View Full Version : Decent Lathe?

04-22-2010, 10:29 AM
Hi all, I am looking to buy a decent lathe for my home shop. My budget is around $4500. I have looked online at Jet, Grizzly, Shop Fox & a few others. I am looking at 13" x 40" , 220 single ph. Anyone have any input or suggestions on the best buy out there?

04-22-2010, 10:52 AM
If your mind is set on a new lathe (vs. used american ones), you may consider G4003G from Grizzly. It's 12" x 36", however. I've seen quite a few good feedbacks about this gunsmith model. No personal experience with it though.

04-22-2010, 11:03 AM
I will probably get some disagreement here but I have a Harbor Freight 14x40 that is the SAME EXACT lathe that Enco sells for nearly $5000, I paid just barely over $2700 for mine with the 20% off coupon (regular without coupon $3199). This thing also appears to be the same machine as the Birmingham YCL14x40 and a couple of other brands of the same machine, I have no doubt they came from the same factory and since you are looking at ChiCom why spend more? Some will argue that HF just sells the rejects that places like Enco turns down but that is apparently total nonsense, there is no difference in the HF 14x40 and my buddy's Enco 14x40 except the color and the price! I followed the Yahoo group on these HF machines for a while before deciding on mine and those guys convinced me that the HF machines were as good as the other brands, I am happy that they did because it saved me a lot of money. Don't confuse the HF large machines with the worthless junk they have in their "tool" stores as these are totally different animals and I know from first-hand experience they are every bit as good as the Enco offering. I have been running mine everyday now for well over a year and I couldn't be happier with it, it has the usual ChiCom shortcomings but you will get that regardless of the brand if it is Chinese. Before spending nearly twice the money check out the Yahoo groups and talk with a few guys who own these things, you are going to find that by far most of the people who bash them have never even used one!

Bill Pace
04-22-2010, 11:19 AM
The 12x36 and 13x40 sized lathes seem to have become the choice for HSM'ers (and even many job shops). I have personal experience with a Birmingham 13x36 and countless hours reading posts on these lathes and have come to a few conclusions...

With your nice sized budget, just sort through all the specs of all the brands out there and settle on the choices you want in the lathe and if a couple are really similar, then flip a coin to choose;)

Seriously, these lathes all seem to be so closely matched in the construction that I feel any one of them will give a home shop guy a heck of a nice lathe. As Radkins pointed out, even the lowly thought of HF has gotten some very nice write ups from owners.

Dr Stan
04-22-2010, 01:13 PM
I had two 14X40 Jet lathes (brand new) in a teaching lab. They required more maintenance than my 50+ year old Logans. Consequently I will not touch a Chinese machine tool with a 10 ft pole.

I recommend looking for an industrial machine out of a model shop, or similar circumstances. Some non-US brands to look for are Lion (Bulgaria) Romi (Brazil), Webb (South Korea), Denford (England), and Emco-Maier (Austria). Don't confuse the Emco with Enco.

04-22-2010, 04:52 PM
Here is a decent used lathe:


04-22-2010, 05:28 PM
I will probably get some disagreement here but I have a Harbor Freight
14x40 that is the SAME EXACT lathe that Enco sells for nearly $5000, I
paid just barely over $2700 for mine with the 20% off coupon (regular
without coupon $3199).HF displays two 14 x 40 machines presently. Both are described as
3 ph (although I wonder about the accuracy of the description.)

ITEM 66665-2VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=66665) - $3999.99

240 volts, 60 Hz, 60 amps; three phase;

ITEM 44995-0VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=44995) - $4499.99

Motor: 3 HP, 3-phase, 220 volts

FWIW, neither looks like a clone of a Jet GH-14x40W.


04-22-2010, 06:06 PM
Don't now where you live but this looks good.

04-22-2010, 06:38 PM
If this is your first lathe id recommend saving a lot of money and going with a 12x36 insted. its not much smaller then a 14x40 but general about half the price and still has pertty much all the same features, and way more then enough power/rigidity/accuracy. Anything smaller then a 12x36 however tends to lack major features, so if you have the cash, id high recommend the 12x36 as a first lathe, And likey the ONLY lathe you will need. Very few people upgrade from a 12x36 to a 14x40.

