View Full Version : Starting up...Need Help

04-23-2004, 10:34 PM
First off, I'm sure your probably sick of these types of posts, but I have been trying to figure this stuff out on my own and I'm just not getting anywhere. I'm trying to get my own machine workshop going, for the stuff I want to do I'll need a Lathe and a Mill. For the mill I was thinking about something in the 7" x 12" range, not smaller though, and a mill of comparable capabilities. I want to try and keep it under $1000. This is of course just for the lathe/mill, not including bits and chucks and such. I plan on buying the lathe first, and I need help on brand/make/ and where to buy. Thanks.

04-23-2004, 10:42 PM
More likely question that needs answering, is not where do you buy one, but where are you? (Blanks in your profile)
Knowing what part of the country makes all the difference in the world. Or better yet, knowing what country your in would help.
Different parts of the country lend for different deals. Shipping will kill many a good deal, so buying one close by is helpfull.
Yes sometimes it is ok to transport one across the country, but deals are to be had most everywhere.
david from jax

04-23-2004, 10:46 PM
Ha, sorry, I neglected that part of the register process. I am in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I really don't know of any shops around here that sell this type of equipment. Mainly I have been looking on the internet just to find out what make/model I want, but I'm getting nowhere fast. At this point the lathe is more important, I was looking in the 300-500 range, I know that is the low end but I am limited on funds.

04-23-2004, 11:03 PM
You have a Harbor Freight store in C.S. (I know--I've been there.) Go down and take a look at their 7x10/12 or 9x20. Grizzly has about the same thing. These are pretty good machines for the price. You WILL need to clean and adjust them though. Nothing you find, in your price range, will make chips out of the box.

Excitable Boy
04-23-2004, 11:14 PM
Ken, that's not true, at least around here. I see small southbends all the time in his proce range. They might not hold .0005 tolerances, but would work fine as a first machine. I also have a friend that has a 6" Sears/Atlas with all sorts of tooling in good condition that could be had in that proce range and could be easily transported in most cars if removed from the bench if you find yourself near Los Angeles.


Pursue Excellence and the rest will follow.

04-23-2004, 11:28 PM
Ok, that helps, I might change my price range a bit if I can get better quality for just a bit more, I don't know yet. Could anyone give me a quick list of Brands that the general concensus of people here stand behind??? Oh yeah, what do you mean 'make chips'???

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-23-2004).]

04-23-2004, 11:41 PM
John - Los Angeles is about as far from Colorado Springs as I am. (Spurs Country! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif ) My impression was he wanted something local or Mail Order. Junky, worn out SB's go for $2400 around here. Forget even finding an Atlas. You seem to forget that you live in the land of plenty out there. Machines are easy to come by and the price shows it.

"Make chips" - cutting, drilling, milling and making cookies.

04-23-2004, 11:49 PM
Well, so what do you think??? Should I keep my ear to the ground around here in Colo. Spgs. for a good used lathe, check ebay a bit maybe??? Or should I not even bother with internet stores at all????

04-23-2004, 11:54 PM
My south bend is 10 times more lathe than my micro mark 7x14, and it cost me less money too. However, I did have to clean it up, replace the oilers, and etc. Its not so bad working with a warn out machine. My 1941 SB can usually work to .0005 tolerances on the cross slide, the compound however needs a little help.

04-24-2004, 12:40 AM
Digger - Personally, I don't think you'll find much in the used market in your area. The economy there is on the way up and you'll be competing against "shops". (All them Califoreigners moving in.) Unless you can find a shop that is upgrading, your best bet will be catalogs or the net. Just watch the shipping on ebay items. It could cost as much or more than the machine. AND... More times than not, you'll be putting more money into them to get them running. (3-phase, converters, gears, missing/broken parts, etc.)

Check for auctions. I missed a good one by a day on my way to C.S. last year. (Have a sister that lives there.) It was in Pueblo, I think. You should also check Denver. Neither is a far drive.

04-24-2004, 01:01 AM
Thanks Ken, I'm going to school up in Golden at Colorado School of Mines, which is right next to denver, I'll have to check out stuff around here I guess.

04-24-2004, 01:19 AM
Welcome aboard! One question that you haven't been asked is what kinds of things you want to do? Are you going into business or doing hobby stuff?

PS. My sister is almost certified as a Paramedic in Colorado Springs. Don't worry, if you get hurt she'll take good care of you and she won't even screw up her nails.

Ha.. Just kidding. I'm sure she would do anything and everything possible. She's gung-ho and always will be.

I never would have thought she would go into that but she always did like that show "Emergency 911"

Have a great day,


04-24-2004, 01:30 AM
Uhh, mainly hobby stuff. I enjoy designing various things but haven't been able to build them. That is why I want to have my own machine shop, some of the stuff will require fairly good tolerances though, but anything under .001 would work perfectly fine.

