Well, the lathe is obviously my favorite tool. It’s my passion and it happens to be the oldest “power tool” on the planet. I’ve used, purchased and sold many lathes throughout the years. When most beginners consider purchasing a lathe they have a plethora of questions, then want to do research on another plethora of questions they weren’t aware of. After all, when shopping and researching something online, we all end up having more questions when perusing answers.
Here a quick and dirty list of basics you may want to consider when getting going. The biggest thing in buying a lathe is to buy more lathe than you think you need or want and more than you can afford . Buying a lathe and out growing it in a year can be costly. It’s like buying a gun safe…always buy the bigger one no matter how many firearms you currently own. Growing into things is almost always a prudent choice. However, don’t be afraid to put some time in on a used or starter model.
First ask yourself, what type of turning you will be doing. If you will mostly be turning spindles, then there’s no need for a swinging head option, on the other hand, if you’re going to jump into bowl turning, a swiveling head is vital. Your between centres capacity is less of an issue here. Also, bigger bowls means a bigger motor.
You do want to anticipate the largest diameter you’ll plan on trying. As with anything we purchase as mentioned above, it’s about anticipating size. Also, take into consideration how long you plan on spending on the lathe. As you go further up the range you will find this extra power and as with any hobby, turning can get expensive, as it is highly addictive. Budget your ambitions accordingly
Here are 4 major (of many) things to consider when purchasing a lathe. I encourage you to do further research then talk to the person selling it to you.
- Is it a floor or bench model? Either way, go for weight.
- Solid headstock and tailstock. Here again, go for size and weight. Housing should be a good die cast. It also needs to have a good spread between the bearings to ensure the spindle’s rigidity. The tailstock should be the same, make sure its bored with a Morse taper.
3. Swivel head. This helps with doing off lathe bigger pieces . Almost like outboard turning. I think you need this for sure. We’ll leave it at that.
- Motor controls. Variable speeds are a must. Allowing you to increase speed without stopping to change belts. Go for the model with the most whistles and bells such as speed memory, etc. You’ll need a foot or easy reach gear switch, make sure that’s equally durable.
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