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View Full Version : Need 9x20 Lathe Recommedation



herbf
03-09-2005, 10:46 PM
I'm looking for a good 9x20 lathe to do some small projects and hobby type stuff at home.
I've been looking at the 9x20 models from places like Harbor Frieght and Northern Tools for under a $1000. I think these are all made out of China and I have no knowledge of their quality or accuracy.

If anyone has any recommendations or bad experiences, please share. I would also consider a good used American 9x20 or slightly larger as long as I can keep the price under $1000.

PSD KEN
03-09-2005, 10:57 PM
This is a start, will give you links to other sites too'
http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_lathe/Versions/Versions_9x20.htm

PSD KEN
03-09-2005, 10:57 PM
[This message has been edited by PSD KEN (edited 03-09-2005).]

sidneyt
03-09-2005, 11:10 PM
Herb:

There are whole newsgroups including the 9 x 20 group on Yahoo that does nothing but discuss this question. There are thousands of posts not only on that group but you can find opinions galore on rec.crafts.metalworking, the Chaski newsgroup and the Practical machininist on Chinese 9 x 20 lathes vs the rest of the world.

Jim Luck
03-09-2005, 11:10 PM
herbf - Before buying an import why not look into a good used lathe. I found a Clausing 10X36" wih a bunch of extras for $800, I love it. I pat it on the head.....stock every time I make $'s with it!. Learn how to inspect a used lathe or have someone help you before you jump into a good deal. Set-up is very important and most often overlooked by week-enders. I have mine leveled out to less than a thou. anywhere along the bed. Hope you find yours!.---

hammerhead74000
03-09-2005, 11:35 PM
Harbor Freight is the worst when it comes to tolerances... I've heard that Grizzley is OK, but you should expect to do some work on them to get a good setup. I have a Homier 7x12, and it's OK, but I'm doing a CNC conversion on it (as soon as I get finished with my Shizouka) with new ball-screws, a pressurized oil system, an adaptive control, and a collet system - when it's done it will be able to compete with the best of them (er, for it's size http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif ).

Expect to completely disassemble everything but the headstock, partially dissassemble the headstock, and clean everything.

Make sure you get a quick-change toolpost - the "turret" style has no good tool height adjustment (no, I don't consider shims a good method http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif )

Accuracy in a manual machine is mostly determined by the operator - as long as the ways are streight, and not bowed.

1) Measure.
2) Turn some off the part.
3) Go to step 1. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

The very first machine that I had - before I knew better - was a Harbor Freight mini multipurpose machine. It was supposed to be a combo mill and lathe, but lacked important features to make either aspect of the machine work. Don't get a machine that's inadaquate to your needs thinking that you are being cheap; as you will only frustrate yourself, and then have to buy the machine that you needed in the first place later.

Specifics:

How about this lathe:
http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?ItemNumber=G4000

With one of these toolposts:
http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G5689

http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=2271

Depending on what you are doing, one of these might come in handy, also:
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=1681

Also, (I presume you are new to this based on the question, so if you are an old hand at this, this might be basic info) you will need a micrometer and caliper set (get digital, it's not much more, and so much easier to read), a threading guage (aka fishtail), and either a means of grinding your own tools (bench grinder or bench beltsander), or a set of carbide insert tool holders (or, both).

Spin Doctor
03-09-2005, 11:42 PM
One point about buying a used lathe. In many areas they simply aren't available and often the neophyte will get taken up in the romance of it "I mean, hey its a South Bend!". Is a South Bend in the 8 or 9 inch range a better lathe? In like new condition sure. But just how many guys stumble across the low hour lathe in the basement that the widow wants to get rid off? About as many as fall into the pristine '63 split window corvette that the son bought before going off to die in a far off Asian land. The main faults of the Asian 9/10x19/20/22's all have is they copied all of the faults of the Emco 8x18 hobby lathe while not doing a good enough job of copying the good points.

