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Forum topic by Alle9 posted 09-07-2020 09:50 PM 609 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


09-07-2020 09:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe beginner essentials accessories set up pen turning

Hello all, I have a son who has been carving/whittling by hand for years. He has been begging for a lathe to try turning for years now. I’d like to finally get him one for his upcoming birthday. He’d like to make pens, but I have a feeling he will also like to try some bigger things as he’s just getting started in blacksmithing. So I’d like a lathe that is capable of more but one that he can use to start making pens right away. According to my research there are different attachments and things required depending on the items you’d like to make. I keep getting more confused the more I try to sort it all out. Would you all be able to help me choose a lathe in the $500 range and then tell me piece by piece what else I would need to get in order for him to Be able to make a pen with the lathe right off the bat? I would be very grateful. I was hoping to find a good used lathe on Craigslist or another site, but am not finding anything that looks worthwhile That doesn’t look like they want almost as much as new prices, so I guess actually new is the way to go. But if there is an old, reliable model that you might suggest setting an alert for that would be welcomed as well. Thanks for your help!


15 replies so far

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Snowbeast

140 posts in 2225 days


#1 posted 09-07-2020 10:57 PM

Take a look at a Shopsmith on Craigslist. It will give you pretty much all of the major tools (table saw, disc sander, drill press, lathe…) you would need to start on pens and will do basically any other wood working you may need. Many folks talk bad about them because they are a multi-tool that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg but for those of us that use them, they are excellent tools.

As far as penturning, check out www.penturners.org . There is a wealth of info there to read through and lots of folks eager to answer any questions. Also quite a few vendors that provide just about anything pen related. It has been so long since I turned a pen that I’ve forgotten most of the nitty-gritty details.

Good luck with the search and don’t forget to post pics of whatever he makes, pens or otherwise.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2093 posts in 3680 days


#2 posted 09-07-2020 11:18 PM

I found an electronic variable speed at menards and it has been very good for $ $100 on a close out. Looks like many small lathes, including the Grizzly T25926, which is $ 395 new. I would not want a lathe where I had to move a belt for speed change. ( started with one ) I like carbide tools, although the purists shun them. Get a round cutter and a chisel with square, and slightly radius cutters. Easy Wood Tools easy start tools will cost $60 for each chisel. So that is $520 plus tax and shipping. A great starting setup and much better than what I started with in 1973. Great for pens , Christmas ornaments, and other small turnings.

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WoodenDreams

1164 posts in 798 days


#3 posted 09-07-2020 11:26 PM

Easy to spend someone elses money. Turning can be a addictive hobby and very easy to spend on a lot of money on accessories, chucks, turning supplies, chisels, etc. I’d start out with no less than a 1/2 hp lathe. And upgrade or add a nicer lathe later.

Many companies out there for kits, turning supplies and lathes. Most offer free catalogs. Rockler.com, woodcraft.com, Packardwoodworks.com, woodturngz.com, pennstateind.com, ptreeusa.com, leevalley.com just to name a few.

Carbide turning tools have less of a learning curve verses the other turning chisels. But more expensive. One advantage is less sharpening, just a matter of rotating the cutter inserts and replacing inserts when worn (about $16 each). The starter pen sets are about $70 https://www.rockler.com/starter-pen-turning-kit, they usually include enough to turn 3 or 4 pens.

A Harbor freight lathe is inexpensive starter lathe https://www.harborfreight.com/5-speed-bench-top-wood-lathe-65345.html?_br_psugg_q=lathe.

Then you have Grizzly https://www.grizzly.com/wood-lathes?rankBy=price+asc

Then there’s Penn State Ind. They offer package deals. https://www.pennstateind.com/store/KWL-10SSB.html Penn State Ind I think is a good choice.

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mike02719

256 posts in 4673 days


#4 posted 09-08-2020 01:00 AM

As said before, there is no end to the amount of money you can spend on turning. I can assure you that the lathe will cost you less than all the other things needed. The good news is most of the other equipment will be used on your next lathe. If you buy a decent midi lathe, you won’t loose much when you move up to a larger one. All of the popular names are good. Nova, Grizzily, Jet, and my favorite, Lugana to name a few will serve you well and be easy to sell. Be sure to look at variable speed and as heavy as possible. Also bandsaw, grinder, drill press, table saw, sander, etc, etc. You get the picture no end.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#5 posted 09-08-2020 01:25 AM

Thanks so much for the advice, everyone. I can see that there is no one way to go, and honestly Craigslist has been failing me in my consistent searches both for lathes and for drill presses which I’d really like to add ASAP, as well. I guess everyone else nearby has the same goals that I do at the moment. I found a Lincoln welder in great shape with some accessories about a month ago and that seems to be where my luck ended!
With my son’s birthday coming up at the end of the month and shipping taking so long I kinda want to nail this down and not just cross my fingers I’ll score something later. The all inclusive Pennstateind link you shared looked appealing, WoodenDreams, but it’s out of stock, as are most of the rest of their packages. This version is the only one still in stock: https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKPMSPEC.html
Are there any downsides to this package deal other than that I might find a better deal/more powerful lathe on Craigslist if I wait and get a better bang for my buck? Is it more difficult to use or are there other limits, lack of adjustability or complicating factors I should consider for a first lathe?
I really appreciate your expertise and will be looking into the other suggestions and brand names, as well!

