View Full Version : HF mini lathe newbie question

04-25-2005, 02:14 AM
Hey all,

Been reading your posts for a while now and wanted to first thank you guys for the great knowledge and help you have given to everyone. I am thinking about getting the Harbor Freight Mini Lathe or possibly the Grizzly, and wanted to know if either of these machines will do what I am looking to do. I basically just want to do some turning and make some spacers, but also wanted to be able to make footpegs and grips for a couple of bikes I have. Will these lathes be able to handle these types of things? From what I think I have seen, all there is to it, is shaping the grips from a solid piece of stock and then boring it out, but I could be mistaken. Thanks for the help guys.


04-25-2005, 08:46 AM
I've used a minilathe (from Homier - but they are all supposedly the same except for the bells and whistles) and yes it will do what you are looking for.

First though you will need to visit www.mini-lathe.com and follow their directions for setting up the lathe. Basically you'll need to tear it apart, clean it, hone the ways, and put it back together. From what I'm told it sounds worse than it is and can be knocked out in a long Saturday, or leisurely weekend.

The only difference from a bigger lathe at that point will be the size of the cut you can take. You'll have to experiment, but the lathe will give you obvious negative feedback if you are trying to take too much material with each pass.

Bits - you'll definitely want High Speed Steel, not carbide. Carbide is for the heavy cuts and high feed rates of big iron lathes. Some useful groups for machining questions (though none as nice as metalmeet) are:

04-25-2005, 08:47 AM
Hi Alan
Welcome to Metalmeet!

I would go with the Grizzly before the Harbour Freight. I own tools sold by both outfits, and the quality control on Grizzly is a little bit better.

Just my 2c

04-25-2005, 08:12 PM
Also check out www.sherline.com , Made in USA. Lots of info and links. Bob.

04-26-2005, 06:53 AM
Thanks for the info guys, I opted with the HF model, it was available same day, and got a great price on it. Spent last night de-greasing and cleaning all the parts, now I am onto my first project....don't know what yet, but have a couple of ideas. Any good links on projects or tutorials?


04-26-2005, 08:15 AM
From and Amazon.com Review:
This book is a great resource for beginning home machinists. It is somewhat Sherline specific, but that is a plus for me since I use Sherline tools. There is also a lot of general-purpose advice, so beginning machinists using other brands might also benefit (the first section covers reading plans and blueprints, for example). One thing I really like are the nice, clear illustrations -- easy to see even at arms length with safety glasses on! Although there is some duplication, I recommend Sherline beginners buy both this book and Joe Martin's "Tabletop Machining." Together, they are best two "accessories" you can possibly have in a Sherline shop


I had a chance to leaf through this book at a store and it looks to be a good intro.

butch foster
04-26-2005, 08:00 PM
Ken - I've been playing with the idea of picking up one of the Sherline lathes for a while now. Primarily for turning small sterling silver parts, but possibly also for some very light, small crs stuff as well. Would you mind describing your Sherline equipment and some of the applications you use it for? Glad someone brought up the topic. Thanks.

Regards. Butch.

04-27-2005, 11:31 AM

I don't have a Sherline. I've used a mini lathe from Homier. But I don't own a lathe (yet). I've looked through the book I mentioned though and thought it was a good treatment of the subject. If I had known about that book when I was first starting out last fall I definitely would have gotten it.

Sorry for any confusion.


04-27-2005, 06:07 PM
I have had a 17" Sherline lathe for about six years. I like it and hope to buy a mill also. You can buy everything from a basic unit to cnc. Their web site contains a few hundred pages of info including all instruction sheets for tools and equipment. There is loads of pictures of projects completed on Sherline equipment. Have a look at the scale bolts, .010 in. Plus a list of dealers around the world. One may be near you. You can order direct from Sherline, but I like to order from my closed dealer.
Check out their web site, it will keep you busy for some time.