04-24-2004, 01:58 AM
Have you done any casting? I've been playing with "lost foam" casting and it has been pretty good. I haven't measured the dimensional error yet. I usually cast aluminum and then machine it to tolerance. I'm still learning and developing my techniques. I would say I am the same as you. I like to design and make my own things. I don't have much to show yet but I am working up to it and learning a lot from my mistakes. I can always melt my mistakes down but I keep them around to remind myself of my progress. I like having something in my hand made of metal that I designed myself.

My only advise is don't expect everything to be possible in one try. Keep working at it. It is about development and development is a process of models, mock-ups, prototypes, working models and then taking that and starting again. I wish you the best of luck and don't be afraid if things don't work out the first time.

It would be interesting to hear what you are working on, but not necessary. It is understandable.

Good luck,


04-24-2004, 02:41 AM
Yeah, trust me I know design/production process. One of my designs has multiple moving pieces, I have modified ONE piece on paper probably like 30 times and it still isn't right yet.

04-24-2004, 03:24 AM
If you have a lot of time and access to cheap or free materials you could consider looking at some of the home built machines out there and make your own. My South Bend 10" cost me $600 on a $700 asking price...personally I wouldn't want anything smaller or lighter than my 10K. I know you want the mill now, but I would suggest investing in a fine machine and waiting to purchase the next rather than two sub quality machines. Do your research, watch your local papers and ebay to get a feel for what the market is, there's always somebody looking for a machine. If you don't pay over market rate you should be able to get your money back out if you decide to change directions later.

If you have a harbor freight in your area I would suggest looking at and feeling the quality and then go to a local trade school or job shop and see if someone will show you a domestic or higher market machine. I think the difference in quality will be apparent. You might even make some connections and get a deal.

Freight on a used machine can cost as much as the machine itself...so beware of ebay.

04-24-2004, 07:19 AM
......Since it sounds like you're planning on doing light stuff you should be able to get by with a domestic 9" lathe and a toolpost milling attachment. The milling attachment is for light cuts as it overhangs some, but they're simple, foolproof and can usually be sold for as much or more then you paid for it, when the need for a real mill arises.

I just bought a used Palmgren #250 toolpost miling attachment on E-Bay for $149, and that included shipping on a "Buy it now" action. These retail for about $250 or a bit more.

I would spent the bulk of your equipment budget on a lathe first. Tooling it up beyond what you might get with it can be as much or more then the lathe cost, depending on what you need. Another option is to buy the tooling you need as you run up against the need.

But that means you have to wait to scrape up the money or spend the time looking for it. All the while your project sits. Maybe a sticking point and maybe not.

Being in Colorado is kind of a compromise. Here in So. Calif you can find lots of stuff locally but it seems some stuff you want just always happens to be in NJ, or CT. At least you're kind of in the middle :-)

But again, beware the tooling. I heard it said that they oughta just give everyone a lathe who wants one as they'd make their money back quickly on tooling! I was lucky in buying a really nice later model Logan/Powermatic 11x36 lathe from a friend for $1500, and it was pretty well setup with chucks, faceplates, 5C lever collet, etc.

You probably wouldn't believe the incredibly short time it took me to suck out another $2300 in additional stuff and doo-dad tooling for it from the savings account.

It's an illness.


04-24-2004, 12:28 PM
What about the milling/lathe/drilling combination machines??? I have seen some for around 700-800 or so that would fit inside my budget. Any suggestions on those??? Edit: By the way thanks so much for your replies you guys are Very HELPFUL. THANKS! I found a central machinery 7" x 10" on ebay, $45 shipping for $475. Any thoughts, would this be a good lathe to start out with??

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-24-2004).]

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-24-2004).]

04-24-2004, 03:21 PM
Harbor freight carries the central machinery brand 7x10 for $329.To me bigger is better if you have the room and two individual machines beteer than 3 in 1.How much room you have? Ive heard three in one are ok for lathe but milling is weak and hard to set up. I have never been to the co spgs store but I would think harbor freight has machine on hand for viewing and touching. They are at circle dr and fountain blvd next to king bypass.


04-24-2004, 03:57 PM
I have plenty of room, I just thought of another thing to consider though. One of the applications I need the lathe for involves a drilling a large diameter hole (about 1" Diameter) into peices of aluminum about 6-8" long. What size lathe would I need to do that? I was thinking a 7" x 12" would be ok but a 1" bit would have to be too long for that to work, unless I use a short bit and use longer bits as I drill in further. Any thoughts? Edit: Oh yeah, I know most lathes can be used to thread a piece but what about tapping a peice?? Just like before I'm talking about a fair decent size hole.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-24-2004).]

04-24-2004, 06:21 PM
Hi I was raised in pueblo and lived in Denver for a couple of years (still have family both places.
Grab the Denver Post or Rocky Mtn News and watch estate sales. I found my first lathe that way. It was a 1917 model 16" Sb, but only 50.00 and please haul this 3500# monster out of my garage.
Used it for 20 years ( and still do occasionaly). Lots of times the kids don't know what dads stuff is worth.

04-24-2004, 07:47 PM
If you need to drill 6-8"x1" holes in stock, forget the 7x10/12. The spindle and chuck won't handle that large of stock going through them NOR would you have a long enough bed to extend it out and use a drill bit.

