December 26, 2007
3 min. read
When I was looking at lathes, I talked with many people who had tried and liked either the Jet Mini or the PSI Turncrafter Pro lathes. I could not find many that had used both, to get an idea of the differences between them. Now owning a PSI Turncrafter Pro and having taken a class and used a Jet Mini for 5 hours or so, I decided to summarize the differences.
Both lathes look deceptively similar. The PSI is 4” longer in the bed at 18”, vs 14” for the Jet. The Jet also has one higher speed. The first 5 speed ranges seem to be very close. The beds look almost exactly the same, as do the banjo and steady rest. The motor height adjustment is almost exactly the same.
Quality wise, the Jet has a nicer finish and features. By this, I mean the machining is a little better cleaned up and parts are more thought out. The threads on my PSI headstock looked like there were cut and never touched again. There are burrs and sharp edges that I will be dressing down. While the Jet lathe I was using had been in use at the classroom for a while, I haven”t noticed this on Jet minis out on display at shops either.
The major difference, which will affect daily use, are the belt access doors. The Jet has a nice flip open door for both top and bottom access. Although the spring handle setup for the bottom door seems a little strange to me, it works fast once you get used to it. The access to the belts are in exactly the same spot, but the PSI has a thumb screw to undo and then a little plastic piece which is lifted and removed. This piece has slits on the bottom that sits on bolts screwed in below the opening. The piece would be set down for the change then replaced. It makes for a piece to lose and takes over twice as long to change the belt speed as on the Jet. I will be replacing my plastic pieces with doors that have a spring clip, similar to the Jet’s. Currently my access panels are off, because they are annoying to remove and replace.
The locking handle on the steady rest and the tail stock depth lock are both a plastic handles on the PSI. The operation is the same, both spring loaded handles which can be lifted to change position. The plastic handles don’t feel flimsy, but I doubt they will last quite as long as the metal handles on the Jet.
Point to point, my PSI is slightly off (1⁄32” tail is closer to me than the head point). While a thin shim under the tail will fix this, I”m not sure if this is typical with PSI or not. My sample size is 1. I did not see this with the 4 Jet lathes I looked at.
I am still happy with my PSI purchase. After I spend a little bit of time to polish off some of the rough edges and I will have a nice lathe for about $100 less than the Jet. I don’t see the loss of the high end (3800 rpm or so) on the Jet as too much of a problem. 3200 rpm is fast enough and both have the 500 rpm low end. But there is no doubt, the Jet is a better finished machine, with a few upgrades over the PSI. If I could have found the Jet on special for within $20-40 of the PSI, I would have paid the difference.