View Full Version : lathe questions
11-18-2004, 03:59 PM
I am not ready to buy a lathe yet, but wouldn't mind some feed back. Thanks in advance. I would like to hear what you guys thought a good first lathe would be. I would like to turn small parts at first maybe a set of anvils for a ewheel. :) I have seen the mini lathes at hf but not knowing much did not want to buy junk and then regret it later, or find out it couldn't do the job. What tooling would I need or couldn't live without.
Thanks again, Tom
11-18-2004, 05:40 PM
First you need to figure out how big a lathe you have room for. My south bend 10K is big enough right ? WRONG !!! I need to take a part to work to finish it.
You can make small parts on a big lathe but the reverse is not true.
11-18-2004, 05:58 PM
Hi Tom, I too, want a lathe and have looked at them at Harbor Freight. They are VERY small and if you grasp the cross feed, the tolerances are very loose you can move it away from center by hand. And unless you buy a large lathe from them you won't be able to chuck up a 3" diameter piece of steel. Plus the only threads that you can cut are metric. Just my opinion, but I decided not to waste my money.
All the best, Phil Gilmore (rookie)
11-18-2004, 07:09 PM
I have a well equiped machine/fab shop and my choice is an old 12X36 hendy. It is an old heavy beast which I belive has somthing to do with how smooth it runs. I have newer lighter machines that do not hold a candle to it. That comment the other guy made is true tou can make small parts on a big machine. :twisted:
11-18-2004, 08:56 PM
Tom, Now is a good time to network with others that have an Iron addiction such as we have.
I wanted a metal lathe in the worst way, even started building a crude homemade machine. Then by chance someone gave me the remains of an Atlas basic 10".
Recently through talking with co-workers I acquired an unidentified change gear lathe with a 8foot bed, 17" faceplate, 3 and 4 jaw chucks, steady rest and extra gears for $75.
Last week I was given a small old bench top lathe, just need to go get it.
Saturday I'm going to retrieve a Hendy along with all but the bed of a second machine with tooling and quick change gearboxes for my father...cost $80.
I believe any one of these machines would be more useful and last longer than the sloppy machines that H.F. sells.
The H.F. machines can be tweaked to be less sloppy, but they are still inferior to the old iron that is out there for next to nothing.
As I said now is a good time to do a casual hunt for a lathe before you actually decide to buy, that way you will know were to look when your ready to buy.
11-18-2004, 10:30 PM
I agree with Les, that you are better of with an old original Lathe then by a sloppy new one ,i was a Lathe operater for 16 years and because of that long experience you can do a fairly good job on a sloppy machine but be patient there will be one crossing your path.
It is worth the waiting.
I'd have to agree with ben. For years I ran old south bends, they were sloppy as heck but with a little patience could run a part to almost exacting standards. If you wait long enough a nice lathe will cross your path. When i was 16 I bought one of the harbor freight cheapies. Because it was all I had at the time I made it work. The biggest problem I have with them is the distance between centers. What i meen is that I could have a part sticking out 1/2'' from the chuck and i couldn't even put a regular drill bit in the tailstock. This frustarted me forever. Since it was all I had I made things work and still turned out some nice pieces but if I had a bigger machine I would have been done ten times quicker. The best thing to do is to figure out what the biggest piece would be that you would EVER turn then go even bigger than that. I recently bought a leblond lathe. The swing is 16'' and the distance between centers is 4'. It came with a ton of chucks and attachments, such as a taper attachment, a six tool turret attachment several steady rests and other stuff. The reason I went with this machine is because it will honestly do just about anything i ever need to turn. The only down side to it is the through diameter in the headstock. But as long as you know mulitple ways to machine a piece that is not a problem. There are ways to get around most setbacks a machine will have. You just have to know the way to do it. Fortunately the machinist that taught me all I know made me run those old dinosaurs. He wouldn't even let me touch the newer machines till I could hold the tolerances on the old ones. This gave me patience and an appreciation for newer nicer machines.
11-19-2004, 11:43 AM
Look around at the high schools in your area. They auction off their surplus equipment here and there. There was an auction in Seattle 2 weeks ago where 10"-12" Sheldon and Atlas lathes were going for around $500. I bought a Bridgeport mill for $1100.
11-19-2004, 02:17 PM
:lol: I do believe Les will have to change his handle from old tin to Les the Latheman. I wonder where he is putting that machinery;well another car out back of the garage! I have a SB 9 and it is for me a great machine,anything real big, I seek out my friends with big tools! I bought mine from a friend,who didn't really use it. Keep your ears and eyes open,don't be in a hurry for the first one.