The through-hole size on the 7x10 chuck is only about 5/8". I bored mine out to take up to 3/4" stock. I don't know what the 12's are but I suspect they're the same.

You will need a MUCH larger machine to bore 1" holes in long stock! My 14x40 will only take 1 1/2" stock through the spindle. But with a longer bed, you can extend stock out from the chuck. (With a steady rest.)

04-24-2004, 08:21 PM
Agree with Shooter's advice on the local ads.
Bought a Rockwell wood lathe from a guy that cleaned out school shops and when I picked it up, he asked if I was interested in a couple of old SB's. Got two 9 X 24's for $100 CDN. One is an 'A' and the other is a 'B'. Both need work, but plenty good enough for my hobby work.

04-25-2004, 10:04 AM
Check out www.metal-club.org (http://www.metal-club.org) That is the local metal working club with folks from both Denver and C Springs. Attend a meeting and ask there. Also there is a "metal" show the second weekend of June in C Springs. As it is the first one for the area, I'm not sure if they will have anything for sale, but there should be a good number of folks to talk to.

04-25-2004, 11:04 AM
I've been "getting started" for a little over a year now. Started with an Atlas 6", the "hobby" version, that I bought new a long time ago and never used. Then added a Harbor Freight benchtop knee mill.

In the process, I've learned 2 important lessons.
a) This newsgroup is the most valuable resource you'll find, anywhere. Its members are remarkably patient with us newbies.
b) Tooling for the mill is costing a lot more than tooling for the lathe.

Perhaps I don't know any better, but I'm pretty happy with the H-F mill. I pulled a lot of it apart to get it into my shop, and cleaned a lot of chips and debris out of it in the process. Seems to work very well now. Like all discount machinery, it has its limitations, but its a good first machine. I'd rather be making chips rather than trying to figure out how to recondition an old machine. That can come later.

Have fun.

04-26-2004, 05:54 PM
The latest HSM describes a new show to be held in June (I believe) in Boulder. That would be a great place for you to see equipment, what various machines can make, and talk to home and pro machinists like us. Wish I could go...

04-26-2004, 06:08 PM

Drilling holes that size is near the max capability of my South Bend 9" lathe. Anything smaller wouldn't be able to do it. However, much larger holes may be made by boring rather than drilling. There are lots of ways to make holes in material and a lathe is capable of at least six of them. I happen to be extremely biased but recommend you look for a good used SB9 or larger. I know I would never be happy with cheap Chicom junk. (no flames please, I apologise in advance)

04-26-2004, 06:10 PM
Like someone mentioned the price for the 7X10 mini lathe can be had at a price of around $369, regular I got mine on sale from harbor freight a year ago for $329 goto Harborfrieght.com and see what products they have for light duty work, I bought my micro-mill drill for around $269, I have a lot of fun with these 2 machines, the mini lathe takes up about 81/2" by 24" not including handle extensions and stuff but small enough to fit in a confined workspace. I like its variable speed and reverse feature makes it easy to do threading.

04-26-2004, 07:03 PM
Since space isn't a problem, how about taking a look at some of the old turret lathes. They will bore a 1" hole with no problem and usually are very cheap.
Biggest problem will be running enough power to make one spin. But even that isn't a really big problem.
If your planning on doing any threading, you'll have to buy a geometric head, cause most of them don't thread.
David from jax

04-26-2004, 07:59 PM
Apology accepted http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif but I feel obligated to point out that my 12 x 36 Chinese lathe regularly drills 1 1/4" holes (in steel) without putting up any fuss whatsoever. I also have to drill lots of 1" x 5" deep holes in some nasty hard drill rod, also without difficulty. I recently started doing them using the machines power feed, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Aside from the supplied tailstock drill chuck being a joke, I have had zero problems from my el-cheapo in years of fairly hard service. It came out of the crate nicely aligned and relatively burr free. 2 chucks, a faceplate, and a steady and follower rests were included. The supplied 3 jaw indicates from .001 to .003 (I just ran out and re-checked it, .0013 at 1 1/2”). I think I must have lucked out with the chuck.

I looked for a used machine for a long time. As CCWKen points out, there isn’t much of a used market down here (TX). I did find a worn out South Bend that was missing the change gears and some handles. They wanted $1,500 for that POS. I gave up and went with an import.

This is only MY experience, your mileage may vary. I am not sure I would trust smaller than a 12 x 36 import for any heavy work, but for lighter jobs, you can’t beat the price of a 7 x 12.

