1. New or second-hand
    1. Second-hand
      1. Well worth considering -
        it will depreciate slower than a new one
      2. Check condition
        1. Alignment of headstock and tailstock
        2. State of bearings
    2. New
      1. You tend to get what you pay for but some better value than others - shop around

Design and Construction

  1. Weight
  2. Rigidity
  3. Strength of bearings
  4. Distance between bearings in headstock
  5. Power of motor
  6. Is there a Morse taper in the headstock?
  7. Diameter of swing
  8. Length of bed
  9. Has it a fixed head only?
  10. Arrangements for bowl turning
    1. Outboard
      1. Direction of revolution
      2. Right-hand thread
    2. Rotating headstock
    3. Space requirements are different for 1 & 2 above
    4. Additional cost of attachments for bowl turning
  11. Speeds
    1. Number (five is best, if speed is not continuously variable)
    2. Speed range
    3. Ease of changing speeds
  12. Ease of adjustment to rest and tailstock
  13. Portability (if important)
  14. Spares and ancillary equipment
    1. Availability
    2. Nose spindle thread
  15. The final choice will be a compromise depending on:
    1. Available cash
    2. Working space
    3. General requirements
    4. Except for people doing miniature work a big lathe is preferable to a small lathe - small items (eg lace bobbins) can be turned on a big lathe - big items cannot be turned on a small lathe
    5. No lathe is perfect!