Bearing in mind that...
1.) I'm both relatively poor and kinda cheap (the latter being a result of the former)
2.) Have no room left in my "shop" for floor-standing tools
3.) Don't have any plans in the foreseeable future where the smaller size will be a problem
4.) Have been poking around for a few months for a steal on CL/eBay, nothing's turned up, and I'm running out of patience
Could I realistically expect to do any better than this in its approximate price range?
I'm aware that it's got plenty of shortcomings, but everything I've come across on the subject of small, benchtop lathes indicates that it's otherwise perfectly serviceable. But if someone's got any better suggestions, I'm open to ideas.
Very close to the same thing, slightly smaller
600 at harbor freight, wont have to get it shipped.
Use the 20% coupon on it making it 480, you could try your chances and wait for it to go on sale and see if they let you stack it (some cashiers do some people dont) so itll be even cheaper
the one thing I warn about these dinky lathes is that you should try to get one that you can get a 4-jaw (independent) chuck for.
first off, some info:
1) a "scroll" chuck is one where all the jaws move in and out at the same time, when you turn one screw on the chuck. Most like this have 3 jaws, but you can get 4-jaw scroll chucks too.
2) an "independent" chuck is one where each jaw has its own adjustment screw, and you must center parts manually. Most like this have 4 jaws, but you may find 3-jaw versions also.
(you can get BIG-lathe chucks in many jaw variations, in both types--but all I've ever seen for these dinky machines is 3 and 4-jaws)
You want a lathe that you can at least get an independent 4-jaw chuck for. The reason is that you can't re-center a part in the scroll chucks very well.
Like for example:
If you put a piece of metal in a (cheap!) scroll chuck and cut on it, those cuts will all be centered correctly.
The problem is if you have to take that piece out of the lathe for whatever reason, and then put it back in to make more cuts on it.
In a cheap scroll chuck, you can't ever get the part sitting on the same center as the first set of cuts. So the second group of cuts is always off-center from the first.
If you have a (4-jaw) independent chuck, you can get it re-centered properly again. It takes practice and a dial indicator on a magnetic stand, but it can be done.
Also there is a site, minilathes.com or whatever, that reviews a lot of these machines. worth taking a look prolly
a lot of these small lathes and mills start from the same castings, but the fit, finish and the features varies a lot with the prices.
the minilathes.com site talks about the matter, and has reviews of a lot of the different brands
Grizzly G8688 7x12 or G0765 7x14
Grizzly stocks parts for their machines in their US warehouse.
ive owned and used a HF12x36" lathe for more than a decade, and had a south bend 16" before that. I can count on one hand the number of times i have used a four jaw independent chuck, most of those were to put a large or deep hole in a square or rectangular work piece. I have used the face-plate and lathe-dogs more than the 4 jaw. This is just my experience though.
I love four jaw chucks and anyone can center parts quickly with practice.
I have a six-jaw on my 14" swing lathe and while it's nice for thin parts I'm of the old school persuasion of "install the four jaw and leave it on forever". (I'll have to make a wrench to remove that chuck so I'll wait until required.) You can of course use a lathe dog with a chuck instead of a faceplate by quickly turning a center from round stock and chucking it.
>Grizzly stocks parts for their machines in their US warehouse.
In the USA, Jet or Grizzly is good.
Jet doesn't stockpile parts like Grizzly does, but you can get Jet parts and the argument goes that with a Jet you're probably not going to need parts unless YOU break them.
>ive owned and used a HF12x36" lathe for more than a decade, and had a south bend 16" before that. I can count on one hand the number of times i have used a four jaw independent chuck, most of those were to put a large or deep hole in a square or rectangular work piece.
It relates to the fact that the chucks for these dinky lathes are made very cheap. Often the mating gear surfaces are just left sand-cast.
You can place a reference mark on the part, and you can engrave/number the pinions and tighten them in order with a torque wrench (so you always tighten them the same amount, in the same order) but it still doesn't always work that well.