04-26-2004, 08:36 PM
I have a 12 by 36 Chinese lathe for about 5 years now and other than a slight learning curve compared to the better Colchester lathes at work it has been great. The price is good compared to some of the used lathes on the market and comes with most everything you need as mentioned by Joel. The drill chuck is crap but ok to start with. I machined alot of 316 and 303 stainless steel the first 2 years I had it and no problems. If you use the gearbox ensure you use lots of oil as it just has holes bored in the cast iron box with the shafts going through it and can seize up if it dries out and heats up(did it once to me). I am going to bore the holes out one day and put in proper bushings or bearings. I would also put a small bead of silicone around the bolt holes in the base before mounting the lathe or any coolant or oil will work its way down through them and on to the floor. I probably done just about all the things you can do with a lathe with this one and been quite happy with it. I would recommend it as a starter machine in any shop as the price is right and at 12 by 36 (plus it has a gap) it will take on most any job that comes up in a home shop. After that I would recommend a milling attachment and then carbides. If you plan on getting a Mill-Drill one day and get one with a MT3 instead of a R8 you can use tooling on both machines. Once you have the milling attachment or Mill-Drill you are on your way to making an endless supply of attachments for both. Good luck and enjoy making chips!!!


04-26-2004, 09:37 PM
Hey, thanks guys for all the responses, even though I need to drill large holes in the stock I can easily leave about 1" over what I need and cut that off after I've made the hole. I think I've decided on the sherline 3.5" by 17" lathe. I'm only going to be lathing metal no more than 2", plus the sherline is nice and compact, has good reviews, and more importantly made by an american company. It is a little out of my price range but with any luck I'll have a drafting job with lockheed martin this summer. I know the drill chuck on the sherline is only 3/8" or 5/8", but you can get bits as large as 1" with that small of a shaft. I also have a drill press that I can use to make the larger holes if I have too, It is a large standup craftsman with nearly 1ft chuck movement, and the bed can be moved down or up like three feet.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-26-2004).]

04-26-2004, 10:48 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by OREDIGGER!:
"I'm only going to be lathing metal no more than 2"

Sure, that's what you say NOW. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

04-26-2004, 11:19 PM
Digger - Your missing part of the point. You WILL NOT be able to drill 1" holes with a small lathe. There's not enough power in the motors. You'll have to step drill or drill and bore. The boring bars that will fit the small machines and the small starting hole will not be a pleasure. It may take 64+ passes to get from 3/8" to 1" on those large deep holes.

You're in for a big disapointment!

If tolerance is no concern, do your drilling on your drill press.

[This message has been edited by CCWKen (edited 04-26-2004).]

04-26-2004, 11:31 PM
Yep,Joel has it right,first its 2" then 4" then"hey!how do ya jack up a headstock?" http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

I have heard it all before-"I just want a john boat I can take out on the weekends"-or-"I'm just building it so me and the old lady can go crusing"-or my personal favorite-"I only need the smaller oxy/acetylene burning rig" http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif Before long you'll be like the rest of us,UTYAIC(UP-TO-YOUR-A**-IN-CHIPS!) http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

04-26-2004, 11:52 PM
Uh, yeah, no more than two inches, that is the largest I would need it for. The current project I am working on is no more than 1.25". It's not a matter of bigger and better but what I actually NEED the lathe to do. If I need something larger there are three nice large lathes in my schools machine shop. Oh, and 64+ holes, not a problem, patience is one thing I have plenty of, and I already expected that I would need to drill in steps to get a whole that size. As far as power, not concerned there either, the sherline mill does only have a 1/3 hp motor. But for most of my purposes that is not a problem. I wouldn't mind having a 24 inch mill if I could find one around my price range. If harbor freight carries one then I might consider it. But I'm not JUST making this large peice, I am also making a host of smaller parts that would be much easier to make on a smaller lathe. The sherline lathe can also (with the attachment) make left hand, right hand, metric, and english threads which is a valuable feature I will need as well. After I drill this one large hole that is it, it may take one hour to drill/bore, but it will at least be done and done right.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-26-2004).]

04-27-2004, 12:07 PM
Oredigger, there is an old saying about lathes: You can make small parts on big lathes but you can't make big parts on small lathes. Since you have the room buy the largest lathe you can afford that is of reasonable quality, new or used.

The first part I made on my SB9 over twenty years ago was a test of its accuracy. This is it.


04-27-2004, 03:30 PM
But is it really that big of a part? I hear what you guys are saying and I am actually looking into the larger lathes, but if the largest peice of stock I'm going to be working with is 2", with the great majority of my work being done is around 1", why would their be a problem making a 1" hole in the stock? Of course this wouldn't be done in one pass, I would use progressively larger bits to build up to this diameter. I guess I'll actually explain exactly what I am doing, maybe that'll help. I recently designed a paintball gun, I play a lot and enjoy designing things so the two meshed together pretty well. This is not a spur of the moment design either, I've been working on it for about a month now gradually changing each peice to fit correctly. The through hole on the gun is .695", essentially .7", on the back end of the gun this needs to be enlarge to about 1" for a length of about 3.5", and on the front for about 2". Total length is about 6.5 to 7 inches. This is going to be cut in aluminum stock, either 6061 or 7075, T6 temper. This is not the only project I need the lathe for, just the largest. Why can I not do this on sherlines 3.5" x 17" lathe? Other than the spindle through hole is only about .5 inches, which can be worked around by adding length to the peice so I don't have to go all the way through. I don't want you guys to get frustrated with me because you think i'm stubborn, I just want to here a definate, "No that is impossible on that lathe and here is why" answer that is reasonable.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-27-2004).]

