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I have a pretty capable Steel City VS mini lathe with a 10" swing. I have recently developed a strong interest in turning bowls. In that pursuit the 10" swing is pretty limiting. I need some recommendations about a replacement. I see several options that have 12" to 12.5" swing. I cant afford one of the big boys, so outboard capacity or a turning headstock may be out of range. My questions:

Is a midi lathe, i.e. Jet 1221VS, worth the cost given that it only adds 2" more swing, the additional HP notwithstanding?

Do I need to gut it out and lay down the cash for something with outboard capability?

Are the smaller lathes with turnable headstock, i.e. the Jet 1236, a smart option, or underpowered?

Given its limitations, if only for turning bowls, is the HF copy of the Jet 1236 a viable option or begging for trouble?

Thanks!
 

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Is the Jet 1221 VS worth the money yes, but so is the Delta 46-460.

There are less expensive alternatives

Nova Comet II

http://www.amazon.com/NOVA-46300-Variable-Edition-12-Inch/dp/B00C2ASVNY

Turncrafter with extension bed without save $50.

http://www.pennstateind.com/store/TCLC12WB.html?prodpage=1TC

Or buy ultimate midi lathe Nova 1624-44 for big bucks.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2020011/22005/Nova-162444-Wood-Lathe.aspx

At one time could save buying a reconditioned Nova, but once add shipping do not think they are a bargain. Better to wait for new lathe go on sale.

http://novatoolsusa.com/RECONDITIONED-NOVA-1624-44-Wood-Turning-Lathe-24146-R.htm

Included the Nova 1624-44 even though does not have EVS probably better than Jet 1236, 1442 or HF 34706 reeves drive lathes. Both Jets have slower starting speed than HF 34706. If money is tight get the HF 34706 and beef up the stand with shelf & weight.
 

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The HF version is actually a nice lathe. Probably the most bang for the buck of any of the smaller lathes. You are not going to find anything much better for under $1k.

If you are going to be turning big bowls, I wouldn't even put together the stand. Mount it to a bigger bench and add some ballast to keep it from jumping around.
 

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I have been running a Delta 46-460 for the past 3+ years, and have been quite happy with it. I have turned bowls up to 12" in diameter (blanks cut to near-round on the bandsaw) and vases/hollow forms up to 10" deep.

The Delta currently runs <$700 ($669 on Amazon.com). It has a 1hp motor, electronic variable speed, and is reversible. I put an extension bed on mine so I can get up to 42" between centers. Every so often a used 46-460 pop up on CraigsList.

A lot of people have had good luck with the HF 34706, but keep in mind that it has a Reeves drive. They work if properly adjusted and maintained. The HF lathe also has what I would consider a pretty limited speed range (600rpm to 2400 rpm as opposed to the Delta which ranges from 250rpm to 4000rpm).
 
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