What A Bargain

What A Bargain

There is something appealing about free. Free. Something for nothing.

“You want it? It’s yours.”

“What’s the cost?”

“No cost. Nothing. It’s free. Just take it.”

I should have known better. There is nothing quite as expensive as free.

Two weekends ago I got a deal. A real honest to goodness bargain. As I was browsing through Craigslist looking for inexpensive power tools to feed my new addiction, I found this post:

“Free Vintage Sears Lathe”

Needless to say I mashed out a frantic email to aforementioned giver of free tools letting them know how much I wanted it. “I will come and pick it up TODAY. no questions asked.” Within three minutes of the ad appearing online, I had a phone call from the owner letting me know where to pick it up.

For those not in “the know” a lathe has one purpose. To take a block of material, wood in this case, and spin it at near dangerous speeds. My lathe spins at four speeds ranging from approx 600 to 1800 RPMs. This is changed depending on how badly you would like to maim yourself with a flying chunk of hardwood. Once you have the death machine up to full speed you attack this innocent timber with sharp objects in a effort to mold the log to your liking.

So I haul this thing home, set it up and spend about 2 hours cleaning off rust, scraping off buildup and sharpening its spurs. At this point I’m ready to ‘turn’ wood. Right? Wrong.

First off I had a broken drive belt, but that was a measly $20 to replace. No big deal, twenty buck to get my free tool working! Now I can turn wood.

Not so fast there junior.

Second I needed to buy some chisels, gouges, skews, and other lathe cutting tools. Otherwise I’m just trying to cut the wood with my wit, which much to my chagrin, is not that sharp. So now that I’ve bought $50 worth of lathe chisels, I’m ready to cut. Right? Nope. I need a face shield. This apparatus, that is both the height of fashion and safety will protect me from flying debris. There goes another $20. Now I’m ready to cut? Not likely!

Turns out to really begin turning, I need a lot. I need a sharpening wheel to grind my new chisels, because although you paid $50 bucks for them they do not come sharpened. There goes another $100 big ones. Now? Not yet. It seems your older lathe centers, the part that holds the wood in place, are too worn down and need replacing. $15.

“Okay, now what exactly do you want to turn?”


“Well then, you will need a 7mm mandrel, a set of bushings, a 7mm drill bit and barrel trimmer. $60. Oh by the way….”


“Do you have a drill press?”

“How much?”

“At least $100. For the cheap one.”

“What If I wanted to turn bowls?”

“Yes. You could do that.”


“You need a bowl gouge, new chuck and a set if calipers and maybe a spindle adapter…”

Anyway. I got this great deal on a new lathe. It was free. You know, free? What a bargain!