Take a spin. Whether you're turning bowls, candlesticks or \ table legs, you can have a lot of fun with a lathe. r he lathe is one woodworking machine that provides distance between centers, the longest stock the tool will hold between the headstock and the tailstock. (See chart.)

instant gratification. Hold a sharp chisel or gouge to a spinning workpiece and a form develops in just a few minutes. You can create shapes not possible with other machines— from turned table legs to bowls and candlesticks.

The lathe is a simple machine. The workpiece spins between a motor-driven headstock and (for spindle turning) a tailstock that can be adjusted along the bed according to the length floor-model lathes

These lathes are favored by serious turners. The key advantages here are stability and increased capacity. Sturdier than their benchtop counterparts, floor models reduce or eliminate the vibration that makes clean cutting difficult. _ I--1

specialty lathes

Bowl lathes are no-bed or short-bed models designed for large-diameter work. They can't handle long spindles, and they aren't intended for general-purpose work.

ee american woodworker ▲ 1 998 buyer s guide

Materiale protetto da cof eatures to consider


Tapered spindles are best for durability and versatility. Look for a headstock and tailstock with a No. 2 Morse taper. In most cases, you're better off with a standard headstock spindle size—either 1 in. dia. by 8 threads per in. (tpi), 1 in. dia. by 12 tpi, or 1V4 in. dia. by 8 tpi.


Weight is an advantage in a lathe because it dampens vibration and promotes stability. Look for cast-iron components and—in floor models—a stand of heavy-gauge steel.

Speed and Drive Systems

For general turning, get a machine with a range of speeds from 400 rpm or slower (for larger-diameter work such as bowls) to 2,500 rpm (for most spindle work). Three types of drive systems are available:

Step pulleys are simple and foolproof. To change speeds, you stop the motor and reposition the belt to fit around a different pair of pulleys. With step-pulley drive, you're limited to a few fixed speeds. These drives are best for spindle turning and small faceplate work.

Mechanical variable speed systems, or Reeves drives, have infinitely variable speed within the tool's speed range. To vary the speed, you turn a crank or lever while the lathe is running. While this adjustment offers more versatility than step pulleys, the low speeds can still be too fast for turning larger-diameter work like bowls.

Electronic variable speed (EVS) offers the most control and convenience for all kinds of turning work. EVS control allows infinite speed adjustment within the tool's range, at the simple

Swiveling head-stock. When the headstock swivels 90°, you have the room to tum large-diameter work, unimpeded by the lathe's bed.

turn of a knob. These direct-current or "DC" drives are expensive, but low-speed torque is excellent—a great advantage when turning large objects. And some models offer reversible spindle direction.


A 1 -HP motor will do well for general-purpose use. For large work, look for a motor in the 11/2-HP to 2-HP range. (See chart.)

Swiveling Headstocks

Some lathes have headstocks that swivel for outboard turning while still using the standard tool-rest system, so you can turn larger-diameter work. (See photo, above.)

Spindle Locks and Indexing Features

Lathes with locking spindles make it easier to remove faceplates and chucks. Indexing heads let you lock the headstock in graduated increments for laying out flutes, spirals and other decorative work.

"Live" center for the tailstock. This spinning center prevents burning the tailstock end of your workpiece.

Jacobs-type drill chuck. This three-jaw chuck can hold drill bits for horizontal boring.

Screw chuck. The deep threads on this chuck are useful for holding medium-sized log sections for bowl turning.

Three- or four-jaw chuck. Adjustable jaws grip a variety of diameters for faceplate work.

benchtop lathes

Less expensive than stationary models, most benchtop lathes have less capacity and less stability than their big brothers. This makes them a good choice for light spindle work and other small jobs.

Because of its lighter weight, a benchtop lathe must be bolted securely to a sturdy

Mini lathes are benchtop machines designed for small-scale turning. See "Shop Tested: Mini Lathes," AW #52.)

Copy or "duplicator" lathes are designed for the quick and efficient production of duplicate turnings.

workbench or base to dampen vibration. A benchtop lathe is a good choice if you plan to do turning work only occasionally, and if limited space and lower cost are important.

options worth having lathes

New models in red.

Record CL3/36X30C

Grizzly G5047

Jet JWL-1236

Vicmarc VL300

See page 144

for listing of manufacturers.

Brand & Model

List Price

Capacity: Swing x Length (in.)

Spindle Dia. On.) xtpi

Bed Type

Outboard Turning

Drive Type


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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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