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HarborFreight 8x12 Lathe

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xl97

Swarf
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Jan 25, 2011
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#1
I havent seen/read any posts here on the HF 8x12.. with is really an 8x14 and the same exact machine as the LatheMaster 8x14 (but in red of course)

I am new to machining in general.. and this is my first lathe.. (so take this for what its worth!) ;) lol

I spent some time reading about hobby lathes and what would be best for me and my hobby/projects

(mostly round stock, threading a bit..and mostly aluminum material)

the 7x's seemed great.. because of all the mods and parts available plus a HUGE community following..

but when I saw the 7x10 in real life.. I couldnt imagine that thing being much use to me..size and especially 'weight' seemed to be a concern from the jump.


I read about the 8x on Fignoggle.com and many other sites.. and while I read mixed reviews from the 7x owners (about plastic gears, or not heavy cuts....the extra time to dial/tweak/align the 7x's....etc) I didnt read one negative review about the 8x.

compared to the size and weight difference..


(I was sold)

figNoggle_hf8x12_massive.jpg


the biggest difference I have found is the lack of variable speed control on the 8x's where as the 7x's have a POT to control the speed.

being I only work in one material...speed was too much of a factor for me.. (and a belt change, while another step, really isnt a huge deal for me)

changing gears is a PITA at times.. (takes about 5-10 minutes).. so lack of a quick change gear box is also something to contemplate.. although I dont believe the 7x's have a QCGB either...

I rarely thread (or try not to at least...lol).. so again your work needs should be factored in here.

IMHO..the 8x has the 7'x beat everywhere else..

metal gears
big on weight
still small/hobby sized foot print. (fitting on a 2x4 foot table no problems with space all around it)
comes 'ready to rip' out of the box (still a bit of red grease...but fit and finish was good from factory)

for the 8x's you of course have many choices for a quick change tool post..

the most common ones are the A2Z..which IMHO is more for the smaller 7x's (and smaller).. and looks too small on the beefier 8x's..
also these are made out of aluminum..(softer) which is NOT desirable IMHO for a QCTP..and anything for cutting........rigid..rigid..rigid.. =)

then there is the AxA's.. (piston style or wedge)

wedge is suppose to be 'better' for repeatability..but Im not sure how much that is.. (either way I got the wedge as my first one)

usually 2 places have ones specifically for the 8x's..


LatheMaster & LittleMachineShop

each have their 'own' uniqueness on what makes them fit for the 8x's


LatheMaster Version:

comes with a smaller toolpost/bolt..and it touted as a direct bolt-on accessory.. (meaning you can still use the stock compound rest with the 'knob')

going this route though means you are LOCKED into getting tool holders from them..as they are specially modified (milled lip/edge) so that 1/2 tooling can sit low enough to be 'centered'...



LittleMachineShop Version:

you need to buy a new compound rest that has been milled, and lets the AxA QCTP sit a bit lower..

Pros: you can use any AxA tool holder.. no need to only use modified ones
Cons: the new compound rest need to have two holes drilled & tapped to put the adjustment handle/wheel on it from the stock rest.

I went the LittleMachineShop route myself..
basically because they answered my emails and had great customer support where as Lathemaster still hasnt to this day replied.

maybe not the easiest approach but worked out fine in the end.

When i first got my 8x from HF..

it was on sale for $449.. (un-heard of price).....coupled with a %20 of coupon.. I walked out the door with it for like $379 after tax..etc

cant beat that!..

the version I got had the BD812 stamped on the front plate..(I have since en-acted my no questions asked WARRANTY and got a new one.....but this version was a CENTRAL MACHINERY stamp in the front plate.. and the finish seemed NOT as great as the other....but still fairly good)

I have a Shumatech DRO for it.. (built, finally got scales too....just not installed it yet) for it..

plan on doing a few 'minor' mods to keep it in good condition.

here are random pics..

overall_1.jpg

gears.jpg

chuck.jpg




Some charts..and diagrams I made to go along with it:

gearChart.jpg



Stock and 18TPI threading chart:
exampleGears.jpg


Pics of the compound rest differences:

QCTP_top.jpg

QCTP_noholes.jpg

QCTP_bottom.jpg


Some pics of the bench I made for it:

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

4.jpg


Anyone else with an 8x?


