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CreativeName

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Google mini lathe. This old tony does a funny review of them. There's plenty of passionate discussion on this forum as well!

Ya I had seen that but forgotten about it! I’ll have to re watch it.
 

CreativeName

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Well th e shipyards may have mills and lathes that wouldn't even fit in your house from end to end, but they might also have smaller ones. Indy has lots of used and auctions too. But be ware of auctions--cost a LOT more than the surface bid.

As for a lathe, the basic measurement is X by Y. For instance a small lathe might be called a 9 x 20. This means that the largest piece of material you could get into this lathe is 9" round which is known as the "swing". The 20 refers to the longest piece you could get into the lathe. So often you will see people refer to a lathe as "9 by 20" or 15 X 60. Mine is 12 X 36. It is the same designation for mini-lathes but I really don'r recommend something that small unless you are making clocks or somethign with tiny parts.

When buying a lathe watch VERY CAREFULLY what the lathe is capable of doing. I mean, I had been working in industry for 20 years when I bought my second lathe which was an Enco 9 X 20. I had workt in industry so long that it never occurred to me that any lathe would not do Left Hand threads. So when I got the Enco home, imagine my disappointment (anger) in finding the piece of crap would not do LH threads! So my recommendations is to make a list of ALL the characteristics of any expensive tool you will be buying and then check each characteristic when examining y90ur potential buy.

Another thing in buying a lathe is the way speeds and feeds are changed. A cheaper lathe will have fewer feeds and fewer speeds. Also, the smaller the lathe you will have a lowest speed (RPMs) that is higher than a larger lathe. For instance my Enco's slowest speed is 120 RPM which makes threading very difficult. But the Grizz G4003G will go at the slowest 70RPMs which is quite amenable to cutting threads. However, I wish that I had even slower speeds for certain things.

There are "change gears" that almost always come with a lathe. This is used mostly in threading where you need a threading speed that is different from the factory setup, so you change the gears to the one you need. This particvularly is needed when changing from Imperial (inch) to Metric and vice versa. If you buy a China direct sale, watch carefully because they often will NOT include the STANDARD equipment of: 3-jaw Chuck, 4-jaw chuck, steady rest, travelling rest, various centers. Also, always watch for the tool holder, you DEFINITELY will be wanting a "quick change" tool post but most smaller lathes come with a square tool post which one needs to shimmy the tool to the right height--not amenable if one is short of time. Also, if you buy from an auction, the usual trick (dishonest in MY view) is to break up the set and sell them all separately. That is, they take the 4-jaw and other parts and sell them elsewhere.

There is a lot more about buying a lathe, but this isd a start. Good luck
Wow that’s a lot of good info. Will definitely reach back out to this thread before I pull the trigger.

One thing I’m confused about. Everybody is recommending machines that will take like >14” material. I thought most of the things in this hobby were much smaller because they are miniature engines? Or am I getting th wrong idea about how big these miniature engines are? Or is it more like making sure you have a machine that will do other hobby work too?
 

Richard Hed

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Wow that’s a lot of good info. Will definitely reach back out to this thread before I pull the trigger.

One thing I’m confused about. Everybody is recommending machines that will take like >14” material. I thought most of the things in this hobby were much smaller because they are miniature engines? Or am I getting th wrong idea about how big these miniature engines are? Or is it more like making sure you have a machine that will do other hobby work too?
Yes, most likely y0u will find that there is something you need a larger lathe for=--maybe repair something that is 14-1/2". Also, most of us find thaqt eventually we want to make some larger things--not everyone, of course.
 
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Most hobby workshops I know are the result of organic growth. The owners each follow their own path of feeding and weeding, and thus our advice for the next level machine is often more useful than our advice for a first machine. But it may be of interest to a starter how I just have completed a tabletop workshop for a 12 year old. He will get it next week. His grandfather my friend went on a year ago. He saw it coming and discussed in detail with me how to dispose of his extensive workshop. To rouse and test the interest of his grandson we decided to compose him a starterset based on an old small lathe for his 12th birthday. Thus the boy can play around and maybe even build a Wobbler and maybe prefer machining next to or over computergames. If he likes it the small lathe will always be handy as a second for small jobs. If he doesn't like it not much harm is done and the accompanying tools are always useful.
The tabletop workshop consists of an EMCO UNIMAT SL lathe dia 72 mm length between centers 175 mm and revs from 110 to 4200. The headstock has a quill and can very easily be set upright to create a light drill/mill. The main additional tools are a grinder, a vice, some measuring tools and an assortment of general tooling, a set of drills and a set of HSS cutting tools. See picture.

Tabletop workshop.JPG
 

RM-MN

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Wow that’s a lot of good info. Will definitely reach back out to this thread before I pull the trigger.

One thing I’m confused about. Everybody is recommending machines that will take like >14” material. I thought most of the things in this hobby were much smaller because they are miniature engines? Or am I getting th wrong idea about how big these miniature engines are? Or is it more like making sure you have a machine that will do other hobby work too?
Along with the ability to take longer material, a bigger lathe is usually made more rigid. This allows you to get more precision, especially with the longer material. Another benefit with a bigger lathe is a larger hole through the headstock, very helpful if your material is a little longer than what that lathe bed can accomodate as you can poke some of it back past the chuck.

