View Full Version : Choosing a Lathe

06-07-2004, 12:50 AM
I am a beginner with limit experience in lathe work. I do have a small hobby lathe that I have used but find it limited. I have limited space and obviously resources. Investigating lathes on the market I have come up with two options - the Grizzly G4015Z and the Smithy MIDAS 1220. Both priced about the same and both have comparable accessories. I am building a scale model airplane from scratch and need to both a lathe and a milling machine to manufacture the parts I need. I have looked online and found positives and negitives for both machines.

Can someone help with either how I should go about making a selection and/or provide some selection criteria that I should use to make the correct choise.

Thank you in advance.

(PS I hope I have selected the right forum)

06-07-2004, 12:56 AM
what are your space limitaions and how much do you expect to spend? Where I end up spending lots of money is the rests, tool holders, tool posts, different tailstocks, etc.


06-07-2004, 01:21 AM
Jerry - thank you for responding:
Space is very limited, that is why I would like to select a 3 in 1. I expect to spend around $1500 for a lathe and the accessories to get started.

Thank you in advance,

06-07-2004, 02:31 AM
Those choices are about as minimalist as machine tools get. They are light-duty, limited, and often problematic machines. Smithy even says “Excellent choice if you do a little machining now and then.” which is scary, knowing something about the ones claimed to be “precision”.
That being said, the Griz gets a slight nod at a couple of hundred dollars less. I have had good luck when dealing with Grizzly.

Perhaps a better quality lathe with a milling attachment?

I will try hard not to make the “separate machines” argument since you make the space criteria pretty clear, but throw about twice as much money at this problem, and you get about 10 times as much machine IMHO.

Have you gone through the archives yet? There is a lot of good information about people’s experiences with different machines. Even if the specific equipment discussed is not under your consideration, there is much to be learned about this subject.
Really think about what you really need your machines to do. Some things to consider: how much capacity you require, how precise it must be, how much you will run it, the lifespan you expect, what you might need it to do in the future when your skills increase, will you be doing mostly lathe work? These are difficult things to consider when experience is limited.

Good luck.

Mike Burdick
06-07-2004, 03:18 AM

For another source, the Chaski board has a whole section regarding 3-in-1 machines. If you haven't already, take a look.


Scroll down until you see "3-in-1 MetalWorking Machines"

If you don't see many posts, go to the bottom of the page, under "Extra Information", and set it to show posts for the last 6 months or so.

By the way, if you decide not to go with the 3-in-1 machine, Joel's suggestion about getting a lathe with a milling attachment is very good. Matter of fact, you could make the milling attachment as a first project and save some dollars! A good lathe for what you said you wanted to do would be a 9" South Bend.

Good luck with your decision and don't be a stranger.


[This message has been edited by Mike Burdick (edited 06-07-2004).]