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Forum topic by OnhillWW posted 10-20-2019 02:34 PM 573 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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OnhillWW

193 posts in 1768 days


10-20-2019 02:34 PM

I do not have a lathe but I am looking to purchase a Mini or Midi sized Lathe. I plan to use it for making small bowels and the occasional tool handle. I did a Google search for a review of Lathes and 98% of the “reviews” are worthless and I suspect sponsored / biased one way or another. Could someone point me in the direction of a decent group review of lathes. I come to this with the “buy once, cry once” philosophy , I want a unit that performs well and holds up over time. I have a serious limiter in my search in that it cannot draw over 20A on 110V as that is what I am limited to in my shop. Upgrading my service to my stand alone shop is price prohibitive. Thanks.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad


24 replies so far

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Wildwood

2756 posts in 2670 days


#1 posted 10-20-2019 03:12 PM

Mini lathes are least expensive than midi but both have advantages. Mini lathe might work well with your budget but if intend to turn smaller spindles. Midi lathe will allow you to turn bigger bowls and longer spindles. Would definitely look at optional bed extensions too. Of course shop around for price & sales for these lathes. The most expensive option is the Nova 1624 but with optional bed extension will give you a full size lathe designed for small shops.

Delta:
https://www.amazon.com/Delta-Industrial-46-460-2-Inch-Variable-Speed/dp/B00309ZZRQ/ref=sr_1_1?hvadid=77927941469510&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvqmt=e&keywords=delta+midi+lathe&qid=1571583053&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/NOVA-71118-Comet-Variable-Speed/dp/B07HFQRK6D/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=midi+lathe&qid=1571583518&sr=8-5

Jet:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BGBVJCU?aaxitk=9cFKcireiV7L6SiasfSKsg&pd_rd_i=B00BGBVJCU&pf_rd_p=44fc3e0f-4b9e-4ed8-b33b-363a7257163d&hsa_cr_id=7411943950201&sb-ci-n=productDescription&sb-ci-v=JET%20JWL-1221VS%2012-Inch%20by%2021-Inch%20Variable%20Speed%20Wood%20Lathe

Rikon:
https://www.amazon.com/RIKON-Power-Tools-70-220VSR-Lathe/dp/B00SOR476O/ref=sr_1_3?crid=TQDSY6JQU9UP&keywords=rikon+midi+lathe+model+70-220vsr&qid=1571583182&sprefix=rikon+midi+lathe%2Caps%2C203&sr=8-3

Nova 1624:
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/nova-1624-ii-lathe

Besides the lathe will need turning tools for both Bowls & spindles. A sharpening system to keep those tools sharp. For repeatability will need a jig whether home made or commercial.

-- Bill

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Wildwood

2756 posts in 2670 days


#2 posted 10-20-2019 03:20 PM

For turning tools and other accessories would look online or order a free catalog. Catalogs might be easier to work with.

PSI
https://www.pennstateind.com/

Craft Supplies USA
https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/

Packard Woodworks
https://www.packardwoodworks.com/

-- Bill

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Phil32

687 posts in 439 days


#3 posted 10-20-2019 03:40 PM

I have never had a problem with running a lathe on a 20A circuit and have had several over the years, but you have to consider what else is running on the same circuit.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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OnhillWW

193 posts in 1768 days


#4 posted 10-20-2019 03:41 PM

Wildwood thanks for the info / links. I was hoping to find a side by side review if mini or midis. I have read through many of the individual reviews on LJ and find them very helpful but they rarely contrast the lathe in review with other lathe alternatives. As with many reviews most are based on short term use which can be useful but VFDs or switches and bearings that fail a year later don’t enter the discussion. I said buy once cry once but that does not necessarily mean the most expensive as with most tools you hit a price point of diminishing returns. From what I have read so far the Robust Scout looks to be a great choice and if a lathe was going to be a primary tool in my shop I’d go that route but I cant believe that at some price point below that I can’t get a great lathe that will hold up. The Jet JWL-1221VS looks nice but bearing and switch issues could be a problem?

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

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LesB

2216 posts in 3978 days


#5 posted 10-20-2019 05:20 PM

In the case of lathes as with most tools you get what you pay for in quality and features but a lathe is so basic in it’s operation that any of the name brands would serve your purpose for many years; even Grizzly whose over all quality has improved over the past 10+ years. It would be hard to compare Jet to Robust but PowerMatic would be comparable for quality and features. Also, I consider bearings to be a general service item for most power tools.

I would evaluate the features in making a choice such as; can you turn on the outboard side for larger diameter items, variable speed, in your case voltage requirements, cast iron beds and heads, sturdy stands, the quality of the motor, and do they require special (non standard) accessories. When turning a heavy blank is the tool stable enough to dampen out of balance vibrations. I once had to use sand bags to hold the rather light weight lathe steady.

My first lathe a Delta/Rockwell 3 speed lathe ran for 20 years without a problem (except a pulley broke once) and my current PowerMatic has been going 12 years (with heavy use) with no bearing problem.

-- Les B, Oregon

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hairy

2962 posts in 4067 days


#6 posted 10-20-2019 05:52 PM

Have you looked at Oneway? https://oneway.ca/products-category/lathes?product_id=441

-- Genghis Khan and his brother Don, couldn't keep on keeping on...

