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Which lathe? [cutting crew look over here!]

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CYC

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Hi all,

Can you tell me what would be a good choice of lathe to buy? Hold on, don't start grumbling about how too vague a question it is. Like I asked what's a good choice car! Let me give you some context:

- I have never used one.
- I would get it mainly to turn some table legs. I would need some easy way to reproduce/duplicate.
- I can't afford too much yet I don't want to spend too little and feel the need to replace after a short time. I just don't know prices of lathe at all.

I understand I would also need some chisels and accessories, what is the minimum requirement and are there brands to look out for?

Looking forward to all your input :D
 

Cutting Crew

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Hi CYC,

If I could easily find all the answers to your questions I would also have been able to predict all seven balls in tonight's roll over.

I'll try and add a little to each of your questions in turn:

I have never used one
No matter what lathe you get, they're all the same, they go round, better (usually more expensive ones) quality lathes are often easier to use as they are heavier and better constructed, they may also offer more control over the speed. Look for turning books on eBay or talk nicely to a local turner, there are some excellent turners over there.


I would get it mainly to turn some table legs. I would need some easy way to reproduce/duplicate
Table legs are a given size, so for your first requirement you must look for a lathe with enough distance between centres to hold the length of wood needed, and as most tables usually have four legs duplicating equipment is not really necessary. Turn the first leg and use that as a template for the rest, Thomas has started an excellent discussion about using a duplicator elsewhere on this forum.

I can't afford too much yet I don't want to spend too little and feel the need to replace after a short time. I just don't know prices of lathe at all.
Whatever you can afford, spend as much as you can and get the best lathe for the money you have, more often than not cheap lathes are quickly outgrown, they have little second hand value so can prove a false economy. Have a look at the Axminster range of lathes, Proform or their "M" series, I've always found them to be good value, some of the Far Eastern copies are also worth looking at. Whilst mentioning second hand, do not overlook used lathes, most of the turners I know take good care of their lathes as I'm sure most woodworkers do, so they're often better value than new lathes.

With respect to what else you would need, again that is up to what you want to do with your lathe, if you just intend to make table legs or turn between centres, a simple drive centre and a live tail centre could be all you need for the lathe. As far a tools go take a look on the Henry Taylor or Crown Tools sites at their basic tool sets, in these you will see the tools you need to get going. You will also need some means of sharpening the tools, grinder, wet or dry.

If you can expand a little on your budget and your intended use for the lathe maybe I can help a little further.

CC
 
A

Anonymous

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It's been a while since I used a lathe so I don't profess to be an expert. My words are intended to be helpful from the perspective of someone who might also be faced with the same challenge if he were to be looking at getting a lathe!

Like any machinery, lathes can be very dangerous if you don't do things right. Rotating machinery, sharp chisel, material that can be a bit unpredictable. I happen to believe that something like a table leg could be potentially more dangerous than a small fruit bowl, for example. Reason being that you have a workpiece suspended between two centres, whereas with the fruit bowl at least it's screwed to a faceplate and the faceplate isn't going anywhere. I wouldn't start with a table leg as the first project.

My thoughts are that you should think about trying to get some exposure to lathe work before buying the new "toy" - and I use that in a kindly sense rather than an insult :)

You can buy (or at least used to be able to) a cheap kit for mounting a regular electric drill on. Whilst a naff setup which won't last you long, it would give you a basic starting point to make some simple furniture, and from that you will learn enough to know what questions to ask for the real mccoy.

A few years back I fancied getting a lathe, but couldn't afford it. So I purchased some components - not much more complicated than the electric drill lathe referred to above, but probably twice as dangerous :)

I made a couple of finger bowls for birthday presents, and still use one of those today for my loose change. But I lost interest and haven't gone back to getting a lathe. That experience saved me committing a lot of money unnecessarily.

Is there a college nearby where they run evening classes? Or do you have a turner near you where you could offer to sweep his floor or buy him a pint for some helpful advice? Just watching a professional doing his thing can be a significant learning experience, which you won't get from reading a book.

I used to enjoy lathe work and can see the appeal, but I would caution against rushing out and spending too much before you've had a chance to get your hands dirty.

Andrew
 

Cutting Crew

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CYC,

Something I should have added and thought of first in "What else do I need" bit, get a decent face mask if you don't have one already and more importantly wear it when turning.

I know when I'm teaching or demonstrating I do not wear a mask. The reason for this is simply to be heard when I'm talking, your lungs are precious, so protect them, the same goes fore your eyes, so wear glasses or a visor, especially when sharpening or roughing out on the lathe.

CC
 

Alf

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Get thee a copy of "Woodturning, a foundation course" by Keith Rowley, or borrow one from the library.

Cheers, Alf
 

CYC

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Thanks for your answers guys :D

This WE, I have received a DVD from a member I won't mention for safety reasons :wink:. It is a demo of the Legacy ornamental mill: an advanced cross between the router table and the lathe.
I thought it was fantastic, just what I need, Sorry cutting crew :oops:.
It would cost me though! :roll:
 
A

Anonymous

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Hi CYC,

Not sure where you are in Ireland but McMasters in Belfast have sponsored woodturning events and they get the guys across from Robert Sorby to give demos etc.

I went to one last year which was v. informative and free too.


Aidan
 

ike

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The head stock bearings are arguably critical components affecting the performance of any lathe. If I were you, I would look closely at the spec of a lathe to see what type and quality of bearings it has and what if any type of adjustment there is. Another factor is the overall mass of the machine. The greater the mass, the less vibration will occur particularly as you true blanks.

At risk of being shot to pieces by others, I rather like the big Record lathes - CL3 and CL4. They're heavy, have fully adjustable headstock bearings and you get a lot for your money compared to some other makes i.e. a top of the range, variable speed machine with a full set of accessories can be had is I believe, in the region of £1K.

Lathes are relatively very simple machines. Choosing one shouldn't be too difficult I would have thought.

Ike
 
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