I know we are a minority!.. (although these machines are HUGELY under-estimated IMHO) =)
 

Speedmaster06

Robert Taylor
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#2
Congratulations on the new machine. I just purchased the same machine and I am in the process of setting it up. I do not have any machinist experience, so I thought I would give it a try as a hobby. I purchased the qctp from CDCO and then figured out I needed to modify the cross slide - I am going to order the milled cross-slide from Little Machine Shop as this seems to be a quick solution.

Have you settle on a bench for the lathe?

I could not find any info on what type of oil to use on the spindles or ways, or how to "flush" the oem oil from the machine. Do you know if this needs to be done?

I am also interested in cobbling together some form of milling attachment for the lathe so that I can experiment with elementary milling. If you run across any info on this subject I would be interested.

Again conrgats and good luck. Please post on you experience on this machine. I am living vicariously for now.
 

Amigo

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#4
xl97, it looks like you did your homework and have a nice durable lathe. All across the hobby forums I see where people with the plastic geared 7x10/12's are having to by new metal replacement gears from Little Machine Shop. When all is said and done, they end up with more invested then if they had bought the 8x12/14 in the first place.

Looks like you are "tooling up" in earnest. Way to go!
 

Fuzzbean

Iron
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#5
xl97, I'd like to know more about the replacement lathe you got from HF that you say was marked differently and finished less well than the original one you picture here.

I've been eyeballing this model of lathe for years, but held off ordering because the the photo HF uses on their site (and has been using for at least 3 years) shows a different and less desirable machine than what has been pictured and described in the good reviews I've seen online. The lathe HF pictures has only a single V-way on the bed, with the tailstock base extending forward to share the same "V" as the carriage. This would be undesirable for 3 reasons... first, the carriage and tailstock each having its own "V" just means slightly less bedway wear where their travels overlap. Second, separate v-ways mean that the corresponding parts can wear into a stable relationship with each other, without the bed becoming a slave trying to serve 2 masters. But far more important for practical purposes, if the carriage and tailstock share the same v-way, then they cannot simultaneously occupy the same position along the length of the bed. On most serious lathes the carriage has long bearing surfaces that extend out like arms to the right, with an open space in between them, such that the tailstock can be moved towards the headstock and enter partially into that space between the extensions of the carriage. So in a sense they can both occupy the same airspace at the same time. This is critical when turning between centers, because you want to be able to approach and get to the right of the tailstock center with the cutting tool without having the tailstock barrel extended way out and thus losing rigidity.

Well anyway, doubts about the product HF was currently shipping caused me to hold back from ordering the 8x12 lathe for years. I was unsure if the photos represented an older version than the good ones, a newer version than the good ones, or if it was simply the wrong photo of a completely different machine. Finally I recently concluded that some of the "good" ones I'd seen pictured elsewhere on the internet must have been shipped to customers well after the "bad" photo appeared on the HF website. So I was just about to finally order the thing when I read your comment here.

So just to confirm, xl97, your replacement lathe does still have the double v-ways, right?

It does still have a plate or tag on it indicating that the bedways are hardened, doesn't it?

And just how much worse is the quality of the finish now? Is it anything that would affect function... the smoothness of the bedways, etc.? Or just dull paint, or what? Could you show us some photos of the lathe you currently have? That would really help me a lot.

I don't know why HF has done such a crappy careless job of marketing what has been such an excellent little lathe. And I don't understand why none of the reviewers right on the HF site have addressed the fact that the lathes they own do not look identical to the photo HF uses.
 

rrroadster

Iron
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Feb 21, 2011
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#6
I just purchased an HF 8 x 12 in late Jan. I wasn't quite ready to start working with it, but I didn't want to miss out on the 20% discount.

Externally it looked pretty good after an initial cleaning, but you gotta wonder what the brown poo that I think is supposed to be grease really is.

Based on research I wanted to tear it down, thoroughly clean and lube before use. Glad I did. The inside of the apron and threading clasp_nuts were raw, rusty unfinished casting. Also the interior components of the apron were assembled dry and full of grinder dust.

I treated the interior of the apron and clasp-nuts with Duplicolor Rust Fix and then spray bombed black.

After cleaning all parts well with mineral spirits I thoroughly lubed with Mobil 1 oil (sticks to metal well and doesn't easily dry out) and reassembled. Areas like the tool holder pivot, index pin, lead screws (cross feed and tool rest), underside of rack (which I did not remove) I greased with Mobil 1 red grease. One area of special note is the underside of the bedways. There is no way of oiling that I could see and you have clamp brackets on the front of the saddle and a gib on the back side that adjust and run up against this underside surface. I greased these underside surfaces with Mobil 1 grease also.

