Great Beginners Lathe

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Review by Troutsman posted 01-19-2012 09:37 PM 12446 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have been very impressed with this lathe. Although this review is based off of no other experience from any other lathes, I have to give it a high rating. It is by far the least expensive lathe on the market and with the famous 20% off discount from harbor freight can be bought for under $100. I picked mine up for $96 at our local harbor freight.

This lathe has variable speed dial that is very convenient to work on your piece from turning, sanding, and finishing. I would recommend this lathe for anyone that is wanting to find out if they want to get into turning before buying the $300+ other models that have the same components.

The only complaint that I can even come up with, and it is not much of a complaint is that it does not have a turning wheel on the live center that you can manually turn your work. I still do this but use the mandrel or the live center when turning it instead of a nice turning dial like on the Jet model.

Hope this helps another beginner with the decision on which lathe to start out with.


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16 posts in 3162 days

18 comments so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7817 posts in 3600 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 11:52 PM

Harbor Freight (Central Machinery) lathes are really nice, especially considering they cost about a quarter of what you’d pay for a nearly identical Jet.

I have the full size, cast iron bed lathe and am very happy. I suppose if I was going to turn big stock every day, I may want something more powerful. But for the average woodworker, these lathes are just the ticket!

Thanks for posting!
-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The best woodworking show since the invention of wood.)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Raymond's profile


683 posts in 4527 days

#2 posted 01-20-2012 05:54 AM

Great review. I agree with Stumpy, and i have the same full size cast iron lathe as well good value for the money.

-- Ray

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81 posts in 3492 days

#3 posted 01-21-2012 06:56 AM

Thanks for the reviews on the HF lathe. I have been struggling with an old craftsman knock-off, the one with the single tube. I have been wondering if the HF model might serve me better as a beginners lathe.

View Rustic's profile


3256 posts in 4396 days

#4 posted 01-22-2012 12:49 AM

I have this one and love the hell out of it

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3640 days

#5 posted 01-23-2012 01:53 AM

Guys I have been wanting one of these bad. Reason I can afford it. The only thing I have heard bad is the bearings freeze up.
Post back in 6 months and tell how she is holding together. Right now I will hang on to my pole lathe. Its good exercise.
Thanks for posting the review.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View MrWizard's profile


145 posts in 3604 days

#6 posted 01-23-2012 07:32 AM

I have been looking at this same unit for a back up. and possibly to grab a couple and start inviting friends over to learn and help make pens for our Service members overseas and here in the U.S.
The only down side I found was that HF has very little, to no Lathe tools or other equipment to support the hobby. So you are still having to find another source for hardware (Mandrels, Chucks, Tools,) But other then that I think its a great starting unit.

View Remedyman's profile


47 posts in 2997 days

#7 posted 05-24-2012 01:33 AM

I have been debating on buying this lathe or the next grade up. What kind of accessories should I look at acquiring with the purchase of this lathe? I have no experience with turning wood, but I really want to start. Also, am I reading it right that it can handle wood 8 inches in diameter?

Thanks for the info.

-- As long as our customers are happy, we have done a good job. Even if we are our own customer.

View cdaulton's profile


25 posts in 3268 days

#8 posted 09-18-2012 07:54 PM

I have had one of these for about six months now and I have only one major complaint. The tail stock on mine is very poorly machined. It wobbles about a sixteenth of an inch on either side of center laterally, and a little less vertically, which makes drilling a little hairy but as long as I am extra careful to line it up correctly it is usually ok. The only other problem I have is it is a little underpowered. It tends to bog down when I am trying to drill at low speeds. If I speed it up it won’t bog down but my drill bits tend to overheat. Other than those two issues it is a fantastic machine. It spins true and I am surprised at how quiet it is. The electronic variable speed is awesome. I can go from roughing to shaping to sanding with just a turn of the knob. I have never really had any power issues when turning and I have turned green bowl blanks that were 8” in diameter which is about as big as you can go with this machine. In my experience Harbor Freight tools tend to be hit or miss and I think I got a decent hit with this one. If you can get a hit as good as the one I got then it is an excellent lathe.

