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View Full Version : Newbie's Tool non-gloat (modest tool, no pictures)



Tait
09-30-2011, 10:33 AM
Hi all,

In another thread, I mentioned I would be looking at a small lathe sometime next year and likely ask the group's advice.

Well, a friend had a Craftsman 618 "lathe" with a 4 jaw chuck, clean ways, and a full set of perfect gears for sale at a price I couldn't refuse. So I have something to play with and learn on, and it just might be big enough to meet my very modest needs. If not, I'll have a very good idea of what I want when I get a "real" lathe, and will probably keep this one around for small jobs. (Meanwhile, I have a friend who has been showing me around a lathe on his 20x40? Victor about 5 minutes away).

So far, I've stripped it down, cleaned off and oiled moving parts, put it back together, aligned the headstock, and put on a motor with VFD (the pulley setup was not original and did not offer a wide range of speeds). I'm pleasantly surprised and very happy with the results - it now cuts very nicely with no apparent taper. Some accessories for tooling are in the works, including a cute quick change tool post.

If anyone has suggestions on helping make this lathe even better I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. In particular, I would love to get a recommendation for an inexpensive 3 jaw chuck (spindle nose is 1"x10tpi) and any thoughts on whether some sort of miniature collet system might be worth pursuing (e.g. ER25, which has been done on a 618 (http://www.deansphotographica.com/machining/atlas/ER25/ER25.html)).

Thanks for reading,

Tait

p.s. I'm not sure all the things I will want to do on the lathe - I anticipate wanting to use it to make small screws and tapering some pins for knifemaking, some hinge posts, tooling for the mill (and, for that matter, the lathe), and home maintenance tasks. When I got my mill, I thought I would only be using it to slot stuff for my knifemaking hobby but have done more OTHER stuff with it than knifemaking, so I'm not really sure how I'll end up using the lathe...

J. R. Williams
09-30-2011, 11:13 AM
Stay with the four jaw chuck as a good chuck probably would exceed the value of the lathe.
JRW

Scottike
09-30-2011, 12:40 PM
JR's point aside, I would go for a 3 jaw chuck, but spring for a chuck with 2 piece jaws. The 2 piece jaws will allow you to make up soft jaws that you can use to hold parts that need better accuracy than your standard hard jaws. Typically as good or better than a collet. If your on a tight budget go for a plain back model and make your own backing plate. Any decent 3 jaw would be fine, there's no need to spend extra for a "Set True", but I have to admit that having one would be nice if you can afford it..
I think you'll find a movable carrage stop that will let you mount a 2" travel dial indicator to measure carrage travel will be the cat's meow when you want to turn to a shoulder(s). And they are easily made from a chunk of AL (as are the softjaws).
I guess the point is, you can spend hundreds or even thousands on all sorts of goodies for your lathe, but realistically most of them you can make yourself, inexpensively, except for the cost of your time, once you have just a few basic items.

edit: If I had to buy a budget chuck today, this is probably what I'd go for:
http://www.travers.com/skulist.asp?RequestData=CA_Search&navPath=All+Products%2F%2F%2F%2FMachine+Tool+Acces sories%2F%2F%2F%2FChucks-Lathe&q=block+id+38059+and+class+level3+id+28999&minPrice=$99.99
But, if you can wait, outfits usually have sales on chucks several times a year. (usually Bison, but other brands too.)

JCHannum
09-30-2011, 12:51 PM
Stay with the four jaw chuck as a good chuck probably would exceed the value of the lathe.
JRW

There is nothing wrong with the Atlas 618 lathe. It is a very capable machine, and, in good condition, can bring a good price.

3" or 4" 3 jaw chuck would not be a bad addition, but you will not find a chuck in this size range with two piece jaws. The collet chuck would also be an asset if you anticipate much work in the size range ER25 collets cover.

Scottike
09-30-2011, 01:10 PM
3" or 4" 3 jaw chuck would not be a bad addition, but you will not find a chuck in this size range with two piece jaws.

Check the link in my post.

Arthur.Marks
09-30-2011, 01:30 PM
Scott. Only over 5" on Phase II. http://www.phase2plus.com/details.asp?pr=3-JAW_LATHE_CHUCKS_PLAIN_BACK&id=36
There IS one make I know of, but they are $600-700. The Rohm ZGU-101795 (Cast Iron) and ZSU-101796 (Steel). Models like the 4" Bison do offer another option if soft jaws are necessary. You can buy sacrificial jaws made from plain 1018 steel with the rack cut in them. You use them in place of the solid jaws.

This is all a tangent, though. Don't get flustered by thinking you need it, Tait.

Tait
09-30-2011, 02:48 PM
Thanks, this is helpful!