I'm just getting the bed, saddle, apron and cross slide assemblies completed tonite. Got some runout and gib adjustment yet for the cross slide - I think the square split nut for reducing backlash is binding a little. To me, this is rather tedious work and I can't go at it for much more than a couple of hours a day.

I picked up one of these on sale at Northern Tool

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200455277_200455277

However, one the way to pick it up I realized I'll have trouble opening the gear box cover due to the lip on the perimeter of the top. I'll probably come up with a way of converting the hinges so that the cover lifts up and off.

Looking forward to actually using it. First job - custom bushings for the race car!

rrr
 

Fuzzbean

Iron
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#7
rrroadster link=topic=629.msg5273#msg5273 date=1298348923 said:
I just purchased an HF 8 x 12 in late Jan.
So, does your new lathe still have the "double V" type bedways? Does it still have the sticker or plate on the end saying hardened bedways? Or is HF starting to cut corners on these?
 
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rrroadster

Iron
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Feb 21, 2011
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#8
Fuzzbean link=topic=629.msg5535#msg5535 date=1298751589 said:
rrroadster link=topic=629.msg5273#msg5273 date=1298348923 said:
I just purchased an HF 8 x 12 in late Jan.
So, does your new lathe still have the "double V" type bedways? Does it still have the sticker or plate on the end saying hardened bedways? Or is HF starting to cut corners on these?
Yup, still double V w/riveted plate on end about hardened bedways. Big V for the carriage, Little V for the tail stock.

Tapered roller bearings for spindle weren't really packed. There was about 1 teaspoon of something that looked like reconstituted cooking grease in the bottom of the cages. I had run the lathe shortly after receipt to make sure motor ran, etc. However, the rollers were still dry. They're now packed with Red Line grease that I use for repacking race car bearings. Couldn't find any preloading/torque specs, so just winged it. The spindle seems to spin freely enough and no axial play. After about an hour of running at different speeds and changing directions it didn't seem to get too warm. Actually no real warmth noticed till I ran at 2k rpm and then the spindle housing was just starting to feel warm to the touch, nothing of concern.

One of the bearing bosses for the threading lead screw has some pretty bad porosity holes right on the surface near the bore - they're bigger than the tapped holes for the cover plate. I'll be contacting HF for a replacement.

My only real concern at this point is regarding the cross slide. It's really stiff to turn the handle when the slide gets past the halfway point on the operator side - even with the gibs loosened. It's ok when turning and it's past the halfway point all the way in. I'm wondering if the threads are tapered. Playing with the split nut for adjusting backlash didn't seem to affect it. I'll be going back in to see if I did something wrong during assembly.

Turned my first piece Thursday night. It was a 1 1/2" piece of Delrin. It did well. I learned a little lesson with the parting tool - I think I got too happy with cranking it into the work piece. Got a jam up against the work piece and spun it in the chuck. :( Maybe the parting tool was flexing a little and then I got the tool holder too close? Will try again tomorrow and be a little more observant.
 
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Fuzzbean

Iron
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#9
Thanks for the info, rroadster. I wish I had bought one of these years ago; they seem like the best deal in the under-$1000 class, as long as being carried by one person is not an issue. But now I may just hold out for a bigger lathe anyway.
 

rustybearing

Steel
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Mar 7, 2011
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#10
Hi Guys. Just got my 8x12 and am in the market for a 4 jaw independent chuck. Anyone have one yet, which one, and what about the backing plate? Thanks. Jim
 

rustybearing

Steel
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#11
I bought the 5" independent 4 jaw chuck from Lathmaster. It bolts right to the spindle without any mods. Very nice chuck and of course a few other things came along also.
 

rustybearing

Steel
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#12
From what I have learned they are both the same lathe but Bob does a bang up job preparing his for you. I saved shipping on mine by calling around to different HF's until I found one that would special order it for me. I saved about $600 but I didn't get all the stuff Lathmaster includes. After I bought the chuck from Bob the savings dropped to about $400. That's a lot of beer money, eh? If you can swing it, order from Bob and have it all. I like the 8x14. I think it's beefier than the 9x20. The compound doesn't move at all. The belts definitely are. The 8x14 uses a regular auto v-belt. Which ever you get be prepared to buy a longer v-belt. They are all too short and changing speeds with a tight belt is a pain not to mention what it does to the bearings.
 

rustybearing

Steel
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#13
A couple of mods for mine. I made a crank handle that does double duty. I can use it as a regular handle or change to the second hole on the end to give me some leverage for tapping. I balanced it which is the reason for the cutout. I used an idea for the spindle from another member. Just like the old style handlebar neck on the old bicycles. I also made a handle for the tailstock nut by just welding on a handle. And last I made a pump center to aid in tapping. I used an extra #2 center I had.

