Which would you choose?

The continuing saga of a miser looking for a "wonderlathe":
1) http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&pC104&cat=1,330,50260&ap=1
I have a motor and lots of 1/4" tools of uncertain provenance. Would need a chuck for the headstock and probably compound slide from this selection:
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&pP249&cat=1,330,50260&ap=1
I have heard good things about this. It would take care of small parts (steel, 3/4" diameter). I am not sure how specialized and therefore obtainable the parts are.
2) http://busybeetools.ca/cgi-bin/picture10?NTITEM ±979C
The apparent cost is over double of the Taig, but it comes with a motor, a compound, 3-jaw chuck etc. which closes the dollar gap considerably. Lower speeds, therefore almost three times the diameter can be handled, screw cutting, auto feed etc.
The nearest mini is $200 more. Why, oh why, the short distance between centres?
All in all, it seems that No.2 will do everything the No.1 will and much more for a slightly greater sum. Does this make sense?
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Michael Koblic,
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Michael Koblic explained :

#3? http://lathemaster.com/LATHEMASTER8x14Lathe.htm
Wayne D.
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Wayne wrote:

At $1390 before it even crossess the border it is almost 2.5 times the price of No.2. Sadly, not an option...
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    [ ... ]

    Much nicer -- for the metalworking. Not any better for the woodworking. Really you need two different tools I think.
    And the motor horsepower is much more reasonable, too.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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I recently bought a new 7x12 Clarke (Sieg) minilathe, because it was available locally (no shipping) and it was a reasonable price: $380US plus local sales tax 6%.
The differences you may find by looking at various vendors, is that certain features vary, and the number of included accessories vary. Other than these differences, almost all 7x10 to 7x14 models will essentially be the same except for the length of the bed/between centers dimension (and paint colors).
The Busy Bee B1979C shows a 2 year warranty. Vendor support may be a determining factor due to the location of the buyer.
Some models may have all plastic gears. On one model I saw, the internal headstock gear was steel/iron but the external change gears were plastic. Some accessory packages include the steady and traveling rests and a faceplate, or an additional chuck, so prices will vary.
The Taig accessories are fairly expensive, and as accessories go, the user will generally want or need another, and another.
Accessories for the minilathes are somewhat more commonly available, and usually more generic.
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WB
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Wild_Bill wrote:

Thanks. That is what I kind of figured. If I was in the market for a mini lathe and money was no object there are better ones (IMHO) available at just under double the price of the Craftex in Canada. I did consider importing one briefly, but the shipping, taxes, "brokerage fees" and sucky Cdn$ as well as lack of effective after-sales care and warranty make it unattractive.
I was only looking at the Taig because of the very low base price of $275. I suspect, however, that one should splash out on a DC motor to get a better speed control. That and all the facts you mention about the accessories kind of close the gap on the Craftex.
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    Get the metalworking version, and the accessories to add woodworking capabilities. The price difference between the two compared to the cost of the cross-slide alone says this -- *if* you want the Taig.

    Yes -- but it would not single-point threads (that is, cut with a properly shaped tool bit to make threads). Otherwise, it is a nice *small* lathe.

    Most of the parts are rather specialized. The chucks are interchangeable with Sherlines, FWIW. The 4-jaw chuck which is available for the metalworking version is very good for the price.
    I don't see the three-jaw chuck with the soft jaws which used to be part of the setup.

    Much more swing over the bed. 7" for this, vs 4-1/2" for the Taig. The riser blocks can increase the swing of the Taig, but at the cost of rigidity.
    It can single-point threads, but the slowest spindle speed is a bit fast for threading up to a shoulder.
    If it has a threading dial (not clear there) it will only work with one of the two series of threads -- either only for the metric, or only for the inch threads.
    There is no *list* of what threads it cuts, so we don't know whether any particularly useful ones are left out.
    I would like to see a much more detailed list of what it has and what it will do.

    About the same as the Taig, FWIW.