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 03:34 PM
Evan, by the way how do you make the cuts for the hex head? That is a very well done peice.

04-27-2004, 04:00 PM
The easiest way to make a hex head on a bolt is to use hexagonal stock. Beyond that, you probably want to index the stock via index head, spin indexer, collet block, rotary table, or what have you.

You can’t hang a 2” dia. 7” long piece of stock out of the chuck without a steady rest.

As for size, we assumed you were looking for a lathe to do the general-purpose type of work that the rest of us do, not for just one particular job. Buying a machine to make one paintball gun would make for one expensive gun. I wouldn’t spend any money to drill one hole if you could take it to school and drill it in 2 minutes on a full sized lathe. Ken makes the obvious point that if you only need a drill press to make your hole, you only need a drill press (which you have). If you really mean that you would be willing to increase a hole in 1/64” increments, you are indeed more patient then I.

I am a tad confused. Are you getting a Sherline mill, lathe or both?
You said that you wanted no less then 7" of swing at $1,000 or less for a mill and lathe. The Sherline meets neither criteria. Most of the smart folks here recommend 10-12” swing or better. It is not harder to make small pieces on a normal sized lathe that has more features (among other advantages). As Evan said, you can’t turn bigger pieces on a small lathe. Also, you will have to look hard for a lathe that doesn’t thread right out of the box. You may be asking more of the Sherline then it was built to deliver. It is a small and light machine, with very limited capabilities IMHO.

I could be wrong, but it sounds like it would be to your advantage to do some reading on the processes of machining. Read through the archives here, and look for some recommendations for books. It is best (and cheapest) to know how to accomplish a task before you start. There is a definite learning curve to safe and effective machining.

Good luck, let us know if we can help.

04-27-2004, 04:16 PM
I didn't. It was made from hex bar stock.

The reasons most of us are trying to persuade you to buy a larger lathe are several. First, although it may be technically possible to machine the parts on a small lathe that just meets the size specs you will be working at the limit of the lathes capability. That is never comfortable and make the chance of mistakes and problems very much higher. It also stresses the machine to its limits and that just isn't good for the machine. It also will take far longer to achieve the end result compared to a larger machine. That is not just a matter of time, either. The longer it takes to make a part the higher the chance that something will go wrong.

I'll illustrate by explaining how I would make a 8" deep 1" ID hole in Al on my SB9.

1: Chuck up part in the 6" four jaw and center. Right there I have a big advantage over the lightweight lathes. My 6" four jaw will hold that part without question. I note that the quality of the chucks matters a lot. My 3 jaw 5" and my 4 jaw 6" are both Bison chucks.

2: Face off end and pilot drill with center drill. We will ignore any possible OD machining.

3: Drill pilot hole with 1/4" X 8" aircraft bit at top rpm (657).

4: Switch to 1/2" Morse taper 2 drill bit, drill again at low rpm.

5: Switch to 7/8" MT2 bit and drill.

6: Setup 5/8" X 10" boring bar and bore hole to finish ID, probably 4 to 6 passes.

As I mentioned before, this job is near the limit of what the SB9 can do. One limit is the length of the drill bits. Another is the horsepower. Another is the distance between centers. Another is the rigidity of the carriage and toolpost to hold such a boring bar. Another is the RPMs available for drilling large holes (SLOW).

With a light lathe you might be able to complete the job also but you probably won't be able to drill over 1/2" due to horsepower and rpm requirements. Also you need at least 20" between centers to do it. As was mentioned before, having to bore from 1/2" out to 1" would be an exercise in extreme frustration as the boring bar would be so light and springy that if it could be made to work at all the cuts would have to be tiny. I have a lot of patience and at times take my SB to the limit but there are jobs that it could possibly do that I will not even try. It's a matter of recognizing when you are pushing the limits too hard. That is something that comes with experience.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 05:00 PM
Yeah, first, if you read my post, the paintball gun is just one of the projects I have. Second, as I have searched I have made the discovery that it will be near impossible for me to get a lathe and mill for my purposes under $1000. The 7" x 12" was a guess, buy I realized later that I would need more length, 7" swing is more than enough for my purposes. I plan on buying a mill, and sherline is more likely my choice for that. And I can get a steady rest for the sherline lathe, really what I need is a lathe that can handle this work, that comes with at least basic tooling, for under 1000, preferably around the 500 range. This basically knocks any lathe with less than 14" center to center distance out of my options. If I could find a southbend or atlas around here in that price range I'll jump on it. The other thing I like about the sherline is that you can get an attachment which allows you to make a very wide variety of threads, which I will need. Any thoughts, I also have time to figure this out. I need to wait till after I get a job and save the money.

