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Why no small high-quality lathes?

ddickey

H-M Supporter - Premium Content
H-M Supporter-Premium
My first and current lathe is a 13 or 14 x 40. It's okay.
I saw a smaller lathe a week or so ago. It was a made in Taiwan generic model I think probably a 12 or 13 x 30 so smaller than mine.
You could tell the mass and rigidity of the thing. Quite frankly it looked pretty awesome, really wide bed and big flat ways.
 

bobshobby

H-M Supporter - Premium Content
H-M Supporter-Premium
Wow, long running thread here. I have kinda been stuck in this same boat trying to figure out what I wanted to go with for my first lathe. I've got size constraints in what I can fit in my shop and certainly cost constraints, and what I'm thinking about using it for typically wouldn't be very large parts at all. Probably all well under 12" in length.

Started off thinking I wanted to go with a Sherline lathe, but that seemed like I'd outgrow it quickly being that Id like to work with stainless. Then I thought the LMS 3540 or Weiss WBL210V would be the best of the chinese offerings in my size/application. I guess the Precision Mathews PM-1022V or PM-1127VF and the South Bend SB1001 would be somewhere after that. Then I found Wabeco (specifically the D4000E) and so far those seem to be unrivaled in terms of build quality and not being made in china, but they are sooo much more than I was hoping to spend. It doesn't look like anyone in the US sells the D2000 or D2400 Wabeco and I'm not even sure those do enough/have enough features.

So I've sat here stuck in between the <$1000 - <$6000 gap that seems to exist if you don't want to go with Grizzly/Jet/Weiss/LMS or any of the other chinese rebranded options. Tough market.
If PM won't do the LD 1216 then contact LD directly in Taiwan see what they can suggest. They also do a 1224 if you have room I got the 1216 as it was all I could fit in the space I have, but its a great machine. available in metric or imperial both come with 120x127 change gears to enable cutting the other threads. should be available for under $5k. mine cost me just under $5k delivered.
 

hanermo2

Active Member
Active Member
Fwiw..
Re: economics/quality/tir..
What happens is that a bigger lathe, say a 12x24 vs a 10x, will be much more rigid, and much more basically accurate, with the same basic manufacturing-quality level, IF it maintains the same mass/length, +/-.
This is why no small good lathes exist.

It is very, very expensive (not really hard, just extremely tight tolerances on very short contact areas/wear pads, etc) to make a superb quality 9x lathe, or a 200 kg mass 9x, like The Schaublin 9x, 54.000 € new , now, 3rd company after 2 bankruptcies.
It is quite cheap and easy to make a more rigid, more inherently precise, lathe of say 12x24 size, or more, at 450 kg mass, or more.

When You go from a 9x to a 12x, especially a more industrial 12x, the ways are (very much) wider.
The bed casting is (much) taller in the vertical direction, leading to 2-3-5x more rigidity off-hand.
The saddle h-shape is wider, and deeper, by about 30-50% (and has more surface area).
Cube it for rigidity 1.5 (wider, deeper) pwr 3 == > 3.375 times more rigidity and vibration dampening x surface area, PER AXIS, == 5-6x better, for the same build quality.

Example:
If a 9x lathe has 0.01 mm slop, on the z axis guideway, at say 200 mm ends.
12x, 260 mm. 0.01 mm, 20% wider (mine == 300 mm, => 50% wider).
1.2 pwr 3 =1.728 more rigid, just on ends.
== 20% wider,
=> 2.07 more rigid, on z-endpoints analysis only, ..
Add depth in x or width of ways, similar 205 (or more), another 2.07, => 4.3 x more rigid overall.

Also, on oil-lubricated surfaces, the surface area has a huge vibration = finish quality, effect.
The oil film has dampening effects that go up pwr 4 by pressure and area.
So a 12x vs a 9x has inherently about 4-10 more dampening from the oil-film effect, with typical lathes as made today.

