Is a lathe essential for begiinners

Just started in Model engineering & wondered if a lathe is really essential for a beginner. Should I concentrate on Hand tools skills first?
CJ
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On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 18:01:41 GMT, "Colin Jacobs"

Depends a bit what you plan to make...
Certainly, hand skills will be useful, but at some point, its pretty likely that you will feel the need for a lathe, and a mill, and..and... and soon after that, you will need a bigger workshop to fit it all in. Welcome to the club ;-)
Regards, Tony
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To a degree, and as Tony says, you'll soon feel the need for a little mechanisation...
The sort of things you must learn to do properly, are to mark out and drill a hole in the place you want it to be, not where the drill wanders off to.
To drill and then tap a thread into a hole at 90 degrees to the face.
To be able to file a shape out of a blank piece of metal with some accuracy, thus the marking out bit is necessary for this as well.
To be able to use the normal engineers hand tools like scriber, center puch, hammer, file, hacksaw and so on.
Eventually you'll be able to make almost enything out of a blank piece of material, and then you'll go out and buy a shed-load of machinery to save time! :-))
Enjoy the learning curve, it is very much worth putting the time into. Look out for some basic skills books on the web as well, don't rely on ebay BTW, there are plenty of other book sources.
Peter
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There was a series in the model engineer by Tubal Cain where he built an entire steam engine, based on a set of stuart castings, using only hand tools. He called it handmaiden, so it can certainly be done. If you go back far enough in model engineer you will find that a lathe was seen as a "luxury" that few model engineers could afford, although they were more expensive then. Many great models have been built with hand tools, a vice and a drill press.
I think for some of us here (ok, most of us <G>) the aquisition and refurbishment of machine tools is almost as big a part of the hobby as what you actually make on them. But it is not an essential part.
Regards
Kevin

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On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 18:01:41 GMT, "Colin Jacobs"

It's not essential - depending on what you want to build, and you can certainly go a long way with even modest hand tools. One of the first things you'll want to build...is a lathe :)
Regards,
--
Stephen Howard - Woodwind repairs & period restorations
http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk
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Essential = probably not, but a massive step on in capability yes.
My lathe was 50 (I'm exagerating a little because I had to buy a new chuck) with a set of tools made from letter stamps, is it a great lathe? absolutley not. Is it useful? very. Besides which, if you do a bit of lathe work, decide its not what you want, then chances are you'll get your 50 back. Or like me you now realise you need a bigger better lathe, a bigger better workshop, lots more tooling and a step increase in skill!
One thing I've discovered in getting started (I got the lathe first) and now have a mill, is the massive amount of time that gets used in doing setups - one little job took me over two hours to set up and just 20 minutes for actual machining and the other thing is that there is always a new tap or a new cutter to buy or a new set of files or ..or ...
oh - I've almost finished my first project (with a load of help from the regulars here)!
Good luck
Steve
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