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Small metal lathe recommendations?

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Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby Charlie Schultz » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:50 pm

Over the years I've toyed on and off with getting a small metal lathe. I don't think I'd use it much but I would like decent quality. Pretty sure I don't want to go over $1500.

Any recommendations? I've read where the cheaper ones use plastic gears and such.

I did find a Craftsman/Atlas 6-inch metal lathe for $800 on Craigslist.
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:02 pm

I like my Taig, but it is pretty small. I have found lots of uses for it since I got it a few years ago.

If that Craftsman is in good condition and has lots of parts it might be a good deal. But beware if it is really rusty.
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby David King » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:45 pm

Bang for the buck you couldn't beat the Harbor Freight 9x20 with a 25% off coupon for $599 but that has ceased to exist apparently.
Look for a 9x20 and see who has one at a reasonable price. Grizzly would be a good bet since they stock all the spare parts in-house.
Shopfox sells their 9x19 version for $1250 or so and a good used 9x20 should be available on CL for between $600-800.

They come in two flavors, the spindle nose is either 1-1/2"-8TPI or Metric M39X4. The former are preferred as there seem to be more accessories available off the shelf.

All of these lathes are copies of the original Emco 8x20 which was a phenomenal machine that sold for $8-10k

You will need to buy a slew of accessories for any lathe so buying a well equipped one used can be a very economical way to go.

I use my 9x20 about 4 hours a day every day of the year for nearly 20 years and it has been very good to me with no measurable wear. There are hundreds of documented mods and a huge collection of dedicated fora so easy to research all aspects. Like any cheap Asian copy these lathes should be thought of as "partially finished parts kits" which can be refined and improved as the need arises.

If you want quality and have room for it just get a used Hardinge DV-59. I got mine for $1500, it weighs in at 1200lb and runs of 440V 3Ø. It's a nice smallish industrial lathe and easy to find though much more expensive to equip. http://www.lathes.co.uk/hardinge3/
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby David King » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:56 pm

RE the Atlas/Craftsman 6", those are a pretty terrible design with a flat bed that has no solid alignment of the bed to the headstock etc. The Atlas 12" is a better machine. You'd be better off with a Sherline or a Taig. If you really just want a tiny lathe then a Harbor Freight 8x12 is probably going to be fine, again wait for the 25% coupon and and try pick it up for under $300. No machine with rust should be considered acceptable. That's a sign it needs to go to the scrap yard.
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby David King » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:09 pm

Here's a great option from Grizzle: http://www.grizzly.com/products/10-x-22 ... athe/G0602
Someone local to me is selling this lathe for $700 on CL.
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby Mario Proulx » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:32 am

Is space the reason you want to go tiny?

If you have the space for it, keep looking, and putting bugs in people's ears that you're looking for a lathe. I did that for a while and scored a Harrison M250 for less than the cost of two fill-ups in my truck.. :)

A mid-size lathe can do everything a small one can, and then some..!
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby Charlie Schultz » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:20 am

Thanks everyone for the input. As for size, it's partially space, but more that I can't think of what I (personally) would need a big lathe for. OTOH it seems like being able to thread a rod might be useful and (if I understand correctly), something like the Taig can't do that (at least without modifications).
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:45 am

I can only do threading up to about one inch long. So, if you are wanting to make threaded rods, a Taig would not be a good choice.
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Re: Small metal lathe recommendations?

Postby David King » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:47 pm

The only rod I'd be tempted to thread would be on the ends of a buffer mandrel and at 1-1/4" dia that would require a big lathe. All small part threading is best accomplished with a Geometric style die head which is just an attachment and requires no gear sets or threading dial and doesn't threaten to destroy your lathe if you aren't totally on the ball.
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