Does anyone have a source in the US for picking up a small/micro (I have limited space) Unimat (or comparable) Lathe, (SL or DB200, etc...,) other than bidding on ebay? I'm looking for one to do produce some small aluminum adapters, etc..., for work in astronomy. I see the Unimat Classic Lathe for sale. But it looks like a childs toy!
You can probably get a 7x Chinese of one of the various brands for about the same or less, you'll have threading facilities built-in and a much more rigid setup than one of the old Unimats. Also has a 7" swing and large(for a portable unit) head and tailstock tapers. It's about at the edge of what you can pick up and put on the shelf. If you have a Harbor Freight store, trot over and check one out. Theirs is a 7x10, but you can get bed lengths of up to 14" from other importers.
I agree with the other posters.. don't waste your time on a Unimat. At this point they are more collectors items (read collector pricing) than anything else. I had an SL that I bought 30+ years ago I sold it on Ebay and bought a Taig lathe
The Taig was much better built and far more rigid that the Unimat. The acccessories ( you can't do anything without accessories such as chucks, tool holders etc) are well built and reasonably priced. I would also look at Sherline products
Their equipment is a litlle pricier than Taig's but it is well built and well supported. They have an extremely large line of accessories. Check the included websites and if you want to know a lot more about Taig products, check with Nick at
It looks like Taig is the micro Lathe of choice. I guess I'm going to skip looking for the extinct Unimat and get a Taig. Another question. If you would like to save me some time web browsing, does anyone know who has the best prices on the Taig's??
You're right! Back in the 1950's when Unimat first came on the market I wanted one so bad I could taste it. . . . but it was too expensive. I settled for buying an old 10" Atlas lathe for a fifth of the cost and was never sorry. Forty years later I heard from others that had bought the Unimat that it isn't ver satisfactory for serious metal working. Bugs
For what the Unimat was designed for, it's a fine little machine. There are quite a few in model use, and they perform as well as anything would. They weren't intended to compete with bigger machines, just as the bigger ones won't be as convenient for the tiny stuff that the Unimat handles easily. It's more a matter of intended use than it is of universal adaptability.
I got one about 1973 or so (SL-1000) and still have it. In addition, I now have (in order or acquisition):
1) Atlas/Craftsman 6x18"
3) Emco-Maier Compact-5/CNC (5" swing)
4) 12x24" Clausing (with matching serial number bed turret)
Of those, the one which is no longer used at all is the Atlas/Craftsman. Each of the others does something better than the others.
My Unimat SL-1000 gets used most often with the alternate spindle in place -- the WW (watchmaker's collet) spindle.
The Taig is currently set up with another watchmaker's spindle, and a form tool to crown concertina endbox screws. (It has a nice travel stop for the bed which makes it the best choice for this task.) Those screws have 3/16" diameter heads, and about 0.100" diameter shanks.
The Emco-Maier gets used for repeat operations where its CNC programming is a benefit, and for chasing metric threads, as it converts from inch to metric and back at the flip of a switch.
The Clausing gets used for larger work, tougher materials, and for repeat operations where the bed turret is a serious benefit.
The Unimat also gets used for other tasks with various accessories, including as a tiny table saw, for making support blocks and similar things for concertina repairs. The only accessory for it which I don't have is the flexible shaft setup.
I could not even *consider* buying a Unimat SL-1000 now. It is
*way* too expensive. I would rather spend that money on a real watchmaker's lathe.
But -- I've done a lot of things on that machine before I got my other machines, including cutting metric threads to mount lenses on custom setups. The thread cutting system for the Unimat SL-1000 (and DB-200) is a real kluge, but it did get that job done, and that machine was all that I could run in my apartment. (I had it bolted to a 5/16" thick aluminum plate, which was then mounted on shock absorbing mounts onto my workbench, to keep the vibrations from upsetting the downstairs neighbor. :-)
I no longer use the milling features of the Unimat, as I have several alternatives for that in various sizes, but the lathe, for very small work, is still excellent.