Lathe

What's a minimum HP rating I would want if purchasing a lathe? I have no intentions, at this time, to do any major lathe projects. I've never used one, therefore, I want to learn the trade, but also use it for minor projects and making square wood round at times. I'm looking at a 1/2 hp - 14 inch lathe and want to make sure 1/2 hp is sufficient, or should I opt for more.
Thank you
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If you're not planning anything major, half-horse should be plenty to start out with -- but you'll get more responses, and probably better advice, if you post at rec.crafts.woodturning instead.
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wrote:

Thank you. I didn't think about posting anywhere else. Therefore, I just posted to your suggestion.
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!/2 Hp is more than enough to do anything small, pens, small bowls, spindle and such.
If you are turning anything more than 6" diameter, you might want to step up 1 hp. I have Jet with 1/2 hp and it does all mu small project just fine.
Randy http://nokeswoodworks.com
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wrote:

The sharpness of the tools is more important than power. I've had my lathe over 12 years now, and never thought about power. Vibration, variable speeds, reverse switch, bottom shelf, ease of use, distance between centers, taper size, etc are important considerations. Try to think about what you will be making--spindles, bowls, table legs, rolling pins, fireplace columns, pencils? Tools and accessories can be expensive, but do choose wisely and choose quality.
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wrote:

I think I have an old 1/4 horse motor on my lathe and it has turned out a lot of candlesticks, stair spindles and stuff like that without any problems. In some ways less power is better because you are more likely to stall the motor than fling the tool.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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If you do small stuff and/or have a very gentle touch with the tools, 1/2 hp, if a TRUE rating, should be ok.. As a beginner, I don't think the light touch will be there for a while..
My 14" lathe was a 1hp Vs jet and was/is excellent.. I did a lot of large, unbalanced stuff on it and never lacked for power..
I'd suggest that you look for a used lathe, and buy as much hp as you can budget and as large a lathe as you have room for.. I usually suggest starting on a mini, but they're getting more expensive and rarely sold used as we all keep them.. ;-] Start with tools from harbor Freight or that level, abuse them and wear them out at the grinder.. After you've got experience turning and sharpening, if you still have the turning bug, add more tolls as needed, at the quality level that you can afford..
At the risk of being flamed, I'd suggest avoiding any lathe tool that has someone's name on it.. You'll pay more for the name than the tool.. Personally, I don't think a $200 bowl gouge is going to make me ten times better than the $20 ones that I use and abuse because they work for me.. YMWV
mac
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I agree, and still think the Jet mini is the way to go if one can wait. I bought a second mini for some demo and teaching about a year and a half ago because the original owner wanted a VS mini, and was convinced that the VS would make him a better turner.
I don't mind moving the belts, and never have.
I would wonder if contact was made with the woodturning club in OP's area of they could find a person that was looking to "upgrade" and wanted to sell their existing mini. Worth a shot, no?

AMEN! I always try to point anyone starting to this set from Penn State: http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCHSS8.html
At the price, I can't buy ONE Sorby, Taylor, Crown or anyone else's English metal gouges for what that set costs. It is custom made for the mini and has all you need (including a roughing gouge) to get started.
I have many Penn State tools, and they are real winners. Great steel, maybe not as good as my Sorby stuff, but at 1/3 or less of the Sorby cost, it works for me. And when you buy the set (which is usually a bad idea) you can try different kinds of gouges, and grind away with a clear conscience as you aren't grinding on an $90 or better gouge.