Of note..
All the famous best manual lathes,Monarch10EE, HLVG, Sharp (copy) etc..
have had much longer and heavier headstocks, heavier construction, wider ways in x, wider saddle in z, by about 30-50%, as compared to typical ones.
This leads to about 20x more dampening, and maybe 10-30x more rigidity (hard to quantify).
 

bobshobby

H-M Supporter - Premium Content
H-M Supporter-Premium
Fwiw..
Re: economics/quality/tir..
What happens is that a bigger lathe, say a 12x24 vs a 10x, will be much more rigid, and much more basically accurate, with the same basic manufacturing-quality level, IF it maintains the same mass/length, +/-.
This is why no small good lathes exist.

It is very, very expensive (not really hard, just extremely tight tolerances on very short contact areas/wear pads, etc) to make a superb quality 9x lathe, or a 200 kg mass 9x, like The Schaublin 9x, 54.000 € new , now, 3rd company after 2 bankruptcies.
It is quite cheap and easy to make a more rigid, more inherently precise, lathe of say 12x24 size, or more, at 450 kg mass, or more.

When You go from a 9x to a 12x, especially a more industrial 12x, the ways are (very much) wider.
The bed casting is (much) taller in the vertical direction, leading to 2-3-5x more rigidity off-hand.
The saddle h-shape is wider, and deeper, by about 30-50% (and has more surface area).
Cube it for rigidity 1.5 (wider, deeper) pwr 3 == > 3.375 times more rigidity and vibration dampening x surface area, PER AXIS, == 5-6x better, for the same build quality.

Example:
If a 9x lathe has 0.01 mm slop, on the z axis guideway, at say 200 mm ends.
12x, 260 mm. 0.01 mm, 20% wider (mine == 300 mm, => 50% wider).
1.2 pwr 3 =1.728 more rigid, just on ends.
== 20% wider,
=> 2.07 more rigid, on z-endpoints analysis only, ..
Add depth in x or width of ways, similar 205 (or more), another 2.07, => 4.3 x more rigid overall.

Also, on oil-lubricated surfaces, the surface area has a huge vibration = finish quality, effect.
The oil film has dampening effects that go up pwr 4 by pressure and area.
So a 12x vs a 9x has inherently about 4-10 more dampening from the oil-film effect, with typical lathes as made today.

Of note..
All the famous best manual lathes,Monarch10EE, HLVG, Sharp (copy) etc..
have had much longer and heavier headstocks, heavier construction, wider ways in x, wider saddle in z, by about 30-50%, as compared to typical ones.
This leads to about 20x more dampening, and maybe 10-30x more rigidity (hard to quantify).
Makes sense, even without the maths, but that is basically why I always say go the biggest and best you can afford, and have room for. unless all your work is on miniature stuff. You'l almost always find a job that's bigger than you anticipated when you bought that little lathe. BTW Intricate and delicate work can be done on a big lathe. It's still just cut, measure, cut etc.
 

Downwindtracker2

Active User
Active Member
Chinese lathes can be very good, it's just that the importers aren't bringing them over. Cheaper the lathe, more the profit. A lot of manufacturers make same basic lathe but the quality levels can vary widely. Almost 10 years ago, my son and I went together and bought a heavily discounted clearout 250mmx550mm (commonly but incorrectly called 10x22 ) at a local tool store, KMS, that they had had imported. This design is an improved copy of the Maximat8 . It has steel gears instead of plastic. It was pretty bare so I tracked down the maker and another importer, Lathemaster, to finish it out. That's when I found out most, like Grizzly were made by SEIG. These were merely assembled and show it. However XIMA lathes are carefully fitted . And the dials of the guys testing them showed that. In order for the XIMA to be competitive, they stripped it when they sold to KMS. Even with the heavy discount, when finished flushing it out, we ended up paying more than BusyBee/Grizzly. But we did it in steps.

I would like to say what a great little lathe it has been, but when my son moved out I told him I'll buy him out. He said "No dad, I'll buy you out." Now I have '92 Taiwanese DF1224g . The foot print isn't that much bigger. It will be a better lathe when I finish it.