I am new to wood turning. A few summers ago I bought an
almost unused Craftsman wood lathe with duplicating
attachment. To my horror the lathe vibrates excessively, I
managed to sell it at the same price I bought it and have
not done any turning since.
Now, having learned a lesson, I am looking for a good
reliable, vibration free midi lathes to turn pen and small
variety repetitive parts. I prefer a lathe with a hollow
spindle to turn rods' end later. I have an old PennState
Industries Summer catalog 2006-064. Four midi lathes look
interesting. TurncrafterPro - TCLPOVS (variable speed),
TCLPRO, TCLPLUS and Carba-Tec 4SE.
Can anyone help me? Is a variable speed lathe better than a
fixed speed? Which duplicator should I buy, Vega or PSI
Thanks in advance.
You would probably get more responses if you didn't request the
removal of this message in less than a week.
Looks like a drive by, which is perfectly OK, but they don't always
get much response.
Then try searching this group with "which midi lathe" and you will get about 450 hits.
Thank you for your kind advice. I have reset my Newsreader
to archive, to generate more respond.
I have been lurking here for years and have never post any
message. I am aware this question and similar ones had been
posted umpteen times. I don't write well and to avoid taking
too much bandwidth, I take hours to compose each message. I
am seeking advices and suggestions from experienced turners,
to avoid pitfalls and to save a few bucks if possible.
I need a good midi lathe for small repetitive turning with
copying attachment. I have no desire to upgrade to a bigger
lathe. The lathe needs to have hollow spindle for turning
dowel or rod end later. I have a budget of 1K. I am trying
to spend $400 or less on the lathe and the balance for tools
and accessories. I do have experienced on a metal lathes but
not on wood lathes other than the Craftsman that I mentioned
earlier. Should I buy from PennState or look elsewhere?
Should I buy a used midi lathe (prefer) and where to find
one? I have not found one in craiglist and I dun trust Ebay.
Your advice will be most appreciated.
I sure wouldn't worry about typing skills, spelling, etc. Personally
(I think it is obvious to many here) I sit down at the keyboard and
whack away. As long as you understand what I am saying (or pretty
close!) thats fine. I try to keep an eye on spelling and usage, but
reading an old post of mine will sure let me know I am up way too late
sometimes when I am posting here.
This is a boards of opinions where we come to share out experiences,
not final judgements on brain surgery. Your opinion is quite welcome,
and I hope you post as much as you want.
That being said, I don't think you could go wrong with the Jet mini
with your $400 price requirement. With a grand in total you would
still have a lot left for new cutting tools, grinder, etc.
You could do the following:
Jet indexing variable speed mini: $269
(lowest price on the web at Amazon!)
4 jaw scroll chuck from Grizzley $100
Start out with Benjamin's best tools from Penn State, budget $100 to
get started. Only buy what you need. You will want other tools
later, and may want to make some of your own.
Slow speed 8" grinder with friable wheels $100
That should leave you about $400. You can buy your duplicator
(although on pens, that is a real waste of time as they are not even
close to accurate enough), pen kits, sandpaper, finishing supplies,
I'm curious why you feel you need a copy attachment.
Unlike using a metal lathe, the way an edge is presented to the wood makes a
tremendous difference. A duplicator presents the cutter in exactly one
way... not exactly optimal for a clean crisp cut or efficient stock removal.
I will be turning small repetitive parts, symmetric knob,
chess set or key chains, just a few examples. I am glad your
curious encourage me to post more. In PennState's catalog,
you will find many of these examples. You may than ask, why
not buy from PennState or elsewhere? Well, the sizes,
shapes, materials and etc may not be suitable. Further, I
don't have a whole day turning one at a time. In my previous
employment I have a complete tool room designed and making
form tools, churning parts out in seconds.
