Should I buy old Craftsman lathe?

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Forum topic by mpounders posted 03-15-2012 03:26 PM 30961 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mpounders's profile


968 posts in 3774 days

03-15-2012 03:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe

Someone offered to sell me an old Craftsman 12” wood lathe. I was wondering what would be a good price for this or if I should even consider it. I don’t do bowls….primarily knobs and spindles, and it would be nice to have something that would turn a few extra inches between centers (mine only does 32” and I think this is 36-37”). I think the motor is ok and that the rust on the tube is probably just superficial. I see a larger tool rest… does anyone know if it also came with a smaller one also or if you can use some of the aftermarket posts and rests with this model? Does anyone know if some of the midi-size chucks fit this? Here are a few pictures they sent.

I’ve searched ebay andcraigslist a bit and have seen them range from $39 to $450. So what would be a fair offer for me to make on this one? $50? $75? $100? It would also require me to drive about 100 miles just to look at it in person, which I figure will cost me about $20-$30 of time and gas. Any thoughts?

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

9 replies so far

View Rob W's profile

Rob W

434 posts in 4415 days

#1 posted 03-15-2012 03:41 PM

I wouldn’t offer any more than $100 for it. I had one given to me recently just like it because they could not get anyone to buy it.


-- Rob — I've cut it off twice and it's still too short!,

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4115 days

#2 posted 03-15-2012 03:58 PM

I agree, at $100 or less, it’s a very useful tool. Sears still has most of the parts if anything breaks and you can download the manual. I bought one a few years ago to see if woodturning was something I wanted to do…. And I still have the lathe. I’ve bought two other lathes since. A Delta Midi lathe ($150 on Craig’s List) And a big Grizzly with a spindle duplicator included. (another Craig’s List purchase and only $200) I have dedicated my Craftsman lathe to making it into a drum sander. I made the Drum from MDF circles on a all thread rod, and they slip inside a pvc pipe. I turned pear end pieces that is bolted to a faceplate on one end and the live center on the tailstock. After I made an adjustable base to slide the wood I’m sanding on, it’s GREAT!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4623 days

#3 posted 03-15-2012 04:23 PM

I have one of these. It was given to me, mainly because it was missing the drive center. It also didn’t have the cover on the belt, so I had a suspicion that it was a Craftsman, but don’t know what model. I don’t do much turning and it works ok for turn a spindle now and then or some knobs. I don’t think I would pay much over $50-75 for this one, since it’s just a basic, entry level type lathe.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1613 posts in 4443 days

#4 posted 03-15-2012 05:22 PM

I paid $40 for mine, it has a 4” tool rest available, uses a #1MT and the head uses a 3/4” 16tpi for chucks. It fine for making the things you suggested. Check out OWWM if you want to find out more info about it.

Any less than $100 and it would be a good buy.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5307 posts in 4839 days

#5 posted 03-15-2012 05:57 PM

That was my first lathe. Not a workhorse, will do small stuff ok. $50.00 top.

-- [email protected]

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5284 days

#6 posted 03-15-2012 06:22 PM

My gut feel is in the $50 range for this area of Kansas. Other places might go closer to $100.
If it was rust free and all cleaned up, maybe $100 at an auction around here.
Most craftsman tools seem to go in the $75-$150 range at auctions around here, no matter what it is, or what it cost originally. Exception is a fairly new table saw with all of the options, and they go for $200-$300.

Craftsman tools don’t bring much at an auction beyond a hobbyist saying “what the heck, it’s a good deal….”
This is the type of lathe that a weekend hobbyist would get as a start into turning. If you like turning, getting something better later would be easy to do, and you could resell this old one to someone else wanting to get started.
I’d probably buy it just to use the motor and gearing for a sanding plate, or something else, even if the rest of it wasn’t any good for a lathe.

Other brands of old lathes are more desirable, but any working lathe is better than no lathe, in my opinion.
You’ll find all sorts of things to do with it once you have it cleaned up and working well.
More than just bowls, you can turn legs and arms for your carvings, canes, table legs, toy parts.
Make an offset plate and turn your automaton gearing, all kinds of things, you’ll be glad you have it.

And, cleaned up, it will never be worth less than you paid for it in that price range.
And just think, with inflation, in a few years it could be worth $1000, and it will “sound” like a great investment, and you can tell your wife and kids what a great investment it was. And when you sell it to the next young guy, you can pay taxes on the “increase” caused by inflation. It’s a great system! Ha.

If money is tight, they would probably take one of your carvings in trade. I know I’d trade for your carvings, and I’m sure others would also. If you are keeping books for a business, you have to treat trades the same as cash on your taxes, but you don’t have to have cash to do it.

Go for it Mike,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View MrRon's profile


5940 posts in 4122 days

#7 posted 03-15-2012 07:53 PM

$50 because it is a Sears. More if another brand. I don’t particularily like a lathe with a tubular way. I like the old fashioned parallel ways, like a good machine should be made; Oneway excepted.

View Goody's profile


11 posts in 3275 days

#8 posted 03-16-2012 01:10 PM

Got one you can have Its virtually brand new. The first owner not knowing much about a lathe had it throw a spindle at him and that was the last he used it. I have used the motor off it something else but motors are readily availiable. I also made a brass tube for it 42” long and have used it for turning and sanding sticks. As far as the other lathe goes $25.00 to $50.00 tops. If all you are looking to do is a foot or less and I will probably get flamed for this but pick uo the Harbor Freight Mini Wood lathe. It is a good little dedicated lathe for small stuff its cast Iron and heavy so not much vibration and has a dc Variable speed motor. $5 worth of better set screws and I have used one as a dedicated Pen lathe for two years and I make quite a few pens and small weed pots. Watch for coupons and you can pick it up for less than $100

View loryhey's profile


2 posts in 3868 days

#9 posted 03-16-2012 05:51 PM

My mother gave me one of these Craftsman lathes years ago, and I continue to get good use out of it. A couple of things to know: it’s Morse Taper #1, so you’ll have to get all your accessories for that size. Second, at least on mine, the tail stock shifts forward and back on the pipe/lathe bed, so turning long spindles is tricky to set up. Short stuff and bowls, etc. are no problem! Third, you’re going to want to make sure the base is braced in both directions and weighted with a bunch of logs or lumber or something heavy – otherwise, when you’re turning irregularly shaped stuff, the lathe is going to want to hop. Lastly, those craftsman gouges aren’t so great. So you might want to get yourself a decent set of gouges. Of course, if you’re not practiced at gouge-sharpening, then it’s best to learn on the craftsman gouges. In short, the lathe is finicky but not impossible to use, so if you’re satisfied with the price, it’s not a bad way to go in this economy!

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