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lathe stuff

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    thinking of a lathe, and looking at the wen knowing I have to buy chisels etc as well. This might be the wrong place to post this if so Im sorry but anyone got any feedback on lathes? I know I will be limited as to size of objects made but I cant afford a big thing and I dont know where I would put it. Anyway if possible if someone could help me out

  • #2
    Originally posted by rickm View Post
    thinking of a lathe, and looking at the wen knowing I have to buy chisels etc as well. This might be the wrong place to post this if so Im sorry but anyone got any feedback on lathes? I know I will be limited as to size of objects made but I cant afford a big thing and I dont know where I would put it. Anyway if possible if someone could help me out
    HAhhaaa, My same problem too I was thinking about a small 4 foot one (OD), but I only do smaller items ,,THEN what happens as you may know Expansions happens. And if you buy $$$ tools and decide oh heck? I ran metal lathes years ago and had a real good experience doing that , a real close relationship IN machinery.
    I would suggest If you can go to a shop and see if you can hang out to see how to!

    You mention the WEN? I have several of their items and have not been disappointed yet. .. Now ya got me thinkin. Oh and amazon / ebay you can find the tools.. I did not say that.. Good luck in your venture.

    Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!


    • #3
      Here are a couple of links:

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      • #4
        I got one that is a Jet takes up a lot of room and it was given to me. Even then it is expensive investment with good lathe tools (lots of junk ones out there like wood carving), sharpening equipment, sandpaper, polishing and etc... and the works are not cheap. The small ones I do not anything about...other than you could only do very small items. Be good at making pens. I would not get one unless you are serious about making and learning the whole ball game and getting your money's worth or finding a used one. And that takes a research on how to use a lathe and the list of everything you need, including materials. I will note you need someone to teach you how to sharpen your chisels it is not the same thing as sharpening your wood carving chisels and would go with Chuck's suggestion to hang out in a real shop to find out all the pointers. I would go to woodturner forums and tell them what your thinking about getting and etc like Claude suggested..
        . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


        • #5
          Here are some of the things needed there are some things you can take for granted as necessary to get anything done on a lathe.

          First, you need a shelf for your toolboxes, which is within easy reach, and hopefully out of the main path of the blue hot chips flying off the workpiece. You need a second shelf opposite the lathe controls, behind you as you work, for your most often used tools, the 10″ crescent wrench and small hammer, spare tool bits, a screwdriver or two, your main indicator set, and maybe a couple of different mag bases. A set of combination wrenches up to 1″ is good to have, as well as a few sets of Allen wrenches.

          You need a good pair of safety glasses on your head,, You want no rings on any fingers, and never wear gloves while running a lathe., I usually wear an impact shield to protect my face from flying wood.

          In your toolbox, you will need a 12″ rule with a universal bevel protractor head, and a center finding head to go with the square head. You will need a scriber or two, a center punch, and a cold chisel. A couple of 6″ rules are handy, one with a hook on one end, and maybe a drill point attachment.

          You’ll need outside mics to 3″, typically, and inside mics from 1 1/2″ -12″. You’ll need a set of small hole gauges and a set of snap gauges. You will need a good 6″ set of dial calipers, and a 12″ would not be a bad idea. You’ll need screw pitch gauges, radius gauges and a fishtail to set up for single-pointing. A 0–3″ depth mic is often a handy thing to have in your box.

          You’re going to want a plywood wall behind your table to keep flying chips out of the aisle.

          You will need a second shelf below the main one if your chuck has replaceable soft jaws, not to mention collets if so equipped, and a pile of Morse taper sleeves. There are always a few strips of emery cloth hanging on the wall, and usually, some hooks to hold some tools and things like drifts, and a few chunks of wood that have been slit in one end to wrap the emery around and polish bores. As you custom-grind tool bits for particular jobs, those bits tend to wind up in your toolbox as well. That box needs to be at least 24″ wide, to accommodate the 24″ rule you will eventually own. I had to buy extra large toolboxes to hold my equipment.

          I use a bandsaw to cut my wood to size for the lathe work as everyone I know does but you can buy wood pre-cut just for lathe work at places like woodcraft, especially for pen work.

          Add your waxes, polishes, and finishes...

          Don’t forget you will need a few grinders. Carbide tooling takes a special type of wheel, which is way too soft for high-speed steel, and if you want to get crazy you can get a diamond wheel. Do not get cheap lathe tools they will go into the trash can because they are incapable of doing the work.

          I am sure there is more I am forgetting. As people say the start-up cost is often more than the lathe. If you do pen work you need all that special pen parts.
          Last edited by DiLeon; 01-14-2022, 03:13 PM.
          . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


          • #6
            I have the mini Jet lathe for about 8 years. It has ben a good unit. I have 2 friends who are avid pen makers and they both have Wen lathes and love them.
            We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi


            • #7
              What do you hope to make on the lathe? Pens, small bowls, large bowls, table legs? Lathe recommendations will be highly dependent on your goals. I have a shopsmith. I can make small bowls or pens or maybe a short furniture leg. I can't turn long objects and I can't turn big things that aren't already somewhat balanced.

              A mini lathe for pens is not a huge investment, but it's basically only good for pens. A big lathe is very versatile but is also a big investment and a big use of shop space.


              • #8
                I've used a full sized wood lathe and at one time owned a small cheap plastic craft lathe from Harbor Freight. After having access to the full sized unit I don't think that I could ever be satisfied for anything that didn't provide the same performance. The problem that I ran into was cost versus usability. Although I'd love to have a good wood lathe I know that it would never pay for itself even in usage. With that being said, I turned out some killer fishing plugs on that little lathe.


                • #9
                  I have been making square things round since 1962. I have owned some real junker lathes, not worth the weight of the scrap metal, but I made do with them because they were available at the time.

                  Harbor freight sells a clone of the Jet 1236, a full size lathe. The HF lathe is this one. Wood Lathe w/ Reversible Head - 12'' x 33-3/8'' ( It is $429, the Jet is $919.

                  Chucks and tooling are expensive. Penn State Industries, a major penmaking supplier sells reasonably priced chucks and tooling. While on Penn State, PSI also sells some pretty good mini lathes.

                  Harbor Freight sells a set of chisels that are HSS, they are pretty decent value for the price. They are what I use. Their chucks are junk, they are metal lathe chucks with no bite for wood.

                  I would also consider the used market. Not much to wear out on wood lathes, motors are "generally" replaceable. Bearings are available at a good industrial supplier. My lathe is a Delta, it was made in 1970.


                  • #10
                    Just in mind, my first wood lathe was a home made one. It was built on a large saw horse type unit and the Ways were hard wood, the wash machine motor was down under with a 3 way pully as was the main Head. The whole units metal parts were made mostly of "water pipe" and the adjustment in and out were made by a 3/4" bolt 6" long through the frame, The tool holder was all of Hardwood and it ran very well for me. I had some old chisels from a college class they threw away They throw away so much anyway. to my advantage. I made three chairs with kind of fancy legs and a highchair for our first. I did get proficient enough to make some dowels and a number of those garden tools that you use for planting peas and such. I think they are called drivets??
                    Over the first 2 moves though it was left behind. You don't need fancy to be fancy. My 2p
                    Always hoping for a nice slice that won't need sanding!