I have been thinking about buying a Taig lathe for making small pins and related parts. I have larger lathes but it seems like they are always tied up when I need to make a small part. So, I was wondering how well these lathes work and if they are comparable to larger lathes if scale is taken into effect. Thanks, Eric R Snow
Just the odd small pin, or turning down the head on a screw. If I need to go to tenths the part can be polished. But to be practical it needs to be able to remove .0005 reliably. I have a Levin watchmakers lathe. But it is meant for smaller stuff. Like the platinum-iridium alloy tubes I jad to make. .024 OD, .008 ID. The collets go down to .004. ERS
I won a taig, and have access to larger lathes... and know other people with larger lathes, and unimats. The concensus seems to be that if you can afford the space and money, the second smaller lathe has distinct advantages... basically the smaller lathe is easy to run, cheaper consumables, and more suited to the task. My taig is more than adequate for the work I do, and I have only had to go to the larger lathe when I've had issues with swing siamters, or power.. I like the idea of changing chucks with only one hand, instead of a crane.
I h> I have been thinking about buying a Taig lathe for making small pins
I own a taig, and have access to larger lathes... and know other people with larger lathes, and unimats. The concensus seems to be that if you can afford the space and money, the second smaller lathe has distinct advantages... basically the smaller lathe is easy to run, cheaper consumables, and more suited to the task. My taig is more than adequate for the work I do, and I have only had to go to the larger lathe when I've had issues with swing siamters, or power.. I like the idea of changing chucks with only one hand, instead of a crane.
I h> I have been thinking about buying a Taig lathe for making small pins
I've got one, and like it for small work. Note that the standard collets for it are not particularly impressive, so I am glad that I also bought the watchmaker's spindle for it when I got it (some years ago at a hamfest, and without the "Taig" label on it anywhere -- before I had even *heard* of "Taig". :-)
I already had the watchmaker's collets, as I also use them in the watchmaker's spindle for the Unimat SL-1000. Note that one difference between the two spindles is that the Unimat one also has the tapered exterior surface to open the expanding stepped collets for holding inside of rings, while the Taig one has a threaded exterior which matches the thread for the normal spindle to accept chucks and faceplates.
I've actually set up both of them recently to handle different stages of a recent project. The first (and most complex) stage was handled on the Emco-Maier Compact-5/CNC
On the Unimat, if you want to turn tapers, you can simply swing the headstock to the appropriate angle. On the Taig, your choices are:
1) Turn between centers with an offset tailstock.
2) Mount the compound and use it (if the needed taper is short enough.
3) Make a taper attachment for the lathe. (Perhaps someone has already done this -- I don't know.
But I do find it to be quite a rigid lathe for its size and price. The Unimat SL-1000 is probably the worst for that, with a bed consisting of two steel rods of not particularly large diameter.
Thanks for the reply DoN. I know a guy with a Unimat. I used it and it was pretty flexible. As to collets, the collets for my Levin are not the same as the ones the Taig watchmakers spindle uses. That's too bad because then I'd already have 80 collets for the machine. I've looked at the collets on the Taig web site. They don't have a large selection but seem to stout enough. What in particular did you not like about their collets? As to tapers, most of the tapers I do on small pins would be short enough for the compound. I did think about a taper attachment. Maybe there's a market for some. Eric
They should be -- WW series collets. I think that the Levin ones may have slightly different thread form for the drawbar, but the rest is the same. I've got some old Levin collets in addition to the ones which I got for my Unimat SL-1000 watchmaker's spindle, and those work well in the Taig watchmaker's spindle.
They did not have a drawbar, just a nut which shoved them into the normal lathe spindle. They are not hardened, but just made from mild steel. They come only in a very few sizes, plus one which has never been drilled so you can make your own in a specific size. (After which, you would need to set up the slitting saw to slit them so they can close.) They don't have the range of the ER collets, nor the self-extracting groove to engage a lip on the closer nut, so they have to be driven out from the other end of the spindle. All in all, they were nothing but a minimal excuse for collets.
Now -- remember that this machine, while it *looks* like a Taig, never had the "Taig" nameplate on it (though I have gotten a second of the Taig 4-jaw chucks, after modifying the original to use on my Compact-5/CNC, and it looks identical to what I have.)
It may be that the official collets which Taig now offers are better than what I have.
It may also be that the watchmaker's collet spindle is no longer offered.