I am fortunate to have 2 lathes, a Harbor Freight mini lathe plus a 10 by 24 which is very useful for bigger material and could be more accurate than the mini lathe...but it is in an unheated garage where the temperature may be as low as -40. The mini lathe allows me to work on projects in winter in a comfortable temperature. When I need to make something from larger stock, I have to wait until the weather warms enough that the bigger lathe will even turn as the oil in the bearings will be too stiff for the headstock to turn.
 

Richard Hed

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Along with the ability to take longer material, a bigger lathe is usually made more rigid. This allows you to get more precision, especially with the longer material. Another benefit with a bigger lathe is a larger hole through the headstock, very helpful if your material is a little longer than what that lathe bed can accomodate as you can poke some of it back past the chuck.

I am fortunate to have 2 lathes, a Harbor Freight mini lathe plus a 10 by 24 which is very useful for bigger material and could be more accurate than the mini lathe...but it is in an unheated garage where the temperature may be as low as -40. The mini lathe allows me to work on projects in winter in a comfortable temperature. When I need to make something from larger stock, I have to wait until the weather warms enough that the bigger lathe will even turn as the oil in the bearings will be too stiff for the headstock to turn.
I insulated my garage and put a heater in it.
 

Richard Hed

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here is an auction going on in your neck of ;the woods:


In Ohio. remember to bid much lower than you would normally spend. For instance if you would pay 1000$ for one of those three lathes, then hyou need to pay about half that as hyou are going to be first get your cost jacked up by 18% for the bid-master (auctioneer) who wants HIS cut, 2nd yu will be charged a loading fee (the guy with the forklift needs HIS cut), next you will be charged for transportation unless you pick it up yourself. On top of ALL this, you get what ever tax the locals charge. It ends up being a LOT more than you might expect.

In this auction I might happily pay 1000$ for this lathe:


If I was going to pick it up myself. But notice: the auctioneers always take the standard equipment and sell it separately. That is, only ONE chuck will go with it and NO tool post! and no small standard tools such as drill chuck and live and dead ends. (I'm surprized they don't take the tail stock off and sell it separately.) So getting the tooling you need comes separately. that make the whole thing worth less. Evsen so, you can still get excellent deals but you MUST be aware of the Auctioning trix.

Another thing, is the auctioneers are rather pushy (really, they have to get out of the building in a certain time) about getting the stuff out by a certain time--naturally you can't get it early and have only a coup.le days to do so. So if you have a truck ready, no problem but if you don't you have to arrange all that too. Also, say you got a lathe or a mill-- yuou need to know the weight! As you might be able to pick up something 1500 lbs in your pickup truck, but not something 2000lbs unless you have only to drive it a coupl.e miles (very slowly)> You have to keep all these things in mind when doing auctions. Also, the auctioneers demand payment on a day or two after the auction is over.
 

Richard Hed

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But to demonstrate how not ALL auctioneers "cheat", here is one that has extra stuff to make the value of this Hardinge even higher than ordinarily:


It has ALL the chucks plus more and these Hardinges are GOOD machines! If I was closer to the Land of Lincoln and I had the space for it, I would be bidding on this one.
 

awake

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There are three articles here that might be of help: Lathe Milling machine shaper collet parts

If a used machine is possible, make sure you read the Klunkers article. It was very helpful for me. The other thing that will be super-helpful, if you buy a used machine (especially at a bargain price), will be to make friends with an experienced machinist - perhaps someone on this forum is close enough to call on. Not only can the experienced person give you more insight into what you are looking at when you look at a used machine, but also he or she may be able to help you figure out any repairs that may be needed.

In case it is helpful: My journey into hobby machining went "backwards" from the norm. I did buy a lathe as my first machine tool, but not a small one. I bought a 1950's era Cincinnati TrayTop 12.5 x 30 lathe, a little under 2000 pounds. A machinist friend helped me evaluate it and repair the most important bit that I could not repair (yet) - it needed a new gib for the compound. I also had to adjust the clutch; that took some internet digging to find out how, and eventually I was able to secure a copy of a manual - very helpful indeed. Other than that, it was a matter of cleaning up and freeing up some things that hadn't been used in a while (e.g., taper attachment). It came with a single-phase 1.5 hp motor that could be run on 120 or 240v, so I didn't have to mess with a phase converter. (I've since acquired some 3-phase machines and built a simple and cheap rotary phase converter - but that would have been a step beyond what I was ready to tackle at that point.)

It is heavy, and takes up some room - but really, not all that much room in my half of our two-car garage. (My wife thinks the other half of the garage should hold her car - go figure!) It is well worn indeed (again, see the article "In Praise of Klunkers"), but I can make parts to as high a precision as I can reliably measure (i.e., a couple of tenths of a thousandth of an inch). I purchased it for $500, and my machinist friend helped me move it. (I wouldn't have known how at the time ... but I do now!)