Now that's what I want to hear, maybe I don't need a
duplicator, but if I can turn each parts exactly (almost)
the same size and shape, I could finished it with a steel
wools, wouldn't that be better than slowly turn one at a
time with various tools? I may hold back the duplicator till
I absolute need it.
Thanks Steve. :-)
Well, if it's not too complicated a shape, then I think mounting the
blank will be the most time consuming. Cutting to shape can be fast.
You can make a simple outline template to make sure the sizes are
uniform. You can even grind special cutters.
How do you plan on holding the wood in the lathe?
There are various methods that a speed turner can use. Here's a couple
The Steb Center system allows you to quickly replace pieces
while spindle turning. You do not need to turh the lathe off
while replacing pieces.
Some chucks allow you to feed stock through the head of the
lathe - as in a large dowel. You loosen the chuck and push the
stock further into the head, and retighten.
Some use vacuum chucks.
Now the last twp may not be possible with the Jet Mini. I'm not sure.
Not clear if you're planning to become a production
turner for profit. If so, you can't compete with a
guy in India or China making 20 cents an hour. But if
you're getting into turning as a hobbiest dump the
idea of "minutes per piece" and think of turning more
as therapy - great mental problem solving, good exercise
for eye/hand coordination, a delight for tool phreaks
and a wonderful way to use what would otherwise be
scraps or land fill material. And if you're lucky there'll
be Zen Moments when time and space disappear as
you, the tools and machine, and the wood work together
"just so" and the results get you thinking "Now where
and how did this beautiful little object come from?!"
The hollow spindle that'll allow you to feed dowels thru it
is going to be a problem - most mini/midi lathes will only
allow maybe 3/8" diameter. Not big enough to turn anything
other than maybe a pen or hair stick. Also requires
starting with round stock - dowels don't come in Bubinga
or Rosewood, Ebony, Zircote, Padouk or most of the other
beautiful woods to turn.
While others will certainly disagree, variable speed makes
life a lot easier when turning. Being able to dial the speed
up or down, rather than playing with belts and pulleys, will
allow quick speed adjustments to the range you're comfortable
with. You WILL, at some point, get a chuck, and start doing
things other than "between centers" - lidded boxes, small
bowls, cups, hollow forms, plates etc. Those often start
with less than perfectly balanced blanks. Dialing in a speed
just below where things are vibrating then roughing to round
is REAL handy.
So - seriously consider the JET variable speed mini/midi
lathe - and a decent chuck with some extra jaws - I've
got two Tecknatools SuperNova2 chucks I'm very pleased
with, though OneWay and a few others are just as good.
The JET VS is going for around $350 US.
The SuperNova2 chuck goes for around $170 US give or
- one hand tightening of the jaws - less expensive chucks
use two tommy bars to tighten the jaws, leaving no hand
to hold the part. A "ball head" T-handled allen wrench
is preferable over a chuck key because you can angle
the wrench when tightening - handy in some applications.
- no sharp edges or corners protruding where they can
bite you. You WILL at times work with one hand VERY
close to spinning steel. Rounded edges and corners
may bruise you, or just get your attention - but won't
remove chunks of meat!
- a full range of jaw sets. One size doesn't fit all and
the more options you have in the future the better.
You're definitely gonna need a chuck.
You might want to use Google's "groups" search for
postings on the subjects "chucks", "variable speed",
"midi" etc. in the "SUBJECT contains" field
rec.crafts.woodturning in the "GROUP" field
Get off the clock! Time is NOT money, despite what you've
been told over and over again. Time is time. Time "spent"
doing anything you enjoy and that provides a sense of
satisfaction and accomplishement is always a good "investment",
the ROI being something money can't buy.
Turning has so many different paths, most you have no
idea of right now. But in the not too distant future a
neighbor will take down a fruit tree and give you some
of it to play with on your lathe. A box of scraps a wood
working friend has will be given to you and you'll make
neat things out of it. The idea of making EXACTLY the
thing you started out to make will go away as the wood
your turning shows you things you hadn't considered.