Fault 1) The spindle bore is too damn small. But then the SB 9" suffers from this too. IMO there is no excuse for a bore smaller than 1"

Fault 2) Trying to persude the neophyte that these are precision lathes. Granted the skilled and talented can do some very, and I mean very nice work on one of these machines. But it takes a very good understanding of the strengths and waeknesses of the machines

Fault 3) Not enough power IMO. Personally I prefer enough HP at the tool to over come the bearing and spindle rigidity. Not that I would run the machine at that point but if doing hobby work taking 1" off the diameter in steps of .025" gets old awful fast

Fault 4) A weak compound set-up. Fortunately most of the web sites dedicated to these machines go into this in detail. And some of the manufactures have attended to this issue.

Fault 5) Unless one is midget in the circus the lathes as sold on the stands have a spindle centerline height that is far too low. A small bench type lathe should have a center line of around 47" above the floor IMO. This is also the range where the Hardinge Tool Room lathe is. Close enough to see what you are doing with wrecking the average persons back

Strength 1) They're cheap and allow a guy (or girl) to get into the machining hobby at a reasonable base level as long as they pay attention to Faults 1&2 and are willing to accept a learning curve. But the learning curve might actually be easier for the neophyte versus the vetern of the job shop or industrial tool room. These people will expect too much from the lathe even though they know intellectually what to expect

Strength 2) They're small easy to move and if one wants to move up to a larger machine they should be easy to sell with out losing too much money

PS. For the more socially and culturally sensetive, I in no way meant to disparage Circus Midget's. You never know I might be one http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

precisionworks
03-10-2005, 12:49 AM
Don't forget the dyslexic, nude, lesbian, politically incorrect, sexually neutral skydivers.

hammerhead74000
03-10-2005, 04:06 AM
>> IMO there is no excuse for a bore smaller than 1"

Oh, come on -- there's lots ah 'skeusezz, just confront a sales guy on it, and ya'll hear 'em fly! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

>> Trying to persude the neophyte that these are precision lathes

Yeah... They vary widely. Pick a good one to start with, and your C.Q. (uh, that's Cussing Quotient http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif ) will be lowered substantially.

I was taught on some seriously old hardware - one of the lathes we had was a Monarch, of about 6 feet between centers, that my instructor had found out in a field somewhere a while back... I was told it dated from pre-WWII. The bed was worn down, so it couldn't turn a straight rod across it's entire length, and it had a loose cross slide lead-screw; but we managed to get (short) parts within a thou off of it (the guy who used that machine the most in our class had never had any kind of shop class or experience whatsoever - he was retired if memory serves, and just took the class for kicks). My favorite of the ones we had was the 9" South Bend - it was, despite being a little looser then some of the others, smoother to operate. The other machines felt somewhat "gritty" - despite having taken apart the cross-slide, and cleaned it thoroughly.

>> taking 1" off the diameter in steps of .025" gets old awful fast

My little 7x12 will take off .100 in a pass - slow feed, but it'll do it. When I'm done CNC-ing it, it'll do it while I'm looking at this BBS... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

>> A weak compound set-up

Yup - under or over stress it and it chatters - although, all lathes will do that to some extent.

>> Unless one is midget

Sounds like your bench is too low... I have a rather tall one in my garage that my mini-lathe is on, and it does help.

J Tiers
03-10-2005, 09:28 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">IMO there is no excuse for a bore smaller than 1"</font>

WRONG, the number is 1.25". My buddy says its 1.5", and another says its 2".

Point being that the bore is always too small, and the swing too small, etc. Once you freeze dimensions or specs they are wrong.

I agree on the 9 x 20 though.

The next step up is usually to a 10 or 11", and for some reason those are usually disproportionately stouter and better built.

Doc Nickel
03-10-2005, 02:40 PM
I had a Grizzly 9x19" as my only lathe for several years. Out of the box, the only things I had to "fix" was the locking setscrew on the motor pulley, which had come loose and smoked a belt for me.

Griz replaced the belt free of charge, and a quick degrease and a dab of loctite cured the pulley problem.

Other than that, it was a fine machine for the cost. It paid for itself within months, and I still sold it for not much less than new a few years later. ('Course, I took it in the shorts on shipping, since I'm in Alaska, but that's not the fault of the machine. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif )

I worked mainly aluminum with it, and could easily hold a thou, and with pretty good finishes. In fact, a bit better than my Logans can do now, probably because of the higher spindle speeds the Griz was capable of.

