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Thread: Tool snobs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Central IL.

    Angry Tool snobs

    Tool snobs rant...

    Some of them are arrogant, some are ignorant, some are both. Every time someone asks a question about a possible lathe purchase, one of them gives the knee jerk answer of "buy old American iron", or "the bigger the better" with no caveats of any kind. Honestly I think some them would have everyone own an old 12"+ atlas, or south bend, with every accessory known to man.

    Lets now examine some concepts that need to be considered when dealing with the newbies.

    Bigger is not always better... It the newbie is never going to make anything larger than remote control car parts, he doesn't need a 14x40. What he needs is something small, what will let him get in close to examine the work.

    If all the guys is ever going to make, is lawnmower parts, he doesn't need a 10ee, or a Hardinge. What he needs is a run of the mill lathe that will hold a tolerance of .003" (could be off, i don't make lawnmower parts) or better.

    If the newbie is never going to make stuff larger than 2 inches in diameter or out of anything harder than 4140, he doesn't need a beast driving up his electric bill. Let's not even get into high voltage or 3 phase.

    Again, if he is never going to make anything larger than 2" in diameter, he doesn't need an old beast that's wheezing like a geezer just to crack 1k rpms. What he needs, is a machine that can hit 2k rpm or higher, and maintain it without having a bearing failure.

    The snobs really drop the ball when it comes to accessories. I mean honestly, how often do you see an old chunk of American iron for sale that comes with everything included. This is an entire topic by it's self, and come to think of it we should have a sticky about it.

    Thus for you tool snobs, if you can't offer sound advice to the newbies don't say anything at all.

    I feel better now that i have that off my chest.....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    NSW Australia.

    Talking What a Nerve!!

    Dan, how dare you come on here and talk sense!!

    I had just been out and spit on my Chinese 12x36 for daring to work nicely straight out of the crate for these last 4 years. It obviously doesn't know it should be a useless piece of crap.

    Stop causing trouble Dan. We know your type!!

    Last edited by miker; 10-14-2008 at 09:21 PM.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Western New York U.$.A


    When the object is to have a heart to heart talk with a bull and convince him to your point of view, you don't start by waving red flags in his face or pissing on him.
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    Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

    It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Palo Alto, California


    I agree - some folks are snobs, I suppose, and some are unsure enough about their own choices that they seem to have a subconscious need to try to get others to follow their lead for some kind of personal reinforcement. Others are real experts who can, if given enough information, be really helpful. It can be tough for a newbie to sort out these out, particularly on the Internet.

    Me, I try to say only what I've done and how I felt about it. That way I'm not pressing any issue, but offering personal observations. I stress the "try" part because I sometimes get in the way of my own original intent, if you know what I mean.

    I'm no real machinist, but I do have one area in which I am certifiably knowledgeable, and I find myself often asked about what tools a guy should get to be a guitar repairman. Nobody really likes my answer, because about all I can say is, "Well, I have this, this, and this, but I know any number of other professionals who use other things. It's more a matter of what works for you, and as you learn, you'll sort that out."

    Fact is, after 40 years of full time experience in the field, I'm still not sure what tools are "best." One guy will drive frets in with a 12-oz ball pein hammer, and tell you that it can't be done with a plastic hammer, which is the only thing I use. Another will say hammers can't work, and only an arbor press will do the job. Yet all three of us may turn out perfectly good, efficient work.

    So, I approach the machine tool world the same way - I try different stuff and figure out what works for me. I'm quite serious about my intent as I learn this stuff; I take the cost of tools as a part of my education.

    Frank Ford

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Central IL.


    Sorry Dog,

    I'm not the heart to heart type, I'm more of a shoot first maybe ask questions later type of guy.

    I would be more than interested in contributing to some kind of group project, that covers what people need to consider when buying a lathe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Your Old Dog
    When the object is to have a heart to heart talk with a bull and convince him to your point of view, you don't start by waving red flags in his face or pissing on him.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Vici, Ok.


    Dan, this is the internet, you are going to get opinions that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. You ask your questions, get your answers, and apply what you want from them to your own situation. I see no reason for name calling. I like to read all the opinions myself.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Chester, NH


    Well, there *is* a difference between old "American" iron (again using "American" very generally) and the kind of import machines that are comparable in price. If you don't mind waiting, and can afford to transport it a long ways, and if you have some prior knowledge, you can get a much better value out of a used machine. But that is alot of "if's". Personally I always suggest buying used machines over new ones, but I don't judge other people for not having "American" machines. Its just that when I got into machining, I thought the only way I could get a lathe for a decent price was if I bought an import. I didn't know how many used machines were available if you were patient and could drive a few hours to pick it up (or 18 hours in my case )

    Import machines are a great way to learn. Thats what I did. I didn't have anyone nearby to teach me about machining and I didn't know jack about lathes or mills. I take what I know now for granted (I mean who doesn't know what a drawbar is?) but back then it is nice to start with a new machine since it takes some guess work out of the equation. On the otherhand, I quickly outgrew my machine. Within two years I was fed-up and wanted something bigger and nicer. Granted I started at the very bottom with a tiny 3-in-1 machine, but since then I've used many imports and American machines. Considering that the American ones are more pleasent to use and usually cost the same if you don't mind putting some minor work into them, it is important to consider both options. Obviously everyone isn't lucky enough to find an American machine that suits there needs and in some cases, imports are a better choice. The atlas/craftsman lathes, for instance, I view as basically an import lathe. Decent quality, they get the job done but they aren't as nice as other machine tools.

