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Does anyone know how the quality and durability of the Penn State Turncrafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe? I am looking to get into pen turning but am overwhelmed by the costs of all items to get into the hobby. The Turncrafter seems to fit the bill, but I do not know how the centers line up, the fit/finish, or other important features. If anyone can shed light on this lathe I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
 

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I have a Turncrafter Pro Midi Lathe, and it has been great over the past year. If Penn States other lathes are similar I would have no problem recommending it to you. The centers were dead on out of the box, and have remained so throughout my somewhat heavy use of it… I have probably turned 100+ things on it.
 

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After months of waiting, i got the 12" Commander variable speed. When i assembled it and plugged it in, it popped and died. They sent a replacement speed control. It worked great - except for a stretchy drive belt - for about 12-15 hours, then the speed control went out and the lathe motor runs at full speed only. PSI is having trouble getting parts from their supplier. I have been trying to get something resolved for about six weeks. With the drive belt on the lower range pulley (the variable speed has high range and low range) it is ok for pen turning. However, after another 6 hours or so, the drive belt has begun to separate and now will not stay on the pulley. If I could find a different belt, I would be able to at least turn pens. I wish I had gone ahead and bought a Delta.
 

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Frank, did you notice that this is a 7 month old thread?

Since we talking anyway, I'll mention that I saw a thread a while back where those belts were being discussed. The poster said he was able to get a replacement belt at a auto parts store.

I just bought a HF 10" x 18" mini 5-speed after I realized it was the same lathe as the Penn State 10". I thought the PSI machines were pretty well thought of. Sorry to hear you are having problems.

I wonder what ever happened to DonFaulk0517 ?
 

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I know it's an old thread - but I really needed to vent-
Everyone I know has had good luck with PSI. This is a new product, made in Taiwan, that doesn't have the bugs worked out. They had to have the wiring harness redesigned and from what they told me, a shipment of the speed controllers was all bad.
If I can get it running for a reasonable length of time I will do a review.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm still here… spending a bit of time between my real work and my workshop. I bought the Delta 46-460 and have had a great time turning pens… made about 35 pens in the past few months. The Delta has been great and I love the reverse feature for sanding. Sorry to hear of the problems with the Penn State Turncrafter Commander.

Craft Shows with my wife and Christmas have been demanding… sold half of the pens… the bullet pens are a great demand. I was at a family X-mas in NY this past weekend (I live in Michigan) and I now need to make a few to send back… of course as soon as possible!

Have fun turning!

Enjoy!
 
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