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Forum topic by steve_in_ohio posted 03-02-2014 05:35 PM 1352 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2062 days

03-02-2014 05:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

I am looking for a lathe to learn how to do turning. My budget is about $400.

What is a good lathe to start on for my budget? Also what tools should I get to start out with?

I was thinking about a mini lathe and starting with pens or something like that and then working on small bowls.

Any advice would be helpful, Thanks

-- steve, simple and effective

14 replies so far

View MrFid's profile


890 posts in 2356 days

#1 posted 03-02-2014 06:03 PM

I got my setup from craigslist. If you’re patient (and live in a fairly populated area), you can find some deals on there. I got a Jet JWL-1220 and a set of Sorby tools for under $300. It was a very good deal, but you can find some like this if you’re patient.
I’d start with a mini- or midi- lathe. If you decide to turn table legs or something you can always get (or make) a bed extension to allow longer capacity, or get a bigger lathe once you decide that you like this aspect of woodworking. Also, don’t forget to factor in the cost of a grinder and sharpening jigs to your overall budget. Being able to sharpen quickly and accurately is vital to success with turning. I am just getting started myself with turning, and it’s a blast. There are so many videos, TV programs, and helpful people on here. Good luck!

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4100 days

#2 posted 03-02-2014 06:08 PM

I would look for a used larger lathe if you have the space
for one. The 8tpi x 1” spindle nose found on Delta and
other mid-sized lathes has a lot of accessories available
for it at reasonable prices.

With a larger lathe you’ll be able to play with firewood
and stuff like that. If you an find an old Shopsmith
for under $200 the lathe is not bad at all and can
do bowls of a useful size and table legs.

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2062 days

#3 posted 03-02-2014 06:36 PM

Thanks MrFid and Loren, I will definitely keep my eye on craigslist. Unfortunately I do not have room for a shopsmith.

I’m not in a rush to get one so hopefully I can get a good deal.

Thanks for the help

-- steve, simple and effective

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2376 days

#4 posted 03-02-2014 06:44 PM

Second craigslist I see reasonable deals on wood lathes all the time well within your budget.

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2062 days

#5 posted 03-02-2014 07:05 PM

What brands should I stay away from?

-- steve, simple and effective

View Bill7255's profile


428 posts in 2736 days

#6 posted 03-02-2014 07:19 PM

When looking at used lathes the tube lathes are not as good as the lathes with ways. When you go to look make sure the spurs and centers can be removed. Many of these lathes have set idle and it can be a bear or get them free. The tail stock should line up with the head stock. Also look for one that has accessories, the lathe itself is the cheapest part of the hobby. You will need a sharpening system as well. Since you don’t have room for a SS, a midi might be a good choice to get started. Some of the smaller lathes have a #1 taper, so centers etc will not work on a larger lathe as most all have #2 tapers. I have the Delta and Jet midi and a PM 90 full size. I like the Jet better because it has variable speed, but the Delta is fine. I see these also show up on CL along with others.

-- Bill R

View Woodknack's profile


12870 posts in 2832 days

#7 posted 03-02-2014 10:25 PM

Nova Comet II is $499. Any less and you’ll be looking at used for a decent lathe.

Lot of folks seem to like the 12” Harbor Freight lathe.

-- Rick M,

View waho6o9's profile


8710 posts in 3029 days

#8 posted 03-02-2014 11:33 PM

I’d go for the second one if possible.

Turning’s a lot of fun, hope you get something that fits in
your budget. I tried one of those from Harbor Freight and
wasn’t too pleased with the results. And then found a Delta Midi
on Craigslist for $275.00 with turning tools.

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2062 days

#9 posted 03-03-2014 12:00 AM

Thanks wahoo6o9, what do you guys think of this one, what should I offer the guy for it?

-- steve, simple and effective

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3431 days

#10 posted 03-03-2014 03:33 AM

Here’s a couple that should be good ones. Might be close enough to you. They are even selling the tooling.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Woodknack's profile


12870 posts in 2832 days

#11 posted 03-03-2014 04:31 AM

The General is only a 10” swing so I wouldn’t pay over $200, the Jet is one of the dinky ones, and I don’t know what the other one is.

Here’s a $400 lathe for $500 used.


These are good lathes

edit; looking at levan’s link

These are kickass,oh/auction/view?auc=1075820

-- Rick M,

View Bill7255's profile


428 posts in 2736 days

#12 posted 03-03-2014 12:15 PM

I think the guy with the Jet is going to want more than $400 for what he has! But I would call to find out. Sometimes you can get a great deal off CL. To me the Jet would be ideal for anyone starting out as it has a lot of extras. The chisels new sell for $100-150 each, has a small chuck, and other misc item that can be used on any lathe. I started with a Delta midi and also have a Jet midi with variable speed. I guess you can call them dinky when compared to my PM 90, but they are good starter lathes. I would not buy the school auction lathes unless I could go see them. I bought mine at a school auction that had several lathes up for auction and two of them had cracked castings. They will also be 3ph and you will need to deal with that. The Nova lathe is the same size as the Jet, but it is a better lathe and you might get that for the amount you budgeted.

-- Bill R

View Robey's profile


14 posts in 2031 days

#13 posted 03-03-2014 12:24 PM

Harbor Freight has one on a stand. Check the reviews forum here on LJ. A very good lathe for about $250, even better with a 20 or 25% coupon

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2400 days

#14 posted 03-03-2014 12:46 PM

I understand peoples fear of 3phz, but in an older lathe thats what you want. By having it 3phz you can then add a VFD and have variable speed at a fraction of the cost of a new style large lathe.

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