    How will it do for the woodwork? I think that the top speeds are a bit slow for small diameter woodwork. The Taig can reach frightening speeds which would be very good for woodwork.
    It almost seems that you should consider both -- one for you with metal, and one for your wife for wood. (And get her dust masks, too, since hardwood dusts are generally bad things to breathe.
    Actually -- both are a bit too small in my opinion for anything that *I* would be doing these days. If you consider them as simply first (learning) steps, that could be different.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

Due to some unfortunate circumstances the wood-working part has been post-poned indefinitely. I guess that is the question: Do I want the Taig? It seemed like the only way to start turning something for under $400.

I had a look at the Taig web site and their combo's are different from the Lee Valley. E.g. two out of three did not include the tailstock!

See, this is the sort of thing I would not know to look for...

Yes. Initially I rejected the Craftex out of hand because of it but as the prices came closer I re-considered.
It is just another exercise in looking at various options.
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    Oh!
    The question is -- do you want to be able to cut threads? If not, then it could certainly do what you need for small things. (How big a circle do you need to handle to make your solar powered hourglasses. :-)
    Another thing about the Taig is that the longitudinal finish will be purely dependent on the smoothness of your turning the crank on the carriage. There is no power feed -- in either direction.

    O.K. It all depends on how much you plan to turn things which are about four times longer than their diameter. For that (or longer) you will need the tailstock.
    You'll also find it very useful for drilling the initial central hole before boring it to larger diameters. IIRC, the tailstock chuck will hold 1/2" drill bits -- but the motor may have a bit of struggle doing it all in a single pass in steel.

    This is the sort of reason why people suggest that you sign up for a metalworking class at a nearby school (if one is available) so you will learn what to expect from the tools. This will also give you access to larger tools for some of your own projects.

    Of course, my own preference is for larger old machines, but then I know how to check them out and how to repair them if needed.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

I am pretty much looking at it as two distinctly separate jobs:
1) The dial faces. Those will need something big if I want to expand in the future. The biggest one now is 4.5" so a mini should be able to face it and edge it. OTOH I have a nice 9" piece sitting in a drawer waiting for attention. That one clearly is beyond the mini. OTOH (2) the faces do not need a tailstock - headstock turning facility should be sufficient, which brings us back to rotary tables etc.
2) The support structure and the gnomons. These are much smaller and a mini or a Taig should be adequate. The maximum length is not an issue until the dial diameter gets past 12" - pretty unlikely.
At this point I see no need to cut threads. However, as these things often work out, I will want to cut one the moment I buy the Taig :-)

For the gnomons pretty essential

I thought the Taig only did 1/4".

It is a good suggestion in principle. There may be one in the New Year. Now, to spend $465 on the course or a Mini-lathe :-)?
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I believe you're ready for this suggestion now:
A well-worn old industrial lathe just might do everything you need, if you can find a working one cheap enough. For example: http://nh.craigslist.org/tls/941489353.html
They aren't worth much if the bed is badly worn or a valuable feature like threading doesn't work, but you don't seem to need high precision or custom threads.
A leather belt drive, threaded spindle and single phase motor decrease it's usefulness for a business but not so much for a home shop.
A problem is finding a cheap one that isn't hopelessly gonzo unless you buy three $500 factory repair parts. That can be an issue with South Bend, for instance. Mine has several non-standard and home made replacement parts, some hacked out by the trade school students who (ab)used it before me.
I think you've rehearsed your spiel on us enough to recite it in machinists' terms to the seller, who hopefully understands the lathe's condition and would know if it would serve your needs.
Good Luck Jim Wilkins
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

I have been ready for some time :-) I monitor Craig's List daily within a reasonable radius - transport of such equipment could also become an issue as well as all those others you mention. I also monitor the local auction weekly. So far things have not panned out. Small community and all that. I have printed out a copy of an excellent treatise on assessing a second-hand lathe which I propose to memorize next time I go to inspect one. Meanwhile, however, I am trying to keep my eyes and mind open for all sorts of options.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to go to Vancouver recently. If and when I finally get to go, I shall do some homework on their Craig's list. I will also be able to drop into some important shops. If nothing else I should be able to handle things there.
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A flat-bed auto wrecker works pretty well. The dealer I bought my lathe from is an industrial rigger and that's what he delivered it on, tied down securely. He slid it down the bed into my garage, just inside the door, and it has stayed there. Doesn't matter, the old car behind it on jackstands isn't going anywhere.

