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Pennstate Turncrafter Commander 12 in. reviews please

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by James Humphries, May 12, 2020.

  1. James Humphries

    James Humphries

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2017
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    Location (City & State):
    Bogota, Colombia
    I am thinking about buying a 12in Pennstate lathe, there is 17% sale on now and a further 10% first time buyers offer until Friday 15th May. I want to turn bowls, the lathe a 1 hp motor, however I read a review that it is underpowered compared to other midis. any advise from from anyone who has experience with this model is much appreciated.
    I'm going to ship to Bogota Colombia so the shipping and import taxes and duties will double the price. Lathes here are expensive so and haven't been able to find a used one.
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Just want to make you aware that a 12 lathe is too small to be real good for bowls.
    I own a Jet1221vs and have done a number number of bowl demos on this machine.

    It is ok for 10” bowls that are band-sawn round which will turn over the banjo.
    larger bowls may involve taking the bowl off the lathe to move the banjo to the other side.
    Roughing out of round bowl blanks is slow and a bit tedious on small light lathes.

    11.5 natural edge bowls are doable since the banjo can move under the narrow side if necessary.

    A 10” bowl is pretty small for a functional bowl.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  3. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    Thanks hockenbery, what size of bowls do you think a 12in lathe can minus the tedious part?
     
  4. stu senator

    stu senator

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    Location (City & State):
    Delray Beach, FL
    I have that lathe, it is a few years old. I have turned a 10.5" dia x 4" bowl on this lathe. It took time and I could not take big cuts but it is doable. WIN_20200513_10_33_30_Pro.jpg WIN_20200513_10_33_14_Pro.jpg

    As to the lathe it is not the highest quality and the fit and finish are not the best. But it works and that is what counts.

    The major problem was alignment of the tail-stock to the head. There is slop in the tail stock to the rails. However if I push the tail stock away as I tighten it alignment is good. Vertical alignment is dead on. They exchanged the tail stock but the new one had the same problem. Phone service to help is good and helpful as I recently had to replace the drive belt and was able to get the correct part

    My machine is a 1HP DC motor but this may be different now, I don't know the current specs.

    One reason I picked a midi lathe is I am getting to old to process the real heavy blanks and if I had a larger lathe I probably would try.

    Whatever you decide good look.

    Stu
     
  5. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    Location (City & State):
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    Thanks Stu,
    One of the projects i need to do is 5in diameter overhead lamps that will be in the shape of a ball with a 3in hole for the light to shine through. I think if it is possible for me to do 7 or 8in bowls that would be ok until i get a bigger lathe next year. What size bowl do you think the lathe can realistically do with ease, if at all.
    Another idea is to build a lathe but I really want variable speed.
     
  6. stu senator

    stu senator

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    Location (City & State):
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    WIN_20200513_12_49_53_Pro.jpg WIN_20200513_12_49_26_Pro.jpg
    This is the kind of stuff I do. The bowls are up to about 7" or 8 " the size of the wood I get is what I turn. It is comfortable to do this without stalling the machine. I try to turn bowels wet rather then dry or twice turned and wait to finish cut.

    Stu
     
  7. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    Location (City & State):
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    Thanks Stu, Nice bowls. What do you mean by twice turned.
     
  8. stu senator

    stu senator

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    Turned when wet but with thick walls and then left to dry and then finished turned a few months later. I like to finish turn to the final wall thickness and let the wood warp as it will.

    Look at some of the videos on the AAW site and I am sure you can find both techniques shown.

    Stu
     
  9. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    In the thread below I posted the videos and PowerPoint from a demo I do. The slides give an overview of working with green wood ( preventing cracks, wood movement, etc), a demo turning a green blank into a bowl for drying, and then mounting and returning a dried blank.

    https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/working-with-green-wood.11626/
     
    Paul Lajoie likes this.
  10. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    Location (City & State):
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    Thanks Stu.

    Thanks hockenbery, I took a few turning classes 2 years ago and made some small goblets with wet wood, and some time later they cracked. Now that I'm retiring I want to get into it again, thanks for the recommended sure it will be very helpful. Any other info will be gratefully received.
     
  11. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Small NE goblets and vases from wet wood are great fun. The key to keeping them from cracking is
    even wall thickness
    fairly thin wall 1/8”
    Curves are important particularly at the bottom
    Pith off center so it is not in the stem

    @Don Wattenhofer does a lot of this work

    These are all turned wet

    Holley vase my wife did C4DF2296-3574-4812-83DE-EA8BBB9A3138.jpeg

    small oak goblet I just do these for fun and don’t sand them 5A73F688-40AD-4189-93D1-C78C9929369E.jpeg
    See how the pith is off center EB25402F-C16D-4FC2-9025-E83A2F707DDA.jpeg
     
  12. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    They look great, I have a lot of Cypress pine, will it work for this.
     
  13. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    I’m not familiar with cypress pine. Most hardwoods will work. Those with light color allow a light to be used to get and even wall thickness.
    Limbs of some softwoods might be difficult to work with.
    I have done a few goblets with turned rims from bald cypress cut from the main trunk but never tried turning limbs.
     
  14. James Humphries

    James Humphries

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    Location (City & State):
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    Yea I guess what I wanted to know saw how hard and soft woods react to a thin goblet like yours. The cypress is not a hard wood but i don't know if it is classed as soft, maybe in between I don't know. Your wife's vase has inspired me. I can't do big bowls so I have to find some small stuff that's fun and interesting to do.
     

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