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Thread: tabletop lathe, and a couple of questions

  1. #1
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    tabletop lathe, and a couple of questions

    I dont know anything about lathes other than they spin and let you make shapes.
    thats it.
    I have a few questions, hopefully someone will set me straight and I wont have to ask the salesman.
    What is indexing?
    I understand variable speeds, but is it something that is truly important?
    How big a piece will I be able to make,(mainly looking for table legs up to 30 inches), if a lathe says 12x40?(I need to keep it as small as possible, space is valuable, this machine will be put underneath work bench at all times of non use)
    The chuck, does it come with a machine, or is this an extra cost?
    Do I need more than one chuck?
    What kind of chisels would I need to begin, can someone direct me to a place online that I can get a decent set, I dont need a 300 dollar set just right now.


    I know there are 100 brands, but Id likely go with a tabletop model well known for quality and manufactuter reliability.
    I noticed at the wood show, every booth, and I mean every booth that offered a try or showed a spinner, had a small Jet (white) lathe.
    Last edited by allen levine; 06-06-2009 at 04:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    I dont know anything about lathes other than they spin and let you make shapes.
    thats it.
    I have a few questions, hopefully someone will set me straight and I wont have to ask the salesman.
    What is indexing?
    I understand variable speeds, but is it something that is truly important?
    How big a piece will I be able to make,(mainly looking for table legs up to 30 inches), if a lathe says 12x40?(I need to keep it as small as possible, space is valuable, this machine will be put underneath work bench at all times of non use)
    The chuck, does it come with a machine, or is this an extra cost?
    Do I need more than one chuck?
    What kind of chisels would I need to begin, can someone direct me to a place online that I can get a decent set, I dont need a 300 dollar set just right now.


    I know there are 100 brands, but Id likely go with a tabletop model well known for quality and manufactuter reliability.
    I noticed at the wood show, every booth, and I mean every booth that offered a try or showed a spinner, had a small Jet (white) lathe.
    That's a lot of questions.
    A 12x40 is a full sized lathe. A mini would be more like a 10x14 and would be much smaller and more portable. The Jet is very popular but there are others.
    Chucks do not come with new lathes but other things do such as a drive spur and live center.
    Yes, the ability to change speeds is important. Starting a rough piece may need slow speeds and already rounded pieces turn better at higher speeds. Sanding is usually done at slow speeds. You do not need a fancy EVS system. A Reeves drive or just a hand changing belt system works fine.
    As for tools, I don't believe a beginner needs the whole shebang of tools. You can start with a few basics and build on those. I started with an set of El Cheapos and still use a couple. Quite a few came from garage sales and I have actually purchased a couple of the high priced variety. Even eBay could be a source. The guys here would probably sell you their extras at good prices.

  3. #3
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    Alas, poor Allen.
    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk
    www.wrworkshop.com

  4. #4
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    What is indexing?

    It's a way of accurately and repeatedly rotating the workpiece a specific number of degrees. For example, if I wanted to drill eight evenly spaced holes around the rim of a bowl, the holes would all need to be 45º of rotation from each other. I'd use the indexing feature turn the piece exactly 45º at a time. It's used when the lathe is turned off.

    I understand variable speeds, but is it something that is truly important?

    Yes, it's important to be able to change speeds. Some lathes have electronic variable speed (EVS), some have a "Reeves drive" (which is a mechanical way of adjusting the speed while the lathe is running), and others have multi-step pulleys and you move the belt from one pulley to the next to change speeds. For your purposes, the stepped pulleys would work fine, although the luxury of EVS is very nice. (In most cases, I'd recommend against a Reeves drive. They work, but can become problematic.)

    How big a piece will I be able to make,(mainly looking for table legs up to 30 inches), if a lathe says 12x40?

    A 12 x 40 lathe could theoretically make a piece 12" in diameter x 40" long. In real life, it'd probably be more like 11 1/2" x 38" or so.

    The chuck, does it come with a machine, or is this an extra cost?

    The chuck is an extra cost accessory. For turning spindle projects like table legs, a chuck can be handy but it's not required by any means. In most cases, your new lathe will come with the spur and drive centers (the pointy bits that hold a spindle to the lathe). For bowls and other vessels, and chuck is still not required, but it sure makes the turning process easier for most folks.

    Do I need more than one chuck?