If you buy old machines it's very helpful to know all the second-hand dealers in your area. I've figured out mileage-efficient loops to visit them a few times a year, or whenever I have business in that area. I keep some cardboard and rubber-backed rugs in the CRV to protect its interior from greasy old machine parts, and installed the optional rear child seat tiedowns in the roof. That particular vehicle has a somewhat fragile plastic folding table over the spare tire well (which is a storage tub for wet stuff, ie the kitchen sink) so I covered the hatch area floor with plywood.
Try to find an old Starrett or Brown & Sharpe catalog so you'll know what all those mysterious old gadgets are and how they can solve your problems. With CAD/CAM and DROs the old layout and measuring tools are obsolete, except for home shops.
Jim Wilkins
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    In which case you probably will eventually want two different machines -- one set up for each job.

    Even the Taig should be able to do that with the riser blocks.

    That -- or the Taig with perhaps even *two* riser blocks? Not very rigid, but probably sufficient for edging the face. I would have to check whether two blocks stacked up would give you sufficient center height to turn a 9" face.

    O.K. I presume that you would like to make the gnomons tapered? For that, you do what work is needed on a cylindrical basis (probably between centers) and then shift to between centers with an offset on the tailstock so you can produce a nice smooth taper.

    Hmm ... part of that cylindrical work on the gnomon might be to turn a shoulder, and then thread up to the shoulder so the gnomon could screw directly into whatever it mounts to -- as long as the gnomon should be perpendicular to the mounting point. That saves you from having to stock screws and work at hiding them in the assembled sundial.

    Between centers for sure then.

    I just went down and verified. *My* (rather old) Taig has a Jacobs 1/2" capacity chuck which screws onto an external thread on the tailstock ram. IIRC, it also screws onto an arbor to allow you to use it powered in the headstock as well.

    That can be a problem, too. The Mini-lathe or the Taig are low enough power so you can afford to make mistakes without producing serious catastrophes. A 12" or 13" lathe is a different matter, let alone larger ones. For *those* the class first would be a *very* good idea. And you *will* learn things from the class even with the smaller machines. (Granted, I never took such a class -- but I learned (as an Electronics Technician) from some good machinists at work, and as a result was one of the few technicians allowed to use the machine tools in the building.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

I have two pillow blocks and a large pulley and 1" shaft ready for one of them :-)

<snip>
You see no other issues except rigidity? According to Lee Valley a pair of risers (head and tail) will increase the swing by 2", so I make it total 81/2" with two pairs (but only headstock needed for my prurpose). How about speed? The taig in the basic configuration only goes down to 525 rpm with an AC motor (1725 rpm). I have thought that a DC motor would be the thing but that raises the price even further and the mini becomes even more attractive.

Tapered or different patterns.

Absolutely. I have done one like that so far using a die to cut the thread. Is that not quicker to do than on a lathe?

One of the reasons I am hesitant about the Taig. The descriptions from various sources are rather confusing. Lee Valley sell 1/4" chuck to go on the 3/8"-24 tailstock.

No argument! Such course would be an excellent idea, which is why I have my name on the list. But it becomes a matter of allocation of resources. Then there is a matter of my predisposition to learn things by myself. Many skills which were supposedly taught to me over the years were learned by the time honoured method of "see one, do one, teach one". I still have nightmares about some of the stuff one did in one's youth through arogance, ignorance, stupidity and total lack of guidance and supervision. But that is no excuse now, one should have gained the wisdom of age. Fat chance...
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    :-)
    [ ... ]

    Hmm ... thinking about it -- you would need to make an L-shaped mount for the toolpost to get it far enough out to pass in front of the workpiece at center height. But *that* is something which you should be able to make using your mini-mill.

    Speed would depend on the workpiece material used. Steel would need rather slow speeds at 8 1/2" diameter. Let's see -- that works out to 1168 SFM at the maximum of 8 1/2". O.K. For aluminum, you can handle it even with HSS, and for brass you would probably want a very sharp carbide, or PCD (Poly Crystalline Diamond), which is not as expensive as you might initially expect. :-)

    Hmm ... I thought that it ran slower than that with the multi-step pulley which came with mine. I do know that the top speed is quite scary. :-)
    But a different AC motor -- at half the speed -- should do fine.

