View Full Version : Another call for advice re first lathe selection

17th Oct 2016, 01:26 PM
Hi all those who know a little more and can advise,

I am new to wood turning, I picked it up in semi retirement as a suitable pursuit with my moderately arthritic fingers (more pain than restricted movement).
I am looking to purchase my first lathe and My budget is ~ $1,300.
I am interested in turning bowls and platters, up to ~ 350mm Dia.

Woodfast midi with EVS was recommended to me. Their new model is under the name Woodworking Solutions or EES 305 EVS replacing the Woodfast M305X with a price tag of $1250 + transport to Victoria.

I also looked at the Sherwood 550 x 320 with similar specs but with a 1HP motor (instead the woodfast 1/2HP) and a wider speed range 250 - 3850 (woodfast (500 - 2000rpm) and a price tag of $899.

and Hafco - Woodmaster W382 or WL-18 with swivel head, 1HP and 10 speeds 500 - 2000rpm. The Hafco includes a stand and costs $550.

Can anyone advise me?



17th Oct 2016, 02:22 PM
I don't have direct experience with any of those units, so can only offer some general advice.

The woodfast midi certainly has the reputation of being a good lathe, but I don't see anything on the woodfast site about being a new model... Is the EES maybe from a different manufacturer?

Be aware that while it's technically possible to turn a bowl that's right at the maximum swing of a lathe, it's much, much more convenient if the bowl clears the banjo (the bit that holds the tool rest on the lathe bed) - so a 350mm bowl/platter is easiest on either a lathe with lots of swing, a swivel or sliding headstock. Having said that... ~350mm diameter bowls are also pretty big!

Don't forget to budget a decent amount for turning tools and a chuck and a few jawsets.

17th Oct 2016, 03:28 PM
Thanks for the prompt response and the advice. I'll certainly keep it mind.

17th Oct 2016, 05:45 PM
Ok maybe go with the Hafco $550 Its a good lathe for a novice to start with and it will swing 360 from memory [ I used to have one ] The design is fine although the finish is a little rough, but with a little fettling it will be just fine. The variable speed is mechanical so you dont want to be changing speeds unless its running.

Now you could spend your whole budget on a lathe and have a fancy one and theres an argument for that. But the lathe cost is the smallest cost in this craft, believe me. I have been at this turning thing this time around for about 15 years.In fact over time the lathe cost will be dwarfed by the accessories, the only advantage here is thats its 'over time'

Besides a lathe you will need a set of tools HSS a basic set will do to start, a grinder and a sharpening jig, this list is the very basic one. Consider a bandsaw, chainsaw, 13mm chuck for the tail stock, live centre. Doing bowls you would be advised to look at some sort of 4 jaw self centering chuck especially if the lathe you buy doesnt come with a face plate.

If you havent joined a club, do so as you may well be able to pick up what you need second hand this includes tools and accessories. Plus its to their advantage to 'see you right' and often club members will sell items at better than mates rates to get you started, tis the nature of the craft.

PS if your arthritus is RA then a diet change can go along way to alleviating much of the pain and swelling, ask me how I know :U .

17th Oct 2016, 06:05 PM
Thanks Hughie, your advice correspond with my thoughts, although I if the Hafco's speed range (500 - 2000) is wide enough especially if 500rpm isn't too fast at the lower end.
as to the arthritis, mine isn't RA but a lesser known version of the osteo variety.

17th Oct 2016, 09:01 PM
hi Fryers
I bought the Sherwood with a stand at the last Sydney wood show and so far it's been great although keep in mind it only has a swing of 300mm.
As a fellow beginner my best advice would be regardless of which lathe and chisels you end up purchasing, get your grinding/sharpening sorted first. There is nothing worse than turning with blunt tools especially as a beginner.

17th Oct 2016, 09:26 PM
Thanks Tom, I'm looking at it.

18th Oct 2016, 01:56 AM
Hi Fryers,
Go see the Boys at the Mens Shed in Castlemaine, only open Fridays.
I think you turn left at the mower shop on the hill.

18th Oct 2016, 04:38 AM
[QUOTE=Fryers;1983327]Thanks Hughie, your advice correspond with my thoughts, although I if the Hafco's speed range (500 - 2000) is wide enough especially if 500rpm isn't too fast at the lower end.
as to the arthritis, mine isn't RA but a lesser known version of the osteo variety.[/QUOte

Yes 500 is a bit fast but it will mean you spend a bit more time on setting up and I guess thats where the bandsaw helps to prepare the blanks.

18th Oct 2016, 08:45 AM
I agree with everything Hughie writes above. Also the advice to buy used.

My first "good" lathe was a used Hegner 175 with 350mm swing, slowest speed 800 RPM. It came with a Oneway scroll chuck, Oneway tail center kit, 8 inch slow speed grinder, Wolverine grinding jigs, and a heavy bench. All for $500 and in like new condition.

I do mostly bowls. The 800 RPM slow speed makes things a bit interesting with my bowl blanks roughed out of logs with a chain saw, but with a bit of care in the initial placing, it works fine.

Variable speed is nice, but really not necessary. The Hegner has step pulleys. I start at the slowest speed, go up one to finish turning, back down for sanding and applying finish.

My twenty something year old, 20 inch swing short bed Woodfast has step pulleys and an after market DC variable speed. I like the slow mechanical speed and the variable speed turned way down with out of balance stump timber.

Both lathes are easy to change speed by lifting a lever or moving the motor toward me. The belts are easy to access.

18th Oct 2016, 09:00 AM
Thanks for your comment, Paul, There seem to be a common theme in the responses... that the lathe is probably the lesser of the partners on this platform, and that I need to pay more attention to accessories, tools & sharpening.
Well received,


brendan stemp
20th Oct 2016, 04:21 PM
I would definitely hang out for the Woodfast/WoodWorking Solutions mini lathe. It is a beauty. I have always thought the Vicmarc VL150 was, by a long way, the best mini lathe on the market. The new WWS lathe comes close. I have tested/used one and was impressed.

20th Oct 2016, 05:09 PM
Thanks Brendan, I appreciate your advice and everyone else... As often is the case, the dilemma is: when you allocate a budget, do you spread it around on selection of less than the best, or do you spend most of your cash on the best lathe, leaving little for tools & accessories.
I'm still pondering, keeping in mind that for me it is a hobby and that on a good day, I expect to have about 15 active years to enjoy it.