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Thread: Peeking over the abyss

  1. #1

    Peeking over the abyss

    OK everyone, all this spinny stuff has got me thinking

    Not going to be a quick decision, but what do you think about this puppy?

    http://www.general.ca/pagemach/machines/25200a.html

    Pros Cons? Alternatives?

    Thanks

    Jay

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Honest opinion, the motor speed does not go slow enough, just like most of the Grizzly lathes.

    400RPM is FAST on a lot of stuff, in particular, sanding, for me, I sand at about 200 RPM, I find I get a much smoother surface, sandpaper lasts a LOT longer, and you have very little glazing over from too high a speed.

    Otherwise, I think it is a good lathe, but for me, the 400 rpm minimum would be a deal breaker.

    You are thinking about it Jay, so trust me, all hope is now lost!!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I noticed that 400 rpm low speed too. But, it is a small lathe, good for small stuff. Depending on what you want to do, it could be a good spindle or pen lathe. If you try 10" to 12" bowls on that, you will be dissapointed. 400 spinnies is dangerous with unbalanced stuff. What is the price? You might be better off with the very popular Jet Mini. Or just keep shopping for bigger machine with low(er) low speeds.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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

  4. #4
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    I see if for sale in your neck of the woods.........


    Utter Guys <-link

    ......... for $529 US

    For me, the "portable" lathe, that you would never outgrow, IMHO is the Vicmarc VL100, the "Pro" package...........



    OK the VL100 is a fair bit more money, but, I think it is of real value.

    Craft Supplies have it for $749, that is $220 more, but, over the life of a lathe, not a large difference. Also, if you where to get hooked and you did decide to sell it and buy something bigger, you would certainly get a lot more for the VL-100 that you would for the General.

    The VL-100 is a LOT more lathe, to me, in everything from the main shaft to the bearings and the motor etc, is is a lot more machine for that $220.

    I've seen them in person, and turned on one, and they are VERY well built machines.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Pete Jordon has one of those Jay and he really likes it. I also have a friend that has one in Colorado and he likes his.
    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.

  6. #6
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    I've read good things about that General lathe, Jay. I respectfully disagree with Stu on the speed issue. (Heck, the Jet mini only goes down to 500 rpm, and you don't hear a lot of folks complaining about that.) Unless you're regularly turning 11 1/2" bowls from square blocks of wood (instead of pre-rounded blanks), I doubt the 400 rpm lower limit will be a problem. (I sand at a faster speed than that, too.)

    This General does have a few more features and a bit more horsepower than the Jet mini, but I'm not sure if those features are worth the extra $200 or so that it costs. In contrast to Stu, I'd suggest considering getting something a little less expensive than the General (such as the Jet), and use the saved money on the other turning necessities.

    Oh, and abandon all hope. Looks like you're getting sucked in.
    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

  7. #7
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    Nice to get some respect, even if it is in disagreement

    Thing is, I'd rather spend the money up front on a good lathe, and as I learn and improve my skills, spend money in bits on the better tools, just my way of doing things.

    I have not seen the General, not for sale here, my concern is that on a lot of the "Price Point" lathes, it's the little things that suck the things you may not notice up front, stuff like the handles to tighten the banjo to the ways, or the handle to tighten the tool rest in the banjo, on some of the smaller lathes I've seen, these parts are not up to snuff, they are difficult to tighten and such. These are the things that you will have hands on many many times each time to stand there turning. Like having a good computer, but a mouse that sticks, or a keyboard that has a few sticky keys, annoying as can be.

    With the VL100, you will not ever have to worry about that stuff, it is a top drawer machine.

    I'm not saying the General is NOT good, I'm just saying that I'd look at those things.

    About the speed thing, I don't know how easily your lathe changes speeds, but when you can do it on the fly, or at the touch of a button it is something you use a lot more.

    I find the use I get out of the sanding pads is double or triple when I sand at 200 rpm, compared to 400 rpm, I've tried both, and the slow stead speed does not build up heat and the sanding is smoother, for me, YMMV

    Certainly Jay can get into the whole spinny thing on the cheap, I did, the old tube bed C-man lathes are out there for less than $50, but, I do not think that is the way to go. I'd at least get a Jet, or one of it's clones, but, to me, for just $220 more, the VL100 sure seems to be a LOT more lathe than the Chiawanese General lathe, one other point is that the VL100 has been on the market for a while, the General is a fairly new lathe, I don't like buying the first run of most anything, I'd rather not be the one to work out the bugs.

    Anyway you slice it, the slope is slippery Jay, enjoy the slide down it!!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
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    I don't deny that the Vicmark is a great lathe, but I don't think it's as prudent of a choice for a first lathe as the Jet mini or its brethren is. At that price point, the Vicmark seems more geared towards a serious turner who needs a small, semi-portable lathe. I don't see it as an entry-level tool unless money is no object. I guess my point is, if Jay buys a Jet mini, that's likely to be the last mini lathe he ever needs to buy. Like most folks who get a mini, he will potentially want a bigger lathe down the road. If he buys the Vicmark, he's still likely to want want a bigger lathe, but he's $400 to $500 poorer. The General is somewhere in the middle of all that. It's got a bit more power and capacity than the Jet, but then again it's about $200 more, and Jay is still likely to want a bigger lathe later.

    If someone wanted to spend $750 on their first lathe, I'd recommend saving a bit more and skipping the mini lathe route altogether.

    And to beat the sanding horse a bit more, both of my lathes adjust speed easily, and my mini goes down to zero rpm. I still find that about 500 rpm is my preference on pieces up to about 12" in diameter. More and more though, I don't sand much at all with the lathe turning (except when I pull out the 80 grit gouge). Instead, I use the 2" ROS with the lathe turned off. In the end though, we both get good results, so no worries about getting there via a different route.
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Jay,

    You haven't said what you want to use the lathe *for*? Do you want to turn pens? Bowls? Furniture parts? And it's even cool to say "I don't know yet, I just have a hankering. It sounds like fun..."

    That last was my answer. So I went out and got the cheapest big lathe I could find. Now, it's not very precise. And it's bad that the low speed is so high. But I'm learning a ton. If I ever get another lathe (and that's a huge if, given my budget), I'm going to be one educated lathe buyer. And meanwhile, I get to turn out a bunch of cool big stuff on a lathe that only cost me 400 bucks.

    Now, take this with a grain of salt. My "tablesaw" was 450, my bandsaw 425. There are a ton of people who do quality work who wouldn't even look at the tools in my shop, and for good reason. Do I need a better tablesaw? Yes, and I know exactly what I want. Sadly, the one I have is good enough for now, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

    So, my best advice? Find the cheapest halfway decent one you can learn on, knowing you'll eventually have to spring for more if you get pulled into the vortex (this is especially good advice since you don't know yet if vortexing is for you... and since you should figure about 150% of lathe cost for additional things... chucks, chisels, you name it, it's an endless loop... or, just bite the bullet from the start. Once you breach the psychological wall of $1,000, there are a bunch of candidates that will keep you happy for a long time...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  10. #10
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    Jay, Is a nice new shiny lathe a must for you to start on? Have you considered looking for a second user machine with perhaps the advantage of electronic (3ph) motor control and slower speeds?

    IMHO money saved by purchasing a good second user spinney is better spent on good quality tools, chucks etc.

    Almost anything will turn a bit of wood for you whilst you hone your skills at tool control, but I would go along with aiming for slower speeds for bowl work as a new starter, makes the experience much less traumatic.
    Chas. just a traveller on the road of time.

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