Build or buy mini lathe?

Just received my ShopNotes and was pleasantly surprised to see a shop built mini lathe. Have been looking at getting one for a few years. What is the wrecks' opinion?
Last post for the night, I promise
R
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Ron A wrote:

Years ago, I decided to build a lathe. I had a good motor and some pulleys and a belt from a treadmill. I bought some lathe tools on eBay. I never found any Round Tuits..
I finally used the lathe tools for the first time, after five or six years of watching them collect dust. I bought a lathe, and tossed that stupid treadmill out of my shop.
I needed a small lathe for my small shop, and the small work I intend to do on the thing. The JET mini is in transition now. You can buy the old model with manual belt changes for $199.95 (exactly that if you go for free shipping from Amazon.com), or the new model with VS for somewhere closer to $400.
At $199.95 this is one hell of a nice little machine. Light years ahead of anything I could have made myself, and built much better than any of the cheap full-sized machines.
Depends on what you want to turn though. This isn't a big lathe by any stretch, and $200 is a long way from free. It was more than I had budgeted, but I'm glad I ponied up the extra $50 for this thing, and didn't miss my shot to get such a solid hunk of cast iron at that price.
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On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 11:42:09 -0500, Ron A wrote:

I just got my #73 copy today so I see what you're referring to. Go for it. Build a super cheap lathe and see if you want to continue with turning. It's much cheaper than buying a lathe and building tools can be a lot more fun. Free motors can be had from dumped washers and dryers. A sheet of baltic birch ply is $20, and hardware another $20 or so. Have fun!
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Anybody wants it, I have a treadmill motor, two pulleys and a V belt. Only one speed. I think it ran off a variac originally, but I don't have the electronics, so I hard wired it. Ran it as a huge ass belt sander for awhile, which was cool, but hard on expensive belts.
Good motor. I'm never going to get around to doing anything else with it. You pay shipping.
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Ron,
Like you, I looked at the Shopnotes lathe and contemplated building one that would be easily transportable. Several negatives come to mind:
1. The Shopnotes version uses "off-the-shelf" hardware. This is good for the nuts and bolts etc., but not so good if you want to use aftermarket lathe accessories such as faceplates, tool rests, scroll chucks, etc. Plus, that particular design seems like an incredible amount of work.
2. With the JET mini going for about 200 bucks, and you can probably find a used JET, Delta, or other mini lathe with standard threads and morse tapers on eBay for less, it almost seems like a waste of money. If you don't have all that baltic birch ply, or the hardare, or the motor floating around your shop, it could get expensive.
3. My lathe is what I'd call a small, but not mini, lathe - an old Delta Homecraft that I can turn 11" diameter and about 34" long on it. I have several hundred dollars into the accessories (faceplates, scroll chuck and jaws, good quality lathe chisels, sharpening stones and wheels, a grinder) - actually closer to about a thousand when all said and done. The lathe cost me nothing, as an inheritance, but you could get a reasonably complete old lathe for a hundred bucks or so, throw a half-horse motor on it, and blow the big bucks on everything else you'll need.
My opinion, take it for what it's worth, is that the Shopnotes lathe is nice to look at, but the precision required might be a bit out of some people's skill levels, and the whole process might be better off spent buying a decent basic lathe and spending the time turning. I think Shopnotes is getting desperate not to repeat past articles by creating items like this.
Jon Endres

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Here is a picture of it. http://www.shopnotes.com/main/sn73-toc.html
Tony D
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