View Full Version : Small new lathe or larger used benchtop lathe???

09-21-2001, 03:26 PM

[This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 03-08-2004).]

09-21-2001, 04:46 PM
Not a dumb question. The larger lathe with its greater mass can be a lot more stable than a small lathe and you may find that you can get better finish on your projects.

In addition, you may find that the larger lathe has more workholding and other options? Are you going to need to do any threading? What about cutting tapers?

But then I know of more than one person that travels a lot and keeps a Sherline or a Taig in a suitcase.

There is a balance to be considered, but by and large, I'd go for the larger used lathe because it has fewer limitations and you can get more bang for the buck.

grace & peace

[This message has been edited by willjordan (edited 09-21-2001).]

09-21-2001, 05:16 PM
I think the Sherline and Taig are both quality machines; the limitation is the size.

Assuming you can find "good used" in a larger size though, I'd probably recommend that route. As Willjordan says, you have more capability, and a used lathe may come with a considerable amount of tooling -- expensive if you have to buy it all piece by piece.

About the only drawback to a larger lathe is the spindle speed. If you do a lot of small stuff, you may need/want a higher spindle speed than a larger lathe provides. In practice, however, I doubt that will be an issue. It might be if you got a REALLY big lathe, but I assume you're talking in the 9" to 11" range.

10-08-2001, 11:46 PM
I started with a 7x10 import, I just got a SouthBend 9". I am refurbishing it. I was trying to turn a 4" x 1/2" disc with the import but it kept stalling. The SB should turn it easily when I finish redoing it. So that 2" difference is really much bigger than you would think. The import should be listed 3x10 instead.(I do like it still) I look at lathes much differently now that I have seen really big ones in action.


10-14-2001, 01:47 AM
You have a good grasp already, I think. I have a 16/24" South Bend, and can work down to 1/2" with the four jaw and about 3/16" dia. with the three jaw. Have to get clever to go smaller. Not always easy to do the real small stuff, but possible. Good luck!

10-17-2001, 02:14 PM
big lathe little lathe,good question, one can always do small work on a large machine if not too big by muonting a small chuck on a shank or by holding the small chuck in a larger chuck 3 jaw or 4 jaw, 4 jaw is better more solid and truer running as runout is compounded with two 3 jaw chucks. Lathe speeds arn't too bad if work not too small, sometimes cuting methods have to be chainged,tools very sharp, also small whetstones can be used. Do you want to build models or make parts for a riding mower? Both are possible with a 7-10 inch machine.

Dave Burnett
10-17-2001, 07:12 PM
Go with the bigger machine, something around 12x36 or 13x40. You can always do small work on a big machine but but you can't do big work on a small machine. Look to the future. Dave Burnett

10-17-2001, 10:36 PM
You are 100% right. You will hate yourself one day if you get a small lathe. 12X36 is a great size.

10-17-2001, 11:02 PM

I agree with Jim and Dave, size matters. I have a 7"x18" Maximat7 and it is fantastic for small precise stuff (but I STILL need more speed, Scotty!) But it burns my arse everytime I see a Stuart Walking Beam engine and realize turning a nearly 14" flywheel is but a dream until I have much more room or someone bans cars from parking in garages (such a waste of a heated workshop!)

If you have the space and the bucks buy a used machine in good shape. If you want a dinky 7"x18" buy a used Hardinge HLV (2200 lbs.)(recommended threading speed is to "stay below 1000 rpm" - I could just puke).