Which Midi lathe?

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
duplicator attachment?
Thanks in advance.
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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.
Start here:
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Then try searching this group with "which midi lathe" and you will get about 450 hits.
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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.
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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.
Welcome, Turner.
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 from Woodcraft
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, etc.
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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.
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Stephen M
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. :-)
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" snipped-for-privacy@aol.com" writes:
Every so often this goes on sale for about $70. It's really a best buy as grinders go.
Reply to
Bruce Barnett
Turner writes:
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 of ideas
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.
Reply to
Bruce Barnett
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 take $10.
Look for - 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 and rec.crafts.woodturning in the "GROUP" field
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> I
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.
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Have fun finding your perfect lathe - and accessories! charlie b
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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
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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 too long.
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?
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You may want to look at the new General Maxi Lathe. Sells for around $530 from Edmond and Sons in Atlanta.
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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 attachment?
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 constrained.
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.
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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 :-)
Thanks again
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I am trying to stay away from a full size lathe, space constrain. BTW, what's the model, doesn't hurt browsing. Thanks.
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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. Bill
Reply to
Bill in Detroit
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.
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In article ,
Robert has a good point, if you are trying to make a business, you need to come up with a plan to separate yourself from everyone else.
Reply to
Ralph E Lindberg

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.
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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.
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