lathe for new turner


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I have been kicking around the idea of getting a lathe for a while.  I have exactly 0 experince turning, so the excitement of learning something new is strong motivation.

I was looking at some lathes, and thought maybe this one would fit the bill.  Is this lathe too small?  i would like to turn things like tool handles, spindles, and bowls. i dont know what the max size bowl i can turn on this machine is.  Anyone offer some advice?

i will not be turning pens - ever.

http://www.rikontools.com/Product%20Sheets%20NEW/70-220VSR-2015PS.pdf

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If you are going to do small spindles for things like cradles and such, the Rikon could be a good choice. If you want to turn legs and balusters, you probably should go with something longer. I have the 14" Jet lathe that will handle 36" long spindles. I am glad I got the longer lathe. Most of my projects are shorter, but once in awhile the extra length comes in handy. That said, it is kind of hard to tuck a 400 lb. lathe under your workbench.

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Rikon makes decent stuff, my friend has the mini and likes it.  If you do get that, bolt it down to something really heavy, my harbor freight lathe weighs maybe 200lbs and another 250 of concrete on it, can still jump around with an out of balance blank on there.  I plan on getting this sometime this year.  http://www.grizzly.com/products/22-x-42-Variable-Speed-Wood-Lathe/G0766

Why don't you want to turn a pen?

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I got one of those crappy pen state lathes for my first lathe, i wouldnt recommend it, i had to fix so much stuff that kept braking and the replacement parts were too weak. 

The rikons look well built for the price.

Personally i would find like a local group (check for aaw chapters near you) or local turners and actually do some turning before getting a lathe, you can always turn spindles on a lathe that has the weight and capacity for bowls and hollowforms but not the other way around. 

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Turning is pretty fun and easy to get into. Its probably the only bit of woodworking that involves instant gratification. Meaning you can go from a piece of rough lumber to a finished product very quickly. 

That being said I would not recommend the lathe you are looking at unless you have some pretty tight space constraints or you know you never plan to do anything large then 20" long. That is not even long enough to turn a bat. Not that you mentioned a bat, but that should give you a pretty good visualization about you constraints. And bowls under 12" is not really very large by modern standards. Most lathes folks plan to use for bowls have at least a 16" swing and many have considerably more. Bottom line is that this is not ideal. 

If you have the space go for something a little bigger, and keep in mind as well that your lathe is nothing more then a paperweight without at least 1 turning tool, some way of holding wood (chucks, centers etc), and grinder and stone to sharpen your tool (which will need to be done at least once before every single project and for large projects multiple times during each project, so its not optional). Thus you should be budgeting at least $300 in addition to the cost of the lathe assuming you don't already have these things.

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11 minutes ago, minorhero said:

Turning is pretty fun and easy to get into. Its probably the only bit of woodworking that involves instant gratification. Meaning you can go from a piece of rough lumber to a finished product very quickly. 

That being said I would not recommend the lathe you are looking at unless you have some pretty tight space constraints or you know you never plan to do anything large then 20" long. That is not even long enough to turn a bat. Not that you mentioned a bat, but that should give you a pretty good visualization about you constraints. And bowls under 12" is not really very large by modern standards. Most lathes folks plan to use for bowls have at least a 16" swing and many have considerably more. Bottom line is that this is not ideal. 

If you have the space go for something a little bigger, and keep in mind as well that your lathe is nothing more then a paperweight without at least 1 turning tool, some way of holding wood (chucks, centers etc), and grinder and stone to sharpen your tool (which will need to be done at least once before every single project and for large projects multiple times during each project, so its not optional). Thus you should be budgeting at least $300 in addition to the cost of the lathe assuming you don't already have these things.

Good reply, thanks.  I think I need to get a good book on the basics.

Like all wood working, I am not under the illusion this will be an inexpensive venture.  Sharpening gear, turning tools, accessories, and education will all need to be in the budget.