I have an 11 x 26 lathe that came with 3-jaw scroll and 4-jaw independent chucks. I hardly ever use the 3-jaw because trying to re-center stuff in it is hopeless.
I could buy a 3-jaw independent but it's never been that much of an issue (tho if I turned a lot of parts from hex stock I would).
If I could *trade* the 3-jaw scroll for a 3-jaw independent chuck, I'd do it in an instant and never look back.
A scroll chuck on a big+expensive lathe will center damn near perfectly, just like you'd expect.
A scroll chuck on a $300 mini-lathe..... prolly just aint gonna. You're better off centering it yourself in a 4-jaw.
I don't have to get the one in the OP shipped, either; I happen to live about 40 minutes away from the place that sells it.
I don't like the fact that the threading options are fewer, and the lack of a cam-lock tailstock is a pain in the ass. The shorter bed is also very dissuading.
But, I'm very likely to convert the thing to CNC at some point, which eliminates the threading issue, and I could just MAKE a better lock for the tailstock, I guess. Even with the shorter bed, if I could stack the coupon and sale, that does look like a very tempting option...when would it likely go on sale, though? One of the projects I'd be using it for I kinda need to get done soon-ish. Guess I'll need to decide whether I value that last 2 inches enough to spend the extra $120+...
I'm aware of the issues with 3-jaw chucks. I'll definitely pick up a 4-jaw once I need it, but most of the stuff I'd be doing with it won't need to be re-chucked unless I fuck it up somehow.
I've pondered getting one of these little lathes, and also pondered if it would be worth it doing a CNC conversion on one. Is it worth learning on one manually before converting it? So easy to use manually that is not worth converting?
You should probably get a feel for how the thing works in the first place; machining on a lathe isn't very difficult. At the bare minimum, it will give you an idea of what things are worth going through the entire CAD/CAM workflow and what things are simple enough that it'd be faster or easier (or both) to just chuck some stock in the thing and get at it yourself.
Odds are you won't really need anything that requires CNC control, but it's nice to have in the event you do. Not to mention it trivializes threading operations and greatly simplifies anything involving machining a curve.
My main reason for converting it is mostly that I'm an electronics/robotics hobbyist, and I have almost everything on-hand that i'd need to convert it (think I'm missing a suitable power supply and a spare PC). I'm also already somewhat experienced with CNC equipment, having built a CNC router from scratch. Converting a lathe would be cake compared to that project/disaster.
no love for tiag?
anyways chimin in on 4 jaw chuck master race
the only thing i want is a spindle that takes ER collets or 5c
check your local classified adds first
>won't need to be re-chucked
do you really believe this?
if you do believe that thats fine
but consider that if you are not removing enough stock material to make it concentric to center and then parting off in the same operation you will have a fucked part with poor concentracity
because it doesnt matter if you wont be rechucking something you just made
you worry about little things like 2 extra inches and a cam lock on the tail stock,
when you should focus on the main thing that is important to a lathe
>do you really believe this?
Yes, because the majority of what I'll be making on the thing will be simple shafting and small power transmission parts. Moreover, the bearings these things come with aren't very good in the first place. From what I gather, there isn't much point in having a better chuck until you put in taper bearings.
Ending up with a properly adjustable chuck is a given, it's just not something I'm going to grab at the outset. I only need something to get started with; if I was looking for an actual, decent machine that didn't need any fuckery to get working well, I wouldn't even be considering these things in the first place. But my time is currently much less valuable than my money, so I am.
>check your local classified adds first
I live in a spot in which machine tooling is rare as shit in the home shop. To be sure, there's plenty of the god damn things all over the place in the industrial areas, but they're all legitimate pieces of production equipment that's out of my price range even when barely functional. I cannot for the life of me find something that I can afford that isn't in such bad condition it's basically being sold as scrap.
Anyway, I think I'm going to go with the Sieg one from LMS. Between it being something I can pick up myself instead of having it shipped, the larger bed, and the significantly more powerful motor, I don't feel the Harbor Freight one is worth saving the $120.