It was the best of times, and the worst of times

  • Advertise with us
Review by usnasis posted 04-03-2012 04:04 AM 7467 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
It was the best of times, and the worst of times No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This was not my first lathe- the first lathe I got was the $89 lathe reviewed here if you want more information. For a starter lathe it wasn’t bad but I was desperate for something a little more… more. The Delta 46-460 VS was a Christmas gift from my family (desperately needed to create my family’s Christmas gifts!) and compared to what I had been using, it was huge improvement. Right out of the box the VS control box was cracked and would have been unusable, except it turns out the top layer was mostly cosmetic anyway, and this was definitely a shipping problem. We unscrewed that and taped up the holes in the casing, and other than that it was visibly okay.

tape-job seen here

It came with all the standard equipment, and was easily bolted to the stand that we had built for it. I used it with no problems, using it either for basic spindle work or using a Nova Chuck for other projects until about two weeks into January when I started to get some extremely problematic wobbling. Prior to this I had experienced no issues. The variable speed worked great, operation was smooth, everything clamped down snug as you please. But because I was mostly turning mini, decorative goblets to hone my skill (and because I enjoyed it) even a little bit of wobble was something that was very obvious and disastrous (several blanks were ruined).

I did very extensive self-testing to see if it was something I was doing wrong that was causing the wobble; I obsessively centered blanks, double-checked and triple-checked alignment of the piece on the lathe, and when that made no difference we even took everything off the lathe including the belts and just listened to the motor. There was still a significant vibrations within the actual motor casing, and the more I used it the worse it got.

Troubleshooting on the web seemed to indicate there may be a problem with the bearings in the motor, so I gave in and called Delta customer service. Because of Delta’s limbo-like status, it seems that all of their customer service is on hiatus, too. The gentleman I spoke with at the service desk said: “I have no idea, I have never heard of a problem before, this is not something I am familiar with.” I shared with him the steps I had taken to try and narrow down the problem myself hoping he would open up or look into it, but all I heard was “I don’t know, try taking it to a service center.” So I took it to the nearest DeWalt/Porter Cable/ Delta service center (50 miles away), and two months later I had heard absolutely nothing.
Well, that isn’t true, every time I called I was told they’d have the part in a couple of days and the repair would be completed then, but it never was. So effectively I heard “nothing”. Each time I called, too, it was a different part they were waiting for, so it seems to me they were having trouble locating the problem themselves.

Finally this last week I called the service center and spoke to a gentleman who told me the final part they were waiting on was a switch actuator and that he could order it from a nearby service center and have it there that Friday, to complete the repair by Monday (today). So I took the day off from work to go in and get it- but surprise surprise when I called in the guy on the phone had no idea what I was talking about and informed me that I needed not one, but two parts (the second being the cracked control box, hah) and that there were none of them available in the United States.

After spending the entire day on the phone I was informed that I could wait an unspecified amount of time for the part (everyone confirmed that there was nothing available, anywhere), or get the service center to get me a warranty refund through Delta (6-8 weeks). At this point I did what I finally should have done in the first place and called Amazon, the distributor the lathe was originally purchased through. They listened to my tale of woe and told me to get the lathe back from the service center and return it to them and they would issue a full refund. I had the lathe packed and ready for pickup two hours later.

As far as the lathe goes- it worked beautifully for the 4-ish weeks that it worked. After that it was a rapid decline into utter uselessness followed by months of limbo with Delta service (they had it longer than I did!). If the lathe had continued to work, or if Delta customer service had done anything but fail utterly, than this review would have been five stars. However between the extremely short functional life of the lathe and the utter misery that is Delta customer service, I can’t give this more than three stars.

I am currently looking into a buying a new lathe, and I can tell you for sure that I will not be purchasing anything from Delta until they get their business settled down, suppliers lined up, distributors and services centers set up and a much better customer service setup.

As a sidenote: Any recommendations for lathe manufacturers that have excellent customer service would be welcome.

-- I say what it occurs to me to say, more I cannot say

View usnasis's profile


10 posts in 3046 days

10 comments so far

View JohnnyB's profile


105 posts in 3190 days

#1 posted 04-03-2012 04:27 AM

I have a Jet 1442, but I can’t tell you about their customer service because I haven’t needed any service. I did buy the lathe from a local dealer in whom I have absolute confidence in case something had been wrong.

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View wooded's profile


370 posts in 3073 days

#2 posted 04-03-2012 06:36 AM

Sorry to hear of your bad experience us… I purchased the same lathe and have had no reason to contact Delta which pretty much eliminates any negatives for me. I would highly recomend it to anyone. I have used mine for many hours now and like it more as time goes by. I’m realizing more and more as I get older that the luck of the draw pertains to virtually everything. ;-J

-- Joe in Pueblo West, Colo.

