The manual-speed brother of this lathe has been around for years. It’s probably the most popular first lathe for new turners, with good reason: here’s a proven tool with sturdy components, two tool-rest sizes and enough power to get modest-sized turnings done right.
It’s also the only one with carry handles to make the machine reasonably portable. After repeatedly hulking these machines on and off my bench, trust me: the handles are worth their weight in gold. The rest of this test group should come with handles, too.
Adding variable speed control makes this “steady Eddie” lathe even more convenient, and I love the on-board worklight and both 6″ and 10″ tool-rest sizes. But, I have two concerns about the speed control box. It’s hinged to double as the bottom pulley-access door. The steel clip latch was finicky to adjust, so the box either wouldn’t stay closed or was too tight to open.
It just needs a better latch. Second, lathes can be dangerous, especially to a curious child. The basic toggle switch that powers up this tool has no lockout provision. A safety switch would be a sensible improvement.
All in all, this JET is a respectable tool, but it falls a little short on some important features.