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Good starter lathe?

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Forum topic by Gaffneylumber posted 02-18-2020 06:17 PM 730 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gaffneylumber

111 posts in 1839 days


02-18-2020 06:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool lathe turning question

Hey guys I’m looking to get a lathe to do some spindles and stuff. I bought a Walker Turner drill press from a guy off of marketplace recently and he sent me this old Craftsman lathe he was about to put up for sell. I hardly know anything about turning so any advice is helpful. He’s asking $200 for everything. I could probably haggle some with him since I did so with the drill press. I really like old american made tools but would rather get something useful if lathe technology has come a long way over the years.

-- Grayson - South Carolina


14 replies so far

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2270 posts in 3804 days


#1 posted 02-18-2020 07:03 PM

I had something like that for a first lathe 40+ years ago, and it was a place to start. But there are a lot better starter lathes for the money. That would be a nice piece to restore for display.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8422 posts in 3210 days


#2 posted 02-18-2020 07:05 PM

Looks like a ~1935/6 9”x30” model #454. Not a bad starter lathe, although it does have it’s limitations – such as only having MT1 (Morse taper) tapers in the headstock and tailstock. Not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of.

I think it would be a nice starter lathe for you, but IMO, $200 is a bit high for that lathe in it’s current condition. On the plus side, it does include a few tools – although it is hard to tell if they are worth anything or not just from the photo.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

1306 posts in 2113 days


#3 posted 02-18-2020 07:16 PM

5-10 years ago, I purchased one of the Jet midi lathes. It is well made and durable heavy cast iron. It has spindle clearance to turn 12” diameter. So, you can make decent size bowls. It is a bit short for spindles but, you can get a bed extension for it. Mine requires changing the drive belt position in order to change speed. They make variable speed models but, I’m not sure it would be worth the extra cost. In short, I think it is a good starter lathe or, in my case, a permanent one. Great for a small shop and/or occasional use.

I agree that $200 is too high for the Craftsman. I might pay $100 if all I planned to turn was spindles but, if you think you might want to turn some bowls, the spindle clearance is not enough.

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HokieKen

16686 posts in 2149 days


#4 posted 02-18-2020 07:45 PM

$200 is more than double what it’s probably worth but even at 1/2 that, I wouldn’t buy it.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

1441 posts in 2660 days


#5 posted 02-18-2020 08:25 PM

$100 or even $150 looks like a better deal than what I see on CL around here. Looks quite serviceable. I’m sure the tools are serviceable, but may require complete re-grinding and sharpening. Whine a lot and have a few 20’s in your hand. Only remembering a single bowl made in Jr. High, it is the tool that does the cutting. THe lathe just spins the wood.

Technology: As far as I can see, bigger, heftier, Iron is good. DVR electronic speed control. For a couple grand, you can get a nice tool. They all just make the wood go round.

Here is the good part. When you find it is not big enough for some great idea you tole the “boss” you can do, you can have the excuse to get that big slick super machine, old or new! All about strategy :)

( working my way into a new Laguna band saw. “safer” you know. I was doing well justifying a SawStop, but decided I don’t really like them)

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MrUnix

8422 posts in 3210 days


#6 posted 02-18-2020 11:30 PM

$200 is more than double what it s probably worth but even at 1/2 that, I wouldn t buy it.
- HokieKen

+1 I wouldn’t pay more than about $50 for it unless those are some high end turning tools!

Here is a $50 lathe that I picked up from CL – slightly newer but roughly the same condition and technology as that Craftsman (stepped pulley, bronze bushing bearings, MT1 tapers and odd sized 3/4-10 spindle):


(picture from CL ad)

It didn’t have any turning tools, but did include the spur and cup center, a face plate, a period correct Delta motor along with the line shafting and hangers, all on a heavy duty Delta stand. It had a few other non-lathe items as well, such as a complete Delta molding head cutter for my table saw, along with several profile cutter sets for it. I spent something like another $15 to restore it (paint, a new belt, and it was missing a carriage bolt). Didn’t really need to paint it, but lathes are super easy to clean up and make look like new with very little effort. It was a fantastic little lathe that I turned hundreds of projects on over many years, without spending another dime on it. I’m pretty sure you could do exactly the same with that Craftsman, and would come to appreciate it as much as I did my little Delta.

