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Used lathe rant

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For years I've been keeping things I think would be cool once turned. I don't have a lathe but always knew at some point, I would and having a back log of dried chunks of figured wood, branch wood and burls from my Urban logging would come in handy.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been watching CL for Los Angeles, OC, and Ventura counties. Which have about 50 million people combined and there seems to be about no used market for full sized lathes. Are they that seldomly upgraded that there isn't really a cycle for them? Do Turner's just run them into the ground and sell for parts when it's dead?

It's frustrating wanting to get your feet wet in turning, but having to lay out two grand to try with no idea if it's something you'll actually enjoy and keep up on.

Rant over, dismounts soap box.

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Are these any good?

https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/dak/tls/d/excelsior-wood-lathe-with/6568752164.html

Also have you tried contacting a local wood turning guild or group. I swear there is a turning guild everywhere and they probably just sell the lathes among them selves.

I can find metal working lathes for days but it seems there are fewer wood laths here as well.

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Those Excelsior lathes have excellent reviews on Rockler. It would be a good, low investment option to see if turning is your thing.

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What you have witnessed for some time is pretty typical. It’s not unusual to see something like a nova dvr or the jet floor model. They certainly aren’t common, and something like the powermatic 4224 are once a year type finds. I’ll be honest, you are probably better buying new if you want a lathe. Good lathes retain their value more than any other tool. Think of good lathes like LN hand planes or festool gear. I wouldn’t expect half off. 

 

I got got a good deal on a dvr, found out turning wasn’t really for me, and now I have a comet. 

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Yeah I gave up on that dream a while ago. I have decided to buy the little WEN benchtop lathe, and use that to see how much I like turning and how much I want to invest.  I'm not really interested in "buy once cry once" for a tool like a lathe, given my lack of experience turning, would prefer to just buy a little thing and try it out with little investment.

Although a quick search did yield this one not far from you in La Crescenta:  https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/tls/d/general-wood-lathe/6587073613.html (not cheap but not bad either for a General).

And there's this one down near me, I could go check it out for you if you want: https://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/tls/d/delta-lathe/6581867695.html

 

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8 hours ago, JosephThomas said:

Yeah I gave up on that dream a while ago. I have decided to buy the little WEN benchtop lathe, and use that to see how much I like turning and how much I want to invest.  I'm not really interested in "buy once cry once" for a tool like a lathe, given my lack of experience turning, would prefer to just buy a little thing and try it out with little investment.

Although a quick search did yield this one not far from you in La Crescenta:  https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/tls/d/general-wood-lathe/6587073613.html (not cheap but not bad either for a General).

And there's this one down near me, I could go check it out for you if you want: https://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/tls/d/delta-lathe/6581867695.html

 

I appreciate all the advice guys and honestly, it's the exact same advice I would give to someone else saying the same thing.  I'm not looking for  my "one lathe to rule them all". Truth is, I got hooked in with the turning club in my area a Few years ago.  Meet a few guys who I still talk to and will let let bring beer over and turn something I need for a project with or for me.

      Besides this forum and YouTube, I'm pretty self taught and at this point, having a lathe is more of a "would be really nice to have if the deal is right, on the right machine. I wouldn't buy a new powermatic for half off if I found one. I don't have the space or need for all that machine. 

A DV4 or jet midi would work for the needs and scratch the itch but am I willing to spend what a core piece of shop tooling costs?  Most of my machines are second hand. Jointer, Planer, Drum sander, dust collector, table saw.. all I found good deals on needing a little tlc. 

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6 minutes ago, JosephThomas said:

Yeah. The wen costs 150 though, far less than the jet midi. Otherwise I agree.

Yeah I saw that. Wasn't familiar with it before that though. 

12"  would definitely be on the must have list. A lot of the material I have already to turn will have to be  cut down a into a smaller cylinder on the band saw and that was with a 12 capacity.

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The midi's are pretty decent machines, actually. Ideally, you want a Nova DVR or something like that. Used will be right in your budget and allow for some tools and a chuck. Personally, variable speed is a MUST. I would take a smaller lathe with VS over a bigger one with belt changes. 

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You gotta hunt CL and ebay everyday. I swear for about 3 years, every time I didn't have money there were a bloody ton of beautiful old Deltas and Powermatics, but the minute I came into some cash, they dried up.  Now that I have a beautiful, old Walker Turner, I secretly hate the people who can just turn a knob to change speed. Belt changing has taught me patience. So, I just have to slow down and enjoy the process, which is just fine.

I have learned that the lathe is actually the cheap part. Seriously, take the advice and do some classes or join a guild. You really want to try this out a lot before you start sinking cash. Once you decide you like it, it quickly becomes the loudest "one more tool" justification I have recently experienced.

Serious 12 step work will be required to get you off turning after that point.

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1 hour ago, Johnny4 said:

You gotta hunt CL and ebay everyday. I swear for about 3 years, every time I didn't have money there were a bloody ton of beautiful old Deltas and Powermatics, but the minute I came into some cash, they dried up.  Now that I have a beautiful, old Walker Turner, I secretly hate the people who can just turn a knob to change speed. Belt changing has taught me patience. So, I just have to slow down and enjoy the process, which is just fine.

