Help a newbie out?

Howdy!
I know this question gets asked a lot, but most of the answers I found wer from '97-'98. Things change...
I've been working on electronics for robotics applications for a
while, and I am now ready to start working on the hardware. I decided to buy a lathe and mill, and after a few days of searching, have my sights set on Sherline.
I'm going to need to make small parts, mostly out of aluminum, as well as gears and threads. Will the sherline machines be adequate for this?
I was looking at the Emco machines as well as the ones sold by harbor freight, but most of what I read about them had them dismissed as "toys". While I have heard a few people dismiss Sherline as "toys", it is not nearly as often as the other machines I've been looking at, and Sherline is at about the maximum of my price range.
Has anyone successfully made gears on a Sherline, or is that just a ridiculous proposition?
I'm also interested in the CNC capability. Any comments on that? Is it worth it?
Can anyone suggest a better machine for around the same price as a Sherline?
Any help, suggestions, or insights would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance...
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I don't have any direct experience with the Sherlines but I do know that they're more of a "micro" lathe and are very limited in what you can do with them. I'm also fairly sure that you can't cut threads on them.
As for the Harbor Freight and other mini lathes take a look at this site. I think it might change your mind about them.
http://www.mini-lathe.com/
Also, when you say that the Sherline is at about the maximum of your price range it's probably worse than you think because you're probably not figuring in the cost of tooling. As a general rule of thumb most people say you'll spend about the same for tooling as you do for the lathe. Of course that varies depending on where you buy your tooling and what jobs you plan to do but you will definitely have to spend a fair amount on tooling.
I have a JET 9x20 myself and it's kind of like a larger version of the Harbor Freight mini so I don't have any direct experience with the minis but it looks like the best deal out there is the Homier 7x12. It's only $299 and they do a travelling truckload tool sale so if they come to your area you won't have to pay shipping. Go to their site and sign up for them to email you whenever they'll be in your area. They don't post a schedule so that's the only way you'll be able to find out.
http://www.homier.com
If they won't be in your area anytime soon watch for a sale on the Harbor Freight lathe. I think it was only $329.99 last month for Inside Track Club members (or maybe it was $369.99) and they ship any order over $50 for free. Of course if you have a local store that's even better because you can go and look at one yourself. :-)
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"
<Brad Brigade> wrote in message

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On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 15:26:03 GMT, "Keith Marshall"

That is an awesome site, thank you!
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The Sherline won't do threads unless something has changed (haven't been to their site for a while) so that lathe is out. I'd go with something larger anyway as you will always like the additional cap. of a larger lathe. A 10" or 12" Craftsman or Atlas lathe is usually a good lathe to have and are often available for fairly cheap. I might also note that I'm not a fan of the multimachines as they tend not to do any particular chore very well.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works evevery time it is tried!
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Sherline sells a thread cutting attachement which works with a hand crank.
I have two atlas(craftsman) 12x36 lathes FS in the chicagoland area.
chuck
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I'd suggest making a list of all the threads you need to cut, and figure out how to make those parts on the lathe you intend to buy. For instance, I needed to buy an extra 100 tooth gear to cut coarse threads on my Sherline, while cutting metric threads (39x1mm) wasn't a problem, even with a 20tpi lead screw. (127 tooth gear is standard :-) )
Zack Lau W1VT
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On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 21:53:46 -0700, Brad Brigade <> wrote:

How small? The Sherline is *tiny*. It is really a *micro* lathe rather than a mini lathe. They're fine little machines, and there's a ton of accessories available for them, but they are *tiny*. A similar machine is the Taig (which I own). Neither will natively cut threads, though there are ways around that.

Emco or ENCO? Big difference.

The Taig is a bit less expensive than the Sherline, and a bit more robustly built too.

Well, lets just say it would be a *challenge*. Straight spur gears are possible, but any other gear form is going to be very difficult. I'd strongly suggest you consider *purchasing* gears, or salvaging them out of other equipment, rather than trying to make your own with a micro lathe. You might have a bit better luck making them with a mill and rotary table.

I think that CNC would be more helpful on the little mill they sell than it would be on their lathe.

You really need to tell us more about the size work you're going to do. If you're familiar with Battlebots, give us the class closest to the size of the robot you're building. That'll give us a better idea what sort of machinery to recommend. I'm thinking that unless your robot is going to be a flyweight, you're going to need bigger machinery than Sherline.
Gary
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On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 01:02:31 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (Gary Coffman) wrote:

Then I'm guessing it won't do. I'll have to find something else.

Had no idea there was Emco and Enco. I was referring to the modular lathe/mill/drill unimat thing. But from what I heard, it's pretty cheap, so I dismissed it.