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My first lathe was a Delta midi lathe which appears to be similar to the Rikon. I made many things on that lathe over 3 years until this year when I upgraded to the Jet 1642 which I love. I still have the Delta which I also love. For me turning became my primary passion, but going into it you just don't know if you will like it and it is hard to want to plunk down 2 grand or more on a big lathe when it might turn into a coat rack. Heck, I thought $700 for my small lathe was risking a lot of money. So I do recommend starting out with a modest sized lathe such as the Rikon or the Delta, and if/when you upgrade I recommend the Jet 1642. Lots of bang for your buck.

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My first lathe was a Jet 10-14 with a bed extension. Got it for a steal at $125, sold it to Hal Taylor 2 years ago when I bought my Jet 16-42. Sadly I don't turn all that much anymore, but for a while it was all I did. They are a lot of fun, and I think for a first lathe a 12-20 is a good start. It's a good enough unit that you can turn small bowls, tool handles, mallets, pens, finials, and anything else you can imagine. Should you decide turning is just that badass you can always sell and go bigger. 

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Honestly, I would say "no, don't get it."

 

Not because of the joke about having bells and whistles on the lathe, and learning to run before you walk.  More because you are not interested in pens, and a lathe like this is not the longest bed in the world.  Sure, you could get a bed extension for it, and that would solve some of the length issues, but what you've listed (tool handles, spindles, bowls) is a wider variety of turning and no one lathe is designed for all of them.  (Don't get me wrong: they all handle these.  But they're all designed for one facet of turning over the rest.)  The best option to look for is one that handles all the primary needs, and right now, it appears that your biggest hiccup will be in the bowl category.

 

Not knowing how large a bowl you want to turn will affect things.  My experience with bowl turning has not been pretty, but I've been out of the shop for a year now, and am really rusty.  I have a lathe smaller than this one, and have attempted something along the lines of a candy dish (as I have about a 6-8" swing), but it didn't turn out satisfactorily.  (Should have waited for the glue to cure.)

 

Tool handles have such a wide range of meanings, though.  When you say tool handles, which tools did you have in mind?  Mallets?  Chisels?  Turning tools?  Mallets, for example, only need about 12 inches of bed length, while a turning tool could go as much as 36 inches.  (Depends on the size of the tool, your body position, the size of the lathe, etc.)  While I don't see many 36" long tools, I have seen a few.

 

Take a look at the PopWood Turning series with Tim Yoder.  The current episodes are free, and there's a lot of good stuff in there.  His turning shop is (if I remember correctly) about 12 by 12, and he's got a full-size lathe in there... May be more than you need, but he'll walk you through a lot of his reasons for the stuff he does.  (Although he probably doesn't mention the fumes from the CA glue all that often...)  I started with the Tulip Planter episode, and that might be a good place.  Given the age of it, I don't know if it's still available for free.  (Something about PopWood and subscriptions.)

 

(As much as I think this is the wrong lathe for you, I do like that indexing feature.  Don't have that on my lathe, and I'd like to play with it.  The easy-to-change belt speed is nice: mine is behind the headstock, requiring me to reach over and behind - lighting is tricky.)

On 1/12/2016 at 2:18 PM, Miles11we said:

Personally i would find like a local group (check for aaw chapters near you) or local turners and actually do some turning before getting a lathe, you can always turn spindles on a lathe that has the weight and capacity for bowls and hollowforms but not the other way around. 

Or take a class at Woodcraft.  Sure, most of them will be in the pen category, but you'll get hands-on experience with speeds, tools, sharpening (which will happen at least once per project), and lathe selection.  Plus, you'll get to pick the brains of your classmates, and find out what they want out of the lathe.  And the instructor will have a lot of good info, too.

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Oh no, you've let the turning bug bite you. I'm afraid it's terminal. Say goodbye to your excess money, it's never coming back.

I bought a huge lathe for super cheap, and now I'm afraid it's a bit big for my shop. I purchased mine for pretty much the exact reasons you are wanting to, and I've never turned anything with a bigger diameter than about 9" and the length has never really come into play except for messing around.

I'd say look for a lathe that has a motor you can swivel for larger bowls than the bed would allow for. Just make sure it has the HP to match. Bed length is the X factor, but I'd have to assume that for most lathes you can add on extensions, even if you have to craft them yourself. It's a lot harder to go smaller once you decide you need that space for something else.