    O.K. The patterns will probably be freehand with a half-round file.

    You produced a shoulder as well as a thread with hand tools?
    The problem with a die is that it is easy to start one out of line and then very difficult to get the thread back in line.
    And -- if the diameter is an unusual one, dies to cut that thread can be quite expensive.
    Yes -- a die can be quicker -- if you can grip the workpiece firmly enough. But lathe cut threads can be a nicer appearance than most die cut threads.
    [ ... ]

    The 3/8-24 tailstock thread is the same -- but various size chucks are available with that thread -- and the one which came with mine was 1/2".

    :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

Yay!
I am quoting their web site.

And this is where the total cost begins to equal or exceed the mini :-)

I cheated. The shoulder was there already.

Tell me about it! I routinely chuck my gnomons (even those without a shoulder) in my drill press, hold the die in the drill press vise and thread that way. So far so good...

But if you have a lathe can you not turn the diameter to something usual? I did this in the drill press with a file. Fortunately it only needed a small amount to take off.

Gripping strongly has not been a problem. Chewing up the piece by doing so was.
Right now it is 3.5 degrees C in my "workshop" and I do not really want to be there :-). I was supposed to get my woodworking stuff in order (I seem to be doing more of that than I thought I would have to) which included making a router table and extending the work bench. I made the router table before the weather hit. I got as far as the planning stage with the bench. Still, an opportunity to do some homework. I have also developed a line of clamp knobs from bottle tops, 1/4"-20 bolts and epoxy. They are ugly but cheap and can be made in the warmth of the heated house.
I wonder what there is in the gagage that is going to freeze...
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It's easier if you leave extra stock on the far end to clamp onto, and a short turned-down stub to guide the die straight. If the die cuts a shallow thread on the stub it will self-align and bite well into the full-diameter section.
If the die needs more torque than the work will stand I thread it most of the way on the lathe first. Then the die turns easily and stays sharp longer. For me at least dies seem to cut smoother when they only have a little metal to shave off. You can run the die on backwards to extend the thread start and smooth it with the less-used edges.

Since you have a mill now, you can cut one surface down to a polygon centered on another cylindrical part quite easily. To cut smaller, extend the shaft out the end of the vise and turn it slightly after each cut. For a large disk with a good round center hole you put an axle through the hole and rest the axle on the vise jaw tops or parallels, clamp the disk upright and mill off flats. The axle can be much smaller than the hole. When you have enough small closely spaced flats, round them with a file and belt sander. For your thin brake- rotor-shaped disks the mill should cut lengthwise to reduce vibration. You could make custom taller vise jaw pads and C-clamp them near the top. An undersized R/T will work better if there isn't much metal to remove around the edge of the disk.
This is also an easy way to round the ends of linkage bars etc: http://picasaweb.google.com/KB1DAL/HomeMadeMachines#5265133136395165634

A trick that's claimed to work is to drill a slightly undersized hole between two hardwood clamp blocks and sprinkle in powdered rosin, like baseball players use for grip. Or scrape some off a tree.
I saw that in a gunsmithing book as a method to unscrew tight barrels without scratching them. I don't do gunsmithing but it's one of several well-documented crafts with good tricks that can be used elsewhere. Others are watchmaking, aircraft sheetmetal and model steam engines. I haven't found much written about my real interest, industrial prototyping and R&D.
The most useful watchmaking idea was the button / disk technique for accurate hole layout on their manufacturing jigs. The disks are circular drill bushings whose radii add up to the desired hole spacing. When pushed together they locate the centers very precisely. The OD can be turned to the accuracy of your best micrometer, so potentially you could space holes to within 0.0002".
Rough out the disks, drill and ream the center holes, then turn a snug- fitting shouldered plug to fit the holes and finish the disks, and leave it in place in the chuck until done. I ream them all 0.125" and use a 1/8" spotting drill to drill the work. Then I put dowel pins in the holes and recheck the measurement. If it's good I center the dowel pin under the mill spindle, drill and bore.
You can make a custom index circle for an R/T by turning the disks to the chord distance between the holes and clamping them around a central disk, which you shave down until the circle of disks closes into contact. The index hole disks must all be the same diameter but the actual measured size isn't critical, so you can turn them to match the smallest, or finish them all without moving the bit.
This relies on measurment and hand fitting, not so much on the accuracy of the lathe. If it's badly worn you make a separate simple headstock with ball bearings and drive the back end of it with a dog from the lathe spindle. Offset the new spindle higher and to the rear, driven by a belt, for larger work. Then you only need to raise the toolpost which should be more rigid than a cantilevered adapter. The belt drive is your speed reducer.
Here is a simple way to adjust the spindle bearings parallel to the bed without precision machining. The end flanges could be bent up if you can't weld. Level the shaft by shimming under the lower block: http://picasaweb.google.com/KB1DAL/HomeMadeMachines#5257348334136663058
Four-bolt pillow blocks on spaced parallel plates should also work.
You could have a roughly rounded disk welded onto a mild steel shaft for the faceplate and turn a center point on the protruding end of the shaft. I would make the welded steel disk small and bolt on a full- sized aluminum faceplate.