04-27-2004, 05:12 PM
I found this on harbor freights website, since there is a store rather close to me in Colo. Spgs. I imagine they have it. Would this do the job? 9" x 20" central machinery metal lathe, 3/4 hp motor. Here is my only concern, will it be able to make any thread pitch between 8-56 tpi that I need? I know you guys would probably prefer a southbend or atlas but unless I can find one for sale here in colorado springs I will have to use an alternative.

04-27-2004, 06:39 PM
The term "Great for precision work!" is a euphemism for "Light duty". It only does 12 different SAE threads and 12 metric so, no, it won't do any thread between 8 and 56 tpi. The entire machine only weighs 229lbs.

You would do better with something like this:


or this:


I'm not endorsing these sellers in any way but these are representative of what may be had to suit your requirements. (ignore the chuck key sitting in the chuck http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif )

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 08:30 PM
The first one only has a 1/3 hp motor, which is equivalent to the sherline model. The first one looks great except he doesn't give you center to center distance and shipping would be horrible. And you say "only weighs 229 lbs", how big of a machine do you guys want me to get before it takes up half of my two car garage? It is a 9" x 20" with a 3/4 hp motor, how is this "light duty" for the kind of work I am doing? Oh, yeah, it says it can only do 12 sae but what about what it says under headstock being 8-56 tpi?

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 09:40 PM
Don't you just love it when someone asks for advice and then fights when he doesn't get the desired answers. Kind of like fighting with your wife.
My best advice for OREDIGGER! is to get the Sherline lathe and all the accessories and go into the paintball gun business. Remember us when you are rich and famous.

04-27-2004, 10:00 PM
It's not that I'm fighting your advice, it is just that it quite frankly seems like none of you will be happy until I purchase either a southbend, atlas, or a lathe that can hold stock many times the size of anything I need to work on. I found the central machinery 9" x 20", with a 3/4 hp motor, because advice told me I would need something that size. Then evan points out two lathes on ebay, one a southbend which I really wouldn't mind getting at all if I could find one around here, but the other was a similar size to the central machinery one but only had a 1/3 hp motor. 1/3 < 3/4 hp, and the DC motor sherline uses puts out torque comparable to an AC 1/2 hp motor. I'm just not getting anywhere with this advice, except up in cost and real high up in weight of machine. If a 230 lb lathe can't drill a 1" hole in aluminum stock, then there are some engineers out there who need to go back to school.

04-27-2004, 11:02 PM

This is my last advice. Weight equals rigidity and that is like gold when machining. Also, modern motors "rated" at 3/4 HP can't hold a candle to an older lesser rated motor with real iron in the laminations. I have a compressor that I built with "only" a 1/2 hp motor. It will run 100% duty cycle without even getting warm to the touch and performs like a modern 1 1/2 hp motor. The motor on my SB is similar and sometimes runs for the best part of hours for certain types of long cuts I take with extremely fine feeds. It doesn't warm up either.

You will note that the seller of the South Bend offers good quotes on shipping and will crate. That lathe looks in reasonable condition, has a power crossfeed and a quick change gearbox AND will definitely do what you need it to do. Also the price will very likely be within your stated range. It also come with tooling worth at least a couple of hundred dollars. It is far superior to the Harbor Freight lathe.

Take it or leave it, thats my advice.

BTW, you apparently missed the spec on the first one. 24" between centers.

One more thing, try and find a drill press rated for 1" drills that weighs only 229 lbs.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 11:15 PM
Thanks Evan, you really cleared stuff up for me. I'm sorry if I offended you with any of my posts but I'm getting frustrated and confused over all this info. I really just want a machine that can do what I need it too, without being so big and pricey that it is difficult to move for even a few big guys. I know you said that the above was your last post, but I have one last question. Can the southbend make a decent variety of threads using a threading attachment, not a tap, but a bit used to make threads. Thanks, sorry this thread had to go on so long, thanks for your patience and advice.
Evan, don't mean this to sound rude, but my dad's craftsman drill press can handle that size drill bit and it doesn't weigh that much.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-27-2004).]

04-27-2004, 11:25 PM
The South Bend model A as in the E-Bay item above can do 48 different threading feeds with the quick change gearbox, and that is with only the stock set of change gears. With optional gears which are readily available it can do many more including metric.

See here:


04-28-2004, 12:48 AM

If you look here:


You will see that this drill press with 5/8" shank capacity weighs 359lbs. This press might be able to handle 1" bits. Maybe.

My Swedish Strand drill press with a real 2 hp motor can handle up to about 1 3/4" MT3 bits, maybe 2" bits. It weighs around 500 lbs.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 04-28-2004).]

04-28-2004, 12:58 AM
If old iron isn’t available, I think the 9 x 20” will likely work just fine for you. They go on sale regularly, and have the advantage of free shipping if one needs it shipped. It doesn’t have many accessories, but it does have a quick-change gearbox. As far as lathes go, this is small. I don’t know of any lathe that will cut ANY thread between their ranges, just most standard ones. This is all anyone normally needs. If you must match a particular thread, download the manual and make sure it will cut them.