Once again, couldn't agree more. If you find yourself ordering something from Penn State Mac, take a look at their 1/2" bowl gouge. I bought their 3/8" bowl gouge and liked it so much I another two so I could get two different grinds on them. (I did the same thing with their 3/8" spindle gouge!)
The 1/2" is great and I even bought a 5/8" which I have yet to use. The steel really holds up well. but on the 1/2" and the 5/8" they use that same short ash handle (yikes!) they use on all their mid sized tools. Be prepared to knock the handles off and put some on you can actually use.
Robert
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After looking around at their recently remodeled site, I found this set as well, and I have most of the tools in it. It is a great set, even if you have been turning for a while.
http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCSIXW.html
Robert
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On Tue, 29 Jul 2008 00:52:26 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Yep.. Penn State is where I buy most of my turning tools.. Love the 5/8" bowl gouge.. for some reason, I don't have a problem with the handles or notice them being short.. You using 2 hands on the handle again, Robert? ;-] I'd maybe like a deeper flute or something, but they work for me and the price is right..
I started with this assortment and still use them: http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LX298.html
I think at the time, it was about $60 and I didn't even notice when I ordered them that the set included a 2" roughing gouge.. I remember unpacking them and wondering why they included a pooper scooper with my order.. lol
Funny, though, how it looked so damn big and I just KNEW that I;d never use the big, clumsy thing. And now, it's my first choice for roughing big stuff, especially bark removal..
mac
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hello,
I have the $200 (on sale) Harbour Freight lathe and am very happy with it.
A cheap lathe is good enough... keep the money for the chucks and tools (and grinder)...
I would adise as a buy list: - Lathe (HF $200) - 6" or 8" grinder with a 120 grit white stone ($50 at HF for the 6" grinder + $20 for stone at woodcraft) - Roughing gauge (I got some from grizzly) - Large skew - Spindle gouge - parring knife - round scraper - chuck (I got the $70 or so Grizzly one, the nova is WAY to expensive) - small diamound stone for honning
you could start with the HF $55 or so lathe tool set, but I realy enjoyed moving to the better tools bought from grizzly.... altogether, this will set you back in the $500~$600 range... as you can see, the lathe is only 1/3 of the total :-(
later on, if you get more money and realy feel that you need beter, you can upgrade the lathe... lathes are relatively easy to resell anyway...
cyrille

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I would agree with the list below but to add: electric motors are generic by electrical code, change the motor out later. Look to quality of the lathe itself. For instance the bearings, pulleys, tail stock assembly, can you turn the head around for bowl work, etc. If you are an experienced wood worker of other stuff I would expect you would get into heavier work so look for stability most., many guys use sand bags.One minor caution, lathe work is often an acquired thing, many wood workers don't get into it leaving lots of creativity available, A big deal is finding just the right finishing recipe.
Stu

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wrote:
Though I disagree with a few things on the list, I did want to add a note about the grinder:
The slow speed one at Woodcraft seems to be highly recommended in the woodturning group, and at $100 is, IMO, a better deal than the HF model.. Main difference in price is that the WC one comes with 2 good wheels included.. I almost bought one last year as a 2nd grinder because it cost me $65 for 2 wheels and for another $30 I could have had them shipped on a new grinder... lol
My normal suggestion for starter tools: http://www.pennstateind.com/store/LCHSS8.html
"middle of the road" tools that I use every day... I buy the 5/8" bowl gouges a couple at a time for about $25 each and don't worry about abusing them.. I can reshape them for whatever I'm working on without having that sinking feeling, as you watch a $150 gouge get shorter and shorter..
I also recommend the CHEAP set of chisels from HF ($20?) to learn sharpening/shaping/honing on.. Learn on the cheap stuff and then sharpen the real tools and start turning.. YMWV

mac
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Bill Leonhardt
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wrote:

REALLY? I just talked my wife into the deal for later in the year, maybe I'll renegotiate!
mac
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Lots of good stuff from a variety of people who know a lot about turning.
I'll add one thing, well maybe it's two.
Someone else recommended looking at rec.crafts.woodturning, and I'll second that. An excellent source of information on a daily basis.
One of the guys there, Darrell Feltmate, has an excellent starting point for a website. An incredibly amount of information. Just his plans for a grinder setup is worth the visit. Highly recommended. ttp://www.aroundthewoods.com/
Tanus
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