I am thinking about getting rid of the Shopsmith and buying a midi lathe. I
don't have big recources and was wondering if anyone can give me some
insight into the pro's and con's of the following or any others that run in
the $300-$400 range; Delta, Jet, Fisch, Rikon Woodtek and Grizzly. I do
small bowls, bases for miniature, some tops and bottle stoppers (no pens)
and other smallish projects. Of course I have done larger projects but I am
pretty sure that I will be giving them up.
Any advice would be appreciated.
All will have their favorites. I have two Jet minis, and have
absolutely used the living daylights out of one, and teach or demo on
the other. Both have performed flawlessly for years. Neither are
variable speed, and that has never been a problem for me. I haven't
met anyone that has been dissatisfied with this machine when used
within its limits. And now with bed extensions available, you can
even turn a table leg if you want.
Rikon/Fisch, same lathe castings. Little difference in the two, as
they come from the same factory. They have larger turning capacity
over the ways than the Jet, and people either love them or hate them.
To ME, they are too big and heavy for a mini, and not quite big enough
to be a regular sized lathe.
Two different guys I know took back their Delta minis and traded them
for Jets. Others seem seem to like the Delta lathes just fine.
No experience with Grizzly lathes, nor do I know anyone that has used
them. I am pretty sure you could count on them to be fair quality at
a good price.
These guys also sell a Jet knockoff, made from the same exact castings
as Jet. You can save a few bucks with them, but it might get chewed
up in postage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page:
Hope you find one that suits your needs.
Others should follow here.
I am also looking for a mini lathe. Amazon has a PSI TCLPRO
Turncrafter PRO Midi 4 Amp 10-Inch Swing by 18-3/4-Inch between
Centers 1/2 Horsepower Benchtop Woodworking Lathe for $188. It
appears Jet only makes the 1014 in variable speed so the JET JML 1014I
10 Inch X 14 Inch Indexing Mini Lathe is $399.99. From what I hear
variable speed is not that important. Is the Jet worth twice the
price of the PSI?
The Jet mini lathe is still available without variable speed. Prices I have
seen on the net are, what I would consider, very high. I got mine about a
year ago for less than $200.00. The prices I see on the net are around
$350.00. I got mine from a jet overstock and scratch and dent place. They
were located just behind the Jet headquarters in Auburn WA. Jet headquarters
has moved but the store is still there.
I've used the Rikon for the past 2 years. It is a great lathe for small
stuff. I've turned stuff on it that was probably too big for it and it never
give me any problems. The motor on it is great and quiet. Speed change is
very easy. The only problem in 2years that I can think of is, the tailstock
once got pretty hard to run out. Called Rikon, they advised me how to take
apart and clean, put back together and never had a problem since. Lathe has
good weight but needs a real sturdy, heavy table to mount it too.
Can't say much about the other lathes you asked about. If you have a local
Woodcraft, I'd suggest going by and seeing how many models they have set up
for you to try out. That is what I did, this eliminated a lot of choices and
in the end I was choosing between the Rikon and the Jet (both were at
Woodcraft). I've bought some really nice stuff from Grizzly, but all of the
lathes I've seen look a little on the dangerous side.
For $300 - 400, I would think you could by a really nice lathe and a few
accessories. Definitely should consider a chuck (maybe a couple of jaws
sets), perhaps a bigger tool rest, etc.
I have a Jet that I got 2 years ago on a Fathers Day sale at Woodcrafters.
ran me about 250 with a chuck. basic price was 199 & chuck was 65 but as a
package they were selling it for 249.99. I LOVE IT. I do small bowls, pens,
vase, and other stuff. it is easy to adjust the speed and I haven't found
that the VS is worth it although I beleve that Penn State industries has a
VS conversion kit. Check the PSI websit for what deal they have also cll
them they sometime will offer free shipping or such if you talk nicely.
So is the Jet worth the difference between $350 and $188 for the PSI.
I don't want to buy the PSI for $188 and regret not having spent the
extra $160. There are a lot of other things I could spend the $160 on
if the difference is marginal.
On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 13:11:57 -0700, "CW"
You are asking a lot. No one in their right mind would comment on
such a personal choice. And if you got a dud from either
manufacturer, you would probably be pissed off at the folks that
suggested the one you bought.
The Jet and PSI use the same castings. They have the same motors.
Most (if not all) of their parts are interchangeable. PSI has been
successfully selling this lathe now for years. You can draw your own
conclusions from that.
Also, read the reviews of the PSI machine on Amazon. Pretty damn
If it were me (and it isn't), knowing what all the other things you
"need" cost as you go along in the turning world, I would probably try
the PSI lathe since it has free shipping if bought from Amazon.
That's hard to beat.
Also, if anything isn't up to snuff, or you just don't like the lathe,
you can return the PSI lathe to Amazon VERY easily.
Just my 0.02.
" email@example.com" writes
I have no experience of the PSI version of this lathe, but have seen the
JET and Axminster varieties
As you say , same castings, or at least similar
Things I have noticed, on the larger floor standing varieties which may
five an idea of things to look for when comparing similar lathes . These
may affect price and performance are the following
The width of the bed seems to vary. Narrower on the cheaper versions
Different type banjo, with different tool post size. 1 inch or 25mm
Better Banjo has multiple threaded holes for locking handle, cheap
version has 1. Often different thread also
Headstock thread sizes may vary
Pully sizes, and hence speed options may vary
Headstock Morse Taper, may Vary
Tailstock Morse Taper May Vary
Bearing quality may vary, heavy or light duty
Headstock Indexing on some versions
Stand Construction and Material Thickness may Vary different numbers of
bolts, different locations, different types of bolt (thread)
Some have a thin wall metal tray shelf, others just steel angle. In my
experience the angle is better. The thin wall can easily get bent as any
weight loaded on it puts the sides in compression causing it to fold.