Well... I actually WANT to make the gears. Any of the stuff I've made over the years I could have bought for far less money, but that was never the point. And I wasn't suggesting doing it on the lathe, but with the mill and rotary table as you mentioned. But forget the Sherline, is there ANY mill that can make decent gears for around $600? If not, then screw 'em.

My aim is to build a small, two-motor, autonomous robot, probably one foot long at most, ten pounds maybe. No saw blades, or cannons, or spiked balls, just wheels. I also would like to be able to machine parts to modify paintball guns and other small mechanical devices. And then, in my search for a lathe I've also come across various examples of small steam engines and so on, built with small lathes and mills, and I now have an itch to try that out too.
I really want to be able to make threads and gears. If I can't do that, it's not worth it for any price. And I mean to make gears on a mill. I'm actually in the market for a lathe AND mill, I've just been saying lathe a lot cause I'm lazy. Sorry.
So I'm gonna back away from Sherline. Now I'm thinking of getting an Atlas or Craftsman as suggested by Bob May, or a Grizzly 7x12. I read somewhere that the Grizzly and Harbor Freight 7x12 were almost the same machine, but the Grizzly has more features. So any recommendation there?
And as for the mill. Grizzly and Harbor Freight have a mill too. Any comments on those?
I'm hoping to spend about $2000 on a lathe, mill, and tools.
Thanks to everyone for the help, I really, really, reeeeeeally appreciate it...
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I really like my Emco Compact 5 with the milling attachment, had two of them about 7 years now and have made everything including gears and done threading. They're slightly smaller than the 7x12 Chinese machines but are much better built and can do more accurate work from what I've seen.
I have a buddy that's converted a manual machine to CNC and Don Nichols on this board has one of the factory CNC versions he seems very happy with. Here's a link:
http://www.blueridgemachinery.com/specialcompact5.htm
I see them on e-Bay regularily at half that price.
Terry Keeley
Nothing improves until someone stops and questions an accepted assumption...
<Brad Brigade> wrote in message (Gary Coffman)

strongly
of
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Brad Brigade <> wrote in message
(snip)

Brad,
I went through this whole process myself a few years ago. I don't have any recommendations on specific tools, but I have some general advice:
Go to enco.com and sign up for their flyer. You'll get a new one every month, and its always got almost all the same stuff in it month after month, so don't be worried that you have to "act now" or miss the sale. Anyway, the reason I say to get this flyer is so that you can see what kind of tools/accesories are available. Lots of the stuff that enco sells is not the best quality, but it will do for hobby use.
You don't have to buy everything at once. In fact, you probably can't. I bought one machine and some tools to start with, then seemed to be ordering more tools about every other month for quite some time. Its one of those situations where you make something, then later you're looking in a catalog and then you see *why* you might want bore gauges or roughing endmills or whatever.
Don't buy the imported 116-pc drill set. Instead spend your money on a good set of number drills. You can get fractional drills anywhere, and you can go a whole lifetime without *needing* a letter drill.
Cutting threads on a lathe may not be as important as you might think. You can also cut threads with a die. Speaking of which, Grizzly sells an excellent HSS tap & die set for only $55. I think I use that tap and die set on just about every project I make.
You don't need a full set of reamers. Sets are too expensive. Just buy what sizes you need as they come up.
Get a cheap, expendable scientific calculator for the shop. You'll use it ALL THE TIME.
You can make a lot of usefull stuff on a small lathe, but be carefull about getting a mill that's too small. IMHO, I think that some of the small mills on the market are just too small to be usefull. You have to consider how you are going to attach your work to the mill's table. Clamps, vises and rotary tables take up a lot of real estate on the table. I really think that anything with a table less than about 7x20" is going to be very frustrating to use.
Start going to flea markets. You never know what you might find, but I've found something usefull (and cheap!) every time.
Make sure to also budget for some Socket Head Cap Screws with washers and nuts. If you're making robots, you'll need a good supply of them in a few different sizes. Keep in mind that if you buy long screws, you can trim them down to whatever size you need. Also get an assortment of set screws. You'll use set screws in your robots, and you'll also need to replace set screws in many of the tools you buy (new imported tools often come with really bad set screws, used tools have worn-out set screws).
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On Thu, 16 Oct 2003 19:11:34 -0700, Brad Brigade <> wrote:

Not new price, but perhaps you could find used equipment for that amount. What you really want for gear cutting is a horizontal universal mill with a gear driven index head. That'll let you cut helical gears as well as straight spur gears. Used horizontal mills are often pretty cheap because most hobbyists want "something like a Bridgeport", even though a vertical mill often isn't the best choice.
Gary
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On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 15:50:37 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (Gary Coffman) wrote:

