When I started this hobby, I knew that I wanted to turn bigger and better stuff, and I knew my first lathe was just an introductory machine to get me started. But there are many skills and techniques that I had to master before I could justify the expense of a big, fancy lathe. So I bought a fairly decent small lathe from Craigslist and have been learning and practicing and using this small Jet 12 x 36 lathe for a while now. The 12 x 36 designation means the lathe has a maximum capacity of 12 inches rotating and 36 inches long. It’s perfect for small bowls and reasonably long spindles. Because it only has toom for small pieces, they only put a small motor on it…and that means it won’t turn big, heavy pieces of wood very well and you’re really limited with how aggressive you can be with it. So it’s light cuts, slow progress, and LOTS of vibration from the small mass of the lathe when turning bigger turnings. These 9-inch and 11-inch bowls on here take me FOREVER!
I’ve pushing the limits for a while now, and have been dreaming about a bigger lathe “someday”. Bigger lathes, though, are EXPENSIVE! For the horsepower and swing (i.e. max size wood) that I wanted, a new lathe would run 6 to 10 grand. (Crazy, right?!) So I’ve been frustrated at slow production trying to turn big pieces on a small machine…it just takes so much time to make progress!
Then last year, Grizzly came out with a BIG lathe and an introductory price. Like a really low (“Did they misprint it in the catalog?!?!”), introductory price ($1500 bucks for a huge, 600 pound, 3 horsepower lathe is unheard of…). The woodturning forums exploded and folks started researching the specs… It’s got the high end Delta VFD (variable frequency drive – the thing that lets you dial the speed slowly instead of in big jumps like on the Jet model I’m using now)! It’s got the updated 3HP, 220V, 3 phase motor on it! It’s got 22 inches of swing!
I debated it…don’t ever buy the first run of something, it’ll be wrought with production bugs that aren’t worked out yet. There’s a reason it’s so cheap, it must have major flaws…Wait a year till it’s reviewed! But if you wait, the price would double next year…now way they’ll let this introductory price last!
Finally, my wife just went on the site and bought it after 4 months of me debating it. I was to come in on my birthday and be my present. I was EXCITED! With this, I could screw on a HUGE log and get right to turning! And I can make big platters, deep vessels, and start with big, heavy logs!
But the huge response from the woodturning community make MANY orders, and the production at the plant in Taiwan was bogged down. The internet is amazing, and these forums are filled with all sorts of people with connections. Folks are able to track the production, the ships coming across the ocean, the sorting and delivery schedules at the warehouses…it’s pretty amazing.
So I’ve been watching, and monitoring, and waiting (maybe a little impatiently!) since January! And now, it’s almost here! Reviews are in, and the forums are happy! Seems like the machine is high quality (for the price…the high dollar american made machines have superb fit and finish…this is more like an ugly workhorse.).
I’m very excited. Should be here in about 2 weeks!
Stand by for un-crating photos, set up, and more production! With this monster, i’ll finally be able to turn some BIG wood and FAST! Will post vids and photos of the big stuff! 🙂
(BTW – Know that this lathe is a birthday present to me well before this Turn It Forward site was a figment of my imagination. Money from the store goes towards funding random acts of kindness and not to pay for this lathe.)