Mine is twice as warm, 7C. It serves as my winter refrigerator.

Cheap, simple, effective. I've used plastic and copper water pipe caps tapped for the bolt and backed up with a nut. Iron pipe caps make very solid knobs but they cost almost as much as commercial thumb screws, which I can get in a surplus store.
Some hardware stores carry plastic knobs that press onto socket head cap screws.
I make large knobs for the release fitting on hydraulic jacks out of a knurled disk of aluminum scrap, bored to a press fit and with a milled slot for the cross pin. If you don't have a knurl, roll a coarse file or rasp over the disk. They give much better control than the slotted end of the jack handle for carefully lowering the load.

Most household chemicals seem to freeze without bursting the container, becoming a slushy mix of small ice crystals rather than a solid rigid block. They do have to survive warehouse storage.
Jim Wilkins
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

That is more or less what I do. It goes only so far: The 1/8" gnomon likes to twist if too long. Fortunately the material is dead easy to cut.

Maybe I should buy one...:-)
>Then the die turns easily and stays

The other important thing I learned is that 14-20 is *not* 1/4"-20.

I *think* I got that.

Normally you would do this on an R/T?

I use it for soldering. Maybe that is the answer. That would mean having the gnomon stationary and some sort of die-holder chucked in the drill press.

Knife-making. Most of my early learning came from there.

I shall have to read this a few more times...:-)

Same for this. Although the picture looks like an assembly of all the parts waiting on my shelf :-)

Anything below 10C and the enthusiasm for the hobby begins to fade. Even with a triple layer of clothing, woolly hat etc.

Or some that fit standard hex bolts. In fact those were the cheapest - $1.10 a pop. I have not priced out mine but they should be considerably under that, what with garage sale loot and all. BTW my local hardware store does the knobs for *$8.30* a pop! I had to ask to make sure. Could not believe my eyes.

As long as the hydrochloric acid and ferric chloride stay in their bottles all will be well. Normally this is not an issue locally, but this year our temperature has been consistently below the seasonal average. Must be the global warming I suppose...
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    [ ... ]

    Or -- turn a piece of aluminum to a sliding fit on the gnomon, slit one side, and clamp it in the lathe chuck or in a vise to clamp the aluminum down on the gnomon. This should be a good grip. (It could even be used in the drill press chuck if the total diameter is small enough to fit the chuck.
    [ ... ]

    Be warned -- *don't* use machine tools while wearing gloves. They can catch on the chuck jaws or on a dog or whatever and wrap your arm around the workpiece or the mill spindle. If you can't keep your hands warm enough with a close space heater, *don't* work there.
    [ ... ]

    Neither of those are common household chemicals, both have lots of water in them, and so the question of what is the freezing point is a function of how much of the other things are in there with the water.
    I would bring both into the warmed house if I were you. Or at least put each in a soft plastic container surrounding the glass one, so if the glass breaks, the plastic keeps the fluids away from other things.

    Be careful with both of those substances.
    BTW -- *don't* use either near your machine tools They *will* rust like mad. Go outdoors to use either (unless you have a fume hood).
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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