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Thread: Home Lathe, or 'Mini' Lathe?

  1. #1
    Member nrc's Avatar
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    Question Home Lathe, or 'Mini' Lathe?

    Looking for a small lathe for light duty around the house. Can anyone give a suggestion? There are dozens available at places like Harbor Freight, and various hobby houses...

    I've recently acquired a rifle that requires the removal of belts from HH cases in order to make wildcat cases. I'd like a reasonably precise way to to turn those belts without investing in a large scale metal shop.

    Something I could grow into down the road would be nice, but isn't necessarily a requirement right now.

    Thanks in Advance -

    Nate

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I've a good drillpress works better than the cheap mini lathes

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    Member nrc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Thanks.. I didn't think to check with varmint al

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Don't waste money on a China mill/lathe! Like Will says, for what you want a little drill press will work wonders. I made a 20 year career at aerospace machining and find a good drill press with some files, saw blades, good measuring tools, and what not is all I need for my small part gun tinkering. It sure isnít for production job shop work but with a well thought out fixture setup you can cut your rims just as fast and accurate as with a home lathe or mill. If you want to get deeper into machining look into Smithy brand as they are not bad for the bucks. The China made ones I have tried were doing good to hold .003Ē on the thing when new and open up from there fast, I was able to hold .0005Ē on the only Smithy I ever used and it was 5 years old. Also know in advance the price of the machine itself is only about half way to being able to make stuff. You will need a sizable investment in collets, end mills, face mills, drills, insert fly cutters, boring bars, and on and on to get much use from a lathe or mill. But add in some knowledge and you can make about anything you can think of.

    http://www.smithy.com/products.php?cid=1
    Andy
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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrc View Post
    Thanks.. I didn't think to check with varmint al
    Varmint Al says it better than I did: "It is made in China and the word Precision, in the title, is used rather loosely!"

    AIH stocks little lathes like that, and they will work for small stuff if you are willing to fuss with them. But when I see the price tags I remember all the 8 and 10 inch good American made lathes I have watched sell for $500 to $1000 at auctions and knowing how sloppy they are I donít see the point.
    Andy
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    We have a German(?) made mini lathe for sale, stop by...needs a bit of work but its one of those good ones.

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    Member nrc's Avatar
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    Default WWG

    I just might take you up on that; My Dad's in town and he always enjoys stopping by the shop.

    Thanks everyone.

    Nate

  9. #9

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    smithly 3 into one unit is best small mini lathe out there to make your gun parts as need ..

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've had both a TAIG mini lathe, and now one of the Grizzly 7X12 lathes. Here's my take on having used both tools for several years.

    The TAIG may look like a toy, but it is a precision small lathe at a very reasonable price. There are two downsides to the machine. One is it's a small lathe, so there is a very limited amount of gunsmithing you can do on it, think modifying cases, polishing pins, making replacement parts of loading dies, etc. The other limitation is it can't cut threads.

    Now for the 7X10 or 12 china lathes. The are still a small lathe, but can handle much larger (relatively speaking) stock than the TAIG, Sherline and other very small lathes. Also they can cut threads and have a power feed for a smoother finish. You're basically just limited by what tooling you can dream up. The machines are very capable for the $ and with the addition of some tooling.

    The headstock is large enough (especially if you run a reamer through it ala Varmint Al) that you can use it to recrown light contour rifle barrels. I've cut target crowns on several barrels and it does a very good job. I did have to make a spider attachment to support the outboard portion of the barrel, and also got a larger 4 jaw chuck. Dial it in to 0.0005" tir and put a crown on as good as any smith.

    The downsides I've found with the 7X china lathes are a lack of rigidity in the cross and compound slide that limit the size of cut you can take. You also have to put some time into dialing in the machine and taking out the backlash in the various saddles. If you don't take out the slop you'll get vibration and a rough cut.

    I'd stay away from the 9X20 lathes, I've handled several and to me they are less capable than the 7X lathes. If you want more tool, Grizzlys gunsmith lathe is alot of tool for the $. Not perfect, but better than the overpriced used US lathes that should go to the scrap heap vs. being re-sold.

