WAS thinking about a MIDI lathe, not sure now

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Forum topic by tvrgeek posted 03-03-2021 08:50 PM 1139 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1749 posts in 2701 days

03-03-2021 08:50 PM

I remember how much fun turning was from High School shop. More than a few decades ago. I don’t have any real excuse other than I don’t have one, so I was considering a MIDI lathe. Went to a couple of stores for advice. Same brands pop up. Laguna, Rikon, Nova, Jet…

So went to look at the tool reviews here. Not encouraging. Seems most all the DVRs have or get issues. Lots of other issues that sound un-encouraging. I wonder, woudl I do better with a cheaper Griz or something. I worry though, cheaper belt drive tend to have smaller motors. I am guessing I want a HP at least. Just a guess.

I don’t have room for a full size, and I am not as concerned with price as it working. Well. Forever. Any specific recommendations? Any old ones I should be looking for?

32 replies so far

View 987Ron's profile


789 posts in 368 days

#1 posted 03-03-2021 09:16 PM

Purchased a Delta 46-250 midi lathe about 15 years ago. It is USA made. While I am not an avid turner I have turned feet for cabinets, bowls including segmented bowls, a few pens, etc. Segmented bowl I turned on my projects. It has served me well.
Replaced head stock bearings about 2 years ago, one was getting noisy. Did not get the bearings from Delta but a local ball bearing supply. The drive belt has been replaced twice. I keep an extra on hand.
Wanted to find the bed extension but they are discontinued by Delta. Made one out of Oak. Not as solid but works.
Cons are parts from Delta as with all older tools, hard to find. To change speed one must move belt to alternate pulleys, not difficult. Motor is one speed. There is a kit to change the motor to an adjustable speed from Penn State Ind. Has an upper and lower range, requires moving belt to alternate pullies. I do not have that.
Have not information on other lathes new or older.
Hope this hel[s.

-- Ron

View Andre's profile


4449 posts in 2858 days

#2 posted 03-03-2021 10:05 PM

I was on my way to buy a Rikon a few years ago, came across a grand opening sale and ended getting a King 12/18.
With the money I saved got some tools a set of easy wood carbides and a Nova G 3 chuck!
Fantastic little lathe for small stuff under a foot dia. an the the V.S. great for pens! Not a single problem yet.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Loren's profile


11141 posts in 4700 days

#3 posted 03-03-2021 10:29 PM

I have a small lathe that doesn’t have a bed extension, a Record. I otherwise like it except for a few quibble like the tool rest tightens down with a bolt to avoid something sticking up. Anyway, I wish it were longer or I could add an extension when I wanted to though in terms of storage it’s great.

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1749 posts in 2701 days

#4 posted 03-03-2021 10:46 PM

Darn, just looked at the specs for the small Harvey. BIG jump in price so if the feature got me, I need to look at a lot more.

Found some comments the issues Rikon had with DVR were resolved.

King 12-18 looks nice, but no outboard turning. Not sure how important that is on a MIDI. Seems if you need to spin something that big, you need a bigger lathe. Under $500! If course, have to add in the endless rabbit hole of tools and accessories. That much I understand.

I suspect this is a highly competitive market and the differences aren’t great.

View StarBright's profile


38 posts in 338 days

#5 posted 03-03-2021 10:56 PM

Check out the Jet 1221 variable speed.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


978 posts in 2514 days

#6 posted 03-03-2021 11:33 PM

So funny, a member on a face book page I follow is in the same spot.

First off, I would look hard a used lathes. If you can find your local Woodturning club. You may very well find a good deal on used equipment.

Second what do yo want to turn? A midi is a fine lathe for may projects. But are you doing furniture work? You may want to look at a lathe with a long enough bed extension to deal with that. Below I talk about how much I like the Laguna. But do you need a 16” swing option. I have that, and personally use it. but so far I am not doing much projects that need a lathe with a bed long enough for table leg length. I do have a lathe long enough, but that feature is unused at the moment.
Most Midi lathes only come with about 20” between centers. And if 12” swing covers what you want, and a long bed is desired. the Jet or Rikon may be a better deal for you.

Posted below, I was able to copy my comment from FB to here.
Part of it shows all the upgrades you can add to the Laguna. I would never do that. Cost a fortune, and be cheaper just to buy a big lathe. But I feel it does give the best options, since it has outboard turning capability.
That is if you want a 16” swing.

I am a fan of Jet and Laguna. I have used a Jet 1221vs. And larger Laguna, and Jet branded lathes. And I own a Jet 16X42.
Of the two 12” models. I like the Laguna because of the 16” outboard swing option. And available accessories.
This link shows it with everything. But the longer bed option is the main perk for me. But upgrades are there if wanted. Basic lathe on a budget to start with.
I have heard good things about the Rikon lathe too. But I have never used one. Seems like it is the same as the Jet, with different paint job. A lot of that out there. Many built in same factory to the brands specs. So small Suttle differences.

