View Full Version : opinions on House of Tools - Force Lathes

03-27-2007, 10:58 PM

I have decided to get a larger lathe and am looking at the Force 12x36 gap bed at the House of Tools in Canada (2.8kCanadian $).

Does anyone have pos/neg opinions on this lathe or dealing with the House of Tools.



03-27-2007, 11:51 PM
Ummm...yes, I have a very negative opinion of HoT and their backup service.
I have one of their early 14X40 lathes (actually a glorified 13X40). It's actually not a bad lathe(for a narrow bed machine), quite a bit of power, nice rpm spread(70 to 2000) but has very poor feed rate ratios and they put something together bassackwards in the gearbox. There are a few other poorly made parts that I wanted to replace. I phoned/emailed them and they put me in touch with their "guru". I spent a lot of time measuring for the parts etc so they could "find" something that would work. How comforting...couldn't just order me the part...they had to "find" something.
I faxed the guy a well done drawing of the part and never heard from them again. I emailed them several times and finally made my own damn part.
Then I bought a tailstock for my rotary table from them. It's very, very poor quality compared to my Busy Bee rotab. I'd be hard pressed to buy anything from them unless I could check it out firsthand.
That being said....there's a couple guys here who have their machines and really like them. Doug has one of their vertical/horizontal mills that he's very happy with.
The only "real" advice I can give you is make sure the new lathe has a long feed rate finer than the .008 pr that mine has. It's just barely acceptable if everything is perfect.
My old Southbends would feed way finer than that and a good finish was really easy.
Good Luck!

03-28-2007, 01:30 AM
I have one. I purchased when they were more money. About 7 years ago. They are what you pay for. I wish I would have held out for a good used lathe, biger and better quality for the same price. It has always done what I needed it to do.

03-28-2007, 11:45 PM
I would have to disagree/agree. I have what I believe to be the same model you're speaking of, bdigney.

I like it, for the money. I've had mine for a couple of years now, and actually produce some nice parts with it. The biggest piece I make with it is a 2" 4140 shaft turned down to 1-15/16 with a small section that is actually 50mm. It also has some ring-grooves and (of course) the ends are faced. It is 24" long. This is the biggest piece I can and/or would make with this lathe.

The tool-holder is a flimsy turret-type. I've got pretty decent results with it by milling one side of it to fit a slightly larger tool. I use Sandvik toolholders and inserts with a 3/4" height from the bottom of the holder to the cutting tip.

The shaft I described earlier requires me to use all of the gizmos. The steady rest to face the ends. The follow rest to make the ring grooves and the diameter passes. I have to use the tailstock and a dial gauge to get it all right.

I have produced nice finishes with good repeatability. I do wish it had a finer feed rate.

I do want a nicer lathe though.

My two cents.


03-29-2007, 12:06 AM
I would have to disagree/agree.

I do want a nicer lathe though.


Then you must agree with me!!! I don't know where Bruce is but he could check out Modern Tool in Cowgary for a decent used machine or...
After experiencing HoT's poor service I'll never buy a machine from them again.
The newer machines could be better now. My lathe is 9 years old now. I bought it a couple years ago...in near brand new condition from a guy who could never get it to work right(so I found out after I bought it).
He never got HoT to honour any kind of warranty with the machines problems. They kept telling him it was all caused because the lathe wasn't bolted to the floor. That was not the problem( very loose spindle bearings, compound gib was way too small, etc.). I found several things out of whack and finally got it to turn without MAJOR chatter.
Now if I could figure out the bassakwards gearbox...

03-29-2007, 09:25 AM

Thanks for the posts, they gave me more to think about. I am in Medicine Hat, Alberta and a trip to modern tool and a trip to modern tool is in order.

WRT the too rapid linear feed - I am now considering the enco version (.0011in/rev). Enco has a free shipping deal on right now. I have purchased a milling vise, rotary table and 2k of misc tools from enco and have been happy with them.

I am also checking out a friends HoT lathe (same version but 5 years older) - he also a mostly positive but some problems.

This lathe is an addition to my current Emco compact 8. I have been waiting for a larger used emco to appear for a couple years but no luck.

thanks again


03-29-2007, 09:45 AM
Of course I agree with you, Russ. They are cheap lathes that are made cheap, and supported by people who are not qualified, nor have any interest to help.

I have to disagree with the fact that this is a negative. I got exactly what I expected out of House of Tools. I did not expect the quality of a 15,000 dollar machine and the support of someone whose paycheck depends on my happiness. I got a 2800 dollar lathe from some old guy who doesn't need his paycheck and just works there to get out of the house for 8 hours every day.

Yes, the lack of support can be frustrating. No, I am not unhappy with the lathe.

I'm willing to bet that the situation is similar in most places like HoT. When you walk in to the store, it smells like low-grade chineese import packaging.

All I'm saying is adjust your expectations to the place you're buying from and you won't be dissappointed.


03-29-2007, 10:09 AM
If the best you can accomplish with a 12"X36" lathe is 1/16" on the diameter of a 2" round, that is not much of a testimonial.

03-29-2007, 02:57 PM
I feel I rally should weigh in on this topic.
Its true that I have been very happy with their mill. So far it has done everything that I asked it to do, hard and straight and very little chatter.
But, if you think they have any spare parts for any of their product hidden away in some back room, think again.
One look at the operators manual, written in very poor Chinglish, and hand drawn pictografs of parts lists, will soon change your mind.
I suspect that the only parts you are likely to get would have to be taken off the floor model.
Like Torker said, If something breaks, mke your own replacement part.
Just wanted to add that my Japenese lathe(Ikegai) will feed as low as .0007".
Doug, from Cold Lake.

03-29-2007, 04:57 PM
Doug! You made it! I was waiting for ya to chime in. I have to add...I've owned quite a few Busy Bee machines over the years and have ended up needing some parts. So far they've always come up with them.
Oh ya.... .0007....Drool!
Mike...I think you hit the nail on the head about the people who work there.
And ya...it is just $2800...not a whole pile of money for a lathe.
Like any of these chinese kits...once you get them fixed, they'll be ok (note lower case letters).
Actually once I make a smaller feed gear for mine it'll be a pretty decent machine.

03-30-2007, 01:04 AM

I said that that is the biggest peice I can/would make on the lathe.

Perhaps someone with more skill than I (virtually anybody) could turn out larger parts with this lathe.

Also, maybe I got a dud of a machine. If it's possible to buy a brand-new Honda and have it turn out to be a lemon, then it is certainly possible with a cheap-o lathe.

My only credentials are that I am a Mechanical Engineering Technologist. (Halfway between blue collar and white). We had a whopping half-semester in a room with lathes and mills in it. All my other experience has been self-taught. So like I say, that's the biggest part I can/would make with this lathe.

I'm sure the lathe is capable of better parts, I however, am not.


03-31-2007, 09:53 PM
torker said "And ya...it is just $2800...not a whole pile of money for a lathe."

It is a whole lot of money to me, that is why I have an old South Bend and a Atlas-Clausen. Less than half the $2800 cdn.


04-01-2007, 12:30 PM

I don't own any Force machines, but....

I was at Hot Calgary South store to look at the machines and wiggle the handles. Well a lot of them had "DO NOT SELL Parts on Order" signs. I did a quick count and about 40% of the display machines in the machining area had these signs. I didn't look to find out what exactly was missing but there were sure a lot of missing handles.

My GUESS is that they have a lot of shipping damage, no real service parts department or their is a flaw.

On the bright side they are willing to rob machines to support customers who do buy machines.