If you are new in the woodturning industry, one of the most important questions you will ask is – How to choose a good woodturning lathe? This is quite a serious question and one that you should never neglect.
Why? Because the lathe is something we don’t regularly buy, unlike the chisels and gouges. For some turners, it is a long-time investment. So they treat this as they are buying stocks from markets.
As there are numerous options for a woodturning shop, you should make sure that the one you choose is perfect for your turning projects. Consider the size, power, and turning projects that you will be undertaking.
What We Have Covered
Check the Feature and Specifications:
Now, If you intend to purchase a lathe online, there are certain things that you should take note of. Check the specifications of the lathe carefully so that you will not regret it later. You may check the weight capacity, swing, and quality of the overall structure. Also, consider the size of the machine. There are small to medium-sized and large-sized lathes in the market.
The lower end speed is a crucial consideration as it will determine how much torque it can produce. If it lacks the required torque, it will bog down during the work. So you should consider this factor carefully. This is very important for the bowl turners.
Another thing that you should check is the swing diameter. Different types of woodturning projects require various swing capacities.
You should also consider the table height and make sure that the lathe can accommodate the tabletop. Lathes come in different shapes and sizes, so you should look at them from several angles. You will be able to choose a lathe that will fit your workspace.
Another question that you should consider is whether the lathe you will purchase will be compatible with the tapers and bearings you already own. And this goes for turners who want to upgrade their lathes.
Go for one that has MT2 taper bearings. Because if you ever want to upgrade your existing lathe, you can keep them to yourself and use them on the next one.
You can also see this interesting article from Mr. Charles Wilson on woodturners around the country to see every best option available for wood lathes online.
The Price of Course:
The cost of the lathe is an important consideration as well. Most people choose affordable ones, but it is also advisable to get quality ones even when you have to pay a little more. Cheap ones can develop problems that are hard to repair as they might come with MT1 tapers. The chances of getting MT1 in the aftermarket are low.
Many people think that the more expensive the lathe, the better it is. However, this is not the case. Well, in most cases, but not always. Different types of wood lathes perform well at different prices. You can take Grizzly G0462 and the Jet 1221VS midi as an example.
Therefore, it would be good to study the price tag of a specific type of lathe before purchasing. If possible, get references from friends, family members, or coworkers before investing money in any tool.
Plan for other tools also:
However, the price of the lathe is not the only thing that you need to consider when purchasing a new one. There will be time that the total investment would go much higher than the lathe itself. I am talking about turning tools.
Plan your budget for the accessories, tools, and consumables also.
A lathe that comes with accessories like chuck, tool rest, or any other things is a good choice since these can add variety to projects. However, keep in mind that accessories can get very expensive. Before purchasing, compare prices between several vendors to determine which products offer value for your money.
Although you can always borrow some tools from friends or other experienced woodturners, it would be better to have your own equipment. When purchasing, check reviews to see which woodturning equipment is the most reliable. It would be best if you also considered the cost of maintaining all the woodturning equipment, including the lathe.
If you plan to buy your woodturning equipment instantly with the lathe, find out if the seller supports recommended brands. Ask if there is customer service available when needed.
As previously stated, it is important to look for features that are user-friendly. Lathes that have variable speeds are preferable since you may need to change them frequently while turning a bowl pretty often.
The buying steps:
So, if we put the most important aspects into a list, this goes like this-
- First, you will need to know how much space you have in your workplace. If in shortage, then going for a medium-sized lathe is recommended. JET, NOVA,
- It’s essential to have an idea of what type of projects you’re planning to work on.
- Try not to go below 3/4 horsepower. Your lathe will need enough torque while working at lower RPM.
- Check if it has a variable speed feature. This will help you to control the RPM, which is one of the handiest features nowadays.
- The size of your project will affect the type of lathe you purchase. However, you shouldn’t think that the mini-one needs to be cheaper than its standard counterpart. A mini one is just the right size for many projects.
- As far as finding the right kind of lathe for the job, go to a local club and ask the mentors which type they recommend.
- Visit different forums on the internet to read reviews about different units also. See what others are talking about the particular unit.
And lastly, another best way to learn how to choose a good woodturning lathe? Ask the people who use it. You can ask for advice from professional woodworkers or simply study the features of popular wood lathes before making your decision.
That’s all for today, but if you have further questions, leave a comment, and I will reply. Till then, turn safely and have fun.