Newbie alert!

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  • Wilbur4321
    Established Member
    • Feb 2003
    • 335
    • .

    Newbie alert!

    So. LOML -- whom I love very much -- knows that I've been wanting to expiriment with pen turning for a while, so she told me to go get an appropriate lathe, etc.

    Now I need help deciding what to buy. Here's my requirements so far:

    Said lathe must fit in a space that's 15" high, 60" long, 16" deep, and 37" off the floor. I can rebuild said shelf to be lower if necessary, but would prefer not to. Can add no more than about 10" in length, and no more in depth. The object currently above the bench must stay (cupboards, bottom is at 52" off the floor).

    Budget is important, but not buying something that'll I'll get frustrated with and want to upgrade is more important.

    Ability to expand capacity to turn a baseball bat would be great -- but is not required now. Current projects would be pens, pencils, chisel handles, some ornaments, pocket watches etc. Maybe small bowls even?

    There's a Jet surplus/outlet store nearby. I heard rumor (here) that they have the Jet midi (non-VS) for $160ish. I'm leaning that way, as this lathe seems to be highly thought of.

    Failing that, PSI has the turncrafterpro for a little more, after shipping. Is this any good, or would I really be better spending the $100 more?

    Other ideas?

  • RayintheUK
    Veteran Member
    • Sep 2003
    • 1792
    • Crowborough, East Sussex, United Kingdom.
    • Ryobi BT3000


    Both models you mention are 14" tall. I'm assuming that the wall cupboards don't extend to the full depth of the bench, but nevertheless you might find 1" of height clearance a little restricting later on. It shouldn't cause any problems turning either pens or baseball bats, but a bowl blank will be restricted in size unless you get a model that has a swivelling headstock. You'll probably want to bolt it down, especially if turning larger stock. If the bench is at all flimsy, you might be better off with a stand, or beefing up the part of the bench that will take the lathe. Stability is key when turning anything.

    The Turnercraft Pro looks to be very good value, but I've no experience of the brand at all. I am, however, a great fan of Jet products and own several. I've found all of them to be well built, solid and of good quality.

    It's a little difficult to recommend a machine without knowing what you will eventually want it to turn. The Turnercraft comes with a bed extension which will accommodate all of the spindle turning you're ever likely to want to do. The Jet extension is an accessory (about $45, I think). Both seem to have the same power output, etc. so the best buy will be the one that you like the best - only a visit and running your hands over them will totally sort that out. As I said, I'm a Jet fan, but one man's meat .........

    Things to look for include the ease of changing the drive belt between the pulleys, the way the toolrest and tailstock locks operate and the way they both slide over the bed, the ease of operating the on/off switch when turning, etc.

    I saw that the Jet is being offered with a pen starter kit, but I don't know if that's just one outlet, or universally available.

    Finally, I try to follow the principle of "the most expensive thing to buy is a cheap tool (because you'll soon need/want to replace it)." Whilst that may sound a little glib, it's the truest saying I know in regard to buying new stuff.

    Let us know how you get on, please.

    Did I offend you? Click here.


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

      Given the choice between the two that you mention I would defiantly get the Jet.


      • Whaler
        Veteran Member
        • Dec 2002
        • 3281
        • Sequim, WA, USA.
        • DW746

        I will vote for the Jet as well.


        • gerti
          Veteran Member
          • Dec 2003
          • 2233
          • Minnetonka, MN, USA.
          • BT3100 "Frankensaw"

          The Jet is probably the best choice, VS would be nice but the non-VS does a great job as well.

          And remember: The lathe is just the beginning! Tool sharpening is a must (grinder), and before long you'll want more chisels, a chuck, experiment with finishes or different types of pen kits (all of which need just the right drill and specific bushings for the kit)... If you get into it (and many people do get hooked), you will be spending much more than you spent on the lathe on the items above.



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

            I have had the the Jet non VS and now the VS. I was very happy with the old one. I am a bit of horse trader! (As Whaler, he has my old Jet non VS.) I look at it this way. With the non VS around $229 and the VS around $229, you could pick up the surplus one for $160 and if you ever wanted to upgrade to the VS, you should be able to get $160 for it in a heartbeat. Both will take the bed extention if you wanted to do longer turnings.

            As for the VS vs. non VS issue I love the VS for finishing but it's not a deal breaker IMHO.
            "The Laminate Flooring Benchtop Guy"

            Edmonds WA

            No coffee, no worky!


            • Chuck C
              Established Member
              • Dec 2002
              • 430
              • USA.

              My vote is for the JET. I have the non VS which I haven't had a problem with but if I had your choice of the 2 surplus prices, I just might get the VS version,
              Chuck C

              If the skipper heard you call that deck a floor he would throw you through that little round window