Newbie’s often come to this site to establish what they need. As they have little or no experience in machining, they generally don’t really know what is required to perform the typical routine tasks that most of us here deal with on a daily basis. The advantages that are gained with larger machines are too numerous to list, but they include: Rigidity (vital to work with precision, cutting metal requires weight), Features (like power cross feed, quick change boxes, and much more), Accessories (required to do anything more then basic work, machines that come with them saves you big bucks), Power (sure makes life easier, and the job go faster), Capacity: (as the operators skills increase, so do their demands), And so on.

Some folks are unaware of which machine will pay off for them in the long run. We hate to see someone trying to get in to this great field, and go away frustrated because they laid out their hard earned cash on something inadequate. Just one opinion.

04-28-2004, 10:37 AM

You asked about the threading capability of the South Bend. It is apparent you need a little more education about the use of a lathe. The quickest way to get the information in an understandable format would be to read South Bend's "How To Run A Lathe" or the Atlas manual of a similar name. I have the South Bend version, have heard that the Atlas is very similar. They will explain threading and all the other operations you will want to do with a lathe. Check your public library, school library, friends, acquaintances, or purchase a copy.

If you decide you have to have a new lathe, look at the 11x24 from Grizzly, it would be ideal if it were of good quality, fit and function. If you want to learn machine repair the Chinese lathes are suitable fodder to start on. The same can be said for much of the old American machines but the final product after repair is much better than a Chinese lathe that weighs less than half the weight of a real lathe.

Also consider that a 9x24 lathe will not allow you to work on an 9x24 workpiece. The largest dimeter over the carriage or cross slide will be 2-3.5 inches less. If you use a chuck instead of centers, you will lose length from the 24 dimension. A comfortable(not absolute) maximum size workpiece in a 9x24 South Bend, Logan, Atlas, etc. would be about 3x18. For a 1.5x12 aluminum workpiece the lathe should be at least a 5x22 and weigh about 500 lbs. JMHO

[This message has been edited by ulav8r (edited 04-28-2004).]

04-28-2004, 11:20 AM

You obviously need a little education about the use of a lathe. You asked about the ability of a South Bend to cut various threads. Borrow or buy a copy of South Bend's "How To Run A Lathe" or the Atlas manual of a similar name. They will explain the threading process and tools required. They might be found in a library, through friends or acquaintenaces, maybe at a machine shop if you show up with donuts.

About the size of lathe you need, a 9 x24 will not let you turn a 9" diameter 24" long. The max diameter of the compound slide will be 2-3 inches less, depending on the brand of machine. If you use a chuck instead of centers you will lose 2-3" in length. For a South Bend, Logan, Atlas, etc of 9x24 size a comfortable (not absolute) maximum workpiece would be about 3x20. For a 1 1/4x14 aluminum workpiece a minimum lathe spec should be about a 4x18 at a weight of 450-500 pounds. The 6x18 Atlas/Craftsman is a light weight version that would be adequate.

If you must buy a new lathe, consider the Grizzly 11x24 as a minimum. The Chinese lathes in this size range from any manufacturer will probably require as much repair and adjustment as a moderately good old American lathe. If you like to work on your machinery and make modifications to it the chinese lathes can be okay. I looked for a lathe I could afford for years, finally bought 2 10x24 Rockwells at an auction for about $600. One was missing the tailstock, neither had a taper attachment. (The tail stock was moved to the other lathe, then I traded the lathe less tailstock for a snowmobile engine that was worth about 200 more than my cost for the lathe.) About 3 years later (3 yrs back) I got a South Bend Heavy 10 with taper attachment and 5C collets for $199 at a closed bid auction(I may have been the only bidder but figured I could double my money just by selling the taper attachment if the rest of the lathe turned out to be junk) from my employer. NO, NO PART OF THIS HEAVY TEN IS FOR SALE AT THIS TIME. MAYBE IN 20 YEARS. MAYBE!

Please learn a little more before purchasing anything, it will help you make a decision you are less likely to regret. I had enought experience and training to know the Rockwells were the minimum lathe I could be happy with, though I am still looking for a very good buy on a 16x48 or larger so I can turn beer can mortar barrels.

Edit addition<> Sorry for double post. My replies usually show up right away. My thought were not exactly duplicated, but I am going to leave them as originally sent except for one small spelling error in the first. I will not look for any large errors.

[This message has been edited by ulav8r (edited 04-28-2004).]

04-29-2004, 01:03 AM
I think Ore digger got more knowlege and information than he deserved. I think he might have been a Sherline marketeer. It's just a guess from a suspicious sort of person (Me!)

If I could have bought that SB9 for $650 I would have been happy for months and months just on the thought alone!

[This message has been edited by SJorgensen (edited 04-29-2004).]