    Nope. Chucks have jaws to hold the wood, and these jaws come in different sizes and shapes, and a lot of folks have more than one set of jaws for their chuck. A person can undo 8 screws or so and change to a different set of jaws if necessary. Multiple chucks are only necessary if you don't like to change the jaws.

    What kind of chisels would I need to begin, can someone direct me to a lace online that I can get a decent set, I dont need a 300 dollar set just right now.

    In about 95% of the cases I've seen, a new turner won't use all the chisels in a set. I've also seen that using cheaper tools can be cause for frustration to a new turner. (It happened to me.) That said, I'd still suggest buying the $40 set of HSS (high speed steel) turning tools from Harbor Freight, with the intention of spending $100 to $200 more (not immediately, though) on a select assortment of better-quality tools. You can get quite a few miles out of the $40 HF set, especially if you have a good sharpening jig (like the Wolverine jig, which costs 3+ times as much as the chisel set).

    There was a reason why you saw a lot of Jet mini lathes at the show...they are the standard by which all others are judged.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    Allen!!!! you go there and i will take yu off my will!!! i have warned yu that the spinny thing is bad news.... you will never be the same again..if you submit to there presure tactics...you have got to continue the legacy of keeping the flat world alive...

    but for the record yu got some real good info from the blond haired guy just now he seems to know how use one of those things purty well allen,, we all have seen his great work!
    Last edited by larry merlau; 06-06-2009 at 08:44 PM.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  6. #6
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    come to the darkside Allen! We have Cookies!
    -Ned

  7. #7
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    Harbor Freight has a decent set of HSS turning tools (HSS is HSS) but as i remember they do not have a bowl gouge in their sets. If your just going to turn spindle legs and such this set is a good one (I own one of them). Since that time i have made my own handles for them.
    I agree with Vaughn - I do not use all the tools in the set - im sure ive tried them but over time i have favored certain tools.
    When you want to start on bowls i would suggest you buy a good quality gouge - You will get alot of recommendations on here for them - Check Thompson on here and Check Monster Tools (I own them to and they are very good quality).
    I would suggest However as Vaughn Mentioned - Have a good way to sharpen your tools and you wont go wrong - I use the Wolvrine Jig myself and find it easy and quick to use. I have since reshaped the HF set i bought to suit my own needs - with this jig you can do it fairly easy.
    Opinion - Jet makes a very good lathe
    Chucks - I am happy with my SuperNova-2 but i would suggest you get a good one....Oneway - VicMarc - SuperNova are a few.

    Hope some of this helps you

  8. #8
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    Don't worry about Larry! WE know where he lives and the VORTEX is strong. The Army of Assimilation will protect you from the non-believer!

    As has been suggested, the Jet mini lathe is a good one and comes in variable speed. Woodcraft, I believe, still has the Rikon 70-100 on sale, for under $300.00. This is also a Very good lathe, kept even after the purchase of a full sized lathe. It is 11-1/2" Dia X 15-1/2" length, add an extention and you have 35-1/2". Long enough for table legs.

    The leg set, if you don't mount the lathe to a bench, is, I believe the most versitle out there. Height is VERY important, if you want to be able to turn more than about 20 minutes at a time. If you have to bend over, your lower back will cry OUCH!!!! If to high, you will get a lot more catches and your arms will scream at you! The correct height is - the height of your elbow from the floor + 1/2 to 1". This is measured to the tip of the Drive Center.

    Hope this helps,

    Bruce
    Bruce Shiverdecker - Retired Starving Artist ( No longer a Part timer at Woodcraft, Peoria, Il.)

    "The great thing about turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed and you have something beautiful. Nature does the hard part!"

  9. #9
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    YOu guys have answered my questions.
    Bruce is scaring me a bit.Its not like building 250 lb cabinets is easy on my back, but its clear to me now, especially after that warning, something I never thought about, I will need to make sure if not my table height, I have a stand, even if I had to store it away.(I wonder if there are full blown cases of Myasthenia Gravis who actually turn wood, Im hoping I never have to find out personally, I dont want to ever give this hobby up)
    I will visit the harbor freight store this coming monday, I really want that truck bed extender, and a few other little sale items they have.
    Since Im machine challenged, I feel sticking with a branded quality name is whats best for me, even if it costs me a few extra dollars.
    And service is always easier, and I know the tool guy near me carries Jet, and powermatic.

  10. #10
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    don't worry larry, if allen succumbs to the dark side, i'll help ya uphold the honor of the flat world!
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

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