You're on the edge of a very slippery slope - woodturning
is addictive - and can, over time, become fairly expensive
- chuckS, jaw sets, live center sets, stebb centers in
varisous diameters, tool rests in a range of sizes and shapes,
gouges and chisels, grinders and jigs, rolls of sand paper,
texturing tools, indexing heads, special hollowing systems,
the list is endless. I don't think there's another woodworking
machine that spawns so many "must have" accessories.
I fell into wood turning because of a little UniMat metal
lathe. Here's some about where that went.
Have fun finding your perfect lathe - and accessories!
went.http://web.hypersurf.com/~charlie2/Turning/Turning1.html > > Have fun finding your perfectlathe- and accessories! >
Charlie B- You have one of the best and most interesting web sites
I've ever seen- and I've seen quite a few. Makes me want to get to the
lathe and make something. I like the way you have illustrated making
the turned boxes- I'm going to bookmark those pages and probably print
them out. I have seen Chris Stott demonstrate, bought some of his
turnings, and his book. I've made a couple of cocobolo boxes with
ebony finials, but I'm not too proud of them. I think that your
tutorials and the ones you refer us to will be of inestimable value to
me next time I hit the lathe. BTW- I have the Jet Mini without
variable speed and I think it hung the moon. Thanks for letting us see
all your goodies- Donna Menke
Sorry, took so long to come back (checking).
I really mean it, my English is really bad and if I dun
check and recheck, you wouldn't understand me at all. :-)
There are many NGs, where posters nick picking every words
and spelling, but not the contents. You know what I mean.
You are correct, Amazon is the cheapest. Do you know if the
Jet's spindle is hollow, I can't find any description that
say the spindle is hollow? I did came across midi lathe with
hollow spindle. Do you know of any?
Yes, I need more than one chucks, will decide later after
I buy the lathe.
I came across one at craiglist, but missed it as I waited
I will take your advice and hold the duplicator. Thank you,
I appreciate it very much. before I buy the jet, do you know
any midi lathe with hollow spindle?
I am new to wood turning, that's why I include a duplicator
in my shopping list. If you mean "special cutters" like form
tools, use in metal turning? You will need more than 1K to
buy the necessary tool room machineries. :-)
Sound Greek to me, any website with pic to see the
That's what I am looking for, but before I could do that I
would need a lathe with a hollow spindle with a chuck that
has a hole, right? I am planning to turn a dowel rod about a
max 5/8" dia. Any midi lathes that fit the description? I am
inclines to avoid a full size wood lathe as I have space
A vacuum chuck would require a vacuum pump or an air operate
chuck, a constant supply of compress air and these chucks
are by no mean cheap and added additional problems. Nob, I
am avoiding it. I did say earlier I have experienced in
metal lathe plus turret lathes, screws machines....Acme,
Index, Wickman, Davenport, Gildermister, etc.
Thank Bruce, I appreciate your suggestions.
I am not competing with anyone. I like to believe, I will be
able to recoup my small investment and speed up repetitive
tasks. I really don't want fall asleep or get frustrate and
abandon it altogether. :-)
Have you came across midi lathe that have a hollow spindle
with slightly over 5/8" hollow dia? I spoke with Rob Lee of
Lee Valley Tools, they have the dowel making tools I need.
(btw Rob, very patient and knowledgeable person and
understands what I need).
That's what I need and intend to do, thanks! I will have to
look around and find one or more chucks that will able to
hold the part and not damage it while turning.
On Friday, Amazon selling it for $260 plus $39 for shipping.
Elsewhere around $350 and over. If I cannot find a suitable
hollow spindle midi lathe, I will buy it from Amazon before
they increase the price.
By no mean cheap, huh?