Dick Stack-Hillsdale Art Metal
11-19-2004, 03:26 PM
First I must say thanks for all the quick responses! :shock: I have a two car garage so I have some room
Robert, I would agree with getting to small a lathe.
Rookie, you think the hf lathe is that good. :lol:
Thanks to everyones comments I will be "keepin on the lookout" for that good deal. :) Where would a good place be to find info on lathes for dummies be? :? I have never used a lathe before but would like to and I would like to gather some info to see what I might be doing on it. This will help me decide on what size and type to buy. I am in no hurry to buy yet just getting all the info I can, thanks again.
Tom, Now is a good time to network with others that have an Iron addiction such as we have.
Les, I have to admit I have an addiction. :roll: :oops: :lol: Thats why I am glad I found this site. :D :D
11-19-2004, 03:33 PM
Hi Tom, Well like anything - it will depend on YOUR needs - with a little extra from expanison :shock:
I have two small lathes a 11x37 Rockwell and a 12x36 Clausing - both variable speed both in good shape. After running these I wouldn't even consider anything smaller. I also wouldn't consider the "sum flung dung" brand of tools - although there are many who get by just fine with them. We've got a JET at work - I forget the size - 12 or 13 by 40 or so. I hate it! Can't even crank the handles without bumping my hand! Junk. The difference other than PRICE is AVAILABILITY of parts - the S.F.D. brands can be VERY difficult to get parts for - sometimes even when they aren't more than a year or two old. I bought my Clausing for 100 bucks - fixed the varibale speed drive - made some adjustments - it'll run circles around those imports in the same size range. I bought a collet closer off ebay as well as a 4 jaw chuck. Of course I am biased - but I have yet to be convinced otherwise (ain't sayin much is it!)
Bottom line - I hear guys breaking parts on those "new" imports which should NEVER have broke - so don't think the parts availability won't ever matter - it might - it might not :oops: hard to say. Are you a normally a lucky fella???
Some guys are in parts of the country where they have no choice (so I am told) and they "must" buy the Sum Flung Dung tools - I find this hard to believe, but have been told enough times that I think maybe it has a LITTLE truth to it. HOWEVER - my experience has ALWAYS been - patience will almost always pay off.
Last point is RESALE - the S.F.D brands don't (normally) do nearly as well as the good old iron.
Like most things your mileage may vary!!!!
Jacin in Ohio
"the barefoot machinist"
SOMB (student of metal bashing)
11-19-2004, 04:02 PM
Jacin, how much does your machines weigh? I would agree about finding parts for s.f.d. brands, I would want something that I would be able to get "stuff" for. I will keep lookin it sounds like allot of people have found some good deals.
11-19-2004, 04:49 PM
Try these for books on operating lathes and other machinery.
11-19-2004, 05:16 PM
I'm looking for a lathe as well.
This summer I got an opinion adjustment with an SFD brand $550 horizontal band saw. It took four time consuming trys to get a "free vice" that was square. Each part was out of square .030 to .080" until a customer service rep personally re-machined a part!
Was on the fence and obviously buying the stuff. No way I'll chance $2000. As Jason would say, "Your mileage may vary."
11-19-2004, 05:32 PM
I have a Grizzly 14x40. It is super! I don't think there is such a thing as an american make lathe anymore. All the used one I found were crap and would have cost big bucks to referbish. Before buying my lathe, I've talk to several people who have them. They never had any problems. The items that did break were from operator error. Grizzly had the parts in stock and delivered in a week.
I have friend who have Jets (foreign also) and have never had problems getting parts when needed. I would not, whoever, buy anything like that from HF!
11-19-2004, 07:59 PM
Hi Tom, My Clausing weighs (I think) right around 1,000# or so- light enough to be drug home in the back of my F150 and picked up (carefully) with a cherry picker. My buddy has the identical one in his basement - he partially dissassembled it to get it there - just the easy stuff (chuck, carriage, tailstock) nothing involved.
I don't mean to offend anyone who's got the S.F.D. brand of tools - each of us has different wants, needs, desires & experiences. Those will couple together to steer us in the direction that is "right" for US. Lots of guys buy the S.F.D. brand of tools and LOVE them some even to the point of stating that they are EQUAL to anything out there. Having run both - trust me they aren't equal. And th estuff I have isn't top of the heap either there's FAR BETTER stuff than my Clausing and or Rockwell. It seems to me the advantages of getting the S.F.D. lathe is INSTANT gratification - you pays your money - & you start making chips. Not a bad gig especially if you have limited resources to used equipment. However for those of us who are financially challenged or just seeking the gratification from resurrecting a piece of "early iron" we see these things as a challenge - something we can learn from and in the end have a really cool tool.
