View Full Version : Combination lathe, milling machines
J E CUNNINGHAM
04-08-2001, 11:08 AM
As the owner of what is basically a small ornamental iron shop I occaisonaly have simple, basic machining needs, primarily bushings, accurately spaced holes, simple latch parts, etc. Outsourcing small lots of oddball parts is a pain in the neck. I'm curious, but leary, about the combination milling/lathe machines that are being sold. If anyone has experience with these I would appreciate comments or suggestions. Thanks
04-12-2001, 12:18 AM
It took me three years to find a Emco Maximat 7 (25 years old made in Austria) in good shape for reasonable money. I am pleased with mine and it does excellent work using modern coated carbide tooling (I do not use HSS unless desparate). A quality unit is hard to find, if your part sizes are quite small look at the Taig and Sherline or others in the pages of HSM & MW. for a well made product. If you need something larger, I like the Emco Maximat 11. It is a quality Lathe with a handy little milling head. Blue Ridge Machinery is the distributor in the US for Emco machines (up to 17" I believe)
If space or 3 phase power is available, quality used machines and tooling can be had for a little more. Check the Thomas Register (online) for dealers and tooling suppliers.
05-04-2001, 02:09 PM
This may be late, but I used a Smithy for 4 years and had great results. I built several complicated projects with dead on tolerances, at least with any measuring tool I have. The drawback is that changeover time between lathe and mill is slow and will drive you nuts. You must spend a fair amount of time truing up the machine, but it is worth it.
At less than $3,000.00 loaded it is a great value, and the customer service is great.
I almost purchased one of these machines but am now very glad that I did not. For only slightly more I got a lathe and a mill. Mine is a Chinese 12x36 lathe with a quick change gearbox, lever speed change, and power cross feed. I would not want to give ANY of these features up. I also purchased a mill/drill and (while it's no bridgeport) it is more flexible to use and has greater capacity. Having seperate machines has definite advantages, but any lathe is much better then no lathe! Before long you may find yourself using your machines more then you thought you would! Good luck!
06-06-2001, 09:52 AM
Most people I've talked to who've had a multi-purpose machine later wish they had purchased a lathe and milling machine seperately. This seems to be true also for the woodworking machines. They seem to show up in the classifed "for sale" magazines fairly regularly.
12-02-2002, 01:13 PM
I purchased a Smithy Granite a few months ago and I'm satisfied with it, tho, as wade_he said, changeover is a pain in the ass, but, it's a trade-off if you don't have the room for separate units, which I would rather have. The accuracy is there as is the tooling availability. I use mine mainly making parts for radio control vehicles, cars, trucks, etc.
There are some combo units out there that...are less than desirable and tuff to get parts for. If you choose to go this way, go with a well known company.
12-02-2002, 01:40 PM
Sounds like you could probably get started with a mill/drill. I think a mill/drill, even the $799 variety from HF (what I have), is a very useful machine to have. It will require a few accessories, but then so would any machine tool. It's not clear about how much of lathe you may need. Heck, if it's just bushings and small stuff you might be able to get by just fine with a 7 x 10 lathe for $300. People do amazing things with those lathes. If you need something bigger, perhaps a 9 x 20 may be more suitable, however, they may require more initial setup.
I am sure that Thrud has a nice shop what with his Maximat 7, although, I don't think I would like to spend 3 years looking for the perfect machine.
Yup, give me that good ole made in the People's Republic of China iron. Especially for the price.
12-04-2002, 12:55 AM
I have a Homier 7x12 lathe that I'm very happy with. Wish I had something like a Rockwell or a South Bend with at least 2 feet between centers, just 'cause I'd like to be able to do larger work. But it was what I could afford at the time. I don't need a bigger lathe, just like to have one.
The Homier mini mill drill looks pretty good to me at $399.00. Can't afford it though. Someday, I'll get to build a Gingery metal shaper and mill. I've even redesigned the lathe bed pattern so that I can build the Gingery lathe with 2 or 3 feet between centers. Ahh, someday.
I second the approval of the Homier, although it is a bit small. Works very well for the price. With that and a drill press, I can do quite a bit. A milling machine is on the list, but I get by without it fairly well.
[This message has been edited by INTP (edited 12-08-2002).]