Michael recently saw our post on the Mini Wood Lathe, decided he wanted to check it out, and ordered one. When it arrived, he was kind enough to send his thoughts on his experience and snap a few pics for us, which we’d like to share with you. Read on past the jump for his opinions and photos.
“This starter lathe is a great way to try lathe turning without making a huge investment in an expensive power tool.”
That’s how The Adjustable Clamp company begins its copy on the mini wood lathe, and it’s exactly why I shelled out the $36 (including shipping) for this set up. (I noticed, by the way, that they’re now listing it for $40, pre-shipping.) I had never used a lathe before, but had read quite a bit and was curious as to whether or not I’d like turning.
If this sounds like you, I would without hesitation recommend the mini wood lathe to you. I don’t know if this lathe could actually be much more than an occasional use tool, though. Someone doing any kind of production work — from pens to spindles — will want more features and sophistication in a lathe.
The mini lathe is relatively simple in construction and pretty sturdy — pretty good bang for your buck. (I spend this much money taking my family out to dinner at Wendy’s.) The bed is a single piece of extruded and formed aluminum. After screwing it to the base I could not feel any flex in it. The drill stand is separate and is also screwed to the base.
You attach your drill with a plastic-coated hose clamp. I wasn’t sure if it would be adequate, but was pleased to have no problems with the arrangement during use. The drive center (or the “face plate”) threads onto a drive shaft mounted in a headstock that bolts to the bed — as does the tailstock that carries the live center. You simply chuck the drive center shaft in your drill and you’re good to go.
I had originally planned on setting the lathe up on a slab of white oak I had, but the slab was a bit short. Instead I used a chunk of 1 1/2′ particleboard left over from a counter top job sometime in the distant past. You’ll need a base that’s approximately 40″ long, give or take a bit depending on the size of your drill — something with some mass would work best to keep vibration to a minimum. The lathe comes with all the screws needed to mount it and ships partially assembled.
I was pleased with all aspects of the construction, except for the two plastic end caps for the bed. They were not quite the right shape, and one ended up falling off after I assembled the lathe and started using it. The lack of the end cap didn’t affect my use of the lathe, though. When I re-do the lathe — I plan on setting it up for my boys to use — I’ll probably ditch the remaining one.
Setting up the lathe took about a half hour of unhurried activity. There are no written instructions — just some diagrams — but that shouldn’t stop anyone from putting the lathe together, easily; the pictures are clear and the construction is simple. You need only provide a base and a drill. I used my fairly new Ridgid R7000 (3/8″ VSR) corded drill. It’s a 6.5 amp drill that runs 0-2,500 RPM.
Read on to page two for Michael’s experiences using the mini lathe.
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