Horizontal?? Now thats something I never thought of. I've yet to come across a horizontal mill in all my searching.
If I got a horizontal mill for gear making, would it be any more annoying to use it for general milling as opposed to a vertical mill? And if the index head could stand vertical, then would a horizontal mill be unneccessary?
Thanks!
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<Brad Brigade> wrote in message (Gary Coffman)

Yes, extremely annoying, especially if you've learned to use a "drop spindle" type vertical mill (Bridgeport type). Horizontal mills are rather limited in function, but do a much better job at certain functions than the Bridgeport types do. If you had but one choice, you'd not want it to be a horizontal. Way too limiting.
Harold
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OK, I'll bite here. Harold I've gotten you know your style to some degree here, and your peculiar approach to iron oxide. I've even come to dislike rust a tiny bit myself.
But this horizontal-bashing has got to stop. :^)
There's one thing that a horizontal mill does not have, and that's a quill. (granted certain deckel machines do a pretty good imitation, but we're going to leave out the top end stuff)
Other than that, a horizontal will do nearly everything a b'port or clone can do, and better. In most cases it's simply a matter of having the correct tooling, or being able to turn the job sideways in the mind.
Advantages of horizontal machines:
1) cheaper. Because nobody understands them or appreciates them, they sell way much cheaper than the similar vertical machine.
2) more rigid. The absence of a sliding quill, and the size limitation that the quill puts on the spindle and bearings, means the horizontal has a far much stronger spindle and far larger bearings. This translates directly into metal removal ability.
3) shorter height. For the hsm-type with limited headroom (that's me, with my basement shop) the shorter horizontal means the machine can fit, where a b'port simply cannot.
4) smaller footprint. There are many smaller horizontal machines like a hardinge, benchmaster, atlas, nichols, etc that provide orders of magnitude better performance than a milling attachment for a lathe, and a factor of two or three smaller floor footprint.
I personally decided on a hardinge UM mill, because of the quality of the manufacture, the fact that it takes 5C tooling, and size fit for my shop. I've since found that it makes a *great* gap bed lathe for turning stuff that does not fit in my lathe. Not a good try on a bridgeport.
Sure it's strange. Sure I have to stand sideways on my head when running it. But with the correct cutter installed, it will eat a bridgeport for lunch, from a metal removal standpoint.
For those rare jobs where only a vertical will do, I did purchase an M head as an acessory. But gets attached very rarely. Maybe once in 50 jobs or so.
Jim
================================================= please reply to: JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com =================================================
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wrote:

I agree with Jim. Its only when inside cuts must be made, that a vertical is handier.
Damn...Im agreeing with Jim again...this madness MUST stop!!!
the horror..the horror..the horror......
Gunner
"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass." --Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
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Harold & Susan Vordos says...

rather
the
be a

I rest my case! :-)
I ran my small shop for 16 years with nothing but a BP, no horizontal, though there were a few times that I wished I had one. I agree with you, for metal removal they have no equal. It almost numbs the mind to watch a side cutter in chrome-moly cutting a slot 3/4" deep X " wide @ 6"/min (or faster). Yep, that's impressive! You can cut metal faster than you can haul the chips off. Problem with that is the typical home shop machinist rarely, if ever, faces a job of that nature. Running side cutters too fast and feed at a snail's pace is death on them. Life leaves in a hurry as they scratch away @ .0003" per tooth because seldom do operators run the machine to capacity. It just looks wrong, so they don't do it. Even some guys with experience.
I'm not against horizontal machines, it's just that I couldn't have produced the work I did without a drop spindle machine. That is likely to be true of almost everyone. To be limited by a horizontal machine alone would not be a good thing, depending on the nature of the work at hand. Doing the nature of work we encounter is more difficult on horizontal machines. Been there, done that. The other rather major problem is that tooling (cutters and arbors) is far more expensive than end mills are. How much money would a home shop type operation care to invest in tools that are seldom used?
I've run the horizontals, including large K&T's, VanNormans, Cincinnati, etc. Great machines, but for general machining I'd never make one my only choice. Reason? Same thing you mentioned. One loses too much flexibility without a drop spindle.
Yeah, I still hate rust. :-)
I forgot to mention. Before I left Utah I purchased a horizontal attachment for my BP. I've yet to use it, but I'm thrilled to have it.
Harold
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I use my horizontal mostly with end mills. They fit just fine in the 5C spindle, I use the same collets as my lathe. One set fits all.
My real point is, in my shop I've got two choices: either a horizontal, or no milling machine at all (or a crappy overpriced milling attachment for a lathe - it would cost me what I paid for the entire milling machine to buy a milling attachment for a 10L...) or the horizontal I do have.
It may sound like rationalization, but honestly I've come to love the hardinge for what it can do. And if I can find nice newish one, I'm going to try to buy one for here at work, as well. And the same reasons apply: the machine has a tiny footprint compared with a b'port, and I have to put a full sized shop in a vestpocket lab.
The one thing I really miss in a milling machine like that is a quill, for drilling. I figured that problem out pretty fast though. I bought a drill press! :)
Jim
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Harold & Susan Vordos says...

produced
true
not
the
Been
(cutters
That's an excellent point, one that may not be valid for those with a Nichols mill, however. Still, I'd love to have either of them. I'm not really against the machines.

