While I don’t find a lot of time (or enjoyment) writing, I do try to keep promises. I said I would give impressions about the lathe and this is it.
I like it.
After hauling it up to the shop, I had to quit for the day due to other commitments. Such as not giving myself a hernia. With a lot of Harbor Freight tools, the devil is in the (lack) of details. For most tools, they are made alongside ones from other makes, however where they get sent to quality control and pass the buck on to you, HF lets you do the QC at a substantial savings. For example, this lathe (the 34706) is an almost exact duplicate of the Jet 1236: same cheap angle iron stand, same speed adjustment, same rotating head. Different color, different power switch location, different tool rest. The best difference is the 75% off price, though.
(I apologize for not having a ton of pictures, so I’ll try to be descriptive)
Opening the box you’re greeted with a bunch of white Styrofoam. This isn’t a tool thrown haphazardly in a box. I don’t exactly remember the order in which I pulled out the tools, as it was in the driveway as I was trying to figure out just how in the hell it was going to make it into the shop. Everything was packed nicely, with a less than obscene amount of cosmoline covering only some of the parts. The runners for the tailstock were covered in brown paper, no cosmoline (which was nice). I took out everything but the bed (and motor and tail) when I hauled it up to the shop.
Once up there, I started taking stock. All bolts, nuts and washers were there, including quick-release levers (thought one was missing, but later found it). That’s a bonus with HF at times. I took out all the hardware and separated it in hardware bins as I was counting – it makes for easy assembly. I then picked out the stand and started assembling. I’m not sure exactly why, but I was very impressed with the quality here. They seemed to be made with a higher quality/thickness steel than I am accustomed to (especially compared to the bandsaw base), and the paint was very good and a slight bit darker than the bandsaw. I thought I would have to be building a stand immediately, but that got put to bed as soon as I had them out of the plastic bag. Alignment of the holes was perfection. Seriously. Not joking. Again, way better than the bandsaw. Never once dropped a nut or washer because something didn’t line up. I couldn’t believe it. Once assembled, it was light, but very sturdy.
Now it was time to attach the bed assembly. Here is where getting the whole thing up on my workbench paid off. I simply slid it over to the stand and lined up the holes. Again, zero alignment issues. There were a couple of nuts that were difficult to get on because of clearance, but not because of fit. Once everything was snugged up, I pushed the tailstock forward to see about alignment. Is it perfect? No. However it’s about a millimeter or so off. I can probably live with that for now.
After trying it out with admittedly dull, crap tools, it did seem to chatter a lot. So I took some of the 3/4″ MDF I had lying around and cut to fit a few sections, creating a 1.5″ shelf along the lower stretchers. On that I plan on putting a bin with play sand and lathe accessories on to further stabilize it. With what I have to put in now, it works really well.
Some random shots, as I was too excited to turn it on than show step-by-step instructions.