DSC02588.JPG DSC02593.JPG DSC02592.JPG DSC02595.JPG DSC02596.JPG
 
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rustybearing

Steel
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#14
I used a piece of galvanized pipe believe it or not. It was the only piece of scrap in the bin close to diameter of the spindle. I turned it down enough so it would easily slip into the spindle. I welded washer on the handle end and so the bolt would run straight and a nut on the other end, clamped it in the band saw and voila!
 

rustybearing

Steel
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#15
Don't forget to balance the handle if you are planning to leave it attached during operation. I use a prop balancer I had from when I was flying model airplanes.

balancer.JPG
 
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rustybearing

Steel
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#16
Yep. Good advice. Forgot the fumes. I have such good ventilation I take it for granted. I also wear a mask whenever I weld.
 

Fuzzbean

Iron
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#17
I really can't understand the attitudes of the Chinese machinery manufacturers, or their relationships with seemingly large importers like Grizzly. My gosh, if someone made/imported a lathe of this exact size and overall quality, but with a 1.5" spindle bore and a 5" or 6" chuck plus a 5C collet closer and a lever tailstock available as options, would that not sell like hotcakes at $1500 for the basic machine? Even to serious professional machine shops, for use as a collet lathe on odd jobs? I look at almost every lathe and mill currently imported that has any interest to me at all, and think if only one or two features were different the thing would be 10 times better. Don't the importers have any pull at all with the Chinese manufacturers? Or are the importers so stupid about machinery that they don't ask for changes that seem so obvious to me?

I'd change the X2 mini-mill to have a solid column mounting... Change all the mills to .050" or .100" or .200" feed per revolution instead of .0625" or .125"... Change all the mil/drill tables to simulate a short section of Bridgeport table, with three 5/8" T-slots... Never sell a mill without a spindle lock of some type... Be sure all mills have a good selection of speeds in the 400 to 900 RPM range especially, like 4 minimum in that range alone... Never sell a horizontal mill with an R-8 spindle taper and no drive keys on the spindle face... Put a minimum of 4 gib screws on every lathe cross- or compound slide... Make sure even the smallest hobby lathes had at least a 26mm spindle bore... Ban the round-column mill/drill... Make sure all mills and mill/drills had either a knee or a head that could be positioned with .001" inch accuracy, plus a solid precision quill stop that would stop the quill with .001" repeatability...
 

Fuzzbean

Iron
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#18
I disagree that a 1 1/2" spindle bore is too big for a lathe of this size. 1 1/2" diameter round material is not at all too heavy for a 250 to 350 pound lathe to work on, and anyway much of the reason for the 1 1/2" bore would be to allow a collet closer for 5C collets and in that case the actual workpieces would be quite small.

And there may be limiting competition in some parts of the country from used American machinery, but not where I live. There is nothing at all available locally, and I would much prefer to order a new machine with some sort of warranty and standardized ordering procedures and known shipping costs over bidding on unknown used lathes on eBay from afar. Sellers on eBay almost seem to take some fiendish glee out of their horrible fuzzy photos taken without even wiping loose chunks of dirt off the ways and tables of their merchandise. And I'm a professional machinist... how many guys just starting out in machining have the confidence to judge good machines from worn-out ones, or to know what will prove repairable an what will not, even if it was sitting right in front of them? In addition, a lathe combining the compactness and large spindle bore I'm thinking of has never been produced by any American manufacturer to begin with. Its manageable weight and versatile capabilities would put it in a class by itself.

I corresponded with Bob at Lathemaster on this very subject a few years ago. I know Lathemaster is not doing the volume of Grizzly, but he told me he had asked the Chinese factory to make many of the changes I suggested and they would not. Just a month or two ago I spotted a small lathe with a large spindle bore advertised on Alibaba.com. I repeatedly contacted the Chinese exporter advertising it, by more than one means, expressing an interest in importing it to the US but got no reply. Apparently that exporter only exports to African and South American countries, and maybe has no knowledge of US import procedures. Though I would have thought figuring that out would have been mostly my responsibility. I never could determine who the actual manufacturer is.

