Pen turning lathe suggestions?

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Forum topic by itsme_timd posted 01-30-2008 06:17 PM 17933 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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690 posts in 4393 days

01-30-2008 06:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning

Hi LJ’s…

I’m looking to purchase a mini-lathe soon and wanted to get some input on a couple of narrowed my choices down to. My total price range is about $250.00 that I can spend, so I’m trying to get the most for that amount. I will more than likely use this 90% of the time for pen turning, wine stoppers and other small projects – at least for the forseeable future.

The 2 that I’m considering are the Jet 1014I and the PSI Turncrafter PRO.

On the Jet lathe: Amazon has it for $249.99 and free shipping. I know this is a good lathe but this would leave me needing to buy the mandrels, spacers, polishes, pen kits, turning tools, etc.

On the Turncrafter lathe: PSI has a starter set for $239.99 that gives me the lathe and all accessories to get started turning pens, their shipping is $47.00 so I’d be a little more than the Jet but with everything I need.

Is the Jet that much better than the PSI lathe? Or for a casual / hobby user would the PSI lathe be a good bet?



-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

17 replies so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4436 days

#1 posted 01-30-2008 06:28 PM

I have the Jet and love it. I cannot comment on the Turncrafter. Probably not very helpful—other than I don’t think you can go wrong with the Jet.

View ToddO's profile


80 posts in 4385 days

#2 posted 01-30-2008 08:32 PM

Not to muddy the waters, but have you looked at Grizzly tools? I own a grizzly lathe and really like it.
Grizzly mini lathe spec’s are:

Grizzly H8259 $169.95 + 44 shipping ($213.95 total)
• Motor: 1/2 HP, 110V, single-phase
• Amps: 2
• Swing over bed: 10”
• Distance between centers: 18”
• Tailstock travel: 3-1/4”
• Speeds: 826, 1205, 1713, 2422, 3337 RPM
• Tool rest length: 6”
• Includes tool rest, live rolling center, spur center and wrenches
• Overall dimensions: 33”L x 17”W x 12”H
• Approximate shipping weight: 77 lbs.

-- Todd, Richfield MN

View leonmcd's profile


204 posts in 4533 days

#3 posted 01-30-2008 08:59 PM

I have a no-name lathe (part number 27091 ) I got a Rockler for $169 (It is $199 now but may include the extension) . I’ve used it for about a year and it works fine for my purposes. I’ve turned a number of pens, screwdrivers, and other small projects. Also turned a few bowls up to about 7” in diameter.

Specs ….
Solid headstock and lathe bed construction.
Standard #2 taper. With a 10” swing over the bed and 18” working distance between centers.
1700 RPM.
Easy access to five speed controls (760, 1100, 1600, 2200, 3200 RPM) with quick-release tension mechanism for easy belt changes.
All cast-iron construction provides stability and is extremetly durable.
With ball-bearing live center.
Includes 3” faceplate, spur center and 6” tool rest.
Heavy-duty steel knockout bar.
On/off switch is located close to work zone for convenient operation.
Mini lathe bed extension provides up to 40” working capacity and increases spindle center distances from 18” to 39”.

-- Leon -- Houston, TX - " I create all my own designs and it looks like it "

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4889 days

#4 posted 01-30-2008 09:19 PM

I finally just broke down and bought the Jet,... I think Wayne has three of them (a whole family of turners) that’s enough of an endorsement for me. A few LJ’s cited variable speed over increased capacity (at the mini end of the lathe spectrum. I bought the 10×14 VS over the 14×20 they just introduced. and I’m kind of glad I went with the smaller one, as I intend to bring it outised in the summer – and it’s already one heavy bugger to get down the cellar stairs!

Before that, I’ve been using my 1950s shopsmith… so I still have that. I can’t speak for the PSI one, but it sounds like a good deal. You’ll probably get more accessories in time – that’s where the real money goes! Chucks, chisels,...

