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  • Another Lathe for a newbie...

    Looking for my first lathe for light home use. This lathe is for sale not too far from me. It's listed as a CF 918. I've never heard of that brand, does anyone know anything about it?

    I assume it has a 9 inch bed swing and 18 inch between centers. Will it be able to handle light milling on a mill slide? Are parts available?

    What would you pay for it?

    Any info is very helpful...
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.

  • #2
    That appears to be what is commonly listed as a 9x20. They play games with the center-to-center length, so you'll see it as 9x18, 9x19 or 9x20. The distinguishing features: Belt drives under cover on left side. 9 position quick change gearbox for threading. The protractor for setting the compound angle is under the mount with a cutout to show it. The chuck threads onto the spindle.

    They commonly go for $500 to $700 in a metropolitan area like Silicon Valley. The bench is worth an extra hundred or so. It looks like it has all the normal accessories.

    I have one (branded as harbor freight 9x20) and it works fairly well. Tooling is readily available and there are adapter plates to mate any normal plain back chuck to fit it. There are better lathes available but you will pay a lot more for them.
    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

    Location: SF East Bay.

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    • #3
      So this is an "Asia clone" and HF sells a version? Typically I dont buy anyting with moving parts from HF. I have had good luck with their hammers....

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      • #4
        Pictures make it hard to see some things but the ways look like they have seen very little use. The darn thing looks like new.

        Within the range of work for such a machine and as a beginner I'd say you could do a lot worse. It's a nice size for doing model engine projects and similar scale items. If you have some other hobbies that often need replacement parts done that are fist size or smaller it would again be a great addition to your shop. It would also do bigger jobs but depending on what that might be you may find you need more patience and take your time to whittle the work down in smaller cuts. But it would still get there in the end. It would likely not be a great choice for doing something like resurfacing an automotive drum or disc rotor even for a compact car for example.

        Cost is a tough call. Prices vary wildly across the continent. And note that Grizzly still offers THE SAME LATHE NEW AT $1800. But the one you found comes with some extras and a fairly nice looking cabinet. So some sellers might be asking $2000 for a near new lightly used machine with that many extras. I'd suggest that's too much but if you can haggle them down to something south of $1800 that it might be a reasonable price depending on the area and how often nice options show up. Or if you live back in the heartland of good used small lathes you might be able to find a nicely tooled up older South bend 9" at fairly nicely under $1000. So it's a bit of a gamble.

        The pictures show what seems like a lathe that was seldom used and not used heavily. Pictures are tough to see small details but the surfaces on the bed appear to be like new. If that is in fact the case then it might justify a higher cost approaching the new price. There's lots of good deals on older used lathes. But the risk you take as a newbie is not knowing how to evaluate what sort of wear is just cosmetic and what wear is going to cause issues. So there's much to be said for buying something that is newer and clearly lightly used and just pay more for the piece of mind.
        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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        • #5
          Originally posted by connor1 View Post
          So this is an "Asia clone" and HF sells a version? Typically I dont buy anyting with moving parts from HF. I have had good luck with their hammers....
          It was sold by a wide range of outfits under different colours and names. HF was just one of them. Busy Bee and KMS up here in Canada sold them at one time. As noted Grizzly still sells them new. And they have been around long enough that when Enco was still in operation I suspect they also sold them. I wouldn't hold that against it.

          If the fact that it is Asian at all bothers you that's fine. But be aware that any of the US brands for small lathes have been out of business for a few decades at this point and all of the options you find will be well used. And some will have been AB-used. So you'll want to get familiar with how to properly evaluate a used lathe if you don't want to buy anything from out of Asia.
          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            I wouldn't pay more than $500 for it. 1800 is absolutely ridiculous. At one point these things could be had for $900 brand new.
            You will need to make a 4 bolt compound mount for it. The stock 2 bolt isn't rigid enough for many peoples tastes. It also has a threaded spindle nose, not exactly desirable, but not horrible either.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RB211 View Post
              I wouldn't pay more than $500 for it. 1800 is absolutely ridiculous. At one point these things could be had for $900 brand new.
              You will need to make a 4 bolt compound mount for it. The stock 2 bolt isn't rigid enough for many peoples tastes. It also has a threaded spindle nose, not exactly desirable, but not horrible either.
              First off I feel that what they USED to sell for doesn't really matter. That was then and this is now. Time moves on and prices in our world go up.