But if that Craftsman doesn’t pan out for you, don’t worry – another lathe will turn up shortly! For me, it’s always when you aren’t really looking for one that they turn up. Probably why I have 4 now (I had 5 until I sold that Delta above a few months ago).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Gaffneylumber's profile

Gaffneylumber

111 posts in 1839 days


#7 posted 02-19-2020 12:20 AM

Thanks for all of the help guys. This is good info. And Brad you are right about the good deals only being found when you aren’t looking. That’s a sweet deal for $50 but I’ve never seen any lathe for that cheap around here. I’m thinking about offering a $100 and he says no then move on. Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly are the limitations of mt1 tapers?

-- Grayson - South Carolina

View pottz's profile

pottz

14870 posts in 1995 days


#8 posted 02-19-2020 12:39 AM



5-10 years ago, I purchased one of the Jet midi lathes. It is well made and durable heavy cast iron. It has spindle clearance to turn 12” diameter. So, you can make decent size bowls. It is a bit short for spindles but, you can get a bed extension for it. Mine requires changing the drive belt position in order to change speed. They make variable speed models but, I m not sure it would be worth the extra cost. In short, I think it is a good starter lathe or, in my case, a permanent one. Great for a small shop and/or occasional use.

I agree that $200 is too high for the Craftsman. I might pay $100 if all I planned to turn was spindles but, if you think you might want to turn some bowls, the spindle clearance is not enough.

- bilyo


+1 love mine,i have the vs with the extension bed.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8422 posts in 3210 days


#9 posted 02-19-2020 12:53 AM

Thanks for all of the help guys. This is good info. And Brad you are right about the good deals only being found when you aren’t looking. That’s a sweet deal for $50 but I’ve never seen any lathe for that cheap around here.

Everyone says that… everyone :)

The problem is that the good deals don’t hang out for very long – so a dozen or so fantastic deals could come and go and you would never know it. It’s the so-so and worse deals that tend to hang out for any length of time, and is what everyone sees – prompting the ‘never seen…’ comment such as yours.

I’m thinking about offering a $100 and he says no then move on. Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly are the limitations of mt1 tapers?
- Gaffneylumber

$100 wouldn’t be too bad… the tools alone could be worth half that. The only limitation on the morse taper size is the availability of accessories. Most modern lathes use a MT2 taper, so not only is finding stuff a bit harder, but it also won’t transfer easily to a newer lathe should you decide to upgrade in the future. Same deal with the thread size of the spindle. It’s not really a deal breaker IMO, and I did just fine with the same setup for years without any problems. With the proper thread tap, you would be amazed at what you can do with a threaded glue block made from scrap 2x material you find daily in any construction site dumpster (or other stuff, like faceplates, mandrels, polishing cones, sanding discs, etc…).!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View unclebenny's profile

unclebenny

46 posts in 2888 days


#10 posted 02-19-2020 12:55 AM

Hi Grayson,

M t 1 taper is old school, all new lathes and accessories are m t 2 You can get an adapter for most chucks to make it work tho. Not sure if you can still buy spur drive, face plates and stuff for an m t 1 . That is a better lathe than the craftsman tube lathe I started with. It’s an addiction that’s hard to break once you start…

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Gaffneylumber

111 posts in 1839 days


#11 posted 02-19-2020 02:47 PM

Thanks everyone for the input. This gives me some tracks to run on in my search for a lathe. The guy didn’t take my $100 offer so I’m moving on to look for something hopefully with a mt2 taper.

-- Grayson - South Carolina

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

16686 posts in 2149 days


#12 posted 02-19-2020 03:43 PM



Thanks everyone for the input. This gives me some tracks to run on in my search for a lathe. The guy didn t take my $100 offer so I m moving on to look for something hopefully with a mt2 taper.

- Gaffneylumber

The guy made a mistake ;-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1326 posts in 914 days


#13 posted 02-19-2020 09:48 PM


Thanks everyone for the input. This gives me some tracks to run on in my search for a lathe. The guy didn t take my $100 offer so I m moving on to look for something hopefully with a mt2 taper.

- Gaffneylumber

Here ya go, the best “starter” lathe, solid & American-made(?). You just need to build the wooden bedways & legs, then find a flat belt pulley to put on an overhead jack-shaft or antique electric motor. LOL

-- Phil Allin - There are woodworkers and people who collect woodworking tools. The woodworkers have a chair to sit on that they made.

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Gaffneylumber

111 posts in 1839 days


#14 posted 03-20-2020 02:04 AM

So the guy contacted me recently and said he would do $100. I went it got it and spent a couple of evenings restoring it. I’ve had fun tinkering around with turning. I already see this lathe’s limitations but I think it will get me started. Thanks for all the input guys.

-- Grayson - South Carolina

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