The way I look at things is that I haven't had a lathe for the first 35 years of my life - a couple months either way wasn't gonna make much of a difference. However with that said - I wish I would have gotten the idea to buy one when I was 15!!!!!! Yeah a MILL too!!!!
ok ok I have droned on and on about a bunch-o-crap - forgive me - I do that from time to time.
Back to lathes - I know the current brand of S.F.D. lathes have parts that are quite easy to get right now - key word being now. But I know guys with some of those things that are but a few years old - replacement parts - ahh - good luck - it ain't happening.
However go try to get parts for an ancient 9" Southbend lathe - ebay has them buy the truck load at times. Websites have then all the time - it's like the Small Block Chevy - you can argue that they are over rated ( I know I would - the Southbend , not the Chevy) BUT - you can't shake a stick at price and availability!!!!!
I just bought a Hammond Carbide Gringer for sharpening carbide lathe bits - it cost me 130 bucks out the door from a used tool dealer - with the money I SAVED buying my Clausing used (admittedly getting a deal) I figure I still have about 10 or 15 more deals like that before I would equal what I could have spent on a NEW S.F.D. lathe alone. But again - I did spend a week tinkering with my Clausing - some guys can't afford that kind of time. But for me it's a hobby - all of it. Not everyone can afford THAT luxury - I get that. BTW the Hammond works GREAT - but does look like crap. By the sound of it, I bet it'll out live me though.
Of course my friends just call me cheap - you be the judge!!!!
Just thinking out loud again!!!!!!!!
Good luck no matter what lathe you get. Some guys like Fords, others Chevy's - me I like 'em all - matter of fact I have one of each (of the "Big 4" anyways) Ford, Chevy, Plymouth,AMC - yep I even admitted to the AMC - actually it' worse than that - I drive not one but 2 Ramblers!!!! Yikes!!!! OK was AMC really "in" the Big 4??
SO there you go I drive Ramblers - proof positive that I may very well be full of crap.
Jacin in Ohio who might be cheap ahh errh frugal (yeah that's the ticket) but has a garage of ugly tools that cost less than that JET lathe at work!!!!!
11-20-2004, 10:24 AM
Jim, thanks for the link I might be buying a few books. :)
Jacin, that answers my mobility question, I am also financially challenged and just a hobbyist with a metal addiction. And I drive a chevy car, dodge truck, have four studebaker projects, vw sandrail, an old dodge crew cab, and ford donar car. I think that is the big four +one. :lol:
11-20-2004, 03:02 PM
Hey Tom, I think you've got me beat!!! But I too have a rail too (Chrysler Powered), and if we're gonna get technical I've also got a fully functional Dodge erhh ahhh I mean "Dodge-em Car" - wife says I look like a real nitwit riding it up and down the driveway!!!!!
Oh well - I've been told worse!!!!!
Jacin in Ohio
11-21-2004, 10:43 AM
hey Jacin, rails rule and as far as being a nitwit as long as you smile while doing it. :D :D
03-25-2005, 11:40 PM
I just picked up a new (to me) Atlas Lathe from a coworker who said it was taking up to much space on his work bench and to come and get it. I'm not sure of the model # or size.
The price was right: FREE
It runs and had some extra drive gears and a milling attachment.
I know nothing about Lathes, and hope this is a good one to try and learn on.
How do they measure the size of lathes? 6, 10, 12 etc.where do these measurements come from.
It looks Identical to this 6" Atlas I found a picture of, but 6" sounds very small:
03-26-2005, 08:37 AM
Hi (insert name here),
You did good! That is a nice lathe to learn on. The measurement on an Atlas lathe is always listed as the swing over bed. If you have say 6" from the center of the spindle to the bed, you have a 12" lathe. There is a yahoo group for Craftsman - Atlas lathes that is very informative. Also, be sure to fasten your Atlas to a very sturdy bench (these lathes are a little light duty) and level it.
Make some chips and enjoy (and be careful),
03-26-2005, 08:54 AM
Thanks for the info.
I guess this could be a 6" lathe then, I just wasn't sure since this is about 2.5'-3' long.
Unfortunately I'm in the process of a cross country Move (Ca. to Me.) and will not get to mess with it until I get my shop set up on the other end.
So for now it's on the Moving truck.
03-26-2005, 02:47 PM
I did spend a week tinkering with my Clausing - some guys can't afford that kind of time.
Its not the time that shys me away from an old lathe, its confidence in tinkering ability. How do I know that after a week of tinkering the lathe is going to be in better shape, not worse? :)
06-19-2005, 08:13 PM
Talk about old lathes! I picked this old lathe up about two months ago, (with a crane). It's a Seneca Falls 14 X ?something. I've been wanting a lathe for general purpose use for a long time. Just simple stuff like spacers, facing off stock, etc. It came with 2 three jaw chucks, 1 four jaw, a jacobs drill chuck, 3 face plates, lathe dog, steady rest, a set of collets, and a few other gizmos.