The new owner yanked the compound, as seems to be the custom, and made a big stiff riser block to hold an A-size QC post. He's apparently quite happy with it.

No, it's not a shiny new Southbend or a rigid Colchester. It's a good, desktop sized machine for those with limited budgets or limited room. I had both in the beginning, and it did me just fine.

Doc.

Doc Nickel
03-10-2005, 02:43 PM
Addendum: I would be FAR more likley to try and get the machine from Grizzly, or perhaps JET, than from Harbor Freight or Northern Hydraulics, or even ENCO.

Grizzly has pretty decent customer service, and will, if possible, work with you on a repair, if it's a minor problem, rather than an expensive and time-consuming ship-back-and-we'll-replace-it like you'd get with the others.

Doc.

debequem
03-10-2005, 04:25 PM
Ah, you are looking to buy two or more lathes?

My experience with the small Chinese lathes are that they will force you to buy something else very quickly.

For the money I would look at a used lathe like the South Bend Workshop 9A or such. See if you can find a buddy that knows lathes and machining to help you select one, but the South Bend Workshop 9 is in a different class than the Chinese 9 by 20. You will be much, much happier with a good used Workshop 9 than any new Chinese lathe.

Good luck!

Marv

Rex
03-10-2005, 06:33 PM
Random thoughts as I read through the replies:

I have a Logan 9x17 which I was lucky to get, and I intend to keep it. I think it's about as rare as that Southbend Workshop 9A. I've never seen one, nor run across the name on ebone or otherwise. But I have to think that a cared-for, 50 year old US-made lathe is getting pretty rare. And the average US iron one runs across may not be as good now as a new Chinese 9x20.

The only thing that tempts me to give up my Logan for new oriental iron is the Sieg 10x24. Grizzly & Lathemaster carry it. Or if you are brave, you can do the direct import thing and save some money.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SiegM2andGrizzlyG0516?yguid=122382924

9x20s have a couple known weaknesses:
- Compound mount weakness, easily fixed.
- No tumble reverse to change leadscrew roatation. Can't feed away from the chuck, nor turn lefthand threads.
Everything you want to know on 9x20's is at Steve Bedair's site: http://bedair.org/9x20.html

If you can get a good used 9x20 with tooling and maybe the factory bench for $500, that's a good deal. In fact I agonized over one locally before finding a good home for it just last week.

happy02
03-10-2005, 10:20 PM
Why not splurge and get a Monarch 10EE new. You can order one made to your specs from Sidney for a mere $150,000. Half down and the rest on delivery. Gives you time to reinforce your garage floor as well while your waiting on it...Naturally I will be tickeled to help you get it set up and running!!

J Tiers
03-10-2005, 11:53 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Rex:
Random thoughts as I read through the replies:

I have a Logan 9x17 which I was lucky to get, and I intend to keep it. I think it's about as rare as that Southbend Workshop 9A. I've never seen one, nor run across the name on ebone or otherwise. </font>

I have seen TWO in the last 6 months, both at estate sales. Cute, small, both nearly unused, with original paint, and unmarked ways. I didn't buy either of them, I have a 10" already.

But, I wouldn't force old iron on anyone.

I still think the 10" and 11" size chin-chin lathes are far better than the 9 x 20 as far as stabilit and features.

The thing that kills the 9 x 20 is the feed deal, plus the high lowest speed, and the general thin and limber construction. By the time you fix what you can of the problems you *may* be along the way to the same work as fixing old iron. BUT, you have a known base, on which you are putting improvements.... there is that fact.

Check out the next size up. There is a difference. Unfortunately, the $1000 really puts a crimp in it, as I see those in the $1100 to $1200 area, IIRC



[This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 03-10-2005).]

herbf
03-20-2005, 02:12 AM
Anyone know of any reputable used machinery dealers within 2 hours drive of NJ? I would like to pick up a used, American made 10x2?lathe.

Or any good sites where individuals list their equipment?

[This message has been edited by herbf (edited 03-20-2005).]

JeffG
03-20-2005, 07:57 AM
Herb,

I bought a South bend 9A in January, after watching EBay, and this and other BBSs, for about 6 months. And glad I did. You might try Dave Sobel, in Closter NJ(sp?). He advertises in HSM occasionally. Last time I visited Norman Machine Tool in Baltimore, they had several smaller machines - no 9s, but a couple of small Logans and an Atlas.

