Basic Guide to Buying a Lathe
What to look for and what to avoid when purchasing a new or used machine
Synopsis: As with buying any tool, it’s the economies you later regret, not the extravagances. Professional turner Jon Siegel tells you what to look for: The height and structure of the bed are critical, and the tool rest should be sturdy. The tailstock needs a large base, and the headstock should provide solid support. Speed control and horsepower are important, and the stand has to be stout enough to withstand vibration. Siegel also explains how to evaluate a used lathe. Which is right for you?
I earn my living by turning wood, and I’ve been a turner for the last 30 years. I spend most of my time making turnings for furniture and architectural applications, but I also lecture and give demonstrations at woodworking clubs, conferences and classes. One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, “What kind of lathe should I get?” This is akin to…