I don't know beans about lathes or how to run them but I intend to learn. I bought a book titled "The Amateur's Lathe" and it has some good information. The fact that it does need considerable tinkering with has already taught me quite a bit. I know from reading that belt drives, change gears, plain bearings, and threaded spindles went out with hand cranks for starting autos, but I didn't pay much for it. The worst part was the motor set-up. Mickey Mouse didn't rig the motor but I think Pluto did. I ripped all the Rube Goldbergs off and I'm in the process of setting up a 2 horsepower motor with V-belts until I get to the step pulleys which will have to be leather. I figured out all the ratios to get the speeds as close as possible to the speeds indicated on a plate attached to the machine. The spindle and bearing surfaces are in nice shape, just needed to be shimed. I'm sure there is some wear and slop but I don't think it's going to be much of a problem. I'll post more photos of the motor drive when I get around to fabricating it. I need to get it running to get any further. I'll probablly have a lot of questions then.
06-19-2005, 08:58 PM
Hi Ernie, nice lathe. Does it have a forward and reverse gear or does it use a reversable motor.......john
06-20-2005, 04:04 AM
Good question. The only easy way to reverse the spindle will be with the motor. I'm going to look into that. It does have forward-nuetral-reverse control for the lead screw.
Like I mentioned I know next to nothing about running a lathe, and if reversing the spindle is needed for some operations (?) I'll figure out a way do that.
06-20-2005, 05:32 AM
Ernie, I use mine to tap quite often, also if a big bit hangs up reverse is handy
06-28-2005, 01:23 PM
Hi John (or anyone)
I have decided that reversing the lathe is a good idea. However, the 2 HP motor I planned on using cannot be reversed. I have access to a 3/4 HP motor that can be reversed, (for zip). Or I can pull a 1 HP motor out of one of my band saws and swop it for the 3/4. One plus is that the 3/4 or 1 HP motors are 1725 RPM and eliminate the need for a jack shaft that I would of needed with the 2 HP. Confused yet?
My question: is the 3/4 or 1 HP motor enough power for a lathe this size, or does that depend on what I going to use it for?
Any input on this would be helpful, like I mentioned in my original post, I'm in a learning curve with this.
06-28-2005, 06:53 PM
Ernie, thats a good question. Not knowing what was on there originaly, I would go with the 1 hp first to see if it will pull it.
If your 1 hp is a commercial grade motor it probably will, if it is a Harbor freight, we will just have to see. Some of the offshore motors are severely overrated.
If you are underpowered, it will probably show up in the finish of a large OD part. I'd try it first, they don't usually start under a load so that is a plus. I would think a 14" lathe would want a 1.5 hp or larger, but I have seen it go either way............john
12-06-2005, 11:14 AM
Talk about old lathes! I picked this old lathe up about two months ago, (with a crane). It's a Seneca Falls 14 X ?something.
How is your lathe project doing? I just bought an old 14x? lathe (about a 1920's American Tool Works), but still have to get it home.
12-06-2005, 08:40 PM
The lathe is up and running http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif, and works quite well for it's age. I posted some photos of the motor / belt set up here: http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3404&page=2&pp=10
Since then I've been teaching myself how to use it. I did reach a milestone and learned some basic outside and inside thread cutting. I posted some photos of some homemade tools and a spindle adapter I made for a four jaw chuck that came out nice here: http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3846
Is your "American Tool Works" lathe a belt drive?, and does it have change gears? I'm a novist but if I can offer any info or help just ask.
12-06-2005, 10:09 PM
Thanks for the offer, I have a 3 in 1 Chinese lathe that I've had for quite a while. It doesn't have very much capability, so it doesn't get used much. I took a couple of machine shop classes about fifteen years ago, so my skills are minimal.
The American Tooling Works lathe has a quick change gear box and was a flat belt drive. These are called cone head lathes. Mine was converted years ago and now has a GM Saginaw (4-speed) transmission to gear drive it. Still haven't gotten it home yet, hopefully this weekend. I picked up all of the tooling/stuff that came with it yesterday and unloaded my truck today.
In the picture at the top you can see the motor and transmission.
12-06-2005, 10:39 PM
Larry that's a nice find http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif. I wish my lathe had a quick change gear box but the change gears aren't all that bad to deal with. Looks like the 4 speed offers all the speeds and stays on the center drive pulley? That is a clever set up.
If I saw that before I powered my lathe I would have considered it. Since mine is done, running and works fine I don't want to hurt my brain with that right now http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif.
(hmmm... I think I know where to get a Saginaw 4 speed...........)
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