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  1. #1
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    Jan 2022
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    Default Some advice please

    Hi , I looking at buying a lathe. it been 30 years since I used one, but now with the older I have some free time and space. I've read lots of advice about brands etc but it is all quite confusing. I looking to ultimately turn bowls so I am looking for something that does not require upgrading too soon. Vicmarc has been recommended by a friend, but they look expensive new and hard to source second hand. Hoping someone can steer me in the right direction. Thanks

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  3. #2
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    Jan 2004
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    Towradgi
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    Default

    John, a few questions.
    Budget? For the lathe and the budget for initial tooling? Yes you can buy tooling over years, most of us have, but you initially require some basic tools to start,sharpening gear, dust control and PPE.
    Space? Have you got a corner or bench free or an entire shed?

    Bowl turning? Most Mini/Midi lathes can swing up to a 300mm bowl, but that is maxed out.

    Lessons, they save a lot of time when relearning the basics.

    There was a thread in 2020 with details of the larger lathes commonly available in Australia . . . Here
    Pat
    Work is a necessary evil to be avoided. Mark Twain

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Mooroolbark
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    Default

    For what it's worth, I would recommend Vicmarc. You will only every need to make the one purchase and it will serve your needs forever.

    Cheers Peter

  5. #4
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    Oct 2008
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    Leopold, Victoria
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    Default

    This looks like it could be a good buy and in your area.
    Dallas

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Prestons Sydney
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    Default budget sets the limit

    The budget will dictate what you end upwith to a large extent and all the wellknow brands will be exspensive as they dont lose much value second hand.
    As Pat mentioned if you have a clear idea of what you want to turn as this will direct you. But if your looking at turning pens, hollow vessels and large bowls etc this could be a problem as there isnt a universal lathe that will handle everything.

    I would join a club to get the best advice and it highly probably that there will be a lathe being sold or someone is contemplating selling. First hand advice with hands on, as much has chnaged in 30 years.


  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    Sunshine Coast
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    Default

    Vicmark was my second choice when looking for a bowl turning set up, many years ago. VL200 is a bit small for what I have done but still a good lathe. The only downfall for this lathe is it looks like it's a 4 step pully system. Rough turning a 300mm block at a minimum of 300rpm can be a bit daunting when it's really out of balance. I've ducked a few chunks that let go when I was young... When the lathe is dancing all over the place though, you know it's time to put the face shield on...

    If you actually think you want to be a bowl turner the VL200 is a bit small. If you're patient the VL300 do come up, but will be in the 4k mark. You won't out grow the VL300.

  8. #7
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    Jan 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hughie View Post
    But if your looking at turning pens, hollow vessels and large bowls etc this could be a problem as there isnt a universal lathe that will handle everything.
    I beg to respectably differ, Wadkin RU, Stubby 1000, Vicmarc 600, Vicmarc 300 LB (old Castings and cabinet) are universal lathes . . .

    You just need deep pockets and know how to use the tool!
    Pat
    Work is a necessary evil to be avoided. Mark Twain

  9. #8
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    Jan 2022
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    Default

    Thanks for the advice. Would I be correct in thinking a VL100 be too small?

  10. #9
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    Jul 2006
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    Default

    I have the VL200 and find that turning bowls of up to 400mm in diameter is more that ample. You can server up a pretty big salad in a bowl that size

    Cheers Peter

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Adelaide Hills, South Australia
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    I beg to respectably differ, Wadkin RU, Stubby 1000, Vicmarc 600, Vicmarc 300 LB (old Castings and cabinet) are universal lathes . . . ;)

    You just need deep pockets and know how to use the tool!
    Pat

    You would definitely need very deep pockets to pick up a Vicmarc 600...

    Glenn Lucas with VM600

    I understand that they made four prototypes (on a government grant)... but have no idea where any of them are now or, for that matter, how good they were.

    Like the Steinert VB36, I reckon more for bragging rights!

