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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, this is a tad long winded...

I have an AMT lathe from the 80s that I bought to turn legs for some bar stools. It served me well back then when I was making long spindle items. I recently dusted it off after not looking at it for about 30 years and have begun to experiment with it to make small items like Christmas ornaments and similar turnings. It came with an 8" tool rest which works OK, but, when I began turning small items I realized it was way to big to get close to smaller blanks. I bought a 4" and 6" from Rockler recently. They are well made, however, the post is way too short for this lathe so I had to rig a makeshift spacer to raise the tool rest holder (whatever it's called). If you have ever had an AMT (the two bar one with about 37" between centers) you will probably know that adjusting the tool rest holder is a big PITA! The spacer only amplifies that problem. I recently bought Penn State's utility grip chuck. I like it. I think that it will serve me well if/when I decide to upgrade to another lathe. I've seen a couple videos that show using a chuck like this with a spur center sticking out through the center of the chuck. I'm assuming that the spur center has a Morse taper as the guy just popped it out after turning a shoulder on the blank before switching to the chuck. The chuck just road along until needed I'm assuming. I am not familiar with the Morse Taper head and tailstocks. The AMT has a 3/4-16 thread on the headstock and a propitiatory live tailstock that does not allow accessories to be attached.

I haven't done much research on new lathes. I doubt my budget will allow over $500, so, will probably research the best lathe I can get under that. I am probably done making long spindles for projects so I will either mothball the AMT or sell it to someone that is just beginning and doesn't want to spend a fortune finding out if they like turning. So, I am not sure what upgrade I am looking for. I would like to get one I can put a Jacobs chuck on the tailstock. I also want one that the tool rest holder moves smoothly and can move in close to the blank no matter how small diameter it may be. On the AMT the closest I can get is about 1 1/2" from the center unless I come in at an extreme angle. The holder does not work well at the 45 degree angle required to get under that. I'm assuming that the mini and midi lathes out now are easy to move into small diameter as they are popular with pen turners.

Tim
 

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Frank
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Tim,

This brings back memories. My first lathe was the AMT. I sold it and upgraded to a Craftsman. Sold it and now have a Delta. You may want to check Craig’s List for a used Delta.

Frank
 

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You can't go wrong with a Rikon. If you can live with a non electric variable speed then the 70-100 would be a nice one to get it comes with a 5 year warranty that covers everything. The spur center on a chuck is held in by the chuck jaws and not a Morse taper. You can get a Jacobs chuck with a #2 Morse taper at Harbor Freight for about $12 dollars. As far as Craigsist be careful not to buy some old lathe from the 80's. If the lathe is hard to adjust the speeds you will end up never using it.
 

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IMHO: Best small item lathe is a JET mini; Large item is POWERMATIC (Cadillac) but on the budget there are other good lathes out there, you will just have to shop carefully. I belong to a turning club in Asheville (largest club there is) and there is a variety of equipment and turners from amateur to professional who all have their favorites. So with that said think through what YOU require from a lathe and pick the one that suits your needs best. Since I use my JET for 99% of my turning I donated my Delta to a club member to use rather than seeing it sit around and gather dust. The club uses JET mini lathes for all of their classes and at events to teach kids basic turning. (future club members)lol. The Rikon & Delta are similar to the JET. The new JET has an indexing feature that I wish mine had, it adds a lot of ROUTER options to the turned piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just watched a video on the 70-100 and I am impressed with the ease of setting up and speed changes. My AMT has a simple speed changing process that I had to design (it didn't come with a motor or motor mount, so, I had to dream up a system to index the motor myself).

I like the idea of the MT on the head and tailstocks. I am wondering if my new chuck will allow me to use the spur center on the headstock so I don't have to remove it to make quick shoulders on my blanks. I'll have to do some measuring. Can you tell me the diameter of the stock spur center that comes with the Rikon?
 

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Sorry, this is a tad long winded...

I haven't done much research on new lathes. I doubt my budget will allow over $500
Tim
- I will put up a hand for the Nova Comet II. I've turned on both Rinkon and Jet and while all three are similar in size, price, the Nova has several features I prefer. I've had mine for almost 3 yrs and as best as I recall, the lathe included the G3 chuck and was delivered to my door for less than 500$. I also purchased the bed extension for it in case I get the bright idea to turn some longer spindles in the future.


- the head and tail both are MT2 so you can mix and match live centers, drill chucks, spurs, whatever, in addition to the 1"x 8 threaded head for the chuck.

- ebill
 

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Theo
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Had a HF lathe years back, figured on learning on it, then upgrading. Well, it turned out to be a pretty good lathe, certainly better than a lot of them costing considerably more. Made a stand for it, absolutely no vibration. Played with it a bit, then started making carving mallets, found out that was the only thing I actually liked making on a lathe. Sold it, and not regretted it. But now decided I may want to make a few more carving mallets, but won't need a large lathe. So, found out how to make a neat little wooden lathe, powered by a power drill. Will get around to making one one of these days.

However, there are plans out there for making any size wooden lathe you want, up to about 8' I believe it is. If I want to have a lathe, any size at all, I would make my own. Some people make them from metal, others from wood. Because I like woodworking, that is the way I would go. I will look a bit, not so much because it is not for me, and see what I can come up with.
 

