Which Lathe for Beginner?



I suspect somebody will be buying a nice machine soon.
Also wondering just why it seems like many of the 9" machines sb sold had such long beds. I think mine was nearly five feet all told.
Jim
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for making pool cues (-: fly fishing rods?
gun barrels? depdns on the target market they were aiming at. anyone know?
swarf, steam and wind
-- David Forsyth -:- the email address is real /"\ http://terrapin.ru.ac.za/~iwdf/welcome.html \ / ASCII Ribbon campaign against HTML E-Mail > - - - - - - -> X If you receive email saying "Send this to everyone you know," / \ PLEASE pretend you don't know me.
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[]
don't sweat it, metric threads can be had for the price of a file download (-: Marvin Klotz's bit of software for calculating change gears will take your existing set (and a gearbox if you have one) and calculate the closest equivalents. on my changegearonly Myford I get to within 0.00soemthing % of correct pitch for metric, without any special gears. this has worked for everyting I've needed. you might need 100% accurate on long engagement studs, but then I'd say buy the studs anyway as they will be important (like cylinder head stuff)
if you do need to make it easier, the 21 / 63 / 127 tooth gears make it so. 21 or 63 are 'nearly' accurate, 127 is spot on but may not fit on smaller lathes like my Myford.

my quick list of the basic things you need to know to start successfully:
feed speeds. lots of references to this, look it up. ignore carbide speeds, you want HSS (and slower). using the correct feed speeds makes the surface finish happen, prevents all sorts of evils like galling, and prevents plastics from melting etc. running slower also means you have time to prevent yourself making a stuff up (-:
grinding toolbits. you need: HSS blanks, bench grinder, task light. maybe a few cardboard angle templates. have at it till it works. lots of references on the web for the angles, but it is mostly not critical to us home shop blokes because we tend to run slower than production runs (see feed speeds above). (many will recommend carbide inserts. yes they're nice, but they cannot handle interrupted cuts, some types battle to take small cuts, and you'll miss out on the important skill of grinding bits by hand. there are a lot of jobs that cannot be done without a custom ground bit and if you don't have the skill already, when you need the special one is NOT the time to learn!)
patience. whatever it is you're doing, it will take longer than you think. it's a hobby. relax (-:
thread cutting. this is easy, but you gotta get the angles and techniques in your head. and slow the dang lathe down, at least at first. my first thread was cut at 35 RPM. now I cut at 200 or so. practise, and knowing where you're going, and thinking it through, maybe a trial run to see if you really can disengage the feed 'there' in time (-:
measurement. you have some nice metrology tools, but you'll need to figure out when using a micrometer is necessary and when a plain caliper will do it close enough for the job at hand. I tend to take more time to get it spot on for even simple things, others don't. Your choise as to how you spend your time. but I've made suspension bushes and you'll want those ;correct; else they'll rattle, so take the time (-:
lights. lights? when working with machine tools you need a lot of light, with few shadows. fluorescents all over the place, and DC task lights work nicely. the task lights must not be a lot brighter than the general light else you get too much contrast. running low voltage DC lights eliminates a lot of 60Hz flicker and make sthat spinning chuck a bit safer to be around. i use a 50w 12V dichroic lamp on a PC PSU for spotlighting. the average PC PSU can run 2 50W lamps, or 4 25W.

very good. I printed it and sat reading it evenings, in fact read it a few times BEFORE I got the lathe. I also have a book by Len Mason that is very good. This contains basics as well as some advanced stuff on threading, dividing etc, see my web page for soem of the results of that.
Also look at Lautards 'Beside Reader' series, said to be good.
swarf, steam and wind
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And lo, it came about, that on Thu, 20 Nov 2003 07:29:41 -0500 in

    Thanks, I had no idea that this rule of thumb even existed.

--
pyotr filipivich
The cliche is that history rarely repeats herself. Usually she just
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What ever lathe you get make sure it can swing at least 2" more over the cross slide than you think you will ever need. I am sitting here now facing a $200 machining charge on a job I could do in an hour if my 10K had another 1/4" of swing. :-(
F. Hayek wrote:

--
Glenn Ashmore

I'm building a 45' cutter in strip/composite. Watch my progress (or lack
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Glenn
Email me the shipping charge for the cable. And your snail mail address.
Or, would you rather get something machined for free???????? I got a bigger lathe.
Karl
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Karl Townsend wrote:

Oh, yeah! I was going to give you a few days to get your back out of traction from digging that ditch across the parking lot and then forgot about it. :-)
--
Glenn Ashmore

