Been saying id do it for a while, and here i am! Im the proud(ish) owner of a Grizzly g8688 lathe, and have always been of the opinion that while it works, it could work a lot better. I know the general opinion is that this class of machine is more a toy than tool and isnt appropriate for much of anything, let alone spending the time necessary to improve, but my opinion is the bones are there, and getting excellent performance (inside what can be expected for this class of machine) is just a matter of putting in some elbow grease.

First, lets meet the victim:


Pretty bog standard mini-lathe, almost no modifications. Now, it does work okay at the moment but ive had some issues with it. The first and most obvious is the plastic headstock gears, I broke the low-speed side a while back so that needs to be replaced. Still works in high gear though, barely. Sticking with the headstock, id also like to change out the stock radial bearings with a set of better quality tapered roller bearings. Ive had some serious issues with workpiece deflection, .005" of taper or more on ~1" parts, and im fairly certain half the problem there is just bearing runout/slop.

The next problem im looking to correct is the movement of the cross and compound slides. Both work, but not particularly well. Im forced to either keep the gibs so tight movement is next to impossible, or loosen the gibs for easy movement but plenty of slop. Compounding the issue is the fact that even when the gibs are locked, theres still an unpleasant lack of rigidity in the setup. Im pretty certain that this particular problem can be attributed to poor contact at the ways, and to correct that ill be trying my hand at scraping in the ways. Backlash on the 2 slides is also a problem. A minimal one to be sure, but one ill be attempting to correct by the addition of Delrin feed-screw nuts.

The rest of what ill be doing to this lathe is a touch more standard. A carriage lock, carriage stop, and cam-lock tailstock are also on the list, as is a fine powerfeed mechanism separate from the lathe drive train