Excelsior Mini Lathe

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Forum topic by JCMeyersIV posted 06-05-2013 03:16 PM 6847 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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75 posts in 3306 days

06-05-2013 03:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question turning lathe

I’ve been wanting to start turning for a while now. It just looks like a lot of fun and i think it would really expand on my woodworking abilities and project ideas.

I noticed today that Rockler has their Excelsior Mini Lathe on sale for $199.99, this seems like a price that cant be beat for a starter lathe. The reviews on it are mixed. There’s one strong video review on it for but I know better than to but all my eggs in one basket because of one youtube review.

Does anyone have and experience with this lathe? or at least think maybe as a starter lathe it would be ok? I would, of course, buy a better one later on if i had the aptitude for it and kept doing it.

-- John, NNY,

10 replies so far

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1452 posts in 3387 days

#1 posted 06-05-2013 04:28 PM

There are at least 3 different versions of that same lathe, under a variety of brands. It’s the same as the Harbor Freight 10×18 lathe that I started turning on. It’s a solid little lathe, and a great choice to start with. Belt changes are a bit annoying, but you get used to them. Accessories for it are easy to find. It’s a bit underpowered for larger projects, but it’s not really big enough for larger projects. Great for pens, bottle stoppers, tool handles, stuff like that.

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11269 posts in 4888 days

#2 posted 06-05-2013 04:32 PM

If you have the space get a bigger lathe with a longer bed.

I have a mini lathe right now. I have had larger ones
but I turn infrequently and making room is an issue.

If you just want to turn little things a mini lathe is fine.

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16292 posts in 5459 days

#3 posted 06-05-2013 04:50 PM

I have that exact lathe from Rockler, and it has worked quite well for me. As Rich said, moving belts to change speeds in kind of a drag, but it’s something you have to live with if you don’t want to shell out the bucks for a variable speed lathe.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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2959 posts in 3375 days

#4 posted 06-05-2013 05:20 PM

Think owner reviews tell you a lot about each lathe. Only difference am seeing is HP rating, distance between centers, and HF lathe does not have a hand wheel. Am I missing something?

Guess would opt for Rockler Excelsior lathe.

-- Bill

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1452 posts in 3387 days

#5 posted 06-05-2013 06:44 PM

Rockler has excellent customer service, so I’d recommend getting their version of this lathe. I had the HF model and it worked just fine for me, but better to be safe than sorry. Your other best bet would be to get the Grizzly version.

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75 posts in 3306 days

#6 posted 06-07-2013 03:58 PM

You can get an extension bed for it. So thats why I’m thinking to go for it. But I know nothing about lathes. Is 1/2hp good? I honestly have been thinking that i will wait till my off season and buy a nicer lathe to get the hang of in my down time, and if i dont like it i can sell it. Just wasnt sure if a $200 1/2 horse lathe to learn on was a good idea. I’d really much rather spend the extra for a Rikon, Delta, or Jet in case i took to it.

-- John, NNY,

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8652 posts in 4889 days

#7 posted 06-07-2013 04:15 PM

Dont forget that HF has the 20% coupon which brings their lathe down to ~160 if you don’t mind their machines paintjob.

I do find HF products to have a lesser quality control vs. other mfg of same units, but if you’re handy and can touch up those imperfections, and OK with the chances of having to return the unit for a replacement (in case it’s a real lemon) than HF are a cost effective bet.

last but not least – unlike with a TS type machines – don’t forget to calculate all the toolings you would need to get for lathe work – gauges, scrapers, sharpening supplies, mandrels, chucks, centers, and the likes. those will ramp up the overall total price quite a bit. be prepared for that in advance.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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1452 posts in 3387 days

#8 posted 06-07-2013 06:00 PM

A lathe with 1/2 HP is fine for smaller things. You’ll find that you can stall it or cause the belt to slip pretty easily, but usually that’s a good thing because you’re doing something wrong to cause that to happen. With a more powerful motor, the result could be a lot worse, such as a launched tool or asploding workpiece. I think 1/2 HP is great to start on, but if you get into turning, and you likely will because it’s very addictive, you’ll quickly want more. I went from my HF version of this lathe to a 1HP PSI lathe and then to a 2HP Grizzly lathe less than a month after that.

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1452 posts in 3387 days

#9 posted 06-07-2013 06:16 PM

One of the best things you could do is find a local turning club and see if one of them would be willing to let you try turning on their lathe. That way you could get a feel for it and how much you’d like it. They could also give you pointers in terms of finding and buying a lathe. Plus there’s always the chance a member of the club could have a lathe for sale.

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75 posts in 3306 days

#10 posted 06-10-2013 02:53 PM

Thanks rich. I think I’m going to look into this lathe. It may collect some dust for a few months before I can try it out but I think I’ll enjoy it.

-- John, NNY,

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