I’d love to pick up the OneWay (?) Full size lathe that tilts so you can sit at it – you know for when I retire… a long way off though.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4393 days

#5 posted 01-30-2008 09:22 PM

Thanks all, good info for sure.

One more question now. So far all I’ve considered is pen turning and smaller projects so the fixed speed lathe seems fine for me. What are the benefits of the VS model. Might seem like a dumb question but I’m totally new to this.


-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 4366 days

#6 posted 01-30-2008 11:29 PM

You could also go to Ebay or Craigslist and find a good used mini lathe. Check to see if you have a woodturners club in your area. Many times woodturners have good used lathes that they are willing to sell. One other suggestion is to check with tool stores and see if there is a floor model. I was at a woodturning symposium in Nashville this past weekend and the tool store that provided the demonstration lathes sold them for a big discount—-a Jet 1442 went for $650.00. If it was me I would go with the Jet variable speed lathe. You will get more satisfaction out of that over the long haul. Even with a mini lathe you should be able to turn small boxes, vases etc. You can save big bucks if you make your own jamb chucks. Good luck with your turning!!!!

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4649 days

#7 posted 01-31-2008 01:32 PM

TimD says he’s buying the mini from PSI this week. All the fixin’s plus some pen kits for $217 including shipping.

Plus he got a great deal from Rigid on the oscillating sander at the Wood Show and a band saw from Craig’s list.

While they were a chunk of change he saved about 75% of what they would have cost new.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View ToddO's profile


80 posts in 4385 days

#8 posted 01-31-2008 02:48 PM

I would recommend that you go with the variable speed. I use several friction finishes on my pens. To apply them, I crank the speed up as fast as it goes in order to melt the finish into the wood. Plus, different materials and woods will require you to use different speeds.

-- Todd, Richfield MN

View MinnesotaMick's profile


15 posts in 4321 days

#9 posted 02-10-2008 02:37 PM

The reviews I have read, rate the PSI mini as hard to work with, and rough…the jet mini, I have had for years in VS…only must really crank on the handle to keep the tailstock from creeping…other than that , she is a winner….have you considered the rikon mini?? It has received good reviews

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4393 days

#10 posted 02-11-2008 05:28 AM

I ended going with the Turncrafter from PSI. So far I’m please, I need a better set of turning tools, though. I do have to say that the manual was useless – you better have some experience with lathe work if you wnat to get this up and running.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Woodtreker's profile


37 posts in 4597 days

#11 posted 10-03-2008 07:38 PM

I bought the Steel City Mini Lathe… I has worked great for me… Easy to change the speed…

-- Derrel Frankfort, KY

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4147 days

#12 posted 10-03-2008 07:44 PM

for pen making I recently bought the Delta Midi lathe it’s a little beauty can highly recommend it good luck.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Kieth's profile


39 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 10-26-2009 10:43 PM

If you dont mind me butting in here, I bought the non VS Jet because I heard that you could only go between 2 speeds on the VS out of 5 possible… so you would still need to manually change to higher or lower gears as needed. So saved $100 and went a little less fancy, plus I’m in no hurry. This info came from another forum source so take it with a grain of salt and dont shoot the messenger. heck, I havent even received my lathe yet!

View Dillon C.'s profile

Dillon C.

4 posts in 2898 days

#14 posted 01-03-2012 09:14 AM

I’m trying to decide between the PSI and JET, to. I think that the PSI will suit me better,and have less of an impact on my wallet, but then again, I may go with the JET. I see pros and cons to both.

-- Duct Tape is like the Force, it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the world together...

View moke's profile


1453 posts in 3338 days

#15 posted 01-03-2012 08:14 PM

Jets line of lathes have issues with the switches, but turncrafters are not a quality lathe from any aspect. PSI has periodic customer service issues, and the starter kits are full of things that you will only use temporarily. I think you could do better by picking a pen turners brain, and buying off the shelf individually.

I would get the Jet, buy a extra switch off of a parts site ( usually last a couple of years) , just to have on hand, buy a minimal amount of starter tools and have some fun!!

-- Mike

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