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Forum topic by JohninVegas posted 10-22-2021 02:47 PM 432 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 39 days

10-22-2021 02:47 PM

new to woodturning, actually new to fine woodwork. my experience is in rough framing and even that goes back 25 yrs in the past. anyhow, just bought a new to me really old Craftsman lathe, 217170. I know its not the best, but on a budget, still seeing if I’m any good at finished projects. it was cheaper than harbor freight’s cheap lathe, and hoping at least as good and better than the $430 one they have. where is a good place to get entry level chisels other than harbor freight, just to get a feel for this thing. also, if anyone can give me some pointers or things to watch out for on this model, that would be great. my research into the model has really only said issues with the variable speed controller. is there anything else i need to pay attention to? thanks

-- John in Vegas

9 replies so far

View Ocelot's profile


3561 posts in 3920 days

#1 posted 10-22-2021 03:05 PM

If possible you might change your thread title to new lathe

... in order to get the attention of the turners here.

Mostly, I think they will tell you to find a local club. That’s what they always say. :-)


-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View LesB's profile


3136 posts in 4725 days

#2 posted 10-22-2021 05:31 PM

I have learned, the hard way sometimes, that buying inexpensive (cheap) tools seldom pays off. HB tools may work for you but I’m certain they are not made with good high speed steel so their over all performance will be a problem. I think you would be better to start by buying just a couple of basic HSS tools, maybe a gouge, 1/2” scraper, and a parting tool. Add to them as your funds and skills allow.
That being said, some people have made their own from old files and similar harden steel items.

The local club idea Paul suggested is always a good idea for a beginner who doesn’t already have an experienced mentor. They may even have used tools you can buy.

-- Les B, Oregon

#3 posted 10-23-2021 12:08 AM

John, I’ve had good luck with Benjamin’s Best tools. I’ve been using them for about five years. My most used is the 5/8” bowl gouge and in all that time I’ve sharpened away about two inches. I’m sure there are better tools out there but, for me, these have worked just fine. You can find them at Penn State Industries and other places. I don’t love the customer service or the selection, often out of stock, but the tools work just fine.
You might find that a good sharpening setup is as valuable as good tools. It takes me less than a minute to put a razor sharp edge on my tools and it’s practically fool proof.
Best of luck in your new hobby!

-- Living In The Woods Of Beautiful Bonney Lake, Washington

View ibewjon's profile


2680 posts in 4075 days

#4 posted 10-23-2021 04:04 AM

Don’t be afraid of carbide turning tools. Many purists frown on them, but I like them for my turning.

View SMP's profile


4950 posts in 1188 days

#5 posted 10-23-2021 04:14 AM

Well here is my take on it. I kept searching CL for “lathe tools” and found an old set of Craftsman gouges in a canvas roll for $30. I figured this would be a great set to learn how to sharpen gouges on, as tools are useless unless you can sharpen and hone them, and I could upgrade to HSS tools after I got the hang of these and still use the roll. Thing is, they can do everything I need and are super easy to sharpen, so I still haven’t upgraded, lol. Got them a few years ago.

View MrUnix's profile


8799 posts in 3481 days

#6 posted 10-23-2021 04:59 AM

No direct experience with that lathe, but looking at the specs, it seems like a nice piece of hardware. Definitely better than the tube type C-man lathes that all too frequently turn up in the used market. With a 15” swing and variable speed DC motor, it certainly is more capable than the HF lathe you mention, which is a clone of the Jet 1236. Even though it requires an electronic controller, that motor can be run with a standard MC-60 controller found on older treadmills, so you at least have an option when the board goes belly up.

You can get good entry level tools from places like Penn State, Rockler, Woodcraft and others. Sharpening will need to be addressed, but you don’t have to have an expensive dedicated setup – a belt sander or even a sanding disc on the outboard side of your lathe can be used to sharpen the tools with great success. Other stuff can be added as needed. You don’t have to spend a fortune if you don’t want.. but it is very easy to do so if you do! You may want to check out this Woodturning On The Cheap thread for some additional suggestions.


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

View drsurfrat's profile


1083 posts in 469 days

#7 posted 10-23-2021 12:37 PM

Everything above is really good advice.

Finding an old Craftsman set may be your best bet for a good steel at a reasonable price: ~60's example

I use about 5 tools regularly

1+1/2 roughing gouge
3/8” thumbnail-grind bowl gouge
1/2” carbide bit scraper, triangle tip
diamond parting tool
1+1/4” skew chisel

The skew takes a bit of practice to use in its intended way (i.e., a slicing cut over the top of the workpiece)

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

View bigJohninvegas's profile


1120 posts in 2744 days

#8 posted 10-23-2021 09:38 PM

Hi John, Neighbor? Are you in Las Vegas, Nv? Or NM?

-- John

View OSU55's profile


2893 posts in 3272 days

#9 posted 10-25-2021 12:38 PM

Dont know the lathe but from what Mr Unix said you are off to a good start. I encourage newbies to buy “value” cutting tools to get started. Most of the time they dont know if they will like turning or what they will enjoy making, or which specific tools or sizes they will prefer using once more proficient.

I still have the HF chisel set I bought ~ 8 yrs ago when I started turning, and still use those tools, mainly to regrind to try something new to me. The PSI BB tools are much better and are my recommendation. I still use quite a few of them, and still use live and drive centers and other project specific “kit” type tools like pen mandrels, etc from PSI.

Value tools allow you to try different sized tools and different grinds w/o spending huge $. You wont be afraid to grind away some steel to try a new grind. Several years from now, when you have determined what you prefer to make and what tools you use the most, go get a few hi $ M42 or PM tools. FYI I use 5/8” shaft bowl gouge, and 3/8” and 1/2” spindle gouges the most. All of my neg rake scrapers are still BB M2 scrapers I regrind to what I want.

Sharpening – recommend a jig be used for all gouges vs free hand. All others can be done with a flat platform. As mentioned there are various ways to grind/sharpen tools. The most popular is an 8” slow speed bench grinder with al oxide wheels (wait a while for cbn), and a wolverine/varigrind jig. There are many jigs and methods, but the big advantage to this setup is the # of users and amount of help available for how to do various grinds. You will be more on your own with a less common set up and not know grinds are wrong or how to do a specific grind. Proper and sharp grinds are necessary for success.

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