I had been waiting a long time to purchase a replacement for my old Delta Rockwell lathe (student model). It had been a starter lathe that I had used for awhile as I learned to turn wood. It used a wrench to tighten the tailstock and tool rest and I had to change the belt by hand. As time went on and I grew in my ability I decided it was time to replace it. I wanted to do more. I had bought a 2nd lathe, a Jet mini-lathe , which I loved, but I still was confined in what I could do. After 14 yrs with the old Delta, it was time for a change.
I had my eye on a Powermatic lathe. It was very solid and quiet but I couldn't really afford the $3000. price. When Jet came out with their two new models, the 1442 and 1642 models, I finally found some affordable competition.
At first, the Jet 1442 was on my list. The headstock has a swivel head and the headstock can slide to allow the turner to turn larger objects by moving it to the end of the bed. It could change speeds with a manual lever that uses sheaves to change the speed. It was very quiet and could take up to a 14" bowl. It came with a 1hp motor. It sells for about $700.00 Delta's new lathe was very close in price and quality and in it's features. I felt the Jet was a little more polished but the Delta got higher marks in a recent review for vibration.
Then I saw the Jet 1642. It could take 16" large items. It's headstock can also slide to the end of the bed to work on much larger bowls like its younger brother, the 1442. However, the 1642 does not have a swivel headstock. Where the real difference lies is in the motor. The 1642 has either a 1.5 hp or 2hp with an electronic controlled speed feature. It also lets you reverse the direction which is very nice when you are sanding. Being able to slow the speed down to very low speeds and still have lots of torque, was WONDERFUL. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I got the 1.5hp model (the 1.5 is a 115v, the 2hp is a 220v motor). The motor is superquiet. All you can hear is the sound of the fan in the motor. Both the 1442 and 1642 models have a bracket in the cast iron legs to allow a shelf for things like adding sand bags. (both models use the same stand with heavy cast iron legs) In spite of the heavy and quiet lathe, I did find a little vibration at certain speeds while I was turning some larger work. I bought 2 bags of sand and put in a shelf and voila', that was the end of my vibration.
The other difference between the 1442 and this 1642 model is the price. I mentioned the 1442 was about $700 or so; the 1642 was more like $1700 (after tax for me) Because I wanted this to be my last lathe, I decided to spend the extra amount. It is still almost half the price of the Powermatic and easily as quality a lathe. I can turn large and heavy bowls and the ability to slow down and speed up the lathe is something every turner should have, in my opinion.
Negatives? A few: 1. they include 1 faceplate, a massive 6" steel faceplate. It's great but how about including a second smaller one? They're cheap to make, why not include it. 2. The revolving live center included was also pretty cheap in quality, compared to the lathe. I thought they cut corners where they shouldn't have. 3. Because both the 1442 and 1642 offer the turner the ability to slide the headstock to the end of the lathe to work on large bowls, they should offer either a floor stand for the tool rest or and adapter for the tool rest to be mounted on the end. Again, even drilling holes in the support legs to allow it could have been added for very little cost. I could not find a seperate tool stand or option to allow for it. They could learn a little from Delta in this way.
I love my new lathe. It is high quality and sets the standard for price/quality in my opinion. Though they offer a 12" model for new turners. However, it is only about $100-150 more for the 1442 which is a much more substantial lathe. Anyone looking for a good quality lathe for not too much money can't go wrong with the 1442 or the 1642.