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Hockey

173 posts in 947 days


#7 posted 10-20-2019 05:53 PM

OnhillWW, you stated “[t]he Jet JWL-1221VS looks nice but bearing and switch issues could be a problem?”. I don’t know where you saw that as an issue; but, I have never heard of it. I have had my 1221vs for about 1.5 years now with regular use, and it has no problems whatsoever. It also has a 5 year warranty. Great midi lathe in it’s performance.

As for reviews and references, try the AAW Turning forum, as well as the You Tube videos available.

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PaulDoug

2215 posts in 2239 days


#8 posted 10-20-2019 06:30 PM

Any local turning clubs you could visit. Great place to get experience and info, could probably even try some different lathes…

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

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LeeMills

684 posts in 1836 days


#9 posted 10-20-2019 07:03 PM

I’m not sure I have ever heard of a “group review”; almost by default it is one’s own opinion.
I bought the Nova Comet for my daughter due to her limited space. It has worked well with no problems for about six years but it is tough to turn anything over 10” diameter.
I have the Nova 1624 (about 12 – 14 years) with no problems. JMHO but I would go for the size and power (1.5HP) over the smaller lathes. You do have to move the belt but that is about 1 minute. I never have needed to change the speed on spindle turning and usually only once for bowl, platter, vase, etc. turning. Once in a blue moon I change the speed twice on the latter.
It also allows you to turn much larger, like a platter, if you ever have the itch.
CPO has it for $1150 and free shipping.
https://www.cpooutlets.com/nova-24221-115v-1-5-hp-wood-lathe/nvan24221,default,pd.html

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

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Phil32

687 posts in 439 days


#10 posted 10-20-2019 08:25 PM



OnhillWW, you stated “[t]he Jet JWL-1221VS looks nice but bearing and switch issues could be a problem?”. I don t know where you saw that as an issue; but, I have never heard of it. . . .

- Hockey

I had a Central Machinery lathe from HF. It had a toggle switch on the headstock that quickly got filled with sawdust and quit working. I solved the problem by installing a plastic flap over the switch (after cleaning it out.)

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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mike02719

164 posts in 4321 days


#11 posted 10-21-2019 02:31 AM

I think you are overthinking lathe selection. All of the major names will serve most users well. I am on my third lathe only because I wanted features that I didn’t have. None of them used more than 20A. Do not buy one because you only want to things you are interested in at present. You will find new interests. The reviews found on LJ’s are very useful and helpful. My advice would be to select one that is standard. Such as spindle size, tool rest size, etc. Variable speed is very important and should not be avoided at any price.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

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RPhillips

1287 posts in 2371 days


#12 posted 10-21-2019 03:18 AM



OnhillWW, you stated “[t]he Jet JWL-1221VS looks nice but bearing and switch issues could be a problem?”. I don t know where you saw that as an issue; but, I have never heard of it. I have had my 1221vs for about 1.5 years now with regular use, and it has no problems whatsoever. It also has a 5 year warranty. Great midi lathe in it s performance.

As for reviews and references, try the AAW Turning forum, as well as the You Tube videos available.

- Hockey


I have the same lathe, no issues here either. Solid machine.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

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ibewjon

1035 posts in 3328 days


#13 posted 10-21-2019 09:55 AM

Don’t skip old American iron. I bought a 1973 powermatic 90 several years back for $450. Large, heavy cast iron. You mentioned power requirements, but not your available real estate in the shop for a full size machine. If you have the floorspace, a 90 is a great, almost in breakable machine. The weight helps to dampen vibration. I recently added a digital speed display to mine.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2756 posts in 2670 days


#14 posted 10-21-2019 12:00 PM

Already mentioned stick with major brands from known tool vendors (manufacturers) and sellers. Today’s manufacturers are tool importers that buy by container full. You hope never to have to use their warranties. Sending a lathe back to their repair facilities at your expense hoping you get it back in a short time or new lathe not what you want. Also have to pay attention to stores return, restocking fees & refund policy today.

None of the brands mentioned did not come with some minor cosmetic or serious defects upon launch. Most issues but not all have been taken care of. Majority of brand named lathes come without problems today. Minor problems normally resolved by getting right customer service rep and explaining problem(s) calmly.

I agree with what you said about online reviews from vendor. There are also many good & bad posts on different message boards on all brands from folks that bought these lathes and customer service and own them for awhile. Only honest answer is scouring different boards search feature for honest answers.

Have had good luck with Jet mini & 1642 with both quality and service. Mini bought on sale & sold for half of what it cost after several years. 1642 required new on/off switch once out of warranty. Paid $55 and no shipping. If were going to down size would buy the Jet midi!

-- Bill

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OSU55

2437 posts in 2525 days


#15 posted 10-21-2019 12:12 PM

I assume you have never turned. IMO its impossible to really know what features of a lathe you will end up valuing based on how you like to turn, not on how someone else prefers to do it. Various steps in projects can be accomplished several ways, all acceptable, but different people develop different preferences. An example: I prefer a rotating headstock so I can hollow bowls without extending over the bed rails. Another way to do this is remove the tailstock and slide the headstock to the other end. Some of these tailstocks are pretty hefty. This method also requires outboard tool rest support which can be a challenge.

My point is re-evaluate your buy once cry once approach. You have no idea what you dont know about turning. You can spend a bunch and find you want different features and need to spend a bunch again, or decide turning isnt that great and have a lot of $ tied up in something you dont use much. If $ is of any concern, dont start with a $4000 robust scout. Start with ~$500-$800 new or used, learn to turn, decide what features you want or need, then start looking for the buy once lathe. You may decide a 20” or bigger lathe is what you want.

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