Jeff Greenblatt

herbf
03-20-2005, 11:01 AM
I found the following used lathe, it's a Craftsman, but made by Clausing. Does anyone know if these are essentially the same quality as a Clausing branded lathe?

"$800 Lathe bench, cabinet, Craftsman manufactured by Clausing 10" swing, 36" between centers, 3 jaw chuck, 4 jaw chuck, face plate, steady rest, drill chuck, live center set, indexable tool holder"

herbf
03-20-2005, 06:13 PM
From doing some more reading and research, it seems that both Atlas and Clausing made lathe under the Craftsman monikar. I guess Sears contracted this out to them.

I also read that Atlas bought Clausing shortly after WWII, and later started marketing their lathes under the Clausing name since it was better known for quality.

So let me know if you have any experiences, good or bad, w/ Craftsman lathes, either Clausing or Atlas, and if I find one w/ low hours I'm thinking on getting one pending your feedback.

JCHannum
03-20-2005, 08:19 PM
Atlas did make the Craftsman lathe, and purchased Clausing. A 10" Atlas/Craftsman lathe is a good machine for the home shop.

They are not heavy duty, but will handle most jobs thrown at them. They also have an advantage in that parts are available on the used market.

That said, the lathe described is not a bad price if the lathe is in good condition and has the quick change gearing. I fit is not a QC, all gears should be included.

Inspection includes making sure there are no broken gears, parts, all features are functioning, and there is little wear on the bed.

There is more information on Atlas lathes and good information on inspection on Tony's site: http://www.lathes.co.uk/index.html

sauer38h
03-20-2005, 08:33 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by herbf:
From doing some more reading and research, it seems that both Atlas and Clausing made lathe under the Craftsman monikar. I guess Sears contracted this out to them.

I also read that Atlas bought Clausing shortly after WWII, and later started marketing their lathes under the Clausing name since it was better known for quality.

So let me know if you have any experiences, good or bad, w/ Craftsman lathes, either Clausing or Atlas, and if I find one w/ low hours I'm thinking on getting one pending your feedback.</font>

Atlas Press bought Clausing in 1950, and after that put Atlas or Clausing labels on whatever they felt like. The company name was changed from Atlas Press to Clausing Industrial in the late 1960s. Nothing resembling the old Clausing lathes was ever sold as a Craftsman. The line "Craftsman manufactured by Clausing" is, I suspect, meant to be deceptive, even though in a convoluted sense it can be considered correct, sort of. But it's too much like those dweebs who advertise their old Fiat Dinos as Ferraris. Craftsman/Atlas lathes are common enough, buy one from somebody who isn't trying to jack you. In any case, I don't think there ever was a 10" Craftsman lathe.

The Atlas/Craftsman lathes are decent designs, though cheaply made. The beds in particular are very light and tend to flex. A reasonably skilled machinist can get very good results from one. The cast zamak parts which make up so much of an Atlas lathe are sturdier than one might expect, but still not as durable as good ol' iron or steel parts.

Perhaps because Craftsman and Atlas are well-known, prices seem to me to be overheated. They approach Logan prices, which is just plain nuts.

'Way back when, I considered the Chinese 9x19 lathes myself, but then I found out that for less money I could get old American, and have a much better machine.

egpace
03-20-2005, 08:51 PM
Herb,
Atlas lathes are good choice home/hobby machines. Just make sure you get a Timken bearing machine & check the bed & lead screws excessive wear. A quick change gear box is also very desirable. If you've never run a Monarch lathe, you won't be frustrated using the Atlas. It just takes lots of time to rough out large parts. (lots of light cuts)I've owned a 6" Atlas, 10" Atlas, and a 12" Craftsman (Atlas). Yes the hole through the spindle is less than 1" but this would only be a problem if it prevents you from doing what you need it to.

Best of luck,
Ed

J Tiers
03-21-2005, 12:19 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sauer38h:


Perhaps because Craftsman and Atlas are well-known, prices seem to me to be overheated. They approach Logan prices, which is just plain nuts.
</font>

Approach?

