View Full Version : Small bench lathe.

12-08-2012, 11:17 AM
I am looking at small bench lathes, 7x12 range. Is anyone a better machine than the rest?
Most appear to be the same machine painted different colors. Prices seem to vary some so I would appreciate input from those with experience with this size machine. Thanks.

Tony Ennis
12-08-2012, 11:42 AM
While I don't have one, EMCO machines are held in high regard (not Enco). Like this Compact 8E (http://www.emcomachinetools.co.uk/ProductDetails/EMCOHobbymaschinen/EMCOCompact8ELathe/tabid/120/Default.aspx) for example.

I have used a Sherline lathe, which is a little smaller than 7x12. It's very nice for light-duty work.

Dr Stan
12-08-2012, 11:43 AM
All the Chinese bench lathes should be considered a kit as you'll need to effectively tear it apart, clean out the left over sand from the casting process and chips from the machining. While you're at it replace all the seals and the belts as the seals will leak and the belts will not last long.

For a quality lathe of the same size look for a Myford, Emco, Denford, or late model South Bend (not a new "SB"). You'll need to spend a lot more than you plan on for the Chinese lathe, but you'll have a quality machine that will last decades.

12-08-2012, 11:44 AM
I would say Grizzly because they seem to come pretty much complete with 3 and 4 jaw chucks plus faceplate. I don't have one from them yet but do have a mill and can say if there is a problem, their service and help is great.

Bill Pace
12-08-2012, 11:45 AM
Theres a yahoo site dedicated solely to this little lathe, could probably get a lot of answers there...

12-08-2012, 11:49 AM
I had one Emco Compact-8. Was going to purchase an oriental 7x12 lathe for CNC conversion; my wife put her foot down.

Now I have 2 Emco Compact-8 lathes. These lathes are pretty well made. Both need bearings on the belt idler (friction bearings, they wear and create noise) but now I have 2 good lathes, where parts are interchanged between them.

The second Compact-8 was purchased for about the same price as a new 7x12 from a supplier here in Canada (by the time you figure in the 3-jaw, 4-jaw and so on)

(no, the CNC conversion is not started yet, and when it does, it *will* be reversible so that the lathe does not loose its value)

(and, yes, my wife is a keeper. How many spouses would say - look around, and if needed, spend more so you get a better lathe for your cnc conversion)

Another JohnS.

Jaakko Fagerlund
12-08-2012, 12:16 PM
Theres a yahoo site dedicated solely to this little lathe, could probably get a lot of answers there...
On these forums one can get opinions from the users of other lathes also in the similar size range, while on that Yahoo group are mainly the 7x12 users.

12-08-2012, 07:23 PM
If you join a Yahoo group for these lathes, join the 7 X 12 Mini-Lathe group, not the 7 X 10. The former is pretty much On Topic, the latter, not so much.

It is not necessary to completely tear down and rebuild those lathes, but they do need some TLC in the beginning. Figure on spending a day or 2 to get one in shape.

Here's a good place for some info on these machines: http://www.mini-lathe.com/, also http://littlemachineshop.com/

I think the Harbor Freight lathe is on sale for $400.00 at the moment, with a coupon. The big drawback for that machine is lack of "headroom". You can drill using the tailstock chuck, but only short stuff. Or, you could get a set of screw machine drill bits. I traded my H. F. lathe for a MicroMark 7 X 14 (now discontinued) and the extra room is very nice. The MM is more money than the H.F., of course. One other alternative is to buy a H.F. and "stretch" it using an LMS kit.

These lathes are an excellent value, but they're not the quality of Sherline, Taig, or others.

12-08-2012, 07:47 PM
I have the ubiquitous 7x12, sold at the time by Cummings in a yellow and blue paint scheme.

It did not need anything to start using it except cleaning the protective gunk off the unpainted surfaces and routine adjustment of gibs. There might be some sand in a casting void, but I've not come across it. :)

I would recommend that you get one with the 20 TPI lead-screws on the compound and cross-slide if you are in the US. One turn of the handle is .050 inch. The ones with metric lead-screws are a bit more fun to use since they are about .040 inch per revolution. Micromark makes some that are listed as being in inches.

The extras that come with the Grizzly are nice, even if you never use them. The faceplate as well as the 3 and 4 inch chucks will be used at some time or another.