View Full Version : Hello everyone Im new and just starting out

02-23-2003, 12:49 AM
My name is Chris and I have been a tinker for many years. I have been working with wood for several years. Recently I have gotten into restoring old Machines I have a drill press, band saw and jointer from the late 50's. Its been working on their restorations that has really pushed me over the edge to want to pick up working with metal again (I did it in school and with my dad). Anyway I want to get started and was looking for advice as which is the best way to start. I was thinking of a combo mill lathe machine. If I could find some old compact machines that could use some work that works too. Thanks in advance Im looking forward to learning alot here.


02-23-2003, 01:54 AM
OK I have spent some time using the search feature and have confirmed my thoughts. Two machines are better than a one. But now its which one first the mill or the lathe? unfortunatly funds will only allow one.

Space and money are in short supply so I am looking at bench type models. for a mill drill and lathe I dont think a 7" X 10" will be big enough but maybe a used import for a deal will get me started.

Dave Opincarne
02-23-2003, 02:14 AM
It depends, could you give us a little more information on what type of progects you'd like to take on or what your interests are?

02-23-2003, 02:29 AM
I would start with a lathe, as lots of milling jobs can be done on it as well as turning. It's handy to have a crosslide with t-slots in it so you can make fixtures to do all kinds of things. My first lathe was a 3x10 or so, the next one, my 'permanent' one is an 8x18 and I still can't do some of the larger diameter things I want to with it, but it's already 200 lbs plus, so ---.

02-23-2003, 02:31 AM

Its difficult to say where I might go (I know this doesnt help you help me). I like to do many different things. To start I would make things that would help hone my skills and be of use for projects. (general do hickeys etc) I am a putter and tinker. making parts for things that break or unobatinable parts for old machines that I restore would be the near term likely things.


02-23-2003, 02:35 AM

I have read a few times whilst searching that the lathe is versatile. I dont understand what milling operations can be done on a pure lathe. Could you explain.



02-23-2003, 03:34 AM
Make a simple right angle adapter that can bolt to the cross slide t-slots. Bring it up to the jaws of the chuck, with the jaws opened up, and align the plate with the jaws before tightening it down. Now you have a flat plane perpendicular to the spindle asis. Mount a milling cutter in the lathe, a workpiece to the angle adapter, and use the cross feed to feed the work into the cutter. This works to get 90 deg sides on a piece, and to square it up,I use a square on the angle plate to align the piece I'm working on, and c-clamps to hold it to the angle plate. Using a fly cutter in the spindle, you can true up a surface. I've drilled holes in the angle plate to use for mounting the work, since often enough, there are holes in the piece you're making. There is an article in hsm, don't rememger what issue, that details making a vertical table with t-slots, dovetail ways and handwheel, to mount on the lathe crosslide, so you get 2 axis control, plus you have longitudinal feed on the lathe for the third axis. I don't trust my drill press for getting holes at 90 degrees, so until I got the mill, I used the angle plate on the lathe and put a center point in the chuck, and used that to center the workpiece for the hole. Then replaced the center with a drill bit to drill the hole. This whole process is a bit cumbersome, but a lot depends on the work you're doing.

02-23-2003, 08:40 AM
I'd probably get the lathe first. If you go back in old issues of Model Engineer magazine (a Britich publication that's been aroud for over a hundred years), a lathe and a drill press was typically "it" for most of the readers. And some of the models they made...!

As darryl says, you can mill in the lathe, with an adapter. Just realize it is for LIGHT work only; keyways, small flats, etc. Realize too that if you can bolt the work to a faceplate, you can "mill" a flat surface on almost anything. The Brits did that a lot. If you can find a copy of "The Amateur's Lathe" by L.H.Sparey, it explains a lot of those kinds of techniques.

Consider "good used American" for your machinery. www.mermac.com (http://www.mermac.com) has some tips on the web site for evaluating used machinery.

02-23-2003, 08:54 AM
AH (light turns on over head) I get it, how could I have not thought of that? Thanks I will try to find "The Amateur's Lathe" by L.H.Sparey as well. Thanks for the advice it really appreciated.

Does anyone else have some gems for a newbie?


Dr. Rob
02-23-2003, 10:08 AM
Sure- Get The Amateur's Lathe! Seriously, I've had that book for 11 years. Memorized every word. I turned pro maybe nine years ago, but I still pull that book off the shelf every now and then. There is always something...

Other suggestions? Sure, buy Home Shop Machinist! There is always something...
Edit: Whaaat? The search function works! For all the time I've hung out here, it hasn't. Now I really have some catching up to do!

[This message has been edited by Dr. Rob (edited 02-23-2003).]