Oh yeah, look at the ways you can change speeds. I'd much rather turn a lever than switch pulleys.

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Pug, I bought some of the Yoder videos from amazon.  I'm happy to send you "the definitive beginner's guide" DVD if you'd like - he discusses what to look for in a lathe in pretty clear language.  PM me your address and I'll pop it in the mail.

 

I took a turning class at SUNY Purchase in the fall - it was a great opportunity to try a bunch of different lathes...  I got to use Powermatics, Oneways, Jets, Stubbys...  a really neat way to experience the different features.  My class was with Jason Schnieder (he turns cardboard), but the previous instructor was a guy named Carl Ford.  I've checked out his website, he has an interesting article on buying a first lathe: http://carlford.info/blog/2015/07/newbie-lathe/  The "things to look for" section is pretty helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On January 20, 2016 at 8:12 PM, -MattK- said:

Pug, I bought some of the Yoder videos from amazon.  I'm happy to send you "the definitive beginner's guide" DVD if you'd like - he discusses what to look for in a lathe in pretty clear language.  PM me your address and I'll pop it in the mail.

 

I took a turning class at SUNY Purchase in the fall - it was a great opportunity to try a bunch of different lathes...  I got to use Powermatics, Oneways, Jets, Stubbys...  a really neat way to experience the different features.  My class was with Jason Schnieder (he turns cardboard), but the previous instructor was a guy named Carl Ford.  I've checked out his website, he has an interesting article on buying a first lathe: http://carlford.info/blog/2015/07/newbie-lathe/  The "things to look for" section is pretty helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks - will do.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I bought my Girlfriend a Grizzly G0462, because she wanted a lathe, and it was on sale when i went to buy my G0513 bandsaw.  She ended up leaving shortly after and I've put a lot of effort into thinking of ways to make my money back from it.  That being said, I'm having a great time turning a new item almost every day.  The Grizzly isn't too expensive but so far seems good enough to do all kinds of things.  I've made pens and knobs on it, and been able to put 17" long pine logs on it, to turn legs for benches in my backyard.  Yeah the Rikon or a Powermatic, would probably be the ultimate, but for the cost, I have no real complaints on the Grizzly.  The only thing that it doesn't do, is lock in place.

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On January 15, 2016 at 8:34 PM, minorhero said:

Turning is pretty fun and easy to get into. Its probably the only bit of woodworking that involves instant gratification. Meaning you can go from a piece of rough lumber to a finished product very quickly. 

That being said I would not recommend the lathe you are looking at unless you have some pretty tight space constraints or you know you never plan to do anything large then 20" long. That is not even long enough to turn a bat. Not that you mentioned a bat, but that should give you a pretty good visualization about you constraints. And bowls under 12" is not really very large by modern standards. Most lathes folks plan to use for bowls have at least a 16" swing and many have considerably more. Bottom line is that this is not ideal. 

If you have the space go for something a little bigger, and keep in mind as well that your lathe is nothing more then a paperweight without at least 1 turning tool, some way of holding wood (chucks, centers etc), and grinder and stone to sharpen your tool (which will need to be done at least once before every single project and for large projects multiple times during each project, so its not optional). Thus you should be budgeting at least $300 in addition to the cost of the lathe assuming you don't already have these things.

Pug needs one long enough to turn hockey sticks

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Pug needs one long enough to turn hockey sticks

Of lacrosse sticks (canadas other official sport).

Really? Ive never seen Lacrosse anywhere here. Then again, this is Quebec and it always tends to be a little backwards compared to the rest of Canada. I was going to say curling brooms ! Now that's a sport !

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2 minutes ago, shaneymack said:

Really? Ive never seen Lacrosse anywhere here. Then again, this is Quebec and it always tends to be a little backwards compared to the rest of Canada. I was going to say curling brooms ! Now that's a sport !

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yup, canada has two official sports (which, in itself, is a very "canadian" thing to do).. winter is hockey and summer is lacrosse.