    Whew... I'm rambling. Anyway, I've yet to find an import machine that had as nice a feel as the several different "American" made machine tools I've used. That doesn't mean you can't produce just as nice work on them (in fact most of you can produce better work on an import than I could on the best American made machine out there). And it doesn't mean I look down on people for owning import machines. It just means that it is another option, and one to be taken seriously.

    As far as your point by point goes - yeah thats mostly true. It just depends on what you want from your machine. I often work pieces greater than 2" in diameter and I'm sick of import machines with nylon and phenolic gears that get destroyed when working the machine to its max capacity. I wanted something that was more or less indestructable, where working it to its max capacity would not significantly reduce its lifespan.

    And for accessories, well my two lathes came with 7 chucks, three tool posts, 15 tool holders, 5 carbide insert holders, a huge boring bar, a 5C collet holder for the tool post, a sky-hook hoist, three coolant systems, 4 drill chucks, 3 live centers, taper adapters, face plate, steady rest, collet chuck, collets and I think thats it (me, gloat? Never...) So, yeah some come with lots of accessories. But I think mine was a special case, thats why I was willing to drive 1040 miles for it!

    Seriously though, I aggree with what you've said. I just want newbies to understand that their only option is not buying new if they want a quality machine. The advantage of buying used is that you can find really good deals on awsome machinery. The disadvantage is that you never know what your going to find or when your going to find it and sometimes you think you found one when you actually found a pig in a poke!
    Last edited by Fasttrack; 10-14-2008 at 08:33 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Conyers Ga


    I see no name calling. All opinions on getting a lathe are noted. In the end its up to guy with the money.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007



    What needs to be remembered on both sides of this discussion is, what tools are available to the new guy. A lot of the guys who push for the big old iron, have good units available in their area for reasonable prices. Those who tend to promote new Chinese, tend to be in tool deserts.

    While I think everyone should at least have the chance to use or even own, say, a pristine 13x36 LeBlonde. I know that not all of us can have that opportunity. And there is no greater purgatory than trying to make good parts on old clapped out machines if you don't have the skills or a good mentor available. And frankly, a 16x120 is more than a bit over kill for the vast majority work, (it's why big machines are available in pretty good shape for fair prices. Nobody used them when first bought, and nobody wants them now). And yet, a 7x12 is quickly over matched and out grown.

    What tends to happen is, everybody starts in on their favorite machine. And no one stops to ask the new guy a few basic questions before starting the cat fight about old iron and new Chinese.

    Before recommendations can be made we need to know if the new guy knows anything about machining? Does he know his local used market? What does he think he wants to make? There is no one solution. And what a new guy starts with isn't perhaps what he will end up with after awhile. That old Atlas might have been a fine tool for a year or two, but that new Chinese 12x36 might be just the thing that he really needed. None of us can see his future.

    I'm going back to my lurking now.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    "you pullled the chain.. it's gonna flush"...

    As a tool snob with wore out old machines I can tell you that it was a talk around here a few years ago about "purchasing" a chinese made "new" machine, taking the motor apart and sending it out to be redipped in varnish before it burned up..
    THEN, redoing the ways tolerances all the way down the bed making it accurate enough to actually use..
    MY response to the "well known" machinist who suggested such nonsense? buy a older well made tool and rebuild it so you got more than a chinese lump of iron to pass onto the kids in your estate when you die.

    I was not popular around Grizzly I am sure. Their products have gotten better thou.. critisizm?

    That is a personal decision. I got harbor freight tools that work, some do, some don't.. that 3inOne tool is up north somewhere I bought and sold it. I know where the lil craftsman lathe is.. sitting in a barn rusting.. The 3rd upgrade (Leblond) is still making parts for me. You can turn small things on a large machine tool, but not turn large things on a small one. Buy what you can afford to buy. I gave $700 for the Leblond, $500 for the Southbend shaper, WAY TOO DAMN MUCH FOR THE BRIDGEPORT CNC.. Yes, my paint booth is now full of machine tools and I have the habit bad.. A machine tool junkie monkey on my back.

    Now, It is off my chest too. All tools are disposable.. use them up.. I was cutting a new belt sander drum from a piece of six inch pipe today... NOT on a Sherline.. thou I'd like to have one.. My kids will inherit pieces of wore out crap.. I have tools to actually make things. I have a coal scoop to pick up chips.

    Are you aware most machine tools don't get used.. they are bragging objects to be possessed, perhaps a key to a membership in a club.. Kinda like the Harley t-shirt "only" wearing Harley riders.

    If you'll look up past posts, I was invited to go elsewhere with my Home converted cnc. I was not popular. Still don't give a rats ass in a popularity contest. I miss IOWolfie too.

    I'd like to see a post started.. these things are good... These things are BAD.. HF 4" grinders? I burned up three in thirty minutes.. Not good.. When you are first starting out, people don't tell you the truth cause they are embarrassed they "wasted" their money.. or they never really used the tool anyways? If you never use something, it's great huh?

    I've made plenty of errors buying things. I got this 24"x120 cinncinatti lathe, been used here twice.. ya need it?

    Signed, the Hillbilly tool snob..
    Excuse me, I farted.

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