04-29-2004, 03:31 AM
^^^^haha, no, i'm not a representative for sherline lathes, the reason my username is OREDIGGER is because i'm a student at the Colorado School of MINES. I appreciate the info, as I said before I have to get a job so I can make the money to buy a lathe, so I have plenty of time to learn more about what I need. If I cannot find a good lathe like those you are suggesting, near or within my price range-new or used (I would actually enjoy fixing up an old lathe, so long as it didn't cost me a fortune), I will probably purchase a sherline or another lathe in that price range. This will probably be a good size lathe to learn on, and it would be capable of doing most of the parts I need (which are <1" dia, 3.5" max length) I can always drill the large holes using my schools machine shop. That being said, if you guys happen to see any adds anywhere, like ebay, for a good southbend 9" in colorado, let me know!

04-29-2004, 03:41 AM
You will learn why the Sherline line is overpriced and is not capable of the size and accuracy of the old metal lathes. You have to have some space and be able to move items that are sometimes over 1000lbs. but you will have a tool that can do the work you want to do.

04-29-2004, 07:40 PM
I understand what your saying, that's why I'll keep an eye out for a SB or atlas (any others?) on sale here in Colo. Spgs., but if I can't I'll get a small lathe and use the lathes at school for the big peices. Have you looked at the sherline website? If you click on the link for why our lathes are great value and then the projects link on that page, you'll see some cool things people have done with their sherlines. There is a 14 cylinder radial engine model someone made that is the size of a dime. Not saying you can't do that on a larger lathe, just saying it's impressive precision work. Edit: Just thought that I probably shouldn't have said that^, it actually does make me sound like a sherline dealer.

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 04-29-2004).]

05-03-2004, 06:18 PM
Digger: I promised myself that I'd not enter this thread to summarize:

1. You asked a good question and got excellent advice from a bunch of experienced people. Unfortunately, they did not say what you wished to hear.

2. You have apparently decided on a small, expensive lathe that SHOULD ,in your opinion, capable of doing the one job you now must/wish/need to do. But, you are intending overloading the machine before you even buy it.

We tell you, from experience that none of us have equipment big enough to do the biggest job we want to do- hell, The ship yards need bigger machines. When a man buys for the biggest job he will ever do (at that time, in his mind) he best buy twice as large (or at LEAST a step higher). Wonderful work can be done on small machines- but it is small wonderful work.

May I suggest, since you have access to a machine shop at school, that you learn as you work and figure the time you "waste" going to/from the school shop is less monetary value than the cost of a very small lathe.

I don't think anyone is saying the equipment you are considering is a mistake, we seem to be saying you have already exceeded the capacity of your contemplated equipment and we all know the capabilities needed go up not down as time passes.

I have a 10" Atlas and access to some well equipped shops that "owe me favors". I use the shops equipment for most things of any complexity. My Atlas is kind of flexible (not rigid), a pain to use if you have ever used a god solid machine. The South bends are MUCH better but still not the ultimate by a long shot (pardon me Evan please http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif). When the guys suggest Atlas and South Bend they are just being reasonable- they are NOT advising you to go first class. They are saying they smaller stuff is a BIG compromise (sooner or later). They are advising as small as they think you need.

I had ALMOST as soon lose my pocket knife as my home lathe, but I am sure happy that I don't have a 6 inch atlas- which is a fine machine too.

You are gonna cuss yourself if you go the route you are telling us you gonna go- you may never admit the error to anyone else, but you will wish you had delayed purchase until you KNOW from experience what you really need. Maybe I am mistaken, maybe the small stuff will be all you ever need- but odds are in my favor that you will soon be unhappy with a smaller machine.

05-03-2004, 06:27 PM
School of Mines or Mimes?
You know, if I listened to people myself when starting out, I would of went straight for a South bend instead of buying my 7x14 only to buy the Southbend later...
With that said though, 2 lathes are better than one.

05-07-2004, 07:22 PM
MINES...(Oredigger-mining-digging valuable stuff out of the ground) obviously you don't live in the west, since Mines is the second best engineering school next to CalTec in the western U.S. and it was also voted best value by the princton review. Too bad it's also 9th worst in the nation for cafeteria food, which is a big improvement considering we were 3rd last year http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif as far as lathes go, I'm still not dead set on a small lathe, I'm looking into the larger lathes as well, I think I said that above. I also said that I would use the school equipment for larger peices IF I got a smaller lathe, because 95% of the work I want to do is on pieces <1" Dia. and <5" long, with no large bore holes. I'm ready for this thread to die, no one else needs to post here, I understand your advice, concerns, suggestions and am taking them into account even though you all seem to think I'm turning a deaf ear to it. My posts before were because I did not quite understand WHY the smaller lathes seem to be an anathema to you, now I understand your misgivings about their capabilities and the work I need to do. So please, let this thread die in peace... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

[This message has been edited by OREDIGGER! (edited 05-07-2004).]

05-10-2004, 12:41 AM
Listen to these guys-Most of them know what they're talking about.
If you say "I only need to deal with 2" whatevers and won't be going any bigger", you'll regret it later. Think of it this way, with my famous "Sawzall analogy, to wit: Before I bought my sawzall, many years ago, I hardly ever needed to use one; Soon as I bought it, I though of a bunch of ways touse that I'd never thought of before. Once you get you machines, you're gonna think of all kinds of things to do.