I'm building a 45' cutter in strip/composite. Watch my progress (or lack
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I considered an inexpensive import but bought an older used domestic machine (Delta-Rockwell 11") instead because 1) it kinda fell into my lap and 2) it's the same lathe I envied in my High School shop ;-) I'm sure glad I did.
First off its a little bigger (11X24) but most importantly it has more useful features. A biggy in my opinion is the lack of power cross-feed on the cheaper import lathes - ugh. My 11" will handle brake rotors and drums for all of the vehicles I own and the spindle hole is 1-3/8" and I really wish it were larger. Came with a 6" chuck which immediately proved a little small for me - got a good used Cushman 9" L-00 for $50. The Rockwell was a pretty good lathe in it's day and 40 years later it's still rugged as can be, spindle runout barely wobbles the needle on an .001 indicator, has a variable speed belt drive with backgear, and 48 different feed speeds/thread pitches without any gear changes. The ways may not be PERFECT but they are more than satsifactory for my needs - this was a toolroom quality lathe in it's time. Im still trying to find metric change gears for it. Spindle is big enough to accept 5C collets.
I did buy an Enco import bench mill/drill and rather regret that for much the same reasons: No power downfeed, no knee, standard Bridgeport-style powerfeeds won't fit the table, and last but most certainly not least - HORRIBLE MANUAL. My decision to buy this machine was based almost solely on a promotional offer of free shipping/discounted price. I now wish I'd shopped around for a decent used Bridgeport within hauling distance and may well do that yet.
I just bought a used Kysor-Johnson Model J horizontal bandsaw after much shopping around. I considered the Jets, HF, Grizzly, Enco, Wilton, etc. but with patience found this saw on Ebay 2 hours from my home for $300. Put a fresh Starret blade on it and powered it up last night and I am wow-ed! No way any of the $700+ imports could hold a candle to this (30+ yr old?) saw. It will still be sawing when they are rusting piles of junk somewhere.
Which brings me to my final thought - 3 phase machines. If you start shopping for used machines you'll have more selection and better value for your dollar if you'll consider 3 phase machines. My used machines are all 3 phase. The quote from your power company for 3 phase service will knock your socks off but it's not really an issue. My shop has 60A/240V single phase service. I bought an inexpensive ($65) static phase converter, a real nice used 3HP 3 phase motor ($10) and a couple of inexpensive ($10) 30Mfd run capacitors and coppled up a nice rotary phase converter from the bits. A commercial rotary converter would have cost about $500-700. Building the converter was quite interesting and really easy. There's all kinds of useful ariticles on the Internet describing how-to in great detail and I learned an awfull lot about motors and electricity in the process. My converter will run any ONE of my three phase machines but ONLY ONE AT A TIME. I don't have any employees so that's a non-issue. Do not expect to be able to run any significant equipment with a static converter alone. The equipment performance will be significantly degraded.
Which brings me to my (really) last thought which is that the cost of the machine (lathe in your case) is only the first drop in a rather large bucket. The tooling for the lathe (Chucks, collets, toolholders, bits, inserts, etc) can quickly dwarf the buy-in cost of the machine. This makes used machines with additional tooling even more attractive. Go to www.msc-direct.com and browse their machine tool accessories to see what I mean ;-) They are probably top dollar but it's representative.
I'm buying used, having a ton of fun, and spending a ton of money.... hope my wife doesn't find out!
HTH,
Dan Now an Ebay junkie

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says...

You should probably take some local voc-tech classes and get a feel for what the machines are like, and talk in person with those who have purchased machinery.
Another important question that has yet to be raised is, how much do you want to spend?
Keep in mind that you will probably purchase tooling for whatever you do buy, that will cost approximately the same amount as the machine itself costs. But that won't go below some irreducible minimum for things like measuring tools.
Jim
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Hayek

someone

Check out Steve's site for some used equipment. Don't think he deals with manual stuff, but I noticed he had a couple of CNC Bridgeports for $3000 each.
--
Anthony

You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
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Some of the Chinese machines are quite good deals, especially those in the 14x40 and larger range. They're made for the job shop market rather than for the home hobbyist. The smaller ones are aimed at the casual hobbyist, and won't be as suitable for your use (lots of limitations which will lead to large amounts of frustration).
For gunsmithing purposes, you'll want something with a large spindle thru hole (so you can pass a barrel through it to do crowning or chambering work). So look for a machine which can accept 5C collets in the spindle, or can use an adaptor to do so.
Most things, other than profiling a rifle barrel, won't require a lot of center to center distance. A 24 inch CC machine would do, though in truth a 36 inch or longer center to center distance would be preferred.
You won't need a lot of power. Something in the 1 to 2 hp range will be entirely adequate. A light bench lathe may suffice, though a heavier and more rigid floor standing machine would be preferred. The larger and heavier the machine, the more rigid it will be, which means you can take larger cuts, and more precise cuts with less springing. It also means you'll suffer less chatter. But a large heavy lathe will be more difficult to get into a basement (maybe keep it in the garage instead).
Much the same advice applies to milling machines. The larger and heavier they are, the better. But again it will be more difficult to get them into a basement. (See my post in the Bridgeport thread about cutting an outside drive in entrance to a basement to get around this problem.)
Used US machines are another option. There is a glut of them on the market at the moment. Buying used is always something of a gamble, buying an orphan or long obsolete machine is a bigger gamble, and most US machines will fall in that category. But you may stumble onto a deal that's sweet enough to be worth taking the chance.
Gary
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