small metal lathe

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Ricardito, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Ricardito

    Ricardito Been here awhile

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    Guys,
    need some advice and pointers on the purchase of a small metal lathe for my home garage. It'll be used for simple (at least at first) jobs such as thread cutting, polishing, resizing metal (mostly aluminum) parts, fabricating uncomplicated pieces such as odd sized wflat wahers, etc. What brands are ok, how old can it be, what basic features should it have? Where should I look for one in good condition? My only criteria are that it should be a 110 v motor and cost me somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
    Any and all (constructive) comments, derived from your own experience are appreciated.
    Happy New Year.
    #1
  2. hayasakiman

    hayasakiman Been here awhile

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    Craigslist is where I find deals on such equipments.

    There's a machinist on the airport I work. He gets calls from other machinists who may be retiring and selling stuff/equipments, from time to time. You may want to go and see your local machinists and get some information like that.
    #2
  3. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    Here's my take on this.

    Thread Cutting being mentioned I would determine if you need metric or not on those threads - Metric can be... Problematic - Not to the point of impossiblity, but the older American Lathes that are so common/available/awesome are usually best suited for cutting standard threads.

    Which brings you to features - The minute you say threads/Lathes in one sentance you are talking about a lathe equipped with a leadscrew, and gear box. As well as a threading dial. Those features are required. If you want to thread often you should look for a quick change gear box instead of a swap gear varient.

    [​IMG]

    The quick change gear box lets you select threads rapidly.


    Other than that I would be looking for the following as must haves.

    Chuck - 3 jaw
    Face Plate
    Tail Stock
    Powerfeeds - on the cross slide if possible, but atleast on the carriage.

    As optionals that will save you lots of money later -
    Tool Post quick change - Aloris or similar.
    Centers - for headstock and tailstock
    Chuck 4 Jaw
    Collets for headstock and draw bar for same.


    Which brings me to what to buy/age. You'll need to put a number on how large of parts you want to work with, lathes have a number like 6" 10" or 12", which represents how large of an object can be swung. Also look for how long you want to be able to work - some lathes are 3' beds, some 6' - bear in mind that this number is the length of the bed, the part it can turn may be far shorter if you need to use the tailstock to support the end, or a drill in the tail stock, or if it cannot fit through the throughbore on the headstock of the lathe - which is another good thing to identify.

    Age - Older to me is better so long as it is good condition.

    http://www.lathes.co.uk/page21.html

    http://www.lathes.co.uk/latheparts/


    Personally I would be buying a Southbend - I would want it to be in good shape, with lots of extra goodies. Having a south bend and an atlas, I would go for a worse shape SB over a better shape atlas, it just has far better features.
    #3
  4. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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    One is the 8x14 (not to be in any way confused with a 7x mini lathe):

    http://www.lathemaster.com/LATHEMASTER8x14Lathe.htm

    Grizzly has sales where the 10x22 will be ~ $1k:

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/10-x-22-Bench-Top-Metal-Lathe/G0602

    MicroMark sells a 7x type lathe with a longer bed that has been cleaned up a bit:

    http://www.micromark.com/microlux-7x16-mini-lathe,9615.html

    Big Dog Metalworks sells a similar 7x14 package:

    http://www.bigdogmetalworks.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=779&idcategory=15

    The 10x22 weighs ~ 370 lb and is considered a small lathe. The 7x lathes weighs ~ 125 lb and is a mini lathe. Some older Atlas 8x and 9x small lathes are still around used. Good luck!
    #4
  5. smilin'Ed

    smilin'Ed Ed

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    you mentioned a budget for the machine but don't forget that you'll probably spend the same amount in tooling to get set up doing a lot of common tasks. More $ if you get into things like a dividing head, milling in the cross slide, quick change tool post, carbide tooling, etc.

    I'm still learning that lesson.
    #5
  6. KustomizingKid

    KustomizingKid Been here awhile

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    What is your realistic budget??
    #6
  7. wyowillys46

    wyowillys46 Tooteling my horn trumpet melodiously.

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    Finding an older American lathe is so location dependent that the recommendation verges on BS. Doesn't hurt to check Craigslist though.

    I've got the Grizzly G0602 and it's been pretty good. It comes with some basic little hand tools and a set of change gears. Whatever you buy, mount it to something very, very solid.

    Another bit of advice. You'll eventually want something a little larger. While the 0602 has been pretty good for tasks here and there, I wish I could turn brake drums and discs. Not something that's possible on a lathe with only a 10" swing. My next lathe will be larger.
    #7
  8. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    I agree - here in the midwest old American tools are pretty available - lots were made in these parts.

    Once you leave the used market where you look to buy a lathe with loads of good tooling in a combo buy - and yes it is used and needs cleaning/oiling/adjusting - but you skip into buying something with out tooling, and the tooling can sometimes be less common.

    Just to be aware of... Might have good metric change gears though as well.
    #8
  9. Chobro

    Chobro spinning the wheel

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    My pops gave me this, he bought it for 200 bucks several years ago. He's a retired tool and die guy and always on the lookout for cool tools.