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Really? Ive never seen Lacrosse anywhere here. Then again, this is Quebec and it always tends to be a little backwards compared to the rest of Canada. I was going to say curling brooms ! Now that's a sport !

Sent from my SM-N910W8 using Tapatalk

yup, canada has two official sports (which, in itself, is a very "canadian" thing to do).. winter is hockey and summer is lacrosse.

This blows my mind. Ive never even seen this sport on tv. Don't even think we ever played this in highschool and i went to english school. So weird.

Time to move to Ontario......

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1 hour ago, shaneymack said:

This blows my mind. Ive never even seen this sport on tv. Don't even think we ever played this in highschool and i went to english school. So weird.

Time to move to Ontario......

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I was born and raised in NS, and i never played it either.  When I moved to Ontario, I was surprised by how huge it is here.

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  • 1 month later...

A Shopsmith might be a fun first lathe for turning bowls , spindles, etc.

The older ER models are mostly cast iron and maybe more solid than the newer aluminum variable speed models.

That said, variable speed is a plus, although it can be finicky.

Unlike most other lathes the ShopSmith can be converted to a VERY useful light-medium duty drill press and horizontal borer. Also converts to a real fine 12" disc sander and very functional grinder. It can also be converted to a tablesaw although  it seems scary and I've never used one that way.

There are a gazzilion accessories for Shopsmiths and a vast quantity of online info and forums.

Like the Ryobi BT3000 tablesaw I reviewed, the Shopsmith is quite innovative and ingeniously designed and engineered.

I've had several Shopsmiths. I like them, especially as a drill press because of their easily moveable and tilt-able table and the fact that the table stays aligned with the chuck when you raise and lower it (the table).

They are often listed on CraigsList and often at ridiculously high prices but every now and then I see one, with sanding disc, lathe centers, drill chuck, etc. for $100-$200. I've bought several and sold off the accessories I didn't need on eBay for more than my original cost and ended up with the basic machine for free.

The Shopsmith is in no way a heavy duty lathe but it'd be a fun and inexpensive toy for a first time hobbyist.

I think it might even be long enough to turn a hockey stick.

: )

 

 

 

 

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I don't turn but, my father has some insights.  Take it away dad . . .

Hi,

Here is my 2 cents worth.

I am really glad that I purchased the bed extension with my Delta 46-460 lathe.  Let’s do a tiny bit of, ugh, math.

You start with a 20” bed.  Inside of that 20” you have to have something to hold the wood and a bit of “safety” room at the ends of what you are going to turn.

If you have a  20” bed you will lose a chuck’s thickness (to hold and rotate the wood).  My Nova chucks, with normal dovetail jaws extend 3 ½” into the 20”.  The remaining span for wood is now                                                                                                                                        16 ½”

You really do not want your turning tool to get touched by a spinning chuck.  That would give you enough excitement to last for the rest of the year.  As a beginner you will probably want a safety space of ¾”.  The remainder for wood is now down to                                                           15 ¾”

Something has to hold the other end of the wood.  Usually it is a “live center” which will cost you 2” of turnable wood space.  This leaves                                                                                  13 ¾

For certain tasks, which you may very well not do, a large cone center will cost you another 2”.  Since many turners never do these fairly common tasks I will not subtract the extra 2” it will use.                                                                                                                                         (11 ¾)

If you drill holes in the end of your work (examples: hole for electric cord in a lamp, hole for pepper mills, pepper shakers, candle holders, dry vase) you will need room for a chuck and the bit (3” for the chuck plus the length of the drill or Forstner bit.  Let’s be conservative and say 6” total).

So what I am saying is that under these circumstances you have: 7 ¾” left for wood for a regular center in the tailstock or 5 ¾ if a large cone is used.                                                      7 ¾  or 5 ¾

You want to turn bowls, your turning tool, elbow, etc. will find the tailstock in the way some of the time so you will need to remove it at those times.  With the extension added to your lathe this will not be a problem; you just slide the tailstock to the right.

I also find variable speed to be a wonderful thing.

I hope I have helped your thing on this wonderful venture.

Enjoy,

Jim Bradley

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