View Leiter's profile


2 posts in 2409 days

#9 posted 12-30-2013 03:50 AM

Glad to hear good things about this lathe as I just ordered one. It’ll be my first lathe and I’m excited to learn to turn!

View summerfi's profile


4379 posts in 2487 days

#10 posted 12-30-2013 04:25 AM

My daughter has this lathe and it has performed pretty well. The one problem she had is that the plastic knob for tightening the center in the tailstock is pretty flemsy and broke. Be careful to not tighten it too much. Fortunately we had the extended warranty (which I almost never buy), so I took her lathe back to HF and they replaced it.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works -- ~Non multa sed multum~

View Leiter's profile


2 posts in 2409 days

#11 posted 01-03-2014 07:36 PM

Hi I just bought this lathe and can’t fid what size bolts it needs to mount to a work bench. Any help?

View Bumpa's profile


1 post in 1283 days

#12 posted 01-28-2017 04:28 PM

I have the same question that Leiter posted 3 years ago;
Hi I just bought this lathe and can’t fid what size bolts it needs to mount to a work bench. Any help?
Can anyone reply to this question?
I tried to thread a 5/16” bolt and it starts in about 4 threads but I don’t want to force it and potentially strip the threads in the base of the lathe.

View xunil76's profile


31 posts in 1264 days

#13 posted 02-20-2017 02:00 PM

i just bought the Central Machinery 95607 lathe from Harbor Freight as well (woohoo, $63 after 20% off coupon code!), and just wanted to post here to answer the question that Leiter & Bumpa asked, and for anyone else trying to find the answer to this question. i found this page by searching for the answer as well, and never could find an answer anywhere online…and frustratingly, Harbor Freight/Central Machinery doesn’t put this spec in their manual for this lathe (i mean, WHY would you ever wanna know this spec? /sarcasm)

anyway, the bolts you want to use is a 5/16-18. that’s 5/16” shaft with 18 threads/inch, for anyone not familiar with threading terminology.

the problem is (and probably the reason Bumpa could only get it to thread in 4 threads before it stopped) is because they tapped the holes before they did the powdercoating on the lathe…which means that some powdercoating ended up in the holes, causing poor threading ability. they should have tapped them AFTER the powdercoating was done, and they also could have done a bit better job with the threading itself (but i guess you can’t ask for too much at the price point this lathe is sold at).

so i just ran a 5/16-18 tap through the holes to clean out any powdercoating residue that was left over, as well as clean up their generally poor job of threading, and now my bolts thread in all the way by hand, easy peasy. i used some 1.5” long bolts to mount it to a piece of 3/4” plywood that forms the top of my work table (with 3 washers on each bolt) and it’s now nice & secure and will not go anywhere.

anyway, i hope this helps others with this question, because like i said, i could not find the answer anywhere. as for the lathe itself, well it’s a pretty decent starter lathe, or a lathe that you can dedicate to your smaller jobs (pen turning, etc.) so you’re not tying up your main lathe for small stuff. the fitment of mine was actually surprisingly good…the live center on the tailstock and the centerpoint on the headstock lined up perfectly, and there is only the tiniest bit of side to side twisting motion when the tailstock is loose (if it was any tighter, it would likely be hard to move the thing). all in all, i’m pretty pleased with this lathe, especially for the price i paid for it.

now i just need to get the new HSS tools i ordered to actually be able to do some real work on it, because the old HCS tools that i was given kinda just hinder me more than help, with the constant running to the grinder to re-sharpen.

and i’ll need to order a 4-jaw chuck as well so i can more easily start turning (small) bowls, cups, etc.

View SQuinn's profile


2 posts in 1242 days

#14 posted 03-11-2017 01:10 AM

Looking for some help. I just bought this lathe and I’m having a hard time finding a mandrel size that will work. Any advice on a source for a pen mandrel that would fit this model?

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4168 days

#15 posted 03-11-2017 02:01 AM

That lathe uses a #1 morse taper. You can get accessories at Rockler or Woodcraft, and many different online locations

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