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Comments On Apr 05, 2014:The Apprentice 812 VS Mini Lathe is a reasonable lathe.
The price point is low. Being made of cast iron, the lathe is heavy enough to dampen most of the wobble. However, I do wish it was a little bit heavier for larger 6+ inch green wood straight from the tree that still needs to be turned down and trued.
Variable speed is nice but the lowest speed settings should be slower as it is too fast when trueing up a large piece of wood and the lathe wants to jump around a little bit too much at that speed. The plastic knob for the variable speed control was broken upon arrival. I have since made my own.
The handle on the end stock is poorly designed and it should have been made differently as there is no handle which means advancing the end stock is more work than it need to be. I don't mind, I replaced the stock handle with my own and it works very nicely.
The motor could use a bit more power as I have found that turning a piece of 8X10 green pine dogged this little lathe down so much that I was beginning to wonder if it was capable of turning such a large piece of wood! You will need to go very very slowly with larger pieces of wood, and don't try to take too much off at a time. It will turn a large piece of wood, only it will eat up a lot of your time as you will need to make fine cuts very shallow and patience. If you don't the motor WILL stall... A lot.....The motor will not handle drilling a 2 inch Foresters bit into maple. Do not even attempt it.
The lathe comes with one 4 inch tool rest and one 7 inch tool rest. The posts for the tool rests are way too short and barely reach high enough to be centered with the work piece. For me this is the second worst issue I have with the lathe other than the motor.
The headstock is made of a soft metal and the holes drilled into the headstock that allow the headstock tightening tool to be inserted for the purpose of adding or removing faceplates, jaw chucks etc., have actually bent and are no longer fully round. This means that sometimes the lightener tool will slip out while attempting to tighten a face place or jaw chuck. It will even slip out even while trying to loosen them.
Although I seem to be complaining in most of my review, I have to remind myself that this is a low price point lathe, and should be used like one. This lathe will do very well for pen turners and other small items. One will need a lot of patience if turning larger pieces of wood.
Most importantly, if this is your first lathe make sure you understand what a Morse taper is and the available sizes. this lathe is a MT -1 Morse taper lathe and it is a little bit more difficult to find accessories and tools that are MT -1.. MT -2 is the more standard size for lathes and if you decided to upgrade to a new lathe, it will most likely be a MT -2 Morse taper lathe. This means that all the tools that you buy will most likely be specifically for this lathe and will not fit on the lathe that you plan to upgrade to in the future.
In conclusion, the variable speed control is its best asset. Heavy enough for medium-small size green wood turning. Great for pens and smaller work pieces. Poorly designed end stock handle and the motor could use a bit more horsepower. The fact that this is a MT-1 Morse taper lathe limits the ability to use the tools and accessories purchased. And, will mostly likely be used for this lathe only (or another MT-1 lathe, which is rare) if you intend upgrade to a MT-2 lathe in the future.
I will give this lathe a 4 star rating. It is a small lathe and if you are turning small projects it will work perfectly fine. If you have ideas of turning anything larger than 6X10 you may want to go for a different lathe. That means spending a bit more money. Personally as for my own needs, I wish I had spent double or possibly even triple of what I paid for on my first lathe; If I had known about the different morse tapers, MT-1 and MT-2.
I hope this review helps and happy turning!
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Comments On Dec 30, 2013:I love this little workhorse! It has just enough power for the projects and pens I am working up on it, and I love the variable speed feature!
I did have an issue after about 10 months of use with the lathe not wanting to start spinning on start-up - it seemed to happen mostly when I first started out in a cold shop - I could spin it by hand to get it going, but you really don't want to do that - even with the slow-start spin up feature.
I contacted customer support on the issue and these guys were absolutely GREAT! Immediately sent me a whole new lathe - AND extended the warranty to the same time period offered originally for the new one!
The second lathe is working like a champ - no issues whatsoever. I picked up an old Jacobs 55 drill press chuck on Ebay that screws right onto the lathe, and it works great for my mandrels and thin dowel projects - next purchase is a 4-jaw chuck to add some capabilities.
I recommend this as a great starter lathe for the novice, carrying through to intermediate turners - you may want to upgrade when you get to the point where you want to do some larger projects or a good deal of bowl turning.
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