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Thread: cheap lathe

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    cheap lathe

    We had a demonstration at my woodturning club yesterday.
    The member doing the demo was using a no-name El Cheapo mini lathe he bought off eBay years ago for $125.00. It was an EVS with an obviously small fractional HP motor. Even when finishing it would slow down, seriously lacking power.
    Nonetheless, he turns out some real attractive segmented bowls with it. His work is mighty fine.
    He can afford whatever he wants but this meets his needs.
    Got me to thinking that, maybe, some of us might be a little snobbish bragging about our super powerful, brand name, big yellow/green/white/whatever machines.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    12,243
    I dont know about that Frank. This reminds me of something pretty current with me right now. Planes. I have a good small block plane from LV and it rekindled my relationship with these tools cause it just works.

    On the other hand i have a cheapo lathe from Busy Bee and it has put me off turning for the moment. That is until i get the tailstock slop sorted out so that i dont have to keep pushing my shims into the edge to stop it moving about.

    I dont think one has to start with a nice expensive yella, but just look at Allens experience with the HF unit. Even his wife worked out he would be better off with something a little better.

    I know good tools dont make a good artisan but bad ones certainly dont help you learn other than what you are missing.
    cheers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
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    There are artists that can work with about anything and still produce great work... I don't know if the tools makes the man or if the man just works with what he has... if it works..

    I saw a video about a guy in Japan making the Kokeishi dolls... his lathe looked like an electric motor with a sharpened cylinder attached that the set his wood against, knocked it against the sharp edge with a wood mallet, the picked up what looked like strap iron tools and in about 5 minutes turned out a completed Kokeishi doll. No tail stock, just the wood banged onto the cylinder that was protruding from the motor..

    My father was a journeyman carpenter and the only power tool I ever saw him use was a '60's model Skil saw that he would change the brushes in periodically and put a new power cord and plug on whenever some would set it down on the card and cut it (according to him, happened every time he let some use his tools)..

    All that said, I still like my Jet lathes..... much better than the Ridgid I started on. Especially for bowls... the slowest speed on the Ridgid was 750 rpms.
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    Some cheapy lathes work better than others.

    I've got a Wilton mini lathe that cost all of $100 when I got it on Amazon. It's got a 2/5 hp motor with EVS and I can stall it just looking at it hard. But it runs true and without slop. With a light cut, it'll make anything it can swing.

    On the other hand, I had a Harbor Freight lathe given to me that was an absolute death trap. Nothing lined up, the bed flexed horribly, the lowest speed was way too high, and the On/Off switch was stuck in the On position. I threw it away.

    I understand your point about brand snobbishness, but some cheap lathes should not be owned. (And I'm not saying all HF lathes are bad. The one I had sure was, though.)
    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
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Goodland, Kansas
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    Frank I agree with you but most of the excellent turnings I have seen from a few turners in the area were done with old iron. Delta's, old PM's, etc. What amazes me is none of them have EVS systems just what they came with to begin with. My grandfather was a farmer but also built furniture. He never used a power tool that I know of not even a drill and we gave him one for Christmas. It was still in the box when he passed away. He built some absolutely beautiful furniture. I just wish I could I could do 1/4 of the stuff he did. I am of the old saying that the machine does not make the man.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: That’s when you return from work one day
    and say, “Hi, Honey, I’m home – forever.”

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

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    Some cheapy lathes work better than others.

    I've got a Wilton mini lathe that cost all of $100 when I got it on Amazon. It's got a 2/5 hp motor with EVS and I can stall it just looking at it hard. But it runs true and without slop. With a light cut, it'll make anything it can swing.

    On the other hand, I had a Harbor Freight lathe given to me that was an absolute death trap. Nothing lined up, the bed flexed horribly, the lowest speed was way too high, and the On/Off switch was stuck in the On position. I threw it away.

    I understand your point about brand snobbishness, but some cheap lathes should not be owned. (And I'm not saying all HF lathes are bad. The one I had sure was, though.)
    Yep. Especially, those guys who own Grizzly's. There is just no talking to them.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    I have a decent lathe but many people in my turning club have lesser lathes and do nicer stuff. It is the person, I think we get carried away with tools sometimes. Ok in my case all the time. Is there a AA for tool people?

    Anyhow think about it if the lathe is slowing down as he cuts he better have a efficant cut and a sharp tool. Probably knows right where the best part of the edge is. Mot likely the cheap lathes has resulted in better honed skills than alot of people.

    When I teach I use the one way spr centers for the same reason they slip if the cut is to aggressive.

  8. #8
    I understand what most of you are saying and I am also proud of my family's history -- This valley that I live in did not have electricity until the mid 50's

    But I am not a "ludite" = A person who is averse to addapting to technology. (sometimes spelled with 2 d's Luddite)

    Love my gagets too much and looking forward to next 50 years which would make me 115.
    Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it
    still sings!

  9. #9
    Guess my post scared off all the luddites! Did I offend all of you!
    Just trying to make life fun...

    Paul
    Last edited by Paul Gallian; 09-23-2009 at 02:52 AM.
    Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it
    still sings!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Gallian View Post
    I understand what most of you are saying and I am also proud of my family's history -- This valley that I live in did not have electricity until the mid 50's

    But I am not a "ludite" = A person who is averse to addapting to technology. (sometimes spelled with 2 d's Luddite)

    Love my gagets too much and looking forward to next 50 years which would make me 115.

    I guess I was wondering if you can can say that word hear..

    I just was wonderin
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

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