I am almost an intermediate pen turner. I began using
the lathe part of a Shopsmith many years ago, dropped
the hobby because of some issues with my eyesight, but
picked it up again with a Harbor Freight mini lathe.
I found the HF lathe to be entirely adequate in terms of
turning the blanks. I had some problems with it - the
belt broke and it was a struggle to replace it (let alone
find a replacement). I just could not keep it going, so I
used the limited funds to purchase a lathe from Woodturner's
Catalog called "the Apprentice" last year. It was a similar
unit to the HF unit and a Chinese made item.
It too served me well turniung blanks, but when I started
to use a chuck and tailstock drill bit, it became more
inaccurate and had issues withthe tailstock quill advancement.
I talked to the tech support people at Woodturner's and learned
that the unit was not built for doing such blank drilling
operations because the motor was not capable of it over the
long haul (whichi n my case was about a year during the warm
months). He suggested that I could sill drill the blanks, but
with me advancing the tailstock withoit unlocked to the bed. Now
this works fine for all my woods except ebony and pink ivory.
These blnks blow out because I don;t have the physical ability
to carefully advance the bit when breaking through the end of the
blank. It is the same way, but not as severe with the acrylics I
turn. Given all this, I have decided to purchase a better quality
machine with a strongert motor and better accuracy with the
tailstock that is little to no side to sdie wobble.
I am looking at Jet, Nova, a Peenn State private brand, Rikon and
Grizzly. What are the experiences of other turners and what did
you look at when choosing your lathe?
Thanks for any and all responders.