Cheap Wood Lathes

There are a lot of reasons why investing in an expensive, high quality wood lathe is a good idea.
There are a number of benefits to moving up in price and quality range. You will get a larger lathe, which allows much more freedom and variety in the projects you can do and the pieces you can make and large lathes are heavier which reduces vibration. You will get better finish and machining, parts will be better aligned and the overall product will be much nicer.
Lathes are one area where you can still buy a tool that will last for years, or even decades. They are fairly simple devices, and solidly built, in general from cast iron.
So why would anyone ever invest in a cheap lathe?
Well there are several reasons you might consider a cheaper model of wood lathe. Some of them are good, others not so much, but it's a valid idea in any case.
The number one situation I think someone should invest in an inexpensive lathe is if they are a beginner. If you don't have a lot of experience buying a large expensive wood lathe could end up being a costly mistake.
I know a lot of people who go into things all gunge ho only to lose interest shortly afterward. In my opinion if you don't have a lot of experience you should consider investing in a a small inexpensive wood lathe initially, and consider it a starter that you will upgrade in a few years.
Another good reason to buy a cheap lathe is as a complement to a larger tool. If you already have a large wood lathe it could be useful, to have a smaller one for detail work, or small projects such as pen turning or lure making. Not all small lathes are created equal however, and some of them can be just as expensive as larger models.
A third reason for a smaller cheaper lathe is simply to save space, some people don't have a lot of room in their shops, or even a dedicated shop at all, and it wouldn't make very much to put a full sized lathe in your living room.
There are some decent lathes out there in the 300-400 dollar range, and even a few passable ones around 150 dollars, but I personally wouldn't go lower than that, or you risk getting a complete dud.
You can find a good list of cheap wood lathes along with prices and specs at Wood Lathes Online.
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