# Lathe recommendations?

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#### Gunkie

##### Well-Known Member
I'm thinking about asking my wife for a lathe for Xmas. Any recommendations? Suggestions? Features I should look for?

My applications would range from turning balsa nose cones, transitions, and boat tails to large hardwood nose cones for HPR, perhaps up to 6" in diameter x 16+" long.

Dream machine?

Thanks.

#### Stymye

I was in harbour freight this morning and they had it for $79 ! I'mnot sure if thats just in this store or everywhere .and it did not include the stand .still a heck of a lathe for the money! #### Gunkie ##### Well-Known Member That lathe looks and sounds great. There is a Harbor Freight about 20 minutes from where I live. I am hoping to get my wife to coordinate my in-laws to purchase Harbor Freight gift certificates for Xmas rather than another shirt. I did that last year with Amazon.com gift certificates and got a PALM 130M. I believe my brother in-law is doing the same thing by having his in-laws buy$5-$10 gift certificates to his favorite sports collectible store. You'd be surprised how quickly the amounts add up. Thanks again! BTW, last time I used a lathe was in 7th grade shop (circa 1975). Notwithstanding practice, are there any decent text books or web sites that can walk me through techniques that will teach me how to do the basic stuff (i.e. make nose cones, transitions, boat tails)? Thanks. #### sandman ##### Well-Known Member WOW! Not an easy question to answer. For nose cones out of balsa...sanding is about the only tool to use because it's so darn soft. The same with foam. All woods act differently and cut differently with lathe tools. There are lots of books on turning but to tell you the truth...turning is not something you can learn from a book. I've been turning for a very long time...it just takes practice. Books can give you some valuable tips and techniques but you have to use them in order to get it right. It's sorta like learning to paint pictures from a book...helps but ya need a little more "hands on" practice! I feel that turning is an art, not everyone can do it. Get a load of firewood to practice on (yes green wood turns GREAT!) but it has some peculiar things about it too. Learn to read wood...feel how it acts to the tools...how it will shrink depending on moisture content. You can even learn just how much moisture the wood has by the smell. Man, I could go on and on. sandman #### Gunkie ##### Well-Known Member Practice, practice, practice. I'll be sure to ask more questions after I ruin a few good pieces of wood next month #### Micromeister ##### Micro Craftman/ClusterNut TRF Lifetime Supporter TRF Supporter Gunkie: I just got clearence flyer from Harbor freight. they have a 14" x 40" with stand for 99.00. #### Nite Builder ##### Member Gunkie; I have had the Harbor Freight 14x40 Lathe for just over a year now.( Paid$99,00 for it and it paid for itself inside of a couple months. It comes with a 4 point drive center and a faceplate for larger turnings, and get this,up to 12" diameters are possible.I know it claims to be able to accomadate diameters up to 14 inches, but trust me when I say that it starts getting a little bit "chattering" when I do over 12 inch. It is also has 4 speeds but very rarely do I use it any faster than the slowest speed. I have managed to make every internal component that you can possibly imagine with this lathe including boat tails, transitions, and nosecones in several types of wood ranging from soft as balsa to hard as oak. Make sure you get yourself a "good" set of wood chisels or"gouges" as they're refered to and when they start to get dull you can just sharpen them on the Disc sander on the left-hand side of the spindle.( Did I forget to mention that the Disc Sander also comes with it? Silly me :->...) You can also purchase and attach a Morse#2 taper Drill chuck to the tail stock so as to drill those "perfect" center holes.......Have fun..

Good Luck ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>>>====> Fly High

#### LBarron

##### Well-Known Member
Got a question for Sandman and Nite Builder...

I need to make some rather large transitions for a scale Saturn V I'm making and after several attempts at using various weights of paper I'm investigating the possibility of making them from balsa on a lathe. The rocket scale is 1/34 (it'll be 10+ft tall) and the larger lower transition will go from 11.6" to 7.5" and will be 7" in length. The upper transition will of course be smaller. So (finally the question...), since you guys have used the Harbor Freight lathe would you recommend it for a project like this or am I getting too ambitious here?

(Nite Builder - I'm glad you mentioned you've used it for pieces 12" in diameter - at least I know it can be done!)

Thanks,
Leland

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
LBarron,

Wow! 11.5" is gonna be a tight fit on the lathe! But doable.

If you make it in balsa I don't see a real problem...it will just be harder to do than a smaller piece.

You will have to "glue-up" all your wood (I have NEVER seen 12" x 12" balsa!)

Mount it onto the bowl turning plate.

Here is what I do before I even turn the lathe on.

Make a pattern and draw it onto two sides.

Cut as much of the "waste" wood off as you can before you start "turning". The lathe makes a great part holder while you do this.

I use a "drawknife" It's a double handled hand tool to shave off a lot of scrap wood.

Actually do most of the work with the drawknife and finally turn on the lathe to true up your piece.

Sooo, 1/34th scale makes the Apollo capsule about 3.8"...pretty impressive!

sandman

#### LBarron

##### Well-Known Member
Hey - that's right - I can do the CM on the lathe too. Excellent!

Thanks for your reply and ideas. I did try to make an upper transition by hand from balsa blocks but just couldn't get the darn thing perfectly round. It's easy enough to get the general shape but extremely hard to get it without any small flat spots or lumps. A lathe will definitely take care of that. Might even be able to rescue the one I've already made. THAT would be nice!
I wonder how much wood I'll destroy before I get it right?.....

(nosecone - I got 3.9" cuz the scale is actually 1/33.88 based on the OD of a 11.5" BT

Leland

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
3.9" is 1/33.88...

Pretty good guess huh?

I'm GOOOOOOD!

sandman

#### LBarron

##### Well-Known Member
that was a guess??!!
holy smokes!

you da MAN!!