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Beginner: What lathe to buy?

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Forum topic by PPK posted 07-31-2018 02:30 PM 1486 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PPK

1579 posts in 1372 days


07-31-2018 02:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I currently own this lathe. If you can call it that. It does not work at all well. It flexes so badly it’s hard to turn anything, and I consider it pretty dangerous.

I would like to get a lathe, for $500 or less, hopefully?

My needs:
-I do NOT plan to turn bowls.
-I want to be able to turn spindles up to 30” for table legs, etc.
-I want to be able to turn tool handles, etc.
-I don’t really want a floor standing model, because I’ll put it away when not in use. Limited shop space, like everyone else.

What are your recommendations??

I have this local craigslist type posting, that’s not too far from me, is this a good deal?
https://www.bismanonline.com/bismarck_nd/delta_12_variable_speed_wood_lathe_model_46_700

-- Pete


19 replies so far

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2552 days


#1 posted 07-31-2018 02:51 PM

The HF 34706 would be perfect for you. Review here. With discounts probably less than $300. The reeves drive on mine has worked flawlessly since I properly serviced it at the beginning. It has common tapers and spindle thread to accept readily available chucks and and live and drive centers. It is worlds better than what you have, and can turn bowls well if you decide to. HF also has a decent tool set for spindle turning – see review. Here are tool handles made on the lathe. You can bench mount it if desired and then stand it up when not using, but it will be a bit heavy for that as will any decent lathe for the length you want. There are other choices, but I dont think for under $500 and they wont do any better for spindle work than this one.

View moke's profile

moke

1453 posts in 3338 days


#2 posted 07-31-2018 06:40 PM

You might be able to find a used Midi lathe…Jet, Rikon or Delta with extensions. I just sold one about a year ago for 500.00 with floor stand and wheels. The thing that is not impractical about your request is for it to not be a floor model. You need that solid base and they might be heavy. In fact if you could bolt your current model down that might stop some flexing….maybe.
Just my .02

-- Mike

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RobHannon

322 posts in 1093 days


#3 posted 07-31-2018 07:04 PM

That looks like my first “lathe” as well and my experience with it was frustrating to say the least.

I now have and would recommend the HF34706, but it is pretty big to move around if not attached to a base with wheels. Doable, but not convenient. Any lathe that will have a bed long enough for 30” spindles should have some mass to it as well. If it doesn’t you probably will not be happy with it.

I don’t know much about the model in the ad, but at first glance it seems like a decent deal with the extras it includes. It looks to be a reeves drive as well so I would look over the pulleys before committing. It is not uncommon for them to get cracked and replacement parts are sometimes priced to encourage customers to buy a new lathe.

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Underdog

1414 posts in 2598 days


#4 posted 07-31-2018 07:34 PM

That was my first lathe too. I wound up literally nailing it to the worktop so it wouldn’t walk off the bench on one of my first turnings. Didn’t have a clue what I was doing either. I dull-scraped lighthouse glue-up into shape between centers.
Boy. Talk about tearout.
I wound up making a torsion box type bed screwed into the rails to keep the centers from spreading out so bad. Once the bearings fell out of the spindle, I moved it on.

After I got rid of it, as well as an old gap-bed Rockwell, and another HF special, and finally got a 1014 Jet mini. I used it for a long time before getting the Jet 1642. And then the 1642 motor shaft got bent somehow. I sold it off and, and now I have a Stratos made by Colt. (Not real common.) (I still have the Jet mini!)

If I wanted to turn stuff smaller than about 8” diameter I’d go for a Jet or Rikon mini. If I wanted something a bit bigger, I’d spring for something by Grizzly. I’m not a fan of the HF stuff. ESPECIALLY don’t get anything with a Reeves drive. Some folks don’t mind ‘em, but I really dislike them.

