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Thread: Help deciding which lathe to buy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Austin TX

    Help deciding which lathe to buy

    Hello all,

    I'm pretty sure this question will end up being a mustard vs. all others , and I'm certainly not trying to start any wars, but here goes anyways. I'm fairly new to the turning arena (I've got a Jet mini 1220 but looking toward the future) and would really appreciate you guys thoughts. At present, I don't have much extra room to put a massive piece of equipment. That being said, how did you decide on the lathe you presently have (Oneway, Powermatic, Vicmark, Nova, Grizzly, Jet, VB36...)? Good features and not so good features (as per your own opinion) that might help me in this process for whatever machine you have, had, or have tried and either liked or didn't like.

    Thanks in advance and remember we can all agree to disagree.
    Lee Laird
    Austin TX

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan


    well lee i thought about it hard and even looked at some old ones, coulda got a nice oliver for a song, but the more i looked the pull kept gettin harder so i finally decided to run away from it bill grumbine tried his hardest to get me to use his at a five barn picnic but i fortunatly had several others that wanted it to.. so i was saved from what i learned in my short time was that the mustards like vaughn has is one of the top contenders, and one way and the old olivers are in there to it depends on the dollars you have available to you and where you think you will be in the next few years. one thing i have learned is to try to buy once. get the most you can and maybe a touch more, that way you wont be buying two to get where your happy with what you have. there now, dont tell anyone that flatlander even replied ok
    Last edited by larry merlau; 08-24-2008 at 07:09 PM.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    This thread might help:

    If it isn't clear in the thread, main reasons I went with the Grizzly G0632 were: it compared favorably, in fact almost identically, with the Jet and not far behind, in features with the PM. Features considered and factored with price, the Griz was the choice. If price were not a consideration, who knows (?), I might have a PM. But, for me, with a Grizzly store being somewhat local, I was able to examine before purchase in person. They are available for service and parts, if needed. I have had previous excellent experience with both the Grizzly company and their products. Summed up, for me, price/features/accessibility all stirred into the pot came up Grizzly G0632.
    For the amount of money you are considering spending, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not, at least, compare the Griz with the other makes you are considering.
    BTW, I am completely happy with the choice. A friend came over yesterday and test drove it. He can afford anything he wants and I'm pretty sure he will be buying the Griz.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Drums, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Laird View Post
    ... how did you decide on the lathe you presently have
    I turned on a few of the lathes you mentioned plus a few others (Vega and Poolewood). I've been turning a 1236 for 5 or so years and had a pretty firm idea of what I liked to turn.

    It was easy to eliminate the ones I didn't like or had features that I didn't care about or lacked.

    The Vega handled bowls great but had some problems dealing with pens.

    The Poolewood was a great lathe, with a headstock that could rotate. It handled big bowls and small pens equally well. I was set on getting this, but they stopped selling them in the US and I was worried about service.

    Grizzly is just a wannabe while the Laguna 1847 was too new and didn't have any track record. There has been some major issues with the Laguna, I'm glad I didn't get one.

    Vicmark quality was getting spotty at the time.

    The VB is a great bowl lathe that can do spindles with a $xtra tailstock attachment. A 30" tailstock assembly is about the price of a complete PM3520.

    Robust was just starting out, I did turn on one later and this is a really great lathe. Maybe one of the best out there.

    So I ended up with 3 lathes to choose from.
    Oneway 1640, Oneway 2436 and a PM3520.

    Looking to eliminate the 3520, I asked this question on the AAW Forum.

    It convinced me to purchase a 3520.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Lee, for me, I felt the PM 3520b had the most bang for the buck in the size range I was interested in (20" swing). I would have loved a Robust, but it was clearly out of my price range. The Oneway lathes are superb, but considerably more expensive than the PM for the equivalent capacity. Yes, smaller lathes like the Jets and Grizzlys can turn bigger pieces outboard, but outboard turning has its own limitations and other issues (like vibration).
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Inside the Beltway

    Like Larry said: the big thing is your price range. Can you give us some idea?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Tokiwadai, Japan
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Laird View Post
    .... That being said, how did you decide on the lathe you presently have....? Good features and not so good features (as per your own opinion) that might help me in this process for whatever machine you have, had, or have tried and either liked or didn't like.

    Good way to help you decide .... Members can help Lee out by explaining why they bought what they did..

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Money Money Money

    Honestly, I think this is a loaded question.

    The two biggest factors: what do you turn or want to turn, and how much are you willing to spend (space is imortant too). These will determine which are on your list of possibilities. If you have a huge space and tons of money, I would go with the 22 foot Oliver pattern maker's lathe that's going for around $17, 500. (Yes, I am partial to old iron.)

    But I don't think you can go wrong with a PM, Robust, Oneway, or VB 36. These are all on my list of dream purchases, the PM being the most attainable. I know you want to know about strengths and weaknesses, but some of these machines' weaknesses aren't noticed by the average turner. If you want to do extremely large and heavy outboard work, the decision becomes more difficult, cuz there aren't very many people doing this kind of work, and so there isn't a lot of feedback available. Between centers any of these machines can handle massive pieces.

    If you could post what kind of things you want to turn that would be very helpful. Also, if you already have a lathe that you plan on keeping, than you have more flexibility as well. Good luck!

    Last edited by Matt Hutchinson; 08-24-2008 at 11:11 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    I agree with Matt. The big question is what do you think or want to turn. Size mattered for me as my shop is fairly small. I bought the Nova DVR XP and haven't been sorry. I made enough room later when I sold my joniter and planer so added a bed extension. I turn pens to 16" bowls and HF's.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Austin TX
    I think, looking into the future, that most things I'd turn would be similar to what Bernie listed (pens to 16" bowls and HF's). The PM is likely to be the outside limit on the costs. While the cost around $2000 would be more likely attainable.

    Frank and Ron, I read the links in your earlier messages and had some really informative stuff.

    I look forward to any further assistance and thank everyone who has already chimed in.
    Lee Laird
    Austin TX

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