I'm wanting to do a few things for which the 3 jaw will be nice. And, my wife was asking what I wanted for Birthday/Christmas. So a Phase II will likely be on the list. Otherwise, the 4 jaw chuck works OK for everything I need to do right now. (I am a TOTAL beginner - I haven't even tried threading yet!)

The reason I'm asking for other suggestions is that if I wait until I need it for a project, I don't then want to hold up the project waiting for a sale... so I'll be watching for sales on ER collet sets (along with the other things for the mill I'm watching for...).

Thanks all, additional suggestions would be welcome!

Tait

justanengineer
09-30-2011, 05:41 PM
Before diving in, do yourself a favor and make a want/need list of the basics first. Then remember that with machines you also need measuring tools and other "support" equipment. As suggested already, with machinery you can make quite a few items that will only improve your capabilities. Quite often fabbing your own tools/tooling is as rewarding as finishing those other projects you bought the machines to support.

As always, I suggest people visit a library or two, as well as the used book stores that still exist. Quite often your local library wont have very much of a metalworking selection, but many have a free "interlibrary loan system" where you can pull books from potentially millions of libraries worldwide, and I think you would be surprised the extent of books available free bc of this. I was never much of a "reader for pleasure" until I began reading books related to the trades. Strange how this hobby has turned this young man's life around.

jdunmyer
09-30-2011, 07:36 PM
Little Machine Shop has a 4" 3-jaw chuck and an adaptor (backplate) for your lathe spindle. See: http://www.littlemachineshop.com

sasquatch
09-30-2011, 07:39 PM
I have a 618 in nice condition with a fair bit of tooling and its a great little lathe in it's boundaries.
There is a Yahoo Group for 618 lathe owners.

Tait
10-01-2011, 01:31 AM
Thanks for the additional input.

@Justanengineer: I do have a mill already, so I have some of the basic measuring stuff. I have been playing when I can and reading when I can't.

@jdunmyer: Thanks for bringing this up - I should have mentioned that I was aware of the LittleMachineShop 3 jaw that will fit my spindle - any experience with the quality?

@sasquatch: I'm starting to really like the 618 - it seems to do a great job when I know what to ask it to do (and how). I did join the 618 forum a couple of days ago and have been reading a bunch of back messages.

DATo
10-01-2011, 03:49 AM
Greetings Tait ! I think you have a great starter lathe there. J.R. Williams has the right idea ... with only a 4 jaw to work with you will soon become an expert at indicating a workpiece "true". A 4 jaw also lends itself to the greatest flexibility in holding all manner of workpiece shapes; however, I also agree with Scottike about picking up a 3 jaw if you can because after awhile it is going to get tedious having to constantly center all round pieces with an independent-jaw chuck.

On another note: If you are new to using a lathe I would HIGHLY recommend picking up a booklet called 'How To Run A Lathe' produced by the South Bend company. This book should be very easy to find because they've been produced in the tens of thousands. This book will tell you just about anything and everything you need to know about running your lathe.

EDIT: Read the reviews at the bottom of the page. Pretty much says it all. You might check eBay too.

http://www.amazon.com/How-run-lathe-operation-cutting/dp/155918115X

jdunmyer
10-01-2011, 09:36 AM
Tait,
I can't speak for the quality of any particular item from LMS except for the ones I've bought, and I've been quite pleased with them. In fact, if you get serious about using that lathe, I'd recommend the A2Z quick change toolpost setup. I have one on my 7X14 Mini-Lathe and wouldn't be without it.

RE: the S.B. "How to Run a Lathe", you can get a copy from Lindsay Books, http://www.lindsaybks.com. Another good learner's guide is the Atlas Lathe Manual. Dunno about sourcing, but I suspect an eBay vendor would have one.

Tait
10-01-2011, 11:00 AM
jdunmyer, Thanks for the A2Z recommendation - Mine arrived Wednesday and I just finished machining a T-nut for the compound last night. I'll be playing with it some more this weekend!

I do have the How to Run a Lathe manual, have read through it several times. I will be referring back to it when I try new stuff (such as threading).

Thanks for the input guys, this will get me started.

Tait

Scottike
10-01-2011, 03:41 PM
Scott. Only over 5" on Phase II. http://www.phase2plus.com/details.asp?pr=3-JAW_LATHE_CHUCKS_PLAIN_BACK&id=36
There IS one make I know of, but they are $600-700. The Rohm ZGU-101795 (Cast Iron) and ZSU-101796 (Steel). Models like the 4" Bison do offer another option if soft jaws are necessary. You can buy sacrificial jaws made from plain 1018 steel with the rack cut in them. You use them in place of the solid jaws.

This is all a tangent, though. Don't get flustered by thinking you need it, Tait.

Darn't it! I knew it was too good to be true!

edit: A friend has a 4 or 5 in. on his 9x24 SB w/ two piece jaws, I'll have to check the brand - I know he didn't spend hundreds for it (the chuck), but it may have come with the lathe.