Wow! If there's anything I might be against, it would be a milling attachment for a lathe. Talk about a compromise! I fully agree with you, Jim.
I think the real point here is what one becomes accustomed to doing. I might use my O.K. Rubber Welders indexing square toolpost, for example. I cut my teeth on indexing toolposts, thus I am not a fan of the KDK or Aloris types, even though I've used them extensively. For me, the work habits formed are much better suited to the indexing head, and I go far out of my way to see to it that I use one. Only under protest would I use anything else. And so it is with drop spindle mills. I recall when I started working in the mill section at Sperry, there was a Nichols hand mill available for small part machining. To a man, no one in the plant wanted to run the damned thing. We had various Gorton mills, Mastermil (I-22), 9-J, a Unimil (sp), and a couple other small vertical Gortons, the model numbers of which escape me now (and it's only been since 1965! I don't know what's happening to me, honestly!). We also had other vertical machines, including Cincinnati, Van Norman vertical/horizontal (head swiveled) and, of course, several K&T's, a couple equipped with vertical heads that mounted on the overarms and were driven by the horizontal spindle, plus one dandy vertical K&T. At any rate, my time was spent, mostly, on the drop spindle machines. We used them for precision drilling, not only for milling. Before the missile went into full production, hard tooling (drill jigs and more) were not built, so we did all drilling either on multi-spindle drill presses by first laying out the parts, or they were drilled on mills using the screws for location. Almost all the prototype missiles were built that way. This was long before digital readout was available, so I, naturally, still refuse to use a DRO. I've never used one to this day. At any rate, it was there that my work habits were so well formed, only to be strengthened by my last place of employment (a job shop that subbed from the missile industry) and then my own shop. I can't imagine having a mill that didn't have a drop spindle, not unless I had more than one mill.

Yep, a perfect example of becoming very familiar with a given machine, and wanting to have one at your disposal. To this day I'd give my interest in hell for a Cincinnati #2 centerless grinder, a machine I ran and enjoyed immensely. Same goes for a #1 B&S universal grinder. I realize there may be better machines available, especially in the way of the B&S, but to me they represent the ultimate, if for no other reason, I could make them sing. In a way, they became my way of self expression at a craft that seemed to be a natural for me. .
I wish you well in your quest to find another Hardinge, Jim.

Lots harder to drill holes where you want them, though! Takes a lot more skill.
Harold
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I don't really do any precision work at home. If I want to get holes close, I either take the hit, and do them with the infeed on the hardinge, or simply spot them with a centerdrill that way, and then move over to the drill press and pick them up that way. It's not a jig borer but for what I do at home it suffices.
Jim
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Harold & Susan Vordos says...

snip----
Wish I would have had presence of mind enough to comment on this statement, too. I've done end mill work with a horizontal machine, and it's likely one of the toughest of all things to do. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but when I run machines, a very big part of what's happening is closely observed by eye. I do not trust that I am where I think I am, I am constantly looking, with my face close in. I can't think of anything less convenient than watching a pocket being generated on the far side of a mill table, where I can't see what's going on. It's also a lot harder to use your acid brush that way. That's not to say it can't be done, but doing the same job on a vertical, even without a drop spindle, is far easier and faster. If you find yourself cutting the same old chips over and over on a vertical machine, don't you think you're doing something wrong? Spray mist is great at keeping chips out of pockets, and keeps the cutter well lubed and cooler.
And "better"? All depends on the job at hand. Again, cut pockets (or windows) and then lets talk about it. I think you'll find that the only people that prefer a horizontal for that kind of work are those that don't have the vertical and they've deluded themselves into thinking they don't really need a vertical. They're right, they don't, but if they intend to compete with one, it wouldn't be long until they would.
Keep in mind I'm speaking from the perspective of someone that did a majority of tooling, with some production as well. My needs may have been far different from someone that makes a given part time and again, a part that lends itself well to a horizontal. Making jigs and fixtures that require hole locations and dowels works very best on a drop spindle mill. :-)
Harold
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