Atlas/Craftsman is often at to above Logan pricing, yes, due to name recognition, of course.

herbf
03-21-2005, 01:30 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by J Tiers:
Approach?

Atlas/Craftsman is often at to above Logan pricing, yes, due to name recognition, of course.</font>

OK, so what Logan m/n should I look for that is around $800 and better than the Craftsman/Clausing/Atlas lathes discussed?

JCHannum
03-21-2005, 08:46 AM
Of the more common lathes in this size range, I would rate them Atlas/Craftsman, Rockwell, Logan, South Bend and Sheldon in ascending order of quality, rigidity and features. My opinion, and you can probably swap any two around without changing things markedly.

I would worry less about model and brand and more about condition and accessories.

The Atlas is a bit lighter than the others, but more than adequate for most purposes. I would take a good Atlas over any of the Asian economy 9X20 machines any day.

Atlas and South Bend command higher prices due to their name, Logan, Rockwell and Sheldon are less popular, but equally good or better machines.

I recommend buying the best lathe you can find for the money available. I say this because I often see people asking which of the Asian imports is a better buy, looking for the cheapest available. To my mind this is false economy. The best of these lathes can be marginal, and to buy the lowest cost version of an already low quality machine can only give you problems.

[This message has been edited by JCHannum (edited 03-21-2005).]

J Tiers
03-21-2005, 09:44 AM
Well, I have a Model 200 10". Mine is a change gear unit, and has been quite nice. I have made a few enhancements.

I believe the model 820 is basically the same overall, but more of that type were made with the QC gears.

An 11" is slightly nicer, as it takes a 5C in the spindle collet adapter. I don't know the 11" model numbers.

As an indication, the Logan usually weighs half again to twice as much as the typical similar Atlas. Mass is good in lathes.

S-B is usually way overpriced around here on name recognition.

And, many S-B are much lighter built than Logan or especially Sheldon of similar size. The typical 9" S-B looks and is very light, with narrow and shallow ways. Yet the asking prices here are often near $1000 for the lathe, accessories minimal to nothing.

My Logan cost $600 complete with chucks, faceplate, steady, tooling, everything needed to get right to work. Go figure.

[This message has been edited by J Tiers (edited 03-21-2005).]

hoffman
03-21-2005, 10:08 AM
I have a rockwell 10 x 24 that I got when I was looking at 9 x 20's and I'm glad I did.
I'd hold out for a machine with a back gear, quick change gear box and cross feed.
The 920's fill a niche but I bet most folks who own them wish they had something else.
One plus of my rockwell is the nifty variable speed but it has a funky back gear arrangement.

------------------
Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

lklb
03-21-2005, 10:30 AM
Frequently there are good deals on the famous Loose Change brand lathes .......


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=97230&item=7500764077&rd=1

As always condition is everything. Check Condition............Just kidding.Goodluck

bikenut
03-22-2005, 08:32 PM
I bought a Griz 9x20 about 10 years ago. Had to do some fiddling around to get everything right. I snapped up an old Craftsman (Atlas) 9x36 that was like new, used by an old clockmaker. 10 times the machine, gave the Griz to a friend to be rid of it. However, old machines in good shape are hard to find, and working with a worn out piece of junk ain't no picnic either, I do enough of that at work. I'm looking at a new Jet 16x60, looks like a pretty stout machine also has over 3" clearance inside the spindle.

sauer38h
03-24-2005, 09:30 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by herbf:
OK, so what Logan m/n should I look for that is around $800 and better than the Craftsman/Clausing/Atlas lathes discussed?</font>

Any. They're all a jump up from Atlas or Craftsman. Logan made 9", 10", 11", 12", 14", and 15" lathes.

Pretty much all these lathes have active Yahoo groups - 9x20Lathe, atlas_craftsman, lathe-list [Logans], Sheldonlathe, southbendlathe (none for Rockwell, though). Lots of experienced users on those groups. Some groups (like the Logan group) have old catalogs in their files sections, which is helpful for figuring out which models were which.

I've never used a Sheldon. But I know the others and would take any of them over the Chinese ones. The big advantage to new Chinese is that they're easily available and you don't have to hunt around for one. I like the color of the Harbor Freight machines.



[This message has been edited by sauer38h (edited 03-25-2005).]