    For that matter, you don't need a giant lathe to turn large pieces outboard, just the right skills and experience... here is a largish platter being turned on the humble Woodfast...
    I've been wanting an excuse to post that pic for some time...:U


    John

    Back to your question, it is hard to know what kind of lathe you will need until you get up to speed again and start to develop and follow your preferred turning style and interests. The advice about taking lessons or joining a club is very sound... try before you buy!

    On size, my opinion is that too many turners buy lathes that can handle the occasional larger piece, which they then rarely make. For those pieces there will be a club or mate with a lathe that is large enough for those pieces. Better to buy the best lathe that you can afford that does 95% of what you want to do and enjoy that more for 95% of the time.
    Stay sharp and stay safe!

    Neil



  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Towradgi
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    Neil, I owned Woodfast M910 for about 12 years, they are a very capable lathe.
    I only got the Stubby as I was in the right place at the right time.
    Pat
    Work is a necessary evil to be avoided. Mark Twain

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Neil, I owned Woodfast M910 for about 12 years, they are a very capable lathe.
    I only got the Stubby as I was in the right place at the right time.
    Pat, if I happened to be 'in the right place at the right time' I would have also taken the opportunity to buy that Stubby... just what I need to handle larger coring jobs...

    But, having said that, for 98% of tasks my 1.5hp Woodfast still manages to do what I need.
    Stay sharp and stay safe!

    Neil



  14. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Melbourne, Australia.
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnftp View Post
    Thanks for the advice. Would I be correct in thinking a VL100 be too small?

    Sort of!

    Actual physical size is one thing, mass is another thing that can come into the equation a bit. While the VL100 lathe is on the smaller side, it is quite capable, but will probably be quite frustrating in a short time as your skill level and ambitions rise.

    One aspect is continuity of accessories, as you move along the lathe upgrades/replacement scenario that you will almost certainly be doing. Smaller lathes often have different sized accessory attachment threads or holes, which can have more effect than one at first may realise.

    Another example of larger lathes versus smaller is the tool rest post size. On lathes the clamped section of the tool rest is thicker or thinner in diameter and usually the size of the tool rest post can reflect the design limit of the lathe.

    In general, most medium sized and larger lathes will be running a 25.4mm tool post, some are 25mm and in general this will indicate the lathe is reasonably able to handle some stress caused by larger pieces of material.

    Most Vicmark lathes, not their smaller ones or some of their older ones, run with a 30mm tool rest post, which is approximately 20% thicker than most others. The result is that the Vicmark lathes not only have very rigid tool rests, they feel very rigid when in use and are dreamlike to use. The only other lathe that I have used that has an extremely rigid tool rest like the Vicmark lathes, is the Laguna Revo 2436. This lathe uses a clamp action on a long section of a 25.4mm diameter tool post, instead of a grub screw type of arrangement.

    If you do look closely at Vicmark lathes and you see the swivel head units, they are very rigid in the swivel head mechanism and as long as you only swing partially out, you can use the standard tool rest arrangement. If you wish to use the Vicmark swivel headed lathes at 90º, meaning you are standing directly into your bowl as you face the lathe in the normal side on position, then you will need the Vicmark outrigger attachment; this is not a cheap attachment. You could also use a tripod stand to hold your tool rest, but this is certainly further down the track than where you are at the moment.

    Another point to consider is rough timber size versus finished product size. You may have a lathe that has the possibility to turn a 300mm diameter bowl. That 300mm bowl would have to have been slightly larger originally before it could be turned down to a smooth circular shape. From personal experience with a lathe restricted to a 310mm diameter possibility, I usually ended up with a maximum sized bowl of 295mm at best, often closer to 280-285mm in actuality.

    I would be looking for an electronic variable speed controlled lathe that has spindle speeds from around 50rpm upwards. With larger unbalanced pieces of wood, the lower you can start, the safer and more easier it is to turn. Having the possibility of incremental totally variable speed increases, is something that is far safer and nicer to use and once someone has electronic variable spindle speed control, you almost never go back.

    Mick.

  15. #14
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    I beg to respectably differ, Wadkin RU, Stubby 1000, Vicmarc 600, Vicmarc 300 LB (old Castings and cabinet) are universal lathes . . .

    You just need deep pockets and know how to use the tool!
    point taken


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