The best deal I ever got!

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Review by Moshe Eshel posted 03-17-2008 10:38 PM 7866 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The best deal I ever got! The best deal I ever got! The best deal I ever got! Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was looking at lathes for almost two years before I purchased this one.
I previously owned (still do) a JET Mini 1014 (non VS) and was very happy for it – except for the size limit – 10” is a little too small when you want to turn a platter or a salad bowl. However, money was a little tight and I sure couldn’t afford a Oneway or Vicmarc…
Anyway I was checking out lathes and even found a chinese one selling for a decent price, but I was unsure of quality, living in Israel also meant that I have to pay for overseas shipping for any lathe that I purchased in the USA. Also the small issue of current differences (110 vs. 220).

Link to Jet Site - Lathe page

Anyway, I wasn’t realy aware of this lathe in particular, I knew about the Powermatic 3520b and in general that JET had good lathes, but I was really dreaming about a Vicmarc or Oneway (and they where still out of financial reach for a few years at least).

Anyway, Rockler had this JET promotion just before last Christmas where you paid for the lathe – a discount + free shipping in the USA. The lathe came out to be $1400 (+change) + shipping of around $700 to Israel (with taxes etc.) – this was a VERY good price and it rivaled the price of the no-name chinese lathe I had in mind. so I took the deal… I won’t bore you with the rest of the long story…

To the review: Packaging & Setting up-
The lathe arrived very well packaged with no defects whatsoever – to remind you this includes a trip across the continent in a truck and then in a ship across the atlantic ocean, the meditarenean sea to Israel, and a truck from the harbor to my house… everything was well protected against bumps and rust.
Took me quite some time to clean up the bed, but setup took less than 30 minutes once I got everything clean and open… really easy, one man with no help, since the legs can stand without support (if you try not to push them in any direction) and I had a table in the right height. each part by itself is not too heavy (although it definitley ain’t light). so the lathe was up and put together. I set the electricity (no hassle, everything well explained in the manual) – since I have 220-230 by default, all I needed was to connect to the outlet…

Lathe Operation-
There isn’t much to talk about, you pull the safety toggle and start the revs by turning the speed knob – and she goes…. this baby can really turn! Everything is very sturdily built – cast steel and massive handles. The lathe hardly vibrates even with a nice uneven log loaded (it does vibrate a little in that situation but this is on an uneven plastic floor and without any added weight – still I had some stuff on the lathe it didn’t drop).
The tool bin is a nice touch, and provides easy tool accesss.

This lathe has a lot of power and two ranges of speed 0-1200 RPM for torque and 0-3200 for speed

1. Price – this is a very good deal compared to the features and quality
2. Capabilities – 16” is more than what most people need, sliding the headstock to the edge of the bed gives you practicaly unlimited capacity, 42” between centers is also a lot and you can always buy an extension bed if you do need more (in fact even the more expensive lathes do not offer more capacity between centers). 2 HP is strong, very strong… most 16” lathes give you 1.5 HP – this power allowes you to turn real heavy blanks without stopping the lathe, especially in the higher torque mode.
3. Stability – this is a very heavy lathe and legs are very heavy and sturdy – for example the Nova DVR or XP which is often compared to the JET comes without them and for a bigger price tag.
4. 5 Year warranty.

Issues I have with the lathe –
I haven’t had it for long so I haven’t realy got to knowing my lathe very good, but I have few complaints they can be counted on one hand and are not terriblly bad – I can definitely live with them:
a. Spindle lock – this is a security feature, but it bugs me that I have to continually press the pin to keep it engaged (and locked) if I let go it jumps out and the spindle is released – this means I basically have only one handed operation.
b. the set screw that locks the faceplate in place – I think unnecessary and if you forget to release it when you want to take the faceplate off it can damage the spindle thread.
c. I personally haven’t figured out yet how to work with the guard provided, however I try to set it up it is always in the way – this is probably my fault as I am a little dense..
d. I couldn’t get the speed below 130 without stopping the lathe – this might be an issue of the difference in the current frequency between the countries (60-50) – and might be solvable by re-programming the inverter – but I’m not an expert on this subject so I will currently leave it alone – until I need those slow speeds.

As you can see these are really nitpicking issues – so I would still buy this lathe again (except maybe for the Powermatic if I had an extra $1600).

My recommendation: This lathe is perfect for non-professional turners because of the price/quality ratio - professional turners will go for the higher-end lathes because they are trully better, but most of their advantages are not worth the spend for a part-time/hobbyist turner.

Attached images:
You can see the official picture of the Lathe from the JET site, also a view of the control area of the lathe with a piece of Olivewood mounted and you also see the compact handwheel (quite comfortable BTW), forward reverse switch and speed knob, along with the spindle lock. Next image is a different view of the lathe in my mini shop (which it fills to the brim) and a comparison to the JET Mini lathe (the little toy on the floor).

-- I just talk a lot.... Moshe Eshel, Israel,

View Moshe Eshel's profile

Moshe Eshel

15 posts in 4898 days

7 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4536 days

#1 posted 03-17-2008 11:05 PM

thanks for the review. I’ve been looking into a lathe. maybe i’ll save up for a few years and get this one. make sure to post some turning projects when you are done.

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4643 days

#2 posted 03-17-2008 11:37 PM

Nice review, thanks Moshe. Have fun turning.

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 4529 days

#3 posted 03-18-2008 01:47 AM

so are you saying that you have to turn with just one hand ?

View Nils's profile


141 posts in 4633 days

#4 posted 03-18-2008 03:35 AM

From the pictures it looks like you’re having no problems making sawdust and chips from the lathe!

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4834 days

#5 posted 03-18-2008 04:57 AM

Sounds like it is a lathe that will suit your needs – so it’s a good deal.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 4540 days

#6 posted 03-18-2008 08:52 AM

It looks like a dandy machine, I would like the jet mini w/ the extension for myself. thanks for the review!

-- --Chuck

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5068 days

#7 posted 03-21-2008 03:01 PM

Thanks for the review, I’m sure it’ll give you a lifetime of turning enjoyment.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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