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A guide for selecting the right lathe for beginners

Discussion in 'QUESTIONS & ANSWERS (Get Help Fast Here!)' started by samthedog, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. samthedog

    samthedog Norway Active User Active Member

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    I have been working on a blog article on and off for about 6 months now. It covers useful features and things to consider when buying a lathe.

    I would have written it in this forum however the editing is not as good as what is available on blogger and given the time needed to compile everything, a save function was necessary. Anyway, I hope newer members get some food for thought from it:

    http://wanderingaxeman.blogspot.no/2014/09/selecting-and-buying-metal-lathe.html

    None of this is gospel but is rather a combination of things I considered when purchasing my lathe. Enjoy and feel free to comment or poo-poo it if you're so inclined.

    Paul.
     
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  2. 12bolts

    12bolts Global Moderator Staff Member Active Member

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    Very nicely done Paul,
    It all looks very good, I didnt read the entire thing yet, but it certainly got some good pertinent info in there

    Cheers Phil
     
  3. samthedog

    samthedog Norway Active User Active Member

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    Thanks Phil. I don't know how often questions get asked around lathe selection but I figured this is info I would have found helpful myself.

    I want to do a similar article on selecting a mill as well.

    Paul.
     
  4. 12bolts

    12bolts Global Moderator Staff Member Active Member

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    Often enough that your blog is worthwhile :thumbzup:

    Please do, they come up for idea/suggestions too

    cheers Phil
     
  5. hman

    hman Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    GREAT write-up! I couldn't find a thing wrong (or even iffy) about it. About the only thing I can think of to add would be a discussion of 3-jaw and 4-jaw chucks, faceplates, and the use of collets for workholding.

    As for "I don't know how often questions get asked around lathe selection," I'd say the question seems to come up about every 3 to 6 months. I'd also say your information is valuable enough that the moderators should consider making it (or a maybe a link to it, so you retain control) some kind of "sticky" or otherwise permanent reference.

    I'll definitely be looking forward to your "selecting a mill" article.
     
  6. Nels

    Nels United States Founder Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Sam,

    That is very helpful.

    Can we repost it here as a sticky?

    Thanks,

    Nelson
     
  7. samthedog

    samthedog Norway Active User Active Member

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    Nels; sure. Did you need me to format it first?

    I will make an update regarding accessories as suggested.

    Paul.
     
  8. ortho

    ortho Active User Active Member

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    Paul, very nice website. :)) Thanks for sharing. You've put in many hours. Take care.
    ---Joe
     
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  9. Mark in Indiana

    Mark in Indiana United States Active User Active Member

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    Paul,

    Your blog was very well written for the begin we. I enjoyed the read.
     
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  10. Hardly

    Hardly United States Active User Active Member

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    Very helpful. I may have missed it, but when buying a lathe, one needs to consider what the intended use will be. I would also be interested in seeing a similiar article on a mill. Thanks for all your hard work.
     
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  11. mack318

    mack318 United States Iron Registered Member

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    what a lathe comes with is critical. steady rests, follower rests, taper turning fixtures etc. one of the advantages or buying used is a lot of valuable stuff is sometimes included. the disadvantage is that anything NOT included may be difficult to come by. I've spent a lot of time and money equipping my lathe spent $300 to buy 7x10 [now upgraded to 7x14] spent another $2000 modding and upgrading it. and all the" time cost" of the side projects is time not producing parts on the lathe.

    The first side project? . . . made a tool grinding fixture for a bench grinder. because all the equipment is useless without sharp cutting tools. No one buying a lathe thinks of that, and its the first place your going to get stuck.

    great blog post
     
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  12. SE18

    SE18 United States Active User Active Member

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    nice blog on selecting a lathe! I think you hit every major point. I purchased a SouthBend 9A for $850. Needed cleaning badly so took every piece apart, cleaned and put together. The wires were worn so badly to the motor that I ended up puling them all out and replacing them. Other than that it didn't have any major problems or even minor ones.

    It didn't come with QCTP, Follower Rest and only had a 3-jaw chuck. The ways were not worn very much, but any amount of ways wear on a non-hardened lathe like the old SB will be not good for extreme precision, which most hobbyists don't really need, only down to the one-thousandths. The time and money put into the SB could have bought me a new comparable lathe with a lot more items that add up to more than the cost of a lathe in some cases!

    So I guess I'm saying the opposite of what Mack just said. It's cool if your old lathe purchase comes with a lot of parts but savvy sellers get more money selling the parts individually and the lathe with very little add-ons, which is what I got. I guess the biggest surprise for me was finding out just how quickly all those extra parts add up! Also, I didn't know taking apart an old lathe was so involved. I didn't know anything about taper pins and wicks before I took it on.

    Also, I believe newer lathes have hardened ways and chucks that are not screwed on with those disadvantages. Also, I think some newer lathes have stops that prevent crashing. I've never crashed my lathe but I know some people who have.

    Like just about every lathe owner, I'm happy with my lathe as I wasn't in a rush, don't do production work or use it for a living so it was worth it to me. Plus, the nostalgia that it was built in Dec 1942 during the war.

    My first projects were making a mill attachment (which is not as good as having a mill -- they lack the rigidity -- so don't let anyone kid you); and I also made a follower rest and ball turner. Hobby-wise, I use the lathe mostly for making 7/8 scale garden train parts like wheels, shafts and so on.

    Hope the comments were useful for someone looking to purchase?
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
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  13. visto

    visto United States Iron Registered Member

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    Wish I would have seen this a week ago when I was trying to get a grasp of basic lathe info. The pictures really make this guide stand out. Thank you for taking the time to create this guide.
     
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  14. Nels

    Nels United States Founder Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    This, along with his companion article on selecting a milling machine, are both posted as stickies in the Beginner's forum.
     
  15. thomas s

    thomas s United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Paul, Thank you for posting great writeup. thomas s

    • :thumbzup3:
     
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  16. rcflier

    rcflier Denmark Active Member Active Member

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    Hi Paul - nice job, as always.

    Cheers
    Erik
     

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