Dave Opincarne
02-23-2003, 03:41 PM
Personaly, I found the mill a more versatile first choice. It's capable of machining larger work pieces, can make more versitile forms with the use of a dividing head or rotary table, can bore holes acuratly and easily, and is much more versitle in positioning the workpiece. With a single point tool held in a vice and the workpiece chucked in the spindle, many turning operations are possible including facing, turning short shafts, and chamfers. With a compound mounted on an angle plate, longer shafts and tapers are possible with a center mounted to the table, essentialy turning the mill into a short vertical lathe.

Again, both are useful tools and can preform some operations of the other, but you realy need to give some thought to what your primary needs are. Someone mentioned the early hobbiests primary wepons...uh I mean tools were a lathe and a drill press. Consider the importance of the drill press in those operations and the fact that the mills of the day were the less versitle horizontal mill.

Hope this hasn't muddied the waters too much, but there is no right answer.

02-23-2003, 09:40 PM
nice lathe milling attachment, project/kit


02-23-2003, 10:42 PM
I will muddy the waters again by mentioning that most t-slot milling attachments have one fatal flaw, which is uncalibrated X feed (along bed).

With all the faults of the palmgren adapter, if bolted onto the compound you get full 3 axis motion. Set compound along bed, crosslide gives the Y axis, and the palmgren gives Z.

It can be loosey-goosey, depending on the lathe in question, but works.

If you have a 2500lb monster lathe, the big palmgren will probably be rock steady in comparison to what it is on an Atlas, typical Southbend, or even a Logan.

OK, you can put an indicator on the bed, but that tells you your error, it does not help much with actually getting the correct setting. If you have a micrometer stop, you can emulate the "X" feed capability. Better than nothing, and for heavy work probably that and the t-slot is the only way to go short of a milling machine.

02-24-2003, 01:14 AM
Thanks everyone for your input, I should have added that I got to this site since I picked up both magazines.

Anyway what are the shortfalls of an import 7" X 12" lathe as opposed to the 9" X 20"? Capacity of course... anything else?
What may the capacity shortfall mean?

[This message has been edited by coralhound (edited 02-24-2003).]

02-24-2003, 03:37 AM
I didn't mention that when I upgraded to a larger lathe, I was amazed at how much better is performed in general. I'm not talking about the size of work, and not much about the depth of cut. Mostly, being heavier and more rigid, it gave a smoother performance, which translates to better surface finishes, and l can turn a wider variety of materials, without changing my technique as much. Sure you have to mind the particular material's properties, but the difference between lathes was like soap box cars to cadillacs. ( and my newest lathe is not a cadillac, I can't afford that). It's been said many times, don't get too small a machine unless budget, space, and weight force you to. And don't forget to look at used, I've been amazed at what caliber of machine you can get for less moolah than a 7 x 10 'work in progress'. I haven't yet seen a small lathe like that, that wouldn't have required lots of work, aligning, refitting, etc., to get a reasonable performance out of it. I'm appalled by the mediocrity of what I see available nowadays. Make sure you check it out in person before you commit to the machine.

02-25-2003, 04:47 AM
Dave, regarding your preference to have a mill first- you stated that it could be used in place of a lathe, for turning operations. Well, that's just turned the whole multi-use thing inside out! Now I can see how to do some of those larger diameter discs that I can't do on the lathe! My mill is essentially a 16x12 lathe. I suppose I could make up an adapter to mount either chuck, or a faceplate to it. Also a mount for the cutting tools. Oh, and I get to use 'y axis' to put the cutter on center. Thanks for the idea.

02-25-2003, 11:46 PM
Well I am looking around for a used lathe or mill. If I cant find one I am thinking of going with a Speedway 7 X 12. I really enjoyed www.mini-lathe.com (http://www.mini-lathe.com)

Does anyone know what issue has the powe filer? I would like to order that back issue


02-28-2003, 12:06 AM
Can anyone tell me which article the pwer file was so I can obtain it or is it not worth it?

I have a lead on a few used lathes that are amrican built south bends. They are a little out of my range to start and see If I am going to stick with it.

I also have a lead on a used 7X10 that a guy outgrew in 6 months. While I might out grow it as well a used 7 X 10 cant get any less expensive to get me started.

Yet another avenue is an EMCO compact 8 amd teh maximat 7 from austria any feedback on those units?


Chris Fazio
02-28-2003, 10:08 AM

I have a compact 8 that was made in Austria and have no complaints except for the size. It's been said here many times that you can do small work on a small or big lathe , but you can't do big jobs on a small lathe and I found this out the hard way. I now also have a 13x32 sheldon which I use for all my jobs now. By the way the new compact 8 is no longer made in Austria, it is made in taiwan. The emco products are also fairly pricey.