-- John

View OSU55's profile


2772 posts in 3041 days

#7 posted 03-04-2021 12:15 AM

Just because Grizzly lathes are cheaper doesnt mean they arent any good. One needs to understand a bit about what they are looking at in order to compare machines. Most lathes are belt drive (Nova direct drive DVR’s are the exception). You will find comments about problems with every machine, its the nature of manufacturing. Oneway and Robust arent perfect, but there arent a whole lot of them out there and people that pay that kind of $ arent gonna whine on a forum (both will fix their issues).

The more info you provide the better answers you can get. Based on the limited info you have provided, a Nova Saturn comes to mind, and 2 grizzly models – one is a 14” swing benchtop and the other is a 16” swing short bowl lathe. Best thing to do is find a turning club within a couple hours of you. The AAW has a site to look up chapters. Many of the clubs are meeting online. Some may be willing to show you their lathe, etc and educate you some on capabilities. Its difficult for someone in your position to know the right questions to ask.

View ibewjon's profile


2348 posts in 3845 days

#8 posted 03-04-2021 12:58 AM

Find the space for a full size machine. You won’t wish it was smaller, but will probably wish the midi was bigger. Why fool with bed extensions. I found a deal on a powermatic 90 for $450. Grabbed it and ran. It is a 1973 model, when it was US made and I was in grade school. Lots of them around. Yes, it has a reeves drive, but no problems with it. Just cut a hole in the shop wall for the extra length.

View pottz's profile


16138 posts in 2036 days

#9 posted 03-04-2021 01:14 AM

well ive started with delta midi lathe but now have a jet vs midi and love it.i only did small turnings like pens for years then just got into bowls lately and i have no issues makin bowls up to 10” which for the forsealble future is as big as i want to go.ive got a bed extension because i have made spindles that the standard bed wouldn’t do.ive got a few jet tools and the quality is great,never had an issue with any of them.

-- 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 tvrgeek's profile


1749 posts in 2701 days

#10 posted 03-04-2021 02:31 AM

I don’t know where those “lots around” of any good old tools are. Not around here. Maybe they go word of mouth before they every wind up open. Maybe an old Craftsman “tube” lathe for $500. ( Sold for what new? $99?)

Bigger is always better for wood, but when you flat don’t have the space, you don’t have the space.

I don’t have many specific projects in mind. Had a few over the years I had to do otherwise. I just remember how enjoyable it was many many years ago. I do want to make some bases for Chinese vases. So a small lathe project followed by some fret saw work. Another idea is related to another hobby of speaker building, but is a bit complicated. Then of course all kinds of things for family with more traditional taste then I.

As far as length, one can always dowel shorter pieces. Bigger than about 12 in diameter, won’t fit in a cabinet.

Griz has too small and too large. Smaller ones tool rest and post look a bit fragile. The Jet does look beefier.

Kind of a wild idea. Best maybe if I just keep watching for an old one. If it comes, great, If not, well I am not short of projects anyway.

View Kirk650's profile


735 posts in 1800 days

#11 posted 03-04-2021 03:05 AM

I used a Jet 1014VS for a number of years, and had the extension for it. It was a great lathe. I finally decided I wanted the next size up, so I got the 1221VS with extension and really do like it. The manager of the store where I got the 1221VS wanted the 1014VS, so I got nearly the full value of the 1014 from him.

Never had even the slightest problem with either lathe.

View Woodmaster1's profile


1701 posts in 3639 days

#12 posted 03-04-2021 03:21 AM

I have the Rikon 12” variable speed no issues yet. I have had it for 4 yrs. made segmented bowls, green wood bowls, tool handles and pens. When I want to do larger turnings the woodworking club shop has larger lathes to use whenever I need it. The club shop has the 12” vs jet I like the Rikon better. The club shop has 7 large jet lathes a 4 12” jets.

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1749 posts in 2701 days

#13 posted 03-04-2021 10:03 AM

Unfortunately, it looks like “club” is a good hour away.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


978 posts in 2514 days

#14 posted 03-04-2021 01:34 PM

Unfortunately, it looks like “club” is a good hour away.

- tvrgeek

I found this on Facebook, but they have a web site too,
Maybe help you meet up with turners that live close to you.
Also do you have a woodcraft, rockler type store close by.
My local store, Woodworkers Emporium, has a consignment area, and a bulletin board to post ads on.
Much of it never makes it on to Craigslist places.

-- John

View ibewjon's profile


2348 posts in 3845 days

#15 posted 03-04-2021 02:23 PM

I have a craftsman tube lathe that was given to me shoved in the attic. If you want it, you can have it. A neighbor has a blue jet lathe for sale, but it is full size and a little bit away for you. Craigslist around Chicago has lathes pop up reasonably often.

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