If money wasn’t a problem I’d go for the Jet 1642, or PM3520.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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Wildwood

2769 posts in 2697 days


#5 posted 07-31-2018 08:24 PM

New Delta 46-700 was my second wood lathe, and had trouble with in less than thirty days. Ended up removing the cover, reeves drive, adding a pulley wheel on the spindle, making a swinging bracket for bolted to side of the bed. To change speeds stopped lathe an lifted motor in & moved the belt along the pulley wheels. If you lived here could have in stopped by and picked it up. Needs new bearings & belt.

If have a harbor freight near you might have a look at their 12” x 33-3/8” lathe. You can read the reviews here and on their web site. Also take a look at their $80 & $65 spindle tool sets if need tools.

-- Bill

View LeeMills's profile

LeeMills

685 posts in 1863 days


#6 posted 07-31-2018 09:14 PM

I have never had a reeves drive so I have no history with one. The chuck appears to be a metal working chuck and not a wood working chuck.
Either would be about $50 over your budget but Grizzly has an 12” and there is the Nova Comet2. Price would include the bed extension to give you the length for your table legs. On the plus they would be new with warranty and have electronic speed. My daughter has had her Comet 4-5 years with no problem.
Just food for thought; both are about $450 without extensions.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5777 posts in 3794 days


#7 posted 07-31-2018 09:44 PM

Those stamped sheet metal lathes like you have are, well frightening. Although I have seen one guy, and ONLY one that reinforced the rails somehow to stiffen it up a LOT… More work than it is worth IMHO…

The Harbor Freight / Central Machinery item #34706 is a shockingly good lathe for very little cash layout. It fits your budget, and will do everything you are asking of it, and more.

Current price is $329.99 and at least when I got mine, they took the 25% off coupon that comes up from time to time…

The Windsor Design chisel set, the HSS one is a pretty decent set for basic units. Item #69723

You will likely want a chuck.

A face shield is a MUST.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2083 posts in 725 days


#8 posted 08-01-2018 12:02 PM

I can only offer information on the Harbor Freight 12×33” model.
I have had two of them with zero issues. they do the jobs
that hobbyists normally do. it has the reeves drive which means
no drive belts or electronic speed control. the only drawback for me
is the minimum slow speed is pretty high. it takes the standard 1”x8 threaded
attachments and the tapered insert tools such as the center bearings and chucks.
for the stability, reliability, and functionality, I would go with this one
if you had the funds to justify it. HF-34706
even the 8 piece Turning Tool set is worth the $20 for a beginner.


.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1414 posts in 2598 days


#9 posted 08-01-2018 12:34 PM


I can only offer information on the Harbor Freight 12×33” model.
I have had two of them with zero issues. they do the jobs
that hobbyists normally do. it has the reeves drive which means
no drive belts or electronic speed control. the only drawback for me
is the minimum slow speed is pretty high.
- John Smith

Actually the Reeves Drive has a drive belt. It’s a regular v-belt which rides up and down in an adjustable width pulley which gives you the variable speed – without manually changing the belt to another pulley. The pulley itself is very light duty and made of some kind of aluminum/zinc alloy. The one I had was not aligned properly and was wearing the belt out enough that it was banging the side of the housing. When I went to adjust the alignment (after the WD-40 application and removing the set screw) and pried on the pulley to slide it over on the shaft, the pulley broke into a zillion pieces. Whether I was ham-handed when I attempted to move it or not, the fact is that it’s rather cheaply made.

Some folks love this lathe, and some folks like me, are leery of it. Just be aware of the idiosyncrasies of it before you purchase.

I do recommend the larger set of HF HSS tools though. I wouldn’t get the carbon steel set, because you’ll find yourself having to sharpen way too much.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View PPK's profile

PPK

1579 posts in 1372 days


#10 posted 08-01-2018 01:19 PM

Wow, thanks for all the input, fellers! I did end up picking up the HF lathe yesterday, and got it set up. I was pretty impressed with how much lathe I got for the money. Huge improvement over what I’ve got.

I really like the reeves drive concept – I’ve got a drill press that has one, and changing speeds on it is way easy…
I hope that the one on this lathe performs well for me. I could be wrong, but isn’t it better in a way than electronic variable speed? Don’t you lose power when you turn down the speed of an electric motor??

