My first week on the job and I get to have some fun playing with the new Jet 719200 JWL-1221 Wood Lathe. Actually, I’m reviewing the lathe for the October issue of the magazine but it sure seems like playtime.
I’m not much on mini/midi lathes but this thing is pretty well built. Coming in at a whopping 137 lbs. without the base, it has the feel of a full-size lathe when you’re turning.
The Jet 719200 wood lathe is not only sturdy but it’s got some power. The 1-horsepower motor didn’t bog down under the strain some pretty heavy cuts. The only time I could bring the lathe to a halt was if I had the belt on the largest motor pulley and dialed the variable speed down to the minimum (160 rpm).
And speaking of variable speed, I really like the speed control and reverse switch. They’re both easily accessible and using them is smooth and easy. I’m used to lathe controls being left of the headstock which made turning the lathe on and off a bit unnatural for me but I’m sure I’d get used to it quickly.
I mention in the official review that the headstock cover that gives access to the step pulley could open a little further on the 719200. It’s a minor complaint but not a deal breaker for me. In spite of the partially blocked opening (and if I was a few inches shorter it wouldn’t be a problem), the divisions on the indexing head are easy to read. The indexing stop itself has some play in it until you get it screwed in all the way. This is nice because you don’t have to worry about the pin sticking in the indexing head when it’s time to rotate to the next position.
Another minor complaint is the tool rack on the headstock end of the lathe. When tools are in it, you can’t open the door to access the lower step pulley. If you’re not changing the belt position often, it won’t be much of a problem. Once open, however, there’s ample room to get inside and change the belt position. I also really like that the access door is held in place with magnetic strips rather than a turnbuckle, easy to open and stays put when closed.
I’ve done a fair amount of turning and the Jet 719200 wood lathe is a real pleasure to use. It runs smoothly and quietly and has enough weight to give it the feel of a much larger lathe.
If you’re new to turning and looking for additional information, here’s a great book to pick up: “Elementary Turning,” a vintage book that we scanned, cleaned up and reprinted.
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