I will need more than a chuck that is for sure. You should
by now understand why I kept on harping on a hollow spindle
midi lathe. I still believe, turning from dowel rods
(keeping the dowel rod short as possible, prevent it from
snapping). Yes, I will be turning very close to the chuck
and I appreciate you mentioning it. I really dun want to
take any more meat from my hand. Last year, while making a
new garage door before we moved, the router took chuck off
my finger. Spend more than a month recuperating.
Not "a" but a few, which you stated earlier.
I love woodworking, I also need to have foods on the table
and also pay for the mortgage too. Both my wife and I doing
what we can after a hard day at our workplaces. Like
everyone else we are trying hard to survive. life isn't easy
and I am *NOT* complaining. No offence please. :-)
We moved from the Midwest, during fall and winter we had
tornado and icy storms. The City has a vacant lot where the
residents dispose fallen limbs and cut tree. Free firewood!
Here in the West, free lumbers/woods are hard to come by.
That's what I came here for, to minimize mistakes. it's not
really a hobby, rather an additional income :-)
It is one of the many new exiting things I will be doing for
the coming year. For now I am looking for a midi lathe and
hope to buy one within the next few days and moves to our
new home shortly :-)
Turner ... keep looking until you find a 5C (AKA "Bridgeport") or 3C
collet chuck adapter. That will let you pass a dowel through, clamp it
quickly, make your cuts, part it off and advance another ... all without
even slowing down. All other chuck designs that I am familiar with will
require you to stop the lathe to loosen the chuck. That's wasted time
for small, repetitive parts.
There is a handle mechanism that fits behind the headstock. Move the
lever one way to lock, opposite way to open and slide the dowel through
the hollow spindle.
Turner - just in case no one answered your exact question to your
satisfaction, the Jet mini has a hollow spindle. This is how you get
your knockout bar into the spindle to knock out the drive spur.
It is also the pathway to hook up a vacuum press if you desire.
But you should be aware that the spindle does not have the same size
hole on both sides. On the spindle side that is over the lathe, it is
about 3/4". But on the handle side which is on the other side of the
spindle, it is only about 3/8" or so. So you won't have a long length
of dowel protruding from your spindle.
And as a side comment, if you are going to make this a project that
generates additional income, look around and see what you can turn
that isn't already covering the market. Pens are a great projects,
and some of them are real works of art, but unless you get in the
right market, they are a really difficult sell.
Like many here, I have sold a lot of things; pencil holders, desk
clocks, desk sets, oil lamps, Christmas ornaments, lamp pulls, etc.
None of them make a lot of money by any means, but together I have
been pleasantly surprised at how much income they can generate.
I make bowls, but I tend to keep them. We don't have a lot of big
timber around here, and none of us have access to the giant logs of
wonderful hardwoods that I see bowls turned out of around here. That
means we have to buy our blanks. If you buy large bowl blanks and
then try to sell the bowls you probably won't make enough (unless you
are really established) to make it worth your while.
"Gimme" items and impulse buys are great. For the most part they
don't take long to turn, and they use little material.
Good luck! I hope you keep up posted with your progress and let us
know how you are doing.
I remember Hardinge metal lathe using 5C collets, these are
tools room and 2nd operation lathe. The chuck could be air
or hand operated as you describe below. Now, after reading
what was posted here, I need to forego what I have in mind,
unless I am willing to spend a few grand just for a few
pieces of turn parts. it's just not worth it. I will have to
decide either Jet or General maxi-lathe (fixed or variable
speed). Thanks, I appreciate it very much.
Robert, you and other posters had been extremely helpful. I
learn a lot. The old craftsman was a starting point. Earlier
Bill suggested that I consider General Maxi Lathe. I did a
search and found General to be much heavier, model 25-100
cost around $299 and the 25-200 VS about $600. I will decide
after I visit the nearest Woodcraft store. I will take a
good look at Jet, ask a few questions and decide within the
next few next days. I will return after I bought the lathe
and ask more questions on chucks, accessories and turning
problems. Thanks again.