Another basic criticism I have of all imported lathes is that they come with 3-jaw chucks that are too small. The chuck diameter should be within 60% to 75% of the swing of the lathe or you are just wasting the machine's capabilities. An 8 inch lathe should certainly come with at least a 5 inch chuck, for example.
 

Fuzzbean

Iron
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#19
dalee link=topic=629.msg9697#msg9697 date=1302484435 said:
It is when you start hanging 10ft of 1 1/2" bar out the back of the lathe. And that happens quite frequently in shops. You will tend to use your equipment to it's fullest and then just a bit more. Takes a pretty heavy machine for that.
I don't think any sane person would buy a $1500 250 pound Chinese lathe and attempt something like that. Your comment seems like circular logic... or something like that... as any machine has its limits. It takes a heavier machine to handle heavier work than a lighter machine can do in every case, no matter what your initial scale is.

When I said I thought professional shops would buy it I meant for the collet and lever tailstock features. Lots of small job shops that already have bigger machines for heavy work, or CNC machines for large quantities, might buy an outfit like that to do short runs of simple small pieces, or "second operation" stuff on small quantities. For example, if you needed 50 simple standoff bushings made, it might make more sense to start training the kid that sweeps the floor on a $1500 lathe than pull your best machinist/programmer and his $100,000 CNC off a bigger job.
 
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mrjones28021

Swarf
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#20
Can you post pics and details of the tails rock mod with the red handle?


Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
 

Davi12dyh

Swarf
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#21
After reading many comments on this and other forums I decided to get an 8 x 14. I have made a few parts but I put most of my time getting it set up. I did take much of it apart and clean it up and stone the gibs but i do not think it needed to be done. the r & r did give me more familiarity with the tool. I have not use a lathe in many years so it is new to me but it has been a better than expected experience.

One of the biggest parts of buying this tool is that I want to do ever mod that everyone has done and then some. I finally settled on getting it to a point I can use it for my needs of making simple parts out of .

What I made
  • Bench - legs were laying around. Made the top out of 2x6s sandwiched between plywood on top and bottom. drawers are all 3/4 plywood and I used 2 sets of 100# full runners on the large drawers 200# capacity
  • Coolant system - bought a mag base and the flexible nozzles (the expensive part) used a 5 gal bucket an old marine bilge pump and a small transformer that was laying around (like a toy or electronic charger) I through in a small piece of oil boom to soak up any stray oil. I screwed the pump to check of steel to keep it aft the bottom and to make sure it sat in place
  • drip pan and back splash - friend gave me a sheet or stainless and i bowered a heavy duty break. it took quite a bit of planning to make the back splash. the lath is bolted down 1/8" out of level so that I need to adjust the table to level the lathe this helped with the coolant running to the tray drain.
  • Lexan shield.- It was already cut the right length i just notched it out to make it a little easier to get close to the chuck. The shield comes in hand when coolant gets on large diameter parts
  • DRO - cheap +-.003 units they work for what i am doing. I have found to be at least to the tolerance advertised. I made very rigid mounts for them with covers.
  • Motor moved- I put the motor on the outside of the machine so that it does not get covered with coolant. this was a little tricky but not too bad
  • Lights- mounted cheap harbor freight Florissant light under hood and then desk lamp to side
  • Other - cheap vise to cut stock with. drawer dividers from amazon and I really like the place to hand the chip brush in close reach

Thank you to everyone that has been contributing to these forums you have been so helpful in so many ways

ps. That is a tail stock v block i am working on now

IMG_2673.jpg IMG_2672.jpg IMG_2671.jpg IMG_2670.JPG IMG_2669.jpg IMG_2668.JPG IMG_2663.jpg IMG_2662.jpg IMG_2660.jpg IMG_2659.jpg IMG_2657.jpg IMG_2647.JPG IMG_2646.JPG
 

Old Iron

Active User
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#22
I picked this up a few days ago been after it for about 3 years. It looked a lot better when I first saw it, I know it is going to need a lort of work but it was free. it runs but the drive belt is broken. Even with all the rust every thing moves, Going to take a lot of TLC to bring it back to where it needs to be. I know there not much but I've always wanted one to play with. Lathe 1.JPG
 
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