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WoodenDreams

1164 posts in 798 days


#6 posted 09-08-2020 05:19 AM

The Turncrafter 10” is a 3/4 hp w/variable speed and lamp. It’s not a bad lathe. It was one of the one of the eight Midi’s I compared with before I bought the Rikon 70-220VSR. I don’t turn pens, I got my lathe to turn Segmented Urns. As mentioned with the costs that can add up. The Commander 10” PKPMSPEC package includes quite a bit. Enough to turn 23 pens. If you do get a different lathe, Penn State Ind does offer six different ‘Pen making Starter Sets’ without the lathe. And the blanks are predrilled. You should think about getting a Mandrel Saver (helps to keep from bending a pen mandrel).

Have you checked ‘facebook Marketplace’ for a used lathe. Maybe check a local woodworkers club. Someone in the club may have a extra lathe for sale.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#7 posted 09-08-2020 04:59 PM

Thanks for the Facebook marketplace suggestion! I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t use Facebook much. Most I saw there were the same ones I’d seen on Craigslist but there was a Delta 12” variable speed with some tools that they are asking $325 for. It doesn’t say what the model is and it says the bed is 36 inches. Is that too big if you want to make small things like pens and rings, etc? I’m trying to post a screenshot, let’s see if it works.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#8 posted 09-08-2020 05:00 PM

Try number 2.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#9 posted 09-10-2020 01:51 AM

I just went ahead and got the Penn State Ind set up. Thanks again for all of your help, everyone.

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WoodenDreams

1164 posts in 798 days


#10 posted 09-10-2020 05:05 AM

I’ve been out of town, so didn’t respond. What’s in the picture $325 is too much. looks like a Harbor Freight lathe https://www.harborfreight.com/12-inch-x-33-3-8-eighth-inch-wood-lathe-with-reversible-head-34706.html?_br_psugg_q=wood+lathe . In some of the woodworking magazines, HF offers super coupons for $299 once and awhile for that style lathe. But you still need to add the costs for additional accessories. I think you’ll enjoy the Turncrafter lathe, I think it’s a better lathe than the Delta pictured. Later on you may consider the extension bed if you decide to turn longer spindles. As we all mentioned, Easy to spend moola for all the extra options in turning. Rockler has Nova chucks on sale quite often (just for future info).

Around here in the Craft Shows, they get $25-$30 for the slim line pen and $35-$40 for the bolt action style. So you could possibly get your costs back over time. Add pepper mills, seam rippers, long shoe horns, pizza cutters, pocket watches, potpourri bowls and garden tools to the mix, and you could become a craftshow vendor. Have fun.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#11 posted 09-10-2020 01:44 PM

Thanks, woodendreams! Yeah, really all the lathes in the area seemed like they were asking basically new prices. Drill presses are the same way, sadly. Might be a while before we can add one of those. But I’m happy I went ahead and ordered the Penn State lathe. It has already shipped! I think my son will love it and we can add extensions and things over time. He’d love to start a little business and make really unique creations with wood and resin, and having a lathe will certainly add to the fun. Thanks for the ideas and cost info! We’ll see what he comes up with. Thanks again for your help!

Also, after rereading, what is a Nova chuck?

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2093 posts in 3680 days


#12 posted 09-10-2020 01:49 PM

Nova is just a brand of chucks. I use a Penn State chuck on my Powermatic 90 lathe with no complaints. A chuck is another tool for holding work on a lathe. It grips the work from one end instead of both ends. For turning bowls, vases, ect.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#13 posted 09-10-2020 02:17 PM

Ah, thank you, ibewjon!

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2658 posts in 2877 days


#14 posted 09-19-2020 01:38 AM

PSI should have most accessories that you will need. If your son is getting into blacksmithing, making your own insert holders for carbide should be easy, although I recommend hss tools. Bens Best at PSI are excellent starter tools.

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Alle9

8 posts in 53 days


#15 posted 09-25-2020 02:31 AM

Thanks for the info, OSU55!

Follow up question, does anyone have any great suggestions for YouTube channels, online tutorials or even digital classes for learning to use a lathe? The pen making video that came with the kit was fairly dated and lacking. One thing it was clear on was that the slimline pen tubes should be slightly shorter than the blanks you glue them into, so that you can square the ends and make them even and flush to the tubes without actually removing any metal from the tubes. However the blanks they sent were cut a bit shorter than the tubes to begin with, so they are flush on one side and protrude slightly from the other, which doesn’t seem like the best start.

If anyone has any advice for us about tubes that are too long for precut blanks, or any links for lathe beginners we would appreciate it!

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