    I'd recomend going with grizzly, they aren't the cheapest, but shipping isn't too bad from their Washington warehouse, and they stand behind their products if they are damaged in shipping. I'd hate to have to deal with harbor freight if I couldn't go in person to one of their outlets.

    Smitty, the 3 in 1 tools from anyone should be avoided. They have a serious lack of rigidity for any serious work, and you'll spend so much time converting from one use to the next that you'll give up on them.

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    I have one of the HF 7x10s that I installed a 14" bed on and find it to work very well for it's size and the money I have in it. I agree with PaulH completely. I also opened the head stock a little as well as adding a 6" 4 jaw and doing the Varmit Al's alignment tinkering to it. After grinding the jaws on the 3 jaw it holds under .001 easily and the 4jaw can be dialed to what ever your paitent level is. I have yet to build a spider but I think that will be my next project. I have been making gas check making tools with it and it has already paid for itself with parts and tools I have made with it.

  12. #12

    Default check out Craigslist

    Was on Craigsist the other day and saw a lathe for sale in Sitka. Don't remember the actual data, but know the guy selling it, he's a straight shooter, runs a good business. He bought a bigger lathe and some other equipment. Might be worth it to call Ben at Crew Enterprises in Sitka. Shop number is 747-2955, cell number is 738-2722. Good luck, Rob.

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    We got a nice old southbend for free recently at work. we use the hell out of it.

    Right now I'm practicing threading. its been about 12 years since I did it and this lathe is a tad fast for me but it will work out.

    I wish I had the space at my place I would buy a small lathe. they sure do come in handy.

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    I would not get a lathe without threading and auto feeding. Yes a lathe without these is still useful, but once you switch from manual feed to a power feed and treading lathe you will wish you always had it.

    One other thing for these small light lathes do not mess with carbide tooling, or special cutters. Just get 5 or so HSS blanks and grind your own cutters. These small lathes just do not have the power or rigidity to take advantage of carbide.

    Also get your self a quick change tool post (wedge type). The cheap chinese Phase II's are not bad, it will save a lot of setup time and is well worth the $200 they cost.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Here's a pic of one of many crowning jobs I've done on the little lathe.


  16. #16

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    curiuos a good place to look for a mini mill or lathe used up here to help defray the shipping costs. doesnt seem to be too many around or for sale?

    I'm not building guns, instead I'm building footed shafts...taking square stock fitting it into a round soft wood shaft, and then having to nock the square stock down round to the same diameter as the shaft without getting the shaft itself.

    basically there is 4 V grooves at 90 degrees. The square stock is cut on a bandsaw twice at a 90 forming a + on the end...the square stock is then glued and slid up the round shaft.

    any idears on a better way to round it? I thought about a edge sander....but not so sure it'll work.

  17. #17
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    For footing arrow shafts you don't need a metal lathe. A small wood lathe like what the folks that make pens would do the trick. Fairly light so shipping won't be that bad, and the lathes themself are fairly inexspensive.

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/VS-M...od-Lathe/G9247#

    This would probably do the trick to hold the shafts

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/2-3-...x-16-TPI/H8031

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    WOW that pic above is so large it's almost hard to look at, but it does look like it's suppose to. I can just do rough machine work on my lathe, need to learn the different tooling and cutters
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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironartist View Post
    WOW that pic above is so large it's almost hard to look at, but it does look like it's suppose to. I can just do rough machine work on my lathe, need to learn the different tooling and cutters
    Yup, the dial indicator almost fills my 17 inch screen, about 5X life size!
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    Paul what I do know about the footed shaft industry is they are using either a milling machine device...or a machinist lathe forwhatever reason. I know of guys running trim routers in tool posts. But I figured there had to be an cheaper way.

    I think the problem with the wood style of lathes isnt the lathe as much as it's the tools to turn with. The Points are tiny on a foot and have a tendancy to rip out....I've never used either so heck I dont know anything, just going off of what I've scrounged up so far. sorry dont mean to steal the thread either. Have tried a few home made jigs and they tore horribly. Was thinking of going to some kind of sanding jig....that'll sufice for now, well everything but the huge amount of dust anyways LOL

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