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I bit the bullet on a Rikon 70-220vsr last month--nice. I went back & forth on that or the Nova Comet II--ultimately the 3+ inches of quill travel on the tail stock with the Rikon won. I drill pen blanks on my lathe, and with my prior lathe I had to move the tail stock at least twice to drill a 3" blank (drill chuck cost me nearly an inch on the Delta self eject stop). Unfortunately, I paid $650 for the 220, two weeks later it was $500 for Thanksgiving weekend. Don't regret missing the savings, but would have been nice to have the extra money in MY pocket!!
earl
 

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bill, I have a Jet midi lathe and 2 Jet minis. The newer Jet mini has more useful features. I bought the older Jet mini for my grandchildren to learn on. I got it back when their interest waned. My point is that is is a very good lathe which I bought thru my club connections for $100. See if there is a wood turning club near you. By all means stay with a MT2. I have an old Sears with an MT3. I use my Beall buffer system on it. I had to buy an MT3 to MT2 adapter out of England for it. Their currency exchange / tax system is murder!!! Of course, I would love to have a Powermatic, or a Stubby, or... Never satisfied! I hope you get one you really like. There are some very good suggestions here. Check them out.
 

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I bit the bullet on a Rikon 70-220vsr last month--nice. I went back & forth on that or the Nova Comet II--ultimately the 3+ inches of quill travel on the tail stock with the Rikon won. I drill pen blanks on my lathe, and with my prior lathe I had to move the tail stock at least twice to drill a 3" blank (drill chuck cost me nearly an inch on the Delta self eject stop). Unfortunately, I paid $650 for the 220, two weeks later it was $500 for Thanksgiving weekend. Don't regret missing the savings, but would have been nice to have the extra money in MY pocket!!
earl
I bought the same one for $500.00 last weekend. I had the Rikon 70-100 then went with the Delta 46-460, The speed controller went after a few months and it took nearly 4 months to get it fixed...never a Delta again. I then went to a Powermatic 3520 B (over 3 grand) but quickly sold that for a small profit and went back to the Rikon. For the money Rikon can't be beat. They have one of the best warranties going and stand by their product. When shopping for a tool make sure that the electronics and the motor are covered for as long as possible. It's impossible to fix electronics if the parts are no longer available. That is why I always sell when the warranty is up and buy new.
 

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I just watched a video on the 70-100 and I am impressed with the ease of setting up and speed changes. My AMT has a simple speed changing process that I had to design (it didn't come with a motor or motor mount, so, I had to dream up a system to index the motor myself).

I like the idea of the MT on the head and tailstocks. I am wondering if my new chuck will allow me to use the spur center on the headstock so I don't have to remove it to make quick shoulders on my blanks. I'll have to do some measuring. Can you tell me the diameter of the stock spur center that comes with the Rikon?
It comes with a #2 MT spur center. You have to always remove the chuck to install the spur center. You can put the wood worm screw into the chuck and attach it to the wood blank.
 

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I bought the same one for $500.00 last weekend. I had the Rikon 70-100 then went with the Delta 46-460, The speed controller went after a few months and it took nearly 4 months to get it fixed...never a Delta again. I then went to a Powermatic 3520 B (over 3 grand) but quickly sold that for a small profit and went back to the Rikon. For the money Rikon can't be beat. They have one of the best warranties going and stand by their product. When shopping for a tool make sure that the electronics and the motor are covered for as long as possible. It's impossible to fix electronics if the parts are no longer available. That is why I always sell when the warranty is up and buy new.
I got a Delta 46-460 just over a year ago, and speed controller failed in early November. Figured it would take a while to get back, even under warranty so I picked up the Rikon. Been using the Delta to buff with as the random variable speed doesn't have much negative effect on that. Got another 25-30 pens to make by early January, then I'll drop the Delta off for repair. Should be back in time for summer!!
earl
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everyone for the input. I'm going to do some additional research (sometimes referred to procrastination) before I plunk down $ for this. In the meantime I am going to try to upgrade or adapt the AMT tool rest holder to be able to eliminate the hardwood spacer I rigged up. Some type of S shaped 5/8" round stock welded to the bottom of the Rockler tool rests I bought should work. Though those rests are well made they are definitely not going to work well with the AMT with such short posts. In addition I think I will move the lathe "foot" on the tail end toward the center of the two bars and then make up a simple foot to hold the tail end firm to the workbench. If I ever want to turn long spindles I can just move it back. The tool rest frame will not move past the foot on the AMT (attached a jpeg of the model, don't laugh too hard, it works!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've made up my mind and decided to go with the Rikon 70-100. I considered the 70-220 and Nova Comet II, but, after researching and reading comments on many supplier's sites I read too many problems with electronics boards, cables, etc. I don't need that headache. Too many electronic devices in my life have given me grief. Although the variable speed would be convenient I see myself going from extreme slow to 2000+ rpm constantly for roughing to shaping to finishing steps. Most of those lathes will require a belt/pulley change to get that change anyway. I really dont' buy that sanding in reverse argument. I have had no problem eliminating lines on my AMT (which as some of you know is not anywhere near a high end machine). It's all about patience.

As my Dad always said, "You have more time than money", so, manual speed changes are in my future. While I considered the Central Machinery option (10x18) to save some serious cash I am sold on the fit and finish concept. The easier speed changes are also a big consideration with the 70-100 vs the CM 10x18.

Most of what I am going to be doing is small ornaments and other nick knacks as gifts and decoration. I don't see me turning table or chair legs ever again, I prefer the look of the tapered square legs I have built using my jointer. More traditional look IMO.

Thanks for all the suggestions and input. I'll be visiting with you'se guys again.

Tim
 
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