From there I acquired a discontinued Harbor Freight mill-drill - I had been looking for quite a while, and happened on a great deal. It was nothing great, but I was able to do quite a lot with it. And then, at last, I acquired a 7 x 14 mini-lathe ... for the grand sum of $50. No, you won't find a deal like that more than once in a blue moon; I was really lucky in being right place, right time. It had been slightly scorched (but not damaged) in a fire, had no change gears, and eventually I discovered that the motor was going bad. But by this point, I had the tools and the ability to make a new set of change gears, replace the motor with one I scavenged, and build a quick change tool post for it. (All of this could have been purchased instead, but I enjoyed the challenge ....)

Again, don't know that my story is very helpful, since it depended on patient watching for deals to come along. But FWIW ...
 

awake

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I should add to my previous post: the articles that I link to are 20 or more years old, so I don't know how accurate the prices he gives (e.g., for used change gears) might be. But tips for inspecting a used lathe or mill - priceless!
 

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here is an auction going on in your neck of ;the woods:


In Ohio. remember to bid much lower than you would normally spend. For instance if you would pay 1000$ for one of those three lathes, then hyou need to pay about half that as hyou are going to be first get your cost jacked up by 18% for the bid-master (auctioneer) who wants HIS cut, 2nd yu will be charged a loading fee (the guy with the forklift needs HIS cut), next you will be charged for transportation unless you pick it up yourself. On top of ALL this, you get what ever tax the locals charge. It ends up being a LOT more than you might expect.

In this auction I might happily pay 1000$ for this lathe:


If I was going to pick it up myself. But notice: the auctioneers always take the standard equipment and sell it separately. That is, only ONE chuck will go with it and NO tool post! and no small standard tools such as drill chuck and live and dead ends. (I'm surprized they don't take the tail stock off and sell it separately.) So getting the tooling you need comes separately. that make the whole thing worth less. Evsen so, you can still get excellent deals but you MUST be aware of the Auctioning trix.

Another thing, is the auctioneers are rather pushy (really, they have to get out of the building in a certain time) about getting the stuff out by a certain time--naturally you can't get it early and have only a coup.le days to do so. So if you have a truck ready, no problem but if you don't you have to arrange all that too. Also, say you got a lathe or a mill-- yuou need to know the weight! As you might be able to pick up something 1500 lbs in your pickup truck, but not something 2000lbs unless you have only to drive it a coupl.e miles (very slowly)> You have to keep all these things in mind when doing auctions. Also, the auctioneers demand payment on a day or two after the auction is over.
man that giant machine seems like it should be worth more than $1k. kind of gives me hope that im not looking at some crazy numbers. but your point is well taken. I could get that beast home but it wouldnt come out of the truck all in one piece haha!

good word to the wise about the accompanying equipment and parts. are they generally universal? like would i have to go on an epic search for a tool holder that fits that specific machine or could i just find one for a similar size machine and bolt it on?
 

CreativeName

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Hey guys, work started up and were a start up company. Just wanted to let you guys know i appreciate your advice and im not ghosting or losing interest, but i do work 7 days a week. ill be lurking around the fb page in the man time
 

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man that giant machine seems like it should be worth more than $1k. kind of gives me hope that im not looking at some crazy numbers. but your point is well taken. I could get that beast home but it wouldnt come out of the truck all in one piece haha!

good word to the wise about the accompanying equipment and parts. are they generally universal? like would i have to go on an epic search for a tool holder that fits that specific machine or could i just find one for a similar size machine and bolt it on?

Smile - - - giant machine - - - hmmmmmmmmmmm - - - imo that's when you are turning more than 5' in dia - - - now you're starting to get into 'giant country'.

Remember asking at EMO in Hannover where there was only a headstock for the boring mill - - - 8 m vertical - - - asked him what I could have - - - - -'Whatever you want' was the response - - - wondering if I was mis-saying something - - - (this was a Dutch company at a show in Germany and we were talking in English) so I asked what their last installation was - - - - 50 m by 100 m (for the metric challenged think 25' vertical x 165' cross and some 330' longitudinal - - - -not that's firmly in giant country (that's where you install the machine and build the building around the machine!).
 

awake

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I'm with Joe - in an industrial setting, that machine would be just about the smallest lathe imaginable! But of course, for hobbyists, the perspective is quite different.

I realize the auction is already finished, and I don't know what the machine sold for, but I agree, $1000 for that, assuming no major complications or problems, would be very reasonable. Drill chuck and live center for the tailstock would not be overly costly if you are willing to go with import quality, and it looked like it had a tool holder installed. If not, an import QCTP is also not terribly costly. Note that import quality, within reason, is likely to be more than good enough for the average hobbyist; an import-quality QCTP on that lathe will certainly out-perform a top name brand unit on a 7x14 ... not that you can get a top name brand of the size that would fit a 7x14, but hopefully the point is clear.

You would certainly want to think about a 4-jaw chuck, but I would not hesitate to run for a while with the included 3-jaw. There are ways to ensure accuracy even with the run-out of a worn 3-jaw chuck - e.g., turning everything in one setup whenever possible, or turning between centers.
 

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