Wise Buys: Mini-Lathes
Speeds: Variable, 500-3,900 rpm.
Capacities: 10" swing, 15" between centers.
Weight: 70 pounds.
Optional accessories: 23" bed extension; lathe stand; lathe stand extension.
Compared with the Rikon, you give up 2" of swing and 3" between centers, but the JML1014-VSI's variable-speed control provides the ability to change speeds ever so slightly -- especially in the lower range for roughing out a blank. The 1/2-hp motor provided respectable torque when I turned a 9" bowl and 15" spindle, and because there's little vibration, it, too, passed my standing nickel test. Jet's spindle features chamfered threads, and topped the test with virtually no run-out. It also had the best alignment of centers; a spur center with long, thin points that needed only a light tap to seat in a turning blank; and 1-7/8" of quill travel for boring.
However, I did find a few areas for improvement. For example, when boring holes with a drill chuck in the tailstock, the lathe's combined quill lock and keyway sometimes allowed the quill to spin within the tailstock. With three-tiered pulleys, I didn't have to change belts as often; but when I did, it proved difficult because the speed-control box limits access to the lower pulley.
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