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Used Lathe - Yes or No??

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Dan C., Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Dan C.

    Dan C.

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Location (City & State):
    Northwest Ohio
    Hi all,

    I'm trying very hard to get into some turning, starting with small projects but hopefully moving up to small bowls and vessels. My funds are quite limited, and I want to make sure I optimize my tools with the least amount of money for now. (I'm trying to keep it under $600 for the lathe and all the necessary tools to get started) To test the waters, I'm considering getting an old style, 50's or 60's used cast iron lathe, without any of the bells and whistles of today's models.
    Aside from Electronic VS, are there other features that I'll truly miss on the old style? (Do they typically accept today's chucks and jaws, with morse tapers and all?) I don't want to end up disliking turning because I don't have the convenience of newer features, but also want to make sure I don't skimp on tools and chuck options because I splurged on the lathe. Is this a good way to get started, with the intent of upgrading in the next year or two, or is it best to learn on a newer machine?
    Any insight and/or experience is much appreciated!

    Dan
     
  2. Dave Moore

    Dave Moore

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    Messages:
    187
    Location (City & State):
    Crystal River Valley - Colorado
    Gosh, a lot of territory.
    Modern bells and whistles are great, but the fact remains that there has been world class work turned on all kinds of less-than-ideal equipment over the years, and still is to this very day.
    So you can enjoy turning on almost anything that's reasonably well made and is not falling apart, and you are unlikely to really miss conveniences that you have never as yet become accustomed to.
    Nothing wrong with used equipment, nothing at all, some of it being better than others obviously.
    Perhaps a decent approach might be to look and see what you can find in that market, get the manufacturer's model number, then ask about that specific unit on this forum. Almost certainly there will be someone who has used one in the past, or still does use one, and you can get down to specifics about spindle sizes and morse tapers and all that stuff.

    It's the same with tools, the new gee-whiz steels are really nice, but they're not cheap, and learning to sharpen in a way that will suit your emerging style of turning chews up a lot of steel. I always keep an eye out for used lathe tools in "junque" shops and the like, sometimes they're even the old carbon steel stuff from Sears or wherever, but they'll cut when sharp, and for a dollar or two it's a pretty inexpensive way to try some new idea. Inexpensive (relatively) high speed steel tools are also available new; they're not what you'll end up with, but they're fine to get rolling without breaking the bank.

    "Tool envy" is a serious disease, and can take the fun out of things if allowed to run the show. ;)

    If you are a member of AAW you can browse through every article ever written in the AAW journal right here online. Some of those articles were written when the "old" equipment you're now thinking of buying was in fact brand new, cutting edge even. There's a ton of information hidden away on those pages, especially about how things were done before much of the newer stuff was available.....modern chucks for example are great, but a lot of the older work we now admire so much was turned by people who never used one.

    See if there's an AAW club anywhere near you and go to meeting, visit with folks there. If there's anything for sale in the region they are more likely than anyone else to know about it.

    Happy hunting!
     
  3. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Messages:
    7,413
    Location (City & State):
    Cookeville TN USA
    Dan If you can find one of the old cast iron flat bed lathes you will find they work quite well. I turned for years without things like chucks. I used a disc sander on the outboard side of the lathe to sharpen and also used the older high carbon steel tools. You don't really need all the fancy stuff to enjoy turning. Sure it helps and does make life easier and some operations are quicker, but you don't actually need them.
    My best friend turned for 30 or more years on one of the old Delta lathes with step pulleys. His Dad turned for 50 years professionally on one.
    Of course this comes from a guy who has 4 chucks, far too many tools, 4 grinders, and 5 or 6 lathes of various sizes. You do have to be aware that you can get addicted to this hobby.
     
  4. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    2,939
    Location (City & State):
    Eugene, OR
    My first lathe was a little 4 speed Atlas. Served me well for 2 years. I got a cheap one to start to see just how much I liked it. Well, I ended going over the deep end, and have loved every second.

    A big second on finding the closest club. Wonderful learning opportunity, and good source for used tools.

    robo hippy
     
  5. KurtB

    KurtB

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Messages:
    628
    Location (City & State):
    Northwest Arkansas
    Used Lathes

    I am a big believer in someone getting started with the older lathes. It allows you to grow into turning at a reduced cost, and can help you recognize what you will eventually want when you can afford your dream lathe. One possible drawback is the chucks you buy for the older lathe may not fit the newer one. This can usually be remedied by buying a different adapter at a cost lower than buying a complete chuck. Keep an eye out for auctions, eBay, Craigslist, etc. There are many bargains available almost all the time.
     
  6. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Messages:
    6,579
    Location (City & State):
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    The absolute best way to get started is with some instruction.
    visiting someones shop for an intro you get the opportunity turn and see how their lathe(s) work.
    using their tools igives you an idea of what to get first.

    An old lathe won't discourage you. Technique that make turning unpleasant and taking a beating from the wood may discourage you.

    Visit a local AAW chapter. call the poc. many clubs have classes, mentoring programs or members who teach.
    Many members are glad to spend a few hour with a new turner.

    Used lathes are usually the best bargain. the exception being those missing a tail stock or something.

    Happy Turning,
    Al
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  7. Griesbach

    Griesbach

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    390
    Location (City & State):
    Oshkosh, WI
    Plenty of good advice here so far. The best is to locate the nearest turning club. If I can add anything it would be to make sure any older lathe you consider has a spindle size and thread no smaller than 1"x8 TPI and a #2 Morse taper. That way any accessories you buy will work with something newer should you decide to go that direction.
     
  8. rjones

    rjones

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    130
    Location (City & State):
    Lorena Texas
    there has been a lot of good advice here. I would add, stay away from the real old lathes that only have bushing and not bearings,
    1 Find a turning club

    2 Something to sharpen your tools with ( one way wolverine jig and
    grinder( I perfer 8"grinder)

    3 #2 moris taper head and tail ( #2 just the most common taper )


    4 1" x 8 thread ( just the most common thread)
     
  9. Dan C.

    Dan C.

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Location (City & State):
    Northwest Ohio
    Thank you all very much, these are all great suggestions. Since it seems unanimous, I looked into a club and found one that meets maybe 30 minutes from my house. I'll be looking to attend their next meeting. Looking forward to it!
    As far as the used lathes go, it sounds like it's possible to get started this way, so I'm sure I'll be back on soon asking about specific models as I begin my search.
    Thanks everyone!

    Dan
     
  10. rjones

    rjones

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    130
    Location (City & State):
    Lorena Texas
    The club will be one of your best tools. The AAW, the Clubs and the symposiums have been the best thing ever for woodturning.
    Good luck and most of all have fun.
    You did say where you are located at,
     
  11. Dan C.

    Dan C.

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    18
    Location (City & State):
    Northwest Ohio
    Sorry, I'll update my profile. I'm in Northwest Ohio, outside Toledo. There is a Michigan-Ohio Chapter close to me. Hopefully I'll be able to sneak away from home to the meeting tomorrow...

    thanks again...
     
  12. Bill Weaver

    Bill Weaver

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Messages:
    184
    Location (City & State):
    Riverside Ohio
    You might want to consider the Craftsman Professional lathe. It sells for $479.00 regular price and is fairly good product. I use one all the time.
     

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