, figuring that if it was trash i could always send it back to Amazon in time to pick up the Jet on sale. If it works, then i’ve got $75 to use on tools and accessories.

Well, I won’t be sending it back. The box was mangled when it arrived and missing were the live center, and both bolts that hold the tool rest to the banjo. Instead of calling amazon to complain (would have had to send the whole thing back and wait for another one), i called Shop Fox and expect the missing pieces in the mail any day now. In the meantime, I had the right size bolts for the tool rest at home, and went ahead and got a nice 60 degree live center from woodcraft (impatience). Aside from that, the lathe is impressive in heft and size. Definitely rugged enough for what I will be doing (pens and small bowls, possibly some spindles for fun)
The tailstock has a slight amount of play to it, but usually locks down in perfect alignment to the headstock. The motor is a full 1/2 horse. Maybe the China motor will die but if it does, I’ll probably get the variable speed kit from PSI at that point so no biggie.

The lathe runs quitely and has almost no vibration (although pens aren’t really testing it’s limits). I checked runout on the headstock with a dial indicator and found less than a thousandth movement. The switch is kind of flimsy, but works fine and can be replaced easily if necessary. Pulley’s aren’t machined as neatly as the Jet’s, but the belt is easier to change on the Shop Fox.

Is it a better lathe than the Jet? Probably not. Is it as good? Probably. If I had the money, I might go ahead and get the Jet on sale locally just because anything mail order will be sight unsean and could have potential problesm. If the Jet was regular price, forget it. This lathe will do just as well. Grizzly offers an identical lathe if you’re partial to the brand, but with free shipping from Amazon, this is the better deal.

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49 posts in 4013 days

5 comments so far

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5777 posts in 4079 days

#1 posted 11-09-2010 05:29 PM

Nice write up! Glad you are happy with your new lathe… Now for the expensive part…

Turning tools, chuck, sharpening rig, mandrels etc…

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317 posts in 4210 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 04:04 PM

Check the new PSI 12” vs is a horse and pretty good lathe,friend just got one (in peru and it run almost 1000 us with duty)but it beats delta not by much but runs really good,Im thinking of getting one myself,my2cents

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Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4279 days

#3 posted 11-11-2010 02:42 AM

jred. I’ve had this lathe for about a year and a half. I’ve turned up to a 9” bowl from it, made lots and lots of pens, spindles, and other LWTs (Little Wooden Things). This lathe is an absolute great lathe to learn on and keep. I have upgraded it with one extension so I could make canes and glad I did. Was tough to get the two pieces aligned and bolted up initially, but I’m a little stubborn and refused to turn it over.

I use a PSI Utility chuck on this lathe, along with their larger cole chuck. When I got my Nova 1624, my wife asked when I was going to sell the Shop Fox (too much stuff in “her” garage. That question was promptly ignored, as I’m hanging on to it for these reasons.
1. LOW cost
3. RELIABLE, haven’t broken a belt yet
4. Quiet
5. Accurate enough for some intricate work including lidded boxes and items I needed to get “just right”
6. More than enough power for it’s size
7. Very EZ belt changes and one of the lower speeds in it’s classs for non-round blanks

1. The plastic adjustment screw handles tend to slip eventually, but easily replaced

That’s IT….I’m hanging on to it!!

Enjoy, and what you heard is right about the cost of the tools. Save yourself some time and get the EWT tools, they make cutting bowls and pens nearly a 1 tool adventure. I’m sure you can try one at the local woodcraft store.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View jred's profile


49 posts in 4013 days

#4 posted 11-11-2010 08:15 PM

Update: I received the missing parts and agree with Ruintuit that the plastic adjustment screw handles that hold the tool rest are pretty flimsy. Before they arrived I had been using bolts and an allen wrench and will probably keep using them rather than the plastic handles. Maybe i’ll weld the wrench to the bolt…. anyway, I also got the live center in and was suprised to see that it had no point in the center of it, just a hollow hole that ran the entire length of the piece. I’ve never seen one like that before. not a huge deal since I already bought the other one but I wonder if this is a type of live center i’m not familliar with or if it is defective.

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Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4279 days

#5 posted 11-12-2010 02:17 AM

jred. There is a silver piece (the point) that should be in the tip. Your’s is obviously missing. I lost mine sometime ago, and just went to my local store and bought a PSI live center. The diameter of the hole is pretty small, so not sure why they made it a separate piece at all. Also, I’ve seen higher quality replacements for the plastic handled tightening screws, can’t remember where though. Again, enjoy.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

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