The Taig is more rigid than the old unimat SL, that's for sure. If you have a Levin I wouldn't bother with a Taig unless you want another lathe - you can do much more on the Levin (but there is a bit of a price difference).
I have several bigger lathes but the Taig shines for certain work because:
1) tooling is cheap and modifiable
2) Top speed is 5000 rpm, which is great for small parts
3) soft jaw 3 jaw chuck is great for certain operations
4) If I need to do something destructive (like grinding) on it, replacement parts are cheap.
The Taig has shortcomings though:
1) No way to do single point threading (aftermarket accessories partially answer this)
2) Lowest speed is 500 rpm, which is too fast for some work
3) Not a lot of space
4) Not as wide a range of accessories as other lathes.
But I am the #1 crazy Taig guy, if you haven't, check out my Taig pages:
The collets for the Levin are "D" collets. I'll look up the specs if I can find them and see if they have the same taper. I don't think they do though. The "D" collets only go up to 5/16" (8mm). Don't the WW collets have a larger capacity? Eric
Nicholas, Thank for the reply. I'll look at your site. Finding someone with lots of experience with one of these machines is just what I'm lookin for.The Levin I have is quite small. A very good machine but limited in travel. The cross slide is clamped to the bed wherever it needs to be to do the machining. The cross slide has a compound that can be turned 90 degrees for turning straight parts. There is no longitudinal lead screw. So threading on this lathe can't be done either. Since I'll be using a DC motor with a variable speed control the speeds won't be a limitation. And the top speed rating of the spindle is way higher than 5000 rpm according to the Taig web site. Which is one of the reasons for considering it. Eric
Oh -- those are 10mm collets, not the 8mm that the WW series are. Levin also made 8mm (WW) collets as well, and that is what I thought that we were talking about. The watchmaker's spindle for both the Taig and for the Unimat SL-1000 are for the "WW" (8mm) collets.
Nope -- smaller. The WW collets (8mm OD) have only a 1/4" capacity. The 'D' series collets ('D' for Derbyshire, I think) have an OD of 10mm. I've got a set of those, too. I've been planning on making a drawbar and closer for those for my Compact-5/CNC.
No chance of them working directly in the same spindle, though I could imagine an adaptor to allow a "WW" (8mm) collet to be used in a 'D' (10mm) spindle. I just can't imagine why anyone would make one, unless they could not get the 10mm collets at all.
Thanks Don, I looked on the web and found the specs for WW and D collets. You are correct, the D style stands for Derbyshire. BTW, Derbyshire is still in business and sells D style collets that are every bit as good as the Levin collets for less than half of the Levin price. ERS
I have an old round-way Unimat SL and a Logan 10" lathe. I still find the Unimat useful for really small items where the Logan wound be clumsy. Also, the Unimat is upstairs in my model shop, while the Logan is in the basement. The choice of tool is sometimes determined by how lazy I am at the moment.
Small lathes like the Unimat and Taig are in no way as rigid as a larger machine. Still, the accuracy they can produce is more a matter of operator skill than machine properties. The Unimat is about as minimal as they can get and still be useful, but it can and has produced many fine small parts.
I'm most of the way through rebuilding a worn-out Levin (about 4") instrument maker's lathe (rather like an oversize Watchmaker's lathe). That will stay in the basement shop with the Logan. It's only a little larger than the Unimat, but vastly more rigid and precise. Even when it's completed, however, I'll keep the Unimat upstairs where it's often handy. It's stood the test of time.
Thanks for the reply Dan. The Taig lathe apparently has the aluminum body of the lathe filled with cement. Then steel ways are screwed to this cement filled extrusion. I imagine this really helps with the rigidity. Of course I don't expect the lathe to be as rigid as my Levin lathe or a 14 inch swing lathe. What I was mostly interested in was how well the small lathe could make small, fairly precise parts. It seems that the Taig will do just that. With the high speed bearings (7000 rpm) installed getting enough surface speed will be no problem. I've sent off a check to Nicholas Carter who is a Taig dealer and has tons of stuff on his web site about Taig machines. Eric R Snow
I started with a sherline lathe. I have since owned many lathes but I still own my sherline. I don't use the sherline lathe much but there are times I find it useful. However I still use my sherline mill a lot even though I have 2 other mills. I discussed this with sherline guys at NAMES and he stated that may people tell him they still use their sherline machines even though they have bigger machines.