What to look for in a lathe?

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  • HomerJ
    Established Member
    • Oct 2004
    • 157
    • Canada.

    What to look for in a lathe?

    Hi all:

    I'm new to turning, (although I've been into woodworking for years) and am looking for hints on what to look for in a good lathe. Like everything I buy, I don't mind spending a few more $$$ to get something I won't want to replace in a year.

    Basically I'd like to start turning pens, but don't want to be limited to such small objects. (Bowls, pepper/salt mills, posts, etc come to mind as well).

    So what would the pros here recommend to a total turning newbie?

    Thanks in advance.
  • kwgeorge
    Veteran Member
    • Jan 2004
    • 1419
    • Alvin, TX, USA.

    That is one of those questions that is asked all the time and the answers generally vary depending where you ask the question. I have 4 lathes at this time. The two that I use all the time are the heavily modified Grizzly and my Jet mini. If I were just starting in turning then I would highly recommend the Jet mini as your starting point. It has a 5 swing so it will handle most of what you want to do and when your skill grows you can buy a larger lathe at that time. Most people who do this keep the Jet mini as well as there larger lathe.

    The Jet mini is a fine piece of machinery and I really like it a lot.


    • Scottydont
      Veteran Member
      • Aug 2003
      • 2359
      • Edmonds, WA, USA.
      • Delta Industrial Hybrid

      The Jet Mini in either the standard format ($199 on sale) and the Jet Mini Variable speed ($299 on sale). I have had the standard and now own the variable.
      "The Laminate Flooring Benchtop Guy"

      Edmonds WA

      No coffee, no worky!


      • Ken Massingale
        Veteran Member
        • Dec 2002
        • 3862
        • Liberty, SC, USA.
        • Ridgid TS3650

        Like you, I'm new to turning. I picked up an old battleship Delta a few months ago and started to learn.
        LOML bought me a Jet Mini VS for our anniversary a couple of weeks ago and I can't believe that little lathe. I'm a firm believer that it's not the tool but the hands using it, but the Jet Mini is a fine tool for the hands to work with.
        I'd never hesitate to recommend it.