Anyway, I’m excited to get making something. OSU, I do plan on making some carbide cutters. I’ve always wanted to try them, plus I like making tools.

I’m pulling the motor out of the old lathe and junking the rest… happy day!

-- Pete

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2083 posts in 725 days


#11 posted 08-01-2018 02:12 PM

Pete – good job !!
I bought my first HF lathe new wayyyyyy back when and it served me well
for over 20 years. I bought the second one used about 5 years ago (and it was
lightly used 5 years old then). I have never had a reason to remove the gearcase
covers from either one so I have no idea of the quality of the innards of it.
so if you want to open it up just for information sake, it may be a good idea.
as with all machinery, quality and workmanship goes down hill with the price of
raw materials and rising costs of production. so the HF merchandise that was made
40 years ago, may not be up to the same standards of today’s market.
there are a lot of good tutorials on YouTube on how to make the carbide turning tools.
good luck in all your endeavors.

and I was referring the belt drive to the double pulley system where you have to
manually change belt position for different speeds. I know the Reeves Drive has a drive belt.
I just didn’t explain it in depth.

.

.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1414 posts in 2598 days


#12 posted 08-01-2018 03:04 PM

Congratulations on the lathe purchase!
You’re going to love turning.

If you get into it a lot, do get a local turner to help you learn the basics of cutting rather than scraping. It’ll make life much more enjoyable. AT least learn to use a roughing gouge. Scraping a spindle from square to round will tend to beat you up. A roughing gouge will take care of that in a matter of seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, scraping has its place, but if you learn to slice the wood rather than scrape it, you’ll make much cleaner spindle work.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2769 posts in 2697 days


#13 posted 08-01-2018 03:45 PM

Is a reeves drive better than electronic variable speed? If can afford an EVS lathe buy it you will never look back! I prefer moving belt over pulleys to a Asian reeves drive lathe due to ability to fix it when things go south. Cannot say that about my old Jet EVS lathe. Although did replace on/off switch on it.

Strongly agree with Underdog cutting versus scraping and learning produce off the tool finish. Only advantage see carbide tool have if turning lot of exotic woods, bone, and antler.

Carbide cutters must be replaced eventually, where as even inexpensive tools can last for years with simple re-sharpening.

Good luck with new lathe and enjoy making your carbide tools.

1

-- Bill

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2450 posts in 2552 days


#14 posted 08-01-2018 08:34 PM

A Reeves drive is just as good as evs for spindle turning, the ~650 rpm low speed is low enough for 10” dia spindle turning, which not many people do. As stated in my review I recommend you take the thing apart and clean things up, especially where the drive pulleys slide, and put a little grease there. Everywhere else use paste wax so sawdust doesnt collect.

However you decide to mount the lathe, the base you attach it to needs at least a 100# or more of weight for when you mount an offbalance piece. Unless the lathe vibrates with no blank, it isnt a lathe issue its a lack of ballast issue.

I made the carbide tools, tried them, learned how to properly sharpen and use gouges, and the carbide stays in the tool rack the majority of the time – they see some hollowing use. Not a fan of carbide – prefer hss scrapers. Take a look at PSI tools – not thebest but very good value for the $ for cutting tools, centers, chucks.

Talk of tools brings up grinding/ sharpening. What is your plan? If you have nothing I recommend an 8” slow speed grinder with the wolverine varigrind jig. There are several other ways. Don’t let anyone talk you into sharpening gouges w/o a jig. Scrapers, skews, roughing gouge a platform will work, but gouges need a jig unless you do it ervery day.

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PPK

1579 posts in 1372 days


#15 posted 08-01-2018 09:06 PM

Hmmm… yep, I’m pretty clueless as to the cutting vs. scraping methods of removing wood. I understand the difference, but how to achieve that in practice? I don’t know any wood turners, but I do have access to YouTube!

I have a sharpener…

Does that varigrind jig work on this, or is there a special “tormek” type jig I need? I can look it up.

And I’ll look up Penn State for turning tools. I have bought from them before, a dust collector, in fact.

-- Pete

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

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