WOOHOO, which lathe should I get?

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Forum topic by Raftermonkey posted 07-12-2010 03:33 AM 2294 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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560 posts in 3448 days

07-12-2010 03:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning question

Well my beautiful girlfriend that I love very very much is getting me a lathe for my B-day. This will be my first lathe so I need a little help deciding on which one to get. I have narrowed it down to two Harbor Freight models (unsure on the brand name, but they’re green,haha). The first is has a 12” swing over bed and 33 3/8” bed length. It has a reversible head, 10 speeds from 600-2400 rpm and a 3/4 hp motor. This one is already welded onto a stand. Price is $219.99
The second has a 14” swing over and 40” length with a built in 6” sander. It is a 4 speed from 1125-3450 rpm and a 1/2 hp motor. I would have to buy a stand seperately for this one. Price $149.99 and the stand is $39.99 What do ya’ll think? Like I said this will be my first lathe and I know nothing about them or which one I need. I like the idea of the 14” swing over but I also like the 10 speeds and the stand on the other one. I don’t know what a “reversable head” does but if I did I may like that too, haha. Man, I dunno. All I know is that I have got the best girlfriend/future fiance/future wife in the world. She may just be getting tired of having to say that my irregularly shaped hand tool carved bowls are pretty, haha. Anywho, SHE’S GETTING ME A LATHE, WOOOOHOOOO, hahahaha.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

12 replies so far

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 4239 days

#1 posted 07-12-2010 03:54 AM

I have the 10” swing model you talk about. I picked it up for 100 at a garage sale. It’s my first and only lathe so I can’t make any comparisons for you, but so far I am very happy with mine. It is very much like the Jet of the same size from what I can tell. The revesable head means you can swivel the head stock around to turn things on the outboard side giving you larger than 10” swing. Never used it. Kinda wish I didnt have it as it took some time to get the head stock set exactly on center.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View schloemoe's profile


709 posts in 3473 days

#2 posted 07-12-2010 04:16 AM

I have the 14’ swing with the six inch sander . The only real problem I have incountered is you need to drill about every six inches along the bed and fasten it down good and snug. the bed I’m afraid bows if you don’t Other than not knowing what I’m doing and Not having very good tools to work with I like mine very much…...............Schloemoe

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

411 posts in 3617 days

#3 posted 07-12-2010 07:32 PM

I would go for the 12” lathe with a larger motor and lower minimum speed. It has much heavier castings (160 lbs vs 60 lbs on the other lathe). It appears to be a partial clone of the Delta 46-700 lathe that I have and really like. The Delta has continuously variable speed, while the HF has 10 fixed speeds using a similar mechanism. It is nice to be able to change speeds while the lathe is running.

A 14” plate spinning at 1125 RPM is way too fast. Plus the rails look like they would flex a lot. The 12” model appears to be a huge step up in quality for only a little bit more money.

You will also need some turning tools. The high speed steel set from HF for around $50-60 gets a lot of positive reviews as a starter set.

-- Steve

View IrishWoodworker's profile


159 posts in 4613 days

#4 posted 07-12-2010 08:48 PM

Friend trust me if you are getting a HF lathe get this one. I know its a little more money. But it is a solid lathe, you will grow using this one and it is a copy of a more well known tool company that sold it in white. Wait until you can get it on sale and throw a coupon at it to take more off. I walked away with mine at the time for 199.00 after the sale and coupon. You will not be sorry getting this one, do a search on the model and you will find a lot of happy reviews.

-- Dont just dream it, get up and live it!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3610 days

#5 posted 07-12-2010 11:16 PM

FWIW – Neither one of these lathes is going to be very good for turning bigger bowls (over 6 – 8 inches in diameter). Neither has enough power and one does not go slow enough. Therefore, the swing over height is not very important. You can’t (or at least you shouldn’t) turn something 14” in diameter at over 1100 rpm.

I would put my emphasis on strength, weight and rigidity. Heavy and strong are good things.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3448 days

#6 posted 07-12-2010 11:20 PM

Sonofa&@#%, newplane that is the one I was looking at and until today it was on sale for $219. HAHA, man that is my luck to a T right there. Oh well I’m still gonna get it I’ll just pay the difference myself. Thanks for all the advice.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View dbhost's profile


5772 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 07-12-2010 11:33 PM

I have the Central Machinery #34706. The drive belt is kind of crummy, but then again, my neighbors drive belt on his Jet contractor saw stank too…. Other than that, it has been a very solid tool. I spin a LOT of pecan on it, and it never complains.

When yours starts slipping, just take the belt off, and go to an auto parts place that stocks Goodyear, Gates, or some other reputable belts and have them match it up…

BTW, stay away from the 14×40, yeah the numbers look good, but that stamped steel bed will flop around like a hula dancer…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3854 days

#8 posted 07-12-2010 11:41 PM

Woman that buys Man tools should have Ring on finger….....

Beauty AND supportive of your hobbies?

Dude! Give HER something for your birthday!


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3448 days

#9 posted 07-13-2010 12:26 AM

Hahaha, thanks a lot Milo, now she wants your phone number. Na, she really is the best woman ever, very supportive and EXTREEEEMELY easy on the eyes. I don’t know what she see’s in me but it’s something and I am very thankfull to have her. I now retract my statement obove about being unlucky. Ok enough with the public interstellar online profession of love. Back to woodworking ladies and gentlemen.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 4244 days

#10 posted 07-13-2010 02:56 AM

I do not want to sound like a snob but I would not buy a Harbor Fright lathe. If your girlfriend gives you the lathe and it does not work out for you then you are stuck with it. She will never forgive you for getting rid of the lathe she bought you. I buy a lot of things from Harbor Fright but never major tools. I call it my use factor. If I am going to use it a lot then buy a quality tool. I use my $14 Harbor Fright angle grinder twice a year it works well. If I needed an angle grinder every day I would buy a good one like a Porter Cable. Your lathe is something you will use every day. I have been into woodturning for over 12 years. I am active in two different woodturning clubs. I have never heard anyone state regret that they bought a quality lathe. If price is an issue look for a used one.

Before you spend any money on woodturning attend a few meetings at a woodturing club and ask some questions. This link will help you find a club Mississippi

Good Luck

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3448 days

#11 posted 07-14-2010 12:58 AM

Bob I would love to get a top of the line lathe but its just not in the cards. I have looked at used ones and even a good used one is double or over double the price of the Harbor “Fright” as you call it. I believe this will be a good starter lathe, heck, who knows I may not even like turning,haha. I highly doubt it, but it is a possibility. If for some reason it did crap out on me, I’m sure I would have some type of warranty. I’m big on extended warranties when it comes to major purchases. Anyway, I feel that this lathe will do alright for me for a while. Thank you for your input on the matter though. I always welcome any and all feedback.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 4244 days

#12 posted 07-14-2010 03:56 AM

At least look into a woodturning club.
I started with a 60-year-old cast iron Delta lathe that I had to rebuild. After a few years, I found a good deal on a 50-year-old Oliver Lathe that I had to rebuild. I later got a top of the line lathe that was damaged and I had to rebuild it. It is not about spending the most money it is about having fun and building your skills. A tool that is not easy to use will not be fun to use.
Best of Luck

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

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