I have Harbor Freight's 12'' x 33-3/8'' WOOD LATHE WITH REVERSIBLE HEA
ITEM 34706-5VGA, and have used it for several years. I mostly tur
smaller items like pens and bottlestoppers, but I have made a numbe
of wooden mallets, tool handles and spindles for stairs/furniture.
Here's a link to the item on their website:
I'm very satisified with this lathe. When I bought it, the casting
were apparently identical to those used by Jet, although the level o
finish (cleaner castings) was actually better on the Harbor Freigh
unit. Assembly was very easy, as I just had to bolt together the stan
and screw on some knobs. I don't know if the motor is in the same clas
with its more expensive cousins, but mine has held up and I've had
number of days where I've spent a solid 6 hours in front of the lathe.
It is virtually vibration free - I can balance a nickle on edge on it'
rails while it is running. This unit has 10 different speeds, which
thought was a useful feature.
Since I saved significant $$$ going with a less expensive lathe, I wa
able to buy higher quality turning tools (Sorby). I'm by no means a
expert wood turner, but it seems to me that as long as a lathe ca
safely hold the item to be turned in place, and spin it at the righ
speed without vibration, a lathe is a lathe is a lathe. The critica
components are the skill of the turner, and the quality of the turnin
tools (mostly their ability to hold an edge).
You'll also need other accessories for your lathe like various caliber
and a Jacob's chuck - I bought these items from HF and have again bee
satisfied. When I was shopping for the Jacob's chuck, my loca
Woodcraft had one for about $30, but the one I bought at HF was onl
I haven't turned any bowls on it yet, but the headstock swivels t
accomodate outboard turning