Mastercraft - 12-Inch lathe with chisel set (Rating: 4)

It's very gunky when you first take it out of the box. But after a good cleaning, I installed it on a mastercraft metal stand. When I rev up the speed, there can be some vibration, but nothing that is worrying. I love the electronic variable speed control. When I noticed that some more expensive lathes do not even include this feature, I was shocked. Once you taste the feature, you probably don't ever want to go back to pulleys and belts or whatever else they use. There's something that bothers me every now and then and it's the tool rest. First, there was a little nick in it that I filed down, otherwise my tools would always catch in the nick. Also, when the tool rest is the farthest away from the lathe and you want to bring it closer to the wood (after sanding for exemple). sometimes it just won't engage properly and you have to wrestle with it to bring it closer to the wood. No biggy, but annoying when it happens (and it happens often).

The handles on this lathe are fairly cheap (plastic). Would be nice to find some cheap aftermarket metal handles that would fit. It happens more often that I'd like to when I think I've got everything locked down, I start the lathe and the second I put my tool on the tool rest, the tool rest moves!

I really like the fact that when I start the lathe, there's a 2-3 second warm up before reaching the desired speed.

As far as power (or lack thereof)...well, this lathe isn't very powerful. But if you keep your projects within bounderies, it will shine. If you try to push the limits a bit too much, I guess you will be very dissapointed. So far, I've turned a pen style marking knife handle(5" long), 3 chisel handles (12" long), 2 mallets (2" sq x 12" long) and several game calls parts and it has worked nicely. And when it didn't, it was usually my fault ;-)

And now for the chisel set: a 3/8" gouge, 1/4" parting tool and a 1/2" skew are included in the set. Whether you're just a novice or not,...right away when you setup a piece of wood and try to turn it with the included chisels, you know there's something wrong! The chisels aren't even close to being sharp. On the other hand, since I was also going to start learning how to sharpen / grind chisels, these were the perfect set to learn with.

I regrinded the gouge to a fingernail profile, the skew now has 25 deg bevels as well as the parting tool. And I have to say, once you get sharp tool, they work just fine. They don't keep an edge forever (and granted, I didn't try to turn really hard woods, the hardess being maple). Except that they stress the hands too much…why you ask? The handles are 4" long. Yes, that's right. 4". Granted, the lathe doesn't have a huge amount of power, so there's no worries of a deadly catch or anything like that. But even at that, control with such short handles is terrible. I personally used this occasion to turned myself 3 12" new handles for my tools as one of my first few projects. They're not perfect, but they're a great "real" project that will get some use once it's done.

As with a lot of stuff Mastercraft, I had very low expectations. But this turned out to be a very nice little lathe. I ended up purchasing a couple of other chisels (Benjamin's best) for use on this lathe and they complement the ones that came with the lathe very nicely. I've also purchase a Beall tap (1×8 tpi) to be able to mount stuff on the headstock.

Finally, a word on safety: I bought a AO safety (?) face shield at canadiantire with the purchase of the lathe. Great investment! Be safe.