The steel angle is flat at top, so if weight applied it is put under
tension no collapse.
Oh and one important point looking at the PSI machine . its RED, bright
RED !! very distracting, but I guess it hides the blood well :)
It would be nice to see a webpage with comparison of some of these
"Wayne K" wrote in
I second that. Our woodturning club has a stable of assorted mini-lathes
for demos and lending out. I've used the Delta, PSI, Jet, and Rikon. If I
had to choose one it would be the Jet. This is based on fit, finish,
comfort, lack of vibration, etc. The variable speed is nice, but not
one word of caution here.
I once had a old Delta lathe that I inherited from my father. It did 90% of
the things that I wanted to do and so could never find a justifiable excuse
Then came Katrina and put 7' of water in my shop. A whole bunch of cast
iron went out on the curb. Of the decisions made once I relocated in
Dallas, the real joys were to buy a Powermatic 3520B lathe, as P66 saw and a
P 8" long bed jointer. (upgrades from the previously mentioned Delta
lathe, a contractor saw and a 6" Delta short bed jointer).
Our wood turners club has Jet minis and I have taken some classes on them.
The resemblance to a real lathe is an illusion. If you buy a mini you will
always want a real lathe, but will probably never be able to justify it to
"she who must be obeyed".
Put your money in a savings account and wait until you can afford a real
I'd have to disagree with your reasoning. I've a Rikon that allowed me to
find out if I wanted to do wood turning without spending a fortune. Do I
want a bigger lathe? Sure and I'll find a means for getting the one I want
and my wife will most likely enjoy seeing me get what I want. I've proved to
myself and my wife that this isn't just one of those 2 month fads that I
thought would be nice to do and then finding out I really didn't enjoy it.
For anyone wishing to start turning, or considering trying something they
may have done years ago while taking wood shop in high school, a midi lathe
might be just the ticket for them. Unless they've got unlimited resources
and can afford to buy what they want, a mini lathe is an economical way of
getting involved in the hobby.
Also, as I'm sure many here will attest, the mini lathe isn't a useless
tool. Many here who have a larger more robust lathe also have a Jet midi (or
equivalent) sitting in the shop that they use for those projects that don't
require the big robust power.
I would caution anyone from purchasing a cheap lathe just to save money (I
don't believe the op was looking to do that), but I wouldn't hesitate to
recommend someone starting out to consider a midi lathe to find out whether
they enjoyed it or not.
Just my 2 cents,
On Sat, 26 Jul 2008 23:08:46 -0500, "Paul Gilbert"
Got to disagree... I guess I'm an anti-elitist or something, but I turned at
least 200 pieces on my Jet mini, most of which sold..
The bang for the buck is excellent... I think I paid $225 for it with free
shipping and it's still going strong..
Yeah, I don't use it much, other than as a dedicated buffer, but I don't use the
Jet 1442 for much more than a buffer either,, now..
I'd say that about half of the stuff that I do on the Nova now could be done on
the mini, I'm just spoiled now and also have to justify the $2,500 (yeah, 10
times the mini) that I spent for the Nova.. ;-]
Please remove splinters before emailing
paul - you are not giving the mini credit for what it is good at - I have a
"real" lathe (stubby 1000, if you are curious) and I have a Nova Comet - a
lathe that is quite similar to the jet mini but came without a motor - the
mini lathe is MUCH easier if you are working on small stuff - but it does
not do well abouve 4 inches or so in diameter - but if I am working on a
miniature, or a pen, the Nova is much more suitable. For some, space is an
issue, or cost. If you can create what you want within the size limits of
the mini lathe, they are generally good value.
I also don't quite understand "The resemblance to a real lathe is an
illusion." - what part of a mini lathe is not "real"? to create an
attractive bowl or box on the mini, you empoloy all the same techniques, and
encounter all the same problems - you just do it in a 4 inch diameter, not a
40 inch - or is it just size, which would allow me to say something like "if
you can't mount a 3 1/2 foot diameter piece between centers you don't have
a real lathe" - not that I would ever say such a thing.
so, to the OP, many folks have a small lathe which they started with -
learned on, and had fun with. Some moved on to larger lathes later, some
stayed with the small form factor. ** Posted from
Well said, Bill..
I went from a Shopsmith to a Jet Mini..
Some might agree that the SS is large, but few would say it's a "real" lathe..
The Jet is most definitely a real lathe, with amazing stability and solid
I did everything from pens to 10" bowls and vases on that mini and it performed
very well and is still alive and well after about 5 years of abuse..
I have 2 larger lathes now and rarely use the mini, but I'd use it in a
heartbeat before I went back to a Shopsmith..
I did things with the mini that I wouldn't have even tried on the SS.. YMWV
Please remove splinters before emailing
I did not start off with a mini-midi lathe, but have turned years on a
When my sons married and moved away, I bought a Delta midi, so I could
take it along and do some turning while I was there, made kids stuff
and miniature pieces, Christmas ornaments and little birdhouses, etc,
yes i can do those on my large lathe, but just as well on my midi, to
see some, have a look at my photo album if you like.
And as I get older, I probably will keep my little lathe for as long
as I'm able to turn :-)
You just HAD to say that, didn't ya, Leo..
I was taking a long look at the plans for a sit down lathe stand in the AAW
magazine, thinking that if it comes to a choice of sitting or not turning, I'm
Please remove splinters before emailing