    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. Ricardito

    Ricardito Been here awhile

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    you guys are great. this is excellent advice and I mean to learn from all of the posts. As to my realistic budget, I'd like to spend around $1K--give or take--since I know next to nothing about possible uses. There are times, especially weekends or when I'm working on one of my toys (cars as well as bikes), when I'm sure I could figure out how to make or modify a piece of metal. Little by little I mean to learn, by playing with the lathe, by reading a manual or by watching others. My grandfather back in Spain was a machinist and so was his brother. Sure wish I could have spent more time with them.
    So, is around $1K enough for starters or am I not being realistic? I think I'd rather have a small lathe rather than a mini lathe, now that one of you has pointed out the differences. The idea of doing brake drums or rotors is something that I'd forgotten about, but sure does have its appeal
    For now I'll start watching CL in the Denver area and see what shows up. In the meanwhile if someone reading this knows of something suitable for sale, please, by all means let me know.
    again, many thanks to those who've chimmed in.
    #10
  11. showkey

    showkey Long timer

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    Thread cutting on a lathe is not really needed on most projects..............quality tap and dies are the more common way and far easier shaft threading process.

    It possible to get quality results with the 9x13 Jet, grizzly (sold under a dozen other names) some better than others. Most have to tuned and tweaked and have discussed in the garage many times. Some of the china stuff is real junk. Not all 9x13 come from the same place although appear to be similar quality and function vary widely.
    #11
  12. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    +1 to everything you said.
    #12
  13. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    The focus of my shop is mostly wood working with an emphasis on furniture and my space is very small. I wanted to add a metal lathe but with my limited space my options were limited. I ended up with a 6"x18" atlas that I found on cl for $150. It came with both a 3 jaw and a 4 jaw chuck, a full compliment of gears, boatloads of tooling, just about every thing but a milling attachment. Its a later model with Timkin bearings. Its not a south bend or a clausing, but its not a bad little lathe. I will always be able to sell it for what I paid and it would be a good tool to learn on.
    #13
  14. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    While I agree - particularly for common threads where you'd like to own the tap and die - and when you can use the center to get things started.

    Those abnormal and large threads have dies and taps that cost as much as an old southbend lathe! Same with ACME threads and such.

    1" dies 40$, 1.5" 100, 2" -400. And so forth.
    #14
  15. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

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  16. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    Great post. I think you missed the OP's budget though. He won't even get a beat-up Southbend WITHOUT all that tooling for $500-$1000.

    I disagree about a faceplate being a "must have" for his intended purposes though. I use faceplates maybe a few times a year and I do purely prototype work. Plus, if he wanted to, he could make some small ones that are held in the 3 jaw.

    I'd say he needs a 3-jaw, a set of cheapy collets and whatever hardware is necessary to use those collets on his machine.

    To the OP...lathes are among the more dangerous machine tools. Make SURE you understand what not to do before you start "messing around with it." NEVER LEAVE THE CHHUCK HANDLE/T HANDLE IN THE CHUCK! EVER! Make it a habit to use it and remove it immediately. When I was in trade school, the instructors duct taped the T-handles to the hands of those unfortunate students who ignored this rule :lol3 Be very wary about dangly clothes, long hair, rings, watches, etc -- anything that can get pulled into the chuck or rotating feed shafts or leadscrew on the front of the machine.

    Single point thread cutting takes quite a while to get proficient at and create a smooth functional thread that is actually the correct pitch diameter. You may well be better off with taps and dies and the tooling to hold them/align them to the tailstock.
    #16
  17. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    I got my Atlas for free... So I think it just takes patience and putting out the feelers.
    #17
  18. Rafiki

    Rafiki Some Dude

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    Agree completely.

    holycrap yes.

    I just picked up a 10"x 36" south bend(10K)(@24 between centers) recently for $500 off of craigslist,couldn't be happier.(It's almost exactly what I was looking for)
    [​IMG]
    However,as with anything used,it has some wear.

    I knew going in it was going to be a Project(I'm going to do a mechanical restoration as well as a "make it pretty" resto.) but as it sits It'll keep .01 or so tolerance over 12" which is as good as I'll need.
    since then, I've gotten a QC toolpost (chinese made,@$200) 6" 3 jaw chuck(christmas gift,@150)6" 4 jaw chuck(again,christmas@ $150)and a chinese made jacobs chuck and live center(@ $60 for both)
    I'll probably spend another 2-300 getting it where I want it to be(paint,felt,oil,cleaning and rust removal)but I don't really have a time frame to be done,so that's going for me.
    It depends on what you are looking for,the deals are out there to be had,but if you need something"right now" it will cost you more than if you can find a deal and whether you want to spend time fixing something or just buy and start making chips.
    YMMV.
    #18
  19. Rafiki

    Rafiki Some Dude

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    Anything up to 1/2"-13mm,taps are the way to go.taps/dies are cheap up to that point I think.
    #19
  20. smilin'Ed

    smilin'Ed Ed

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    chuck key left in the chuck and getting thrown out is a common story. Make a cover over the on switch that only the small end of the key will fit through. Then you need the key to turn it on and can't leave it in the chuck.

    E
    #20