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bgray43050
04-11-2006, 01:29 PM
Hi All.

I'm new to this place...seems pretty cozy.

I'm a pretty seasoned woodworker, and lately, I've been turning wooden pens as a small business.

For obvious reasons, a machinists lathe is a MUCH easier tool to produce these pens than a woodworking lathe.

So I'm looking into small machinists lathes. I'm considering the Taig (cheap, simple) and the Sherline (probably better quality, seems like more expandability)

But then there are times that I really do need to machine small parts, and perhaps expanding my talent towards machining is an interest. So I'm thinking about an Enco lathe with threading capabibities, as well as other features...maybe a Grizzly...(???)

I know that my question is pretty broad, and please pardon me (on my woodworking forums, sometimes I pretty get tired of the "which table saw to buy" question), but if you guys don't mind entertaining my question, I would appreciate it.

So two questions...1). A recommendation for a simple machinists lathe that would work fine for turning wooden pens. 2) If I choose to get more into machining, a lathe recommendation that would include threading, as well as some of the more common features....so if I do get into machining, I could turn pens, and also I won't have a machine that would be extinct, and only take me so far into machining.

Also, can someone recommend a good book for the beginner?

Thanks so much.

Brian Gray

SGW
04-11-2006, 01:52 PM
I'm not sure there is a quick answer to your questions.

You may want to see if you can find a copy of "The Amateur's Lathe" by L.H. Sparey. It's available through http://www.lathes.co.uk/ if you can't find it elsewhere.

The book is a bit dated, but most of the information is still very relevant. It will give you a pretty good idea of what matters in a metalworking lathe...modified by the fact that the information is 50+ years old and written from a British point of view.

david_r
04-11-2006, 02:14 PM
Brian,
Have you considered the Chinese mini-lathes? Reason I ask is wood is bad for lathes. It gets everywhere, soaks up oil and then grit sticks to it.

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

I would definitely find a way to keep sawdust out of the electronics.

Magic9r
04-11-2006, 07:22 PM
When working small wood projects on a lathe or mill I always rig dust extraction close to the cutter with my shop vacuum, I don't get any sawdust at all on the machines ;)

mklotz
04-11-2006, 07:38 PM
Most lathes capable of cutting threads do not have very high top speeds. I would think that for pen turning you would want very high speeds. A Taig might supply those speeds (don't know, don't own one) but a thread cutting lathe probably won't. Don't be sad. View this as an opportunity to buy *two* new tools.

bgray43050
04-11-2006, 07:57 PM
Brian,
Have you considered the Chinese mini-lathes? Reason I ask is wood is bad for lathes. It gets everywhere, soaks up oil and then grit sticks to it.

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

I would definitely find a way to keep sawdust out of the electronics.

I appreciate the suggestion, but I've always been on the mind that you get what you pay for, and I've tried to stay away from taiwanese tools...I've learn that the hard way a couple of time with some woodworking tools.

In regards to dust collection, I'm very dust conscious and eliminate pretty much all dust from the lathe...I would probably seal the switches, as well.

As far as lathe speed goes...the Sherline goes from 70-2800 rpm, which is fine for wood. Do most machinists lathes NOT go that fast?? 1500 should be fine for pens, but 2000 would be preferred

Thanks.

TECHSHOP
04-11-2006, 08:27 PM
One of the "Big Woodworking" mail order/net companies sell one of those to lathes (Taig/Sherline) as the "ultimate" pen turning lathe. It may be Lee Valley or Garrett Wade (sp?). If I was looking for an ol'iron lathe, I would look for one with a "flat bed" instead of a "v" ways, and a "plain turning" lathe, (no lead screw), both of these "features" make the lathe less "valuable/useful" to a HSM, but would be OK for your purposes. The RPM is usually, much slower on a metal lathe, but some of the imports have a high "top end". Make sure that whatever lathe you get that your pen mandril(sp?), etc fit, be sure of your available length between centers.

When the electronics on a 7x mini lathe goes bad, it goes to max rpms, what ever that is. Or it may not run at all, no middle ground.

Another option, is to "build" your own, from the replacement and upgrade parts available, a wood lathe is not a complicated machine.

Mad Scientist
04-11-2006, 08:40 PM
I have typically found that bigger is better.
Unless you are willing to dedicate this lathe to just making pens, I think as new projects come along you will undoubtedly find that you will need machine that is just a little larger then “whatever” you have. So I would start out with the biggest you can afford and have room for.


[I‘m not young enough to know everything.]