View Full Version : Ideal Gunsmithing lathe?

02-11-2009, 02:12 PM
What is your idea of an ideal gunsmithing lathe?

Mine would be a Talisawa 13-40. 1 1/2 spindle bore, short headstock for chuck and cathead barreling, and a bed long enough for taper turning barrels.

A Weiler Condor would be even better, or a 10L longbed Southbend as a good but not great choice.

If your barreling 50 BMG or making a 50 reciever, something bigger than these would be ideal, in my expierience.

kurt w
02-11-2009, 08:29 PM
I have one that comes very close; itís a SB G26T or something like that. Has a 1.625 spindle bore and is short enough with a 4 jaws and spider to do a 20" barrel. Darn acc spindle bearings too, but the dialís levee something to be desired and the bed is only 36". O it's made in Taiwan too. I would guess the Grizzle gunsmith lates would be very close to it although I have not seen one.

02-11-2009, 10:03 PM
I don't have one but I like the specs and features for gunsmithing on this one. I've been wanting one for a while.
It's a bench-top but, a 12x36 should be plenty big enough.

02-12-2009, 05:39 PM
I have a 1983 vintage JET 12X36BD...........I converted it to DC drive, added a cathead on the outboard spindle and had the bearings replaced with Tinkhams(sp?). I installed a two axis Shooting Star DRO.

I've tried a bunch of other lathes and nothing compares to this lathe for accuracy, ease of use, home shop size and price (I paid $1600 about 12 years ago)


02-26-2009, 12:31 AM
That is the same lathe you took a picture of for me 9 years ago, to show me what is a spider.
You got us started building rifles.

We have bought 4 lathes since then and 3 of them we built spiders for, but unlike your 3 screw design, we always make 4 screw.

I am about to buy a 5th lathe, but the grizz come with spider from the factory.

Rusty Marlin
02-26-2009, 10:48 AM
I went through this exersise three years ago and bought a grizzley 13x40 G9036. I've been very pleased with it.

I set up a huge spread sheet with all the features I desired and tossed in about ten lathes to see where everybodies offerings stacked up.

02-26-2009, 11:16 AM
I was hoping someone like you was out there that had already done the comparison.

Why did you choose the $4k G9036 over the $3k G4003G ?


03-16-2009, 01:01 PM
There are many lathes that can do well chambering barrels. Some are basement level, some are top floor level.

And, there are as many opinions on this as there are different lathes.

But a few features I think are tops to look for are:

1) Spindle bore size has to be big enough for a barrel to fit through.
2) Headstock width is a major factor, in my mind. I know some use lathes that are long through the hole, and they have found ways to work around this. But, when shopping, why not look for something that will be less hassle?
3) D1-4 or D1-5 mount. Or bigger is fone, but not a threaded spindle.
4) Quick change tool holder is an aftermarket thing if not included.
5) Bed length or at least 36 inches.

Once you have it set up, there will always be things you want to "personalize" to fit your needs. Plus adjustments have to be checked and maintained. There are several publications available to help with this.

Unless you have had a lathe before, if you think the price of the machine was your biggest headache, wait until you start tooling it up! Maybe not as much as the machine, but it aint gonna be cheap!

You may want better chucks, indicators, centers, tool holders, tools, mounts, boring bars, the list goes on.................

03-17-2009, 01:06 AM
Let's not forget chambering reamers and headspace gages, throating reamers, choke tooling, etc., etc., ad infinitum!

Montezuma, IA

Oh, yeah, the prices just keep going upward!

03-18-2009, 09:20 PM
I have a 1983 vintage JET 12X36BD...
A friend of mine has the same machine, they are very nice.

03-23-2009, 12:06 PM
The three 12x36 lathes from China have mostly identical parts:
1) Harbor Freight
2) Grizzly
3) Precision Mathews

Jet does not import one, but imports many 13x40 larger lathes.

I ordered the PM1236.
Here is a good link to another guy who ordered that lathe:

03-27-2009, 02:46 PM
That is interesting that Jet no longer imports a 12x36. On the other hand, the marginal difference in price between a 12x36 and 13x40 from many of the importers may mean that there is no longer a real niche for them.

It looks like Enco and others who import a 12x36 for years still have them in addition to the three you show below.


Here's the Birmingham:


Clearly, many are the same lathe with different paint.

I ended up with a Kent 13x40. One of the features that comes with *some* of the 13" lathes that is not present in sizes below that is an oil-bathed feed/threading gear box rather than the traditional "lossy" oiling. Of course, the gear box on mine is just a bit lossy too, especially if you fill it to the upper limit in the sight glass:rolleyes:


04-05-2009, 11:18 PM
This is what I use: http://www2.snapfish.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=289000572/a=127480350_127480350/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish

No, it's not a 10EE and it's on the smaller side of 12x36 but cuts real nice and I was able to get it in my basement shop without too much trouble. The guy that owned it before me was supposedly a gunsmith (isn't that what they all tell ya :o ) but he did keep it in decent shape. Find one of these in good shape (good luck) I'd grab it.