I have learned that the lathe is actually the cheap part. Seriously, take the advice and do some classes or join a guild. You really want to try this out a lot before you start sinking cash. Once you decide you like it, it quickly becomes the loudest "one more tool" justification I have recently experienced.

Serious 12 step work will be required to get you off turning after that point.

You could add a VFD to your old lathe .... just ya know throwing that out there.

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15 hours ago, JosephThomas said:

I assume you mean 12" diameter and not length, right? :D

Yes correct. 

I have a feeling I would end up doing mostly bowl turning, vessels, and segmented stuff. 

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1 hour ago, Johnny4 said:

You gotta hunt CL and ebay everyday. I swear for about 3 years, every time I didn't have money there were a bloody ton of beautiful old Deltas and Powermatics, but the minute I came into some cash, they dried up.  Now that I have a beautiful, old Walker Turner, I secretly hate the people who can just turn a knob to change speed. Belt changing has taught me patience. So, I just have to slow down and enjoy the process, which is just fine.

I have learned that the lathe is actually the cheap part. Seriously, take the advice and do some classes or join a guild. You really want to try this out a lot before you start sinking cash. Once you decide you like it, it quickly becomes the loudest "one more tool" justification I have recently experienced.

Serious 12 step work will be required to get you off turning after that point.

As fun as it sounds to look every day, I just don't have that in me.  

I have turned and as stated above, have hooked into a guild and met some people who will happily lend me lathe time in their shop. Which would work if there was something specific I want to do.

Really, it's having the ability to glue up a segment bowl and turn it the next day, take some cool branch wood into a form. Mostly, I want to have it on hand to learn what I don't know through trying, cussing and trying again. 

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3 hours ago, Pwk5017 said:

The midi's are pretty decent machines, actually. Ideally, you want a Nova DVR or something like that. Used will be right in your budget and allow for some tools and a chuck. Personally, variable speed is a MUST. I would take a smaller lathe with VS over a bigger one with belt changes. 

Good to know. I hate changing speeds on the drill press so I'll assume a lathe changing ever few would just be a constant irritation

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I bought a NOVA 1624 with belt change speed control.  I made it work for a while and could still, but it was annoying enough that I bought the DVR upgrade.

Still I got the 1624 on sale for $850 and the DVR upgrade was about $650 so I have $1500 invested which still compares favorably to other Variable speed Midi's on both price and features.

 

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1 hour ago, Mark J said:

I bought a NOVA 1624 with belt change speed control.  I made it work for a while and could still, but it was annoying enough that I bought the DVR upgrade.

Still I got the 1624 on sale for $850 and the DVR upgrade was about $650 so I have $1500 invested which still compares favorably to other Variable speed Midi's on both price and features.

 

This makes me think that I need to adjust my expectations or quit expecting. 

Single income, 5 mouths. Money isn't bootlace tight but not a single machine in my shop cost me $1500.  Actually my drum sander, band saw, and planer all cost me less combined. If it costs over a grand to dip your toe into the water with any expectation that you won't have to immediately upgrade from a POS, then that may just be it. Not my thing.

 

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That's a very reasoable thought.  Still I gotta think that someone in your club knows someone with a used lathe.  

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I originally had a 10" PSI lathe and upgraded to a 12" Jet.  I've gone as far as doing outboard turning on it by flipping the headstock around.  Pile enough weight on these midi lathes and they'll do all sorts of things.

outboard.thumb.jpg.197c63cca56b1dd5443c214ed784badc.jpg

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59 minutes ago, krtwood said:

I originally had a 10" PSI lathe and upgraded to a 12" Jet.  I've gone as far as doing outboard turning on it by flipping the headstock around.  Pile enough weight on these midi lathes and they'll do all sorts of things.

outboard.thumb.jpg.197c63cca56b1dd5443c214ed784badc.jpg

That's what I like to hear, and that picture makes you kind of a bad azxxxx.. if that thing comes apart, it's right by your nether regions.

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I was just joking about buying a Robust.   I haven't bought any new, large tools since 1974, and I use them for a living.   I don't do a lot of turning, other than to match some missing old house parts, so don't really need a lathe any larger than the Rockwell/Delta 46-411 that someone gave me.  I don't do a lot of belt switching either, but I do drill stuff on the non-variable speed drill press, and turn stuff on the lathe, that neither are running at the optimum rpm.

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Tom brings up a good point. If budget is paramount, plenty of Rockwell, delta, and powermatics from the 50s-80s out there for a song. They would not be ideal bowl machines, but could do just fine for 10ish” bowls. The pm45 is the smaller version of the 90, and then Tom mentioned the delta/Rockwell version. More spindle oriented lathes, but very cheap at times. Watch school auctions. I feel like the pm45 and 90 are staples at every single shop class auction. The pm90 would be a worthwhile machine with a riser block and VFD. 

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