I've only really begun experimenting with the lathe in the past
year, but the possibilities really excite me! One of my "casting
buddies" just completed an absolutely incredible sterling silver
chess set on the lathe. The largest piece is about 1/2" high and
all of the pieces are incredibly detailed -- even down to the bricks
on the rook and pupils in the eye of the knight. He used a very
hard carving wax to start with, then went to a mid-range green as he
realized it was a bit too brittle.
I found a lathe made by Penn State Industries - the Turncrafter
Plus. It's a cast-iron mini-lathe with a 1/3 HP motor, 750 - 3200
RPM and a 3/4" x 16tpi headstock with #1 Morse Taper. It
accommodates 12-1/2" between centers and has a swing (max radius of
a piece) of 7-1/2" It includes both a 4-1/2" and 7" toolroest, 2"
faceplace, spur center and live tailstock center, plus the wrenches
and knockouts you'll need.
It retails for $139.95 plus $18 shipping via UPS.
According to my machinist-oriented buddies, it's really an ideal
lathe to get started with and expand with in lathing wax. Because
it accepts Morse Taper head-stocks, you can use a wide variety of
chucks with it if you don't want to use the faceplate. I've gotten
a self-centering 4-jaw chuck that can be used to grip a wax rod from
the outside or a ring blank rod from the inside. It seems ideal for
the types of things I'm doing (pendants, rings, and other component
In addition to the lathe, you'll need chisels (buy a small set as a
starter, then make some and adapt some as you develop your style and
techniques) - expect to pay about $60 for a good starter set of 8
chisels. You'll want a bench grinder or some type of sharpener ($30
- 40) for the chisels, if you don't have one. And, of course, some
type of shop-vac or targetable dust collector.
Penn State Industries is located just outside of Philadelphia in
Huntingdon Valley, where they have an outlet store (great place for
any of you in the area - they have everything from dust collectors to
pen components and used lathes, routers, milling machines, etc.).
They also have books, videos, and CD-ROMs showing various techniques.
You can find them online at www.pennstateind.com or via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org and phone at 800-377-7297. They are really
friendly and great at giving technical support and advice, both in
the shop and on the phone.
No Limitations Designs