View jobott's profile


27 posts in 4162 days

#3 posted 04-03-2012 02:36 PM

Too bad about that Delta lathe. I thought they looked pretty nice. Currently I am using an old (60’s!) Powermatic and a Steel City mini lathe I just converted to variable speed which works very well. I have heard that Grizzly CS is very good altho I haven’t used their lathes, but they look similar to the Jet lathes. Woodcraft currently has the Rikon VS mini on sale as well for about $280.One or 2 reviews abut Rikon CS i have seen here seem ok. I just ordered a Rikon bandsaw and the Rikon machines I have seen look pretty good as well. Good luck with your next lathe.

-- Joe B

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3564 days

#4 posted 04-03-2012 03:34 PM

What with all the problems, and the non-participation of all the Delta service, how were you able to give them 3 stars?

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View usnasis's profile


10 posts in 3046 days

#5 posted 04-03-2012 03:48 PM

Rosebudjim, the lathe worked wonderfully for the short period of time that it did function. If it hadn’t worked so well for that 1 month-ish timeframe, I would have rated zero stars. I am given to understand I probably just got a dud machine, and if it had functioned or if the repair had been able to be completed, it would have continued to be a wonderful machine.
But frankly knowing that if I drop that much money on a lathe and it could be a dud, and knowing that I will get absolutely no assistance at all from Delta in getting it fixed, I would never recommend a Delta to someone else. The risk is way, way too high that you will be SOL.
I wouldn’t mind buying a lathe that I knew could have problems if I also knew that the customer support was golden. But I really got the impression that no one at Delta gave a toss for existing customers- and from what I heard from the guys at the service center my situation was not unique.

Sadly I am sorting my current quest for a new lathe based first on reviews of customer service, second on functionality of lathe.

-- I say what it occurs to me to say, more I cannot say

View foneman's profile


112 posts in 4895 days

#6 posted 04-03-2012 06:52 PM

I have a Jet 1220vs without problems, but have read about a problem another person had with his variable speed control. He reported that Jet was very diligent at trying to resolve the problem until it was repaired in a timely manner.
I also have a Jet 1642 that has been a very good lathe as well without problems.

Good luck with your purchase.


View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3097 days

#7 posted 04-03-2012 09:37 PM

Who owns Delta now -Stanley? What a shame that the Delta name is not what it used to be. I wanted an oscillating spindle sander and read tons of horror stories about the Delta BOSS, start capacitors that fail with regularity, stripped nylon gears…..I bought a used (once) JET OSS and my good experience with that led me to buy a JET mini variable speed lathe. No complaints so far.

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3564 days

#8 posted 04-04-2012 02:57 AM

usnasis; Was only thinking about you, and Delta customer service attitudes. Maybe I missed something? I was trying to explain how many stars I would have given them. If I have a problem with whomever, and they do not live up to my expectation as they have advertised themselves to be, then they are not going to receive any amount of stars from me. That’s just the way it is. Now, if a manufacturer of whatever it is I purchased is willing to provide whatever customer support it takes to earn/keep my business, I will loudly laud them with accolades.
As in the case of Onieda and Teknatool, who bent over backwards to help me in my hour of need – 10 STARS – and happily sent them a warm thank you email. I will also send less than warm emails to those who deserve it.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View Albert's profile


543 posts in 4390 days

#9 posted 04-04-2012 02:06 PM

Good review thanks, I had been considering the Delta lathe but will have to rethink it. Too bad that the merger is not going well and will tarnish both companies names.


View Walt's profile


5 posts in 2898 days

#10 posted 11-20-2012 08:15 PM

I currently have a Jet 1642-2 EVS Lathe and an old Craftsman Lathe which I am about to upgrade to a mini lathe. Since I purchased my Jet, I have had two problems with it. The first one was: I lost the indexing pin. Jet had a replacement pin at my door the next day (at no charge I might add). The second issue was I wanted an additional locking handle to hold my tool rest in the banjo. Again, Jet sent one to me which arrived the next day.

I have looked at the Jet 1220 vs lathe and the Delta 46-460 lathe and feel the Delta is far the superior lathe! However, having said that, at some point in time every tool wears out. Bearings go, drive belts wear out, or things accidentally become lost or broken. Currently, 11/20/2012, standard emergency orders for Delta 46-460 parts is 30-33 days provided the part is available. Several parts are not available at this time and there is no projected date for when they will become available.

Apparently, as a result of the sale of Delta, several factors were impacted. Primarily, Delta had used Jobbers to manufacture many of its parts. With the advent of the sale, those jobbers went away and some have not currently been replaced. Therefore, those parts are not available.

Another issue is the wharehousing and parts transfers between the old and new company.

All in all, I just can not justify spending $699.99 on a lathe where I know in advance I will not be able to get any part for 30-33 days plus shipping time and that some parts are not now and may never be available.


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics