Advice: UK Wood Lathes
A very good quality, solidly-built wood second-hand wood-turning lathe is not difficult to find. Prices tend to vary between £120 for a machine with basic equipment and in sound order, to over £1500 for a very smart example complete with lots of useful and expensive extras. £300 to £450 will buy something well made and in sound order. Because there is almost nothing to go wrong with a wood lathe - only the spindle bearings and motor are likely to fail, buying one needing attention can still be viable proposition. By repairing the lathe its value will increase proportionally and it will, if well maintained, always be an easy machine to sell on. The age of the lathe is largely irrelevant to its value; whether 5 or 50 years old if it's in clean, sound, working order prices will vary little.
On the used market you are likely to encounter the following proven machines. There are others, of course, but these are the most common. If you have the budget, the best bet is a heavier machine such as the Harrison "Graduate", one of the lighter (but still heavy) Wadkin models or a Viceroy. They will cost more but hold their value, turn well and are almost indestructible.
Record (formerly Coronet): modern lathes all with a twin-bar bed. These have been made for many years in a variety of sizes - and with a confusing number of model designations. Originally the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 were listed using Coronet badging - and all represent exceptional value for money and, being made in Sheffield, reasonably priced and very strong.
Today much the same sort of range is manufactured by Record Power
Harrison "Graduate" - a lathe carried on a heavy, cast-iron underdrive stand. Compact, strong, heavy, well-built and with a decent capacity this is the pick of the bunch for the keen amateur and highly recommended.
Harrison Union "Jubilee" - the forerunner of the Graduate. Heavy metal-plate construction with cast-iron bed ways and mounted on an underdrive stand. Again, in sound order, highly recommended. This lathe - or copies - can be found badged as Cooksley and Sagar.
Viceroy: two types were made: a dedicated wood lathe, the Model TDS6 (available in several forms) and quite different models that were adaptations of the Company's metal-working lathes. Some of the latter were particularly handy, including the TDS3 MW, a late version of the "Educator" fitted out as a plain-turning metal and wood lathe and with a large-capacity bowl-turning unit. Recommended.
Dominion - a range of less-well-known but very well-made and reliable heavy-duty models
Coronet "Major" - single-bar bed. A very well made, heavy lathe that is universally popular and often equipped with a wide range of accessories that turn it into an universal woodworker. If you can find a well-equipped one it will prove to be a most useful, general-purpose machine. Prices are very reasonable and these lathe are more often than not found with a good range of accessories. Find a good one and you'll not be disappointed.
Coronet "Elf", "Minorette" and "Ten-in-One": lighter, less-expensive single-bar bed lathes but still well-made and capable of decent work. The "Ten-in-One" was, as its name suggests, a miniature Universal Woodworker.
Sorby - another high-quality Sheffield-made lathe with a fine reputation. The accessory range was limited - but this is an excellent wood lathe.
Myford ML8 - a very compact, under-driven lathe often stand-mounted but also sold for bench fitting. A wide range of accessories was offered - sufficient to turn the lathe into a universal woodworker and well worth seeking out in that form. For what you get, prices are surprisingly low and the lathe performs well.
Myford Mystro: the last Myford wood lathe produced and of typical modern design. The variable-speed version is known to have trouble with the electronics - but easily solved by running the lathe from a 3-phase motor through an inverter drive.
Wadkin LS, RU and RUH - very heavy machines intended for professional use. Other Wadkin lathes--the BZL, BL150 and BXL were lighter but still suitable for professional as well as amateur use.
Arundel: a range of well-made, less-expensive models some of which were well specified and well spoken of by their owners.
Tyme - a range of five models, the most common being the Avon, Cub and Gem. Well constructed, they enjoyed considerable popularity and are relatively common on the used market.
Oliver (UK) - not common, but well made and heavy-duty models. Smaller models ideal for the serious amateur, larger versions for professional use (some very large, special-purpose models were offered over many decades)
All the above were, when new, available with a range of accessories. Some, especially the heavier ones, could be had with a compound slide rests for light-duty metal and precision wood turning, and most - apart from the Jubilee, Graduate and Wadkin - with a wide range of heavier additions to turn them into "wood-machining" centres. Accessories for the latter included: saw benches, planer thicknessers, bandsaws, band-sanders, mortising attachments, grindstone attachments, tilting sanding tables, spindle moulders, flexible drives and speed-reducing countershafts.
Many of the above can sometimes be found advertised on the Wood Machinery Page
Another way of finding one (and often being presented with a choice) is to place a "Wanted" advertisement on the same page: http://www.lathes.co.uk/wanted
Don't be too specific as to make or condition - often a machine will look neglected but beneath the poor finish it can be perfectly serviceable. In my experience some astounding bargain can be found and something along the lines of the following can be effective:
Wanted: good quality, heavily-built wood lathe for home use. Any make or condition considered including Harrison Jubilee and Graduate, Coronet Major, Coronet No.1, No. or No. 3, Myford ML8, etc.
For the coverage, the costs are modest: £38.40 per advert for up to 150 words and - the great advantage - a display duration of 6 months and the facility to have the words changed later, any number of times, at no further cost - for example, if you find what you are looking for you can change the advertisement to ask for accessories, or even something completely different. To place a "Wanted" advertisement it's best to phone: 01298-871633.
Most wood lathe manual will tell you about the lathe - but not how to turn wood. Should you wish to know more about that I can offer a book carefully selected from amongst the very many confusing titles now available:
"Woodturning a Foundation Course". This is the definitive introduction to the subject with the writer guiding the beginner through a series of projects designed to build skill and experience. Beautifully illustrated and is supplied with an instructional DVD. Post-paid UK £19.99
It can be ordered securely on-line here: https://store.lathes.co.uk/books/woodturning-foundation-course-book-dvd
In addition, the following is very instructive - a book about how to get the best out of any wood lathe: