looked at a Smithy 3 in 1 today for $500. Not too bad shape, not much for
tooling, some gears, 3 jaw chuck and steady rest only - I passed, but am
still curious. There are no model or serial numbers present. The plate is
there. but there has never been a serial number stamped on it. The only
model info I could see was a "T" over an"A" on the mill/drill head. Made in
China. No paperwork with it - fellow bought it used -seems to work O.K.
Anyone able to come up with more information from this sketchy (at best)
description? Should I rush back and buy it? Is it the missing prototype
that's worth millions?
The AT may possibly be the prefix of the AT 300 series. Have a look on the
right vertical side of the carriage (or both sides) and/or cross slide,
that's where the s/n is on the used one I bought.
If the cross slide is nearly square, it could be an AT model. If the cross
is about 6" x 16", then it might be a XL (suffix) or similar.
Finding a date code might be highly unlikely. The China parts/components
manufacturers don't use date codes a lot.
Many other countries will print date codes on electrical parts such as
switches, and sometimes inside motors. A typical date code is 4 digits..
2788 would indicate the 27th week, year 1988. The yr/wk order is sometimes
I can't suggest how much it might be worth to you. Many folks cuss the China
machines to death, but having no machine doesn't get much done
(unless you love to file, and drill with a hand drill motor, and file).
If you are buying this machine to impress people, save your money. If
you are new to machining and you want to see what you can do even with
a machine as modest as a 3in1, go for it. I purchased a Grizzly 4015
3in1, very similar to the Smithy, and used it for almost two years. I
had never owned or used a machine tool like it before. You can
certainly make things with it if you are determined. At least you might
decide you would like something better, if not, you aren't out much and
can probably sell it for what you are paying for it.
Former 3in1 owner, now using a mill/drill and 12 x 36 lathe (big step
As was said by Wild Bill, many folks cuss the China machines to death.
I'd like to make the phrase more specific: Chinese 3-in-1 machines. I
started out with a Smithy (1220LTD) which I bought new and have used it
for four years and several small projects.
I'll start with the good, the lathe portion can spin chunks of metal at
various speeds. Now take everything else that a lathe or mill can do
and stick it under "bad". I've seen it said so many times here that I
really hate to repeat it, but get something good from the start. The
three in one design takes the faults of each machine and adds them all
together while discarding anything good.
That said, the machine may very well be worth your $500 if it's the
only machine tool you're able to own. Results that are "good enough"
are better than nothing at all.
I have a Smithy AT-300 that I've had for over ten years and am still
happily using it.
I've posted these comments before (and probably will again) but they may
be relevent to your situation.
" As a teenager, I had an elderly South Bend which I had to sell when my
folks (with me in tow) moved to an apartment. As a math-physics senior
and physics grad student in university I had access to the Physics Dept
work shop where they had three SB lathes for student use. I don't
recall more than one or two projects I could complete without an awfull
lot of handwork due to the lack of a mill. Once you get into machining,
you will be surprised at how soon you lust after a mill.
Over 10 years ago I bought a Smithy 3-in-1 which I still have and
constantly use. Despite the screams of protest from the "buy old
'muricun iron" crowd, I have enjoyed my Smithy, still do and expect to
continue doing so. It might be nice to have bigger lathe (like my
friends Colchester) and a Bridgeport but I have neither the space nor
the money for them. Meanwhile my projects keep getting done on the ol'
Smithy. If you want to see a couple, check out
for one that I thought might force me to "the machine shop" but didn't, see
Whatever, enjoy! " Also: " About ten years ago I set out to buy a
lathe. At the time I was living in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. I
watched the local papers, checked the local dealers, etc. Nothing worth
We had started on building our retirement home in the Okanagan valley
and were travelling back and forth, frequently via Seattle. So I
included Seattle and Portland (not *that* much further). Same result.
I could afford to spend maybe as much as a month on this because I had a
repair job that would become a problem in about that time. I could
either spend a couple grand on a machine and tooling or replace the
problem item for about the same amount of money. You can guess where my
While in the Okanagan, my neighbour showed me an add for Smithy in
Kitplane magazine. At that time, Smithy still had a facility in the
Dalles, OR so we decided to go take a look. I liked what I saw. This
was going to get me a mill and a lathe for what I was prepared to pay
for a lathe. I was somewhat concerned about the size of, particularly,
My wife made an interesting and fateful comment, "Buy the Smithy. If it
proves to be too small, too inaccurate, too whatever, take the job to a
machine shop. If that happens more than a couple of times, sell the
Smithy and get something else."
Ten years have past. I still haven't been to the "machine shop" except
to scrounge or buy off cuts. I've always been able to get my stuff done
with a little ingenuity. YMMV. "
Thanks for all the information and advice! So far this machine is the only
one I've located in Suwanee County, FL, but I'm going to look some more for
now before I settle on what I can get instead of what I'd like. Of course,
if I do buy it, there'll be a couple of South Bends or Hardinges available
immediately afterwards for the same money (yeah, right!) Thanks again.
So, if you could choose between buying a Smithy 3-in-1 (are they the best of
the breed?) vs. buying a separate Harbor Freight mill (around $799 on sale
for one of the models) and 9" lathe (the one that runs around $599 on sale),
which would most of you choose? I have not yet gotten into machining, but
hope to one of these days ...
I've never had a 3 in 1 machine, but I think it would be frustrating to have
to break down a setup on the "mill" to do something on the "lathe". Even
aside from the quality and rigidity issues, this would make me nuts.
Assuming one had the room, separates make much more sense.
I have a Smithy 3-in-1 and I'm just not happy with the milling section
-- it's more of a glorified drill press. The mill head doesn't go all
the way down to the table so if I want to mill small things I need to
block up the vice. The feed on the mill head is calibrated in 0.42" per
rotation increments, so I have to do stupid math to figure out
dimensions. The thing is flexible, so I have to make very small cuts to
get smooth surfaces.
Etc., etc., etc.
The lathe section is nice, though.
I don't think there is a best-of in 3in1 machines, although there are some
The work envelope on the ones with the largest swing is huge. That leads to
having the workpiece elevated away from the bed, which tends to amplify any
looseness of the carriage and cross slide/mill table. The tailstocks appear
to be too tall.
The toolholder turret is sitting on a riser block, and all these elements
are going to be inviting chatter due to various moving parts having extra
movement and less rigidity.
After I set up a variable speed DC motor on the 12x20 Smithy 3in1 (bought
used), I hardly ever use the 9x20 lathe that I bought new.
The original Smithy belt system was too time consuming, in that it required
adjustment when changing belt locations.
The downfeed is kinda crappy, but since I added a dial indicator to it, it's
fairly easy to use.
The height from the table to an endmill held in an endmill holder is about
7", or about 9" if the endmill is held in a collet. These distances are when
the head is adjusted at/near the bottom of the column (with the quill up).
The mill column is more rigid since I took it off and scraped the mating
surface where the flange bolts to the headstock. When the mill head is
adjusted for height, I jam the adjuster ring up against the casting, like a
lock nut, after tightening the lock bolt.
A riser can be fabricated from steel to overcome the large work envelope, or
choose some good quality accessories, which will raise small workpieces, and
also enhance capabilities.
Instead of using the fabricated riser, I chose to buy some rigid accessories
that raise the workpieces up to a reasonable height.
4" Wilton swivel base milling vise
6" Phase II rotary table and 4-jaw chuck
6"x12" Palmgren slide/tilt table, usually used with a 2-1/2" Palmgren vise
5C collet spin indexer
2"x3"x4" aluminum blocks cut from bar stock
There are numerous other recommendations in the RCM archives and in the 3in1
Chaski board, as well as other benchtop machine groups.
is the only
machine that addresses all the issues you mention. The mill head is more
rigid than my Enco bench mill by far and the lathe portion is as good as my
12 X 36. I am actually getting rid of my seperates in favor of the 3 in1 ,
so that I can afford CNC and DRO.
> I don't think there is a best-of in 3in1 machines, although there are some
> The work envelope on the ones with the largest swing is huge. That leads to
> having the workpiece elevated away from the bed, which tends to amplify any
> looseness of the carriage and cross slide/mill table. The tailstocks appear
> to be too tall.
> The toolholder turret is sitting on a riser block, and all these elements
> are going to be inviting chatter due to various moving parts having extra
> movement and less rigidity.
> After I set up a variable speed DC motor on the 12x20 Smithy 3in1 (bought
> used), I hardly ever use the 9x20 lathe that I bought new.
> The original Smithy belt system was too time consuming, in that it required
> adjustment when changing belt locations.
> The downfeed is kinda crappy, but since I added a dial indicator to it, it's
> fairly easy to use.
> The height from the table to an endmill held in an endmill holder is about
> 7", or about 9" if the endmill is held in a collet. These distances are when
> the head is adjusted at/near the bottom of the column (with the quill up). >
> The mill column is more rigid since I took it off and scraped the mating
> surface where the flange bolts to the headstock. When the mill head is
> adjusted for height, I jam the adjuster ring up against the casting, like a
> lock nut, after tightening the lock bolt.
> A riser can be fabricated from steel to overcome the large work envelope, or
> choose some good quality accessories, which will raise small workpieces, and
> also enhance capabilities.
> Instead of using the fabricated riser, I chose to buy some rigid accessories
> that raise the workpieces up to a reasonable height.
> 4" Wilton swivel base milling vise
> 6" Phase II rotary table and 4-jaw chuck
> 6"x12" Palmgren slide/tilt table, usually used with a 2-1/2" Palmgren vise > on top
> 5C collet spin indexer
> 2"x3"x4" aluminum blocks cut from bar stock
> There are numerous other recommendations in the RCM archives and in the 3in1
> Chaski board, as well as other benchtop machine groups.
> > So, if you could choose between buying a Smithy 3-in-1 (are they the best
> > the breed?) vs. buying a separate Harbor Freight mill (around $799 on sale
> > for one of the models) and 9" lathe (the one that runs around $599 on > sale),
> > which would most of you choose? I have not yet gotten into machining, but
> > hope to one of these days ...
> > Andy
> > >
> > > I have a Smithy AT-300 that I've had for over ten years and am still
> > > happily using it.
> > >
> > > I've posted these comments before (and probably will again) but they may
> > > be relevent to your situation.
> > >
> > >
> > > Ten years have past. I still haven't been to the "machine shop" except
> > > to scrounge or buy off cuts. I've always been able to get my stuff done
> > > with a little ingenuity. YMMV. "
Although I haven't read all the comments in this string, looks like
some good input. Other than a drill press & a lot of hand tools, never
owned any major machine tools. Several friends have lathes and/or
mills, and I saw what they could do w/them. Then a friend gave me an
old Atlas lathe w/lot of tooling he had for 20 years (and never got up
& running), when he moved. After countless hours cleaning & figuring
out how the thing worked, got it going. As I played w/it, noticed
problems like 1/4 inch slop in the crossfeed, excessive spindle play,
etc. Ended up keeping some of the ascessories but sold the lathe &
remaining tooling...enough to afford me a Logan 9-B in much nicer
condition AND a 8-piece #00 KDK toolpost set-up!
Anyway, regarding the Smithy 3 in 1, about a year ago, an old time
retired machinist I know told me his neighbor had passed away. Among
his effects was a clean Smithy his wife wanted to get rid of, along
w/all the other tools, etc. in their garage. Having just got the Logan
I saw no need for the Smithy, but a month back my friend said the
Smithy was still available, and since there seemed to be a lot of
tooling w/it, thought I would leave it set up in the mill configuration
and dump the Palmgren I was saving for the Logan. Ended up getting the
package for $750. w/some new Starret dial indicators, magnetic holder,
Palmgren rotary table, and lots of other, unrelated stuff. Will likely
sell some of the latter and offset the cost of the Smithy. Some friends
bought the remaining tools, and the widow was quite pleased to see the
stuff gone and cash in her hands! Cleaned up the machine, and soon as
time permits, will fire it up and try some runs at milling aluminumn
bar stock, since I have hardly any experience with either machine other
than drilling holes...
I was given one of those blue units by a guy who was unhappy with it. The
milling function was pretty much worthless- The mill head was so close to
the chuck that even if you took the chuck off, the mill travel was only a
few inches. Plus, the head flexed back and forth and up and down no matter
how hard you tried to tighten the clamp. It also had a mill engagement on
the lathe spindle that would pop out under load and when engaged, it
disconnected the table feed. I finally just pulled the entire mill head off
and now I have a fairly functional little lathe.