If you allready have a 10x20 or bigger lathe that you use a lot and really know you want/need the 14x40 then go for it.
Though one thing to consider would be that used lathes of aprox that size and larger, do sometimes come up for sale rather cheap because they don't fit in most HSM garages. Might be worth checking out that market for a few months, you could get an even bigger lathe for cheaper (if your shop is big enough!)

You basicly HAVE to know how to used a lathe however to be able to judge if a used lathe is usable or not. Theres just too many things to mention to look at and measure. So id discourage a first time lathe buyer from buying used.

Note: Tooling/Acessorys/upgrades for the lathe can easily cost another $1000 or more, depending on what you buy. So consider that into your budget as well.

04-22-2010, 08:09 PM

Matt at QualityMachineTools.com has a good reputation online. Nice variety of equipment.

I have a PM1340T coming shortly from him.

FWIW: Its 3 phase, which gives a better finish, and I'll be using a $300 Hitachi VFD to convert my single phase to 3.


04-22-2010, 09:45 PM
Thanks for all the info, I have some time to make a decision & will consider everyone's advice.

04-22-2010, 09:52 PM
If you decide to go import, I'd definitely talk to Matt at Qualitymachinetools.com .

He knows all the import machines really well and he's a good guy that will help you both before and after the sale. He helped chase down an oddball replacement part for an older import mill I have that I didn't even buy from him.

Paul T.

Tyro 001
04-22-2010, 10:09 PM
I have a Grizzly 4016 which I bought in february 2006. The lathe cost about 2900.00 and I paid 300.00 plus for the taper attachement which you should get. I just checked the Grizzly site and it looks like they're asking 3800.00 for the same lathe. It's been a good lathe for me, but I'm a little surprised at the huge price increase. Last year the lathe was around 3000.00. I've been well pleased with the lathe, but I don't use it every day, all day long like some people do.

04-22-2010, 10:56 PM
I am also looking for a lathe- and am also considering buying a new one unless I find an exceptional deal on an older model.

Up until recently, it seemed that every machine shop I was in had a older small Enco mill that wasn't good for anything except maybe polishing. The shop I work in now has a 16 x 80 Enco that seems to be very nice.

I am wanting something that is sturdy enough to stand up to hard use. It will also need to be able to thread metric as well as English. A 13 or so by 36 would be adequate size wise, expect most of the work to be done would be locating pins and things of that nature.

A few of the bigger tool shops don't quote some of the smaller jobs because they can't get enough money out of them- which should be right up the alley of a home shop.

04-22-2010, 11:13 PM
I would 2nd the (lower price) HF 14x40. I also got mine for less than $3000. with a coupon and fitted it with a 3-phase electronics box. Use it a lot and have no complaints other than I will be replacing the the cheap plastic knobs on all the operating shafts soon with higher quality plastic.

04-23-2010, 12:29 AM
FWIW, neither looks like a clone of a Jet GH-14x40W.


Never said it was the same as a Jet GH-14x40, I said it was identical in outward appearance to the Birmingham YCL14x40 and the Enco 14x40 and it IS except for the color! The Birmingham YCL I looked at was absolutely identical, same knobs, switches and controls, same control locations, everything was the same except the color-even the specs! I talked to one fellow who told me the Birmingham had a better motor but he had no idea what the motor was and how it was supposed to be different, maybe it is I doubt he really knew but the castings, the controls, EVERYTHING about the machine I could see was exactly like mine. I am sure the Enco is the same, I see that Enco all the time.

Birmingham 14x40


HF 14x40,




BTW, the HF 14x40 is $3999 on the web site but only $3199 in the direct to the store catalog. I got mine loaded on my trailer at the store after the coupon for a total of $2,795.93 including Tennessee's 9.75% sales tax. The price is still $3199 ordered to the store and those 20% off coupons are easy to find. :)