              If a new lathe in this size range is going to cost around $2K to $2.4K (which it would for machines in the 9x19 to 10x22 range) then anything less than that for used is at least supportable. How much less than the new going price we go depends on the local market and supply and demand. Some of us live in areas where $600 options are plentiful. And others live where its rare to find a deal on this size range of lathe for less than $1500.

              I don't know of any smaller lathes that have a four bolt compound. Hell, even most of the 12 and 13" lathes only have a two bolt lock down for the compound. You're asking the OP to go searching for unicorn horns....
              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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              • #8
                So the compound slide will be rigid enough to handle some light mill work?

                Or will I need a bunch of pricey additional parts?

                From where I'm standing, if you guys think this is a solid lathe for a beginner home shop, with the table and extras, it might be worth $700 to me, which is less than1/2 what I would spend on a new grizzly without a table and all the extras....

                If you think my thinking is flawed let me know why trying to learn here....

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                • #9
                  If that is worth $1800, then the Logan you asked about is worth at least $3200 even in somewhat worn condition. And neither of them is, unless on the N Slope of AK, maybe, and you want it now..

                  The 9 x 20, in comparison, are wiggly-jiggly compromises. The Logan is a solid, well-designed machine with back gears. They are comparable only in nominal swing and C-C distance, which is 10" x 24" (or more) for the Logan.

                  If you find a decent Atlas, I'd buy that over the 9 x 20, and I am not fond of them. Ditto South bend 9", although they are a cut over Atlas IMO.
                  1601 2137 5683 1002 1437

                  Keep eye on ball.
                  Hashim Khan

                  If you look closely at a digital signal, you find out it is really analog......

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                  • #10
                    No comment on the lathe, though I do believe some lathe is better than no lathe, but I'd strongly suggest rethinking the milling with a lathe idea. Although technically possible I can count on the fingers of a two fingered hand how many people I've read about that do it regularly and successfully. For most it appears to be an exercise in frustration and this is from someone who used a drill press as a "mill" for several years, so I'm pretty familiar with exercises in frustration. Even a small benchtop (Little Machine Shop style) mill will be better than milling with your lathe, but quite a considerable margin, so keep your eyes open for a mill.

                    No one said this was a cheap hobby, but it is a lot of fun and way cheaper than loose cars and fast women!

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                    • #11
                      When it comes to using it as a mill, the 9x is an interesting machine. The cross slide has T slots the full lenth, so you can bolt things to it. You can remove the compound slide and mount an angle plate to which you can secure a part that you want to machine. That only works in two planes (X and Z) , but one could (theoretically) make a pass and then move the part up and make another pass. They make milling attachments for about $150 that mount to most small lathes. It may take a little work to make it fit. See little machine shop.

                      The biggest barrier to milling on that lathe is the clearance for the work. The work envelope when using a milling attachment is only about 6 inches by 4 inches.

                      While you are at it... look up "face milling on the lathe" to see how you can make flat and parallel sides when holding a bar of metal in the lathe chuck.

                      Dan
                      At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                      Location: SF East Bay.

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                      • #12
                        Yep, nothing brings up the hackles around here like discussing machine prices. And especially so for lathes.

                        Bottom line is you don't have one and you want one for less than new. You shop your area and perhaps some extended area to find one you can buy and transport for what seems reasonable. From the shopping around you should get an idea of local pricing and will have to make up your own mind about which option and how much money to go with.

                        On which one I'd certainly agree that the Logan is head and shoulders above the 9x19 in a big number of ways. And if you're patient finding one with a QCGB would really seal the deal. And truly if you learn to move the carriage with a nice smooth even motion you can easily learn to not mind having a range of feed speeds at your finger tips.

                        For milling I'd also agree that the fastest and most convincing act you can do to encourage you to buy even a basic mill drill would be to try to do any milling in the lathe which is more than very light jobs like keyways and forming hex's or flats. Or if you're doing any gunsmithing for milling front sight dovetails. Little jobs of that sort that employ smaller size end mills would be fine.

                        This issue of milling in the lathe isn't helped by the idea that you're leaning towards smaller and lighter lathes either. In metal machining mass of the machine is a MAJOR player in any success. And all the more when you start trying to do things that the machine isn't really intended for.

                        All in all if you are thinking milling as well as turning I would suggest that the money you are thinking of for a vertical slide would be better aimed towards a suitable size table top mill. Again this would be far better as a long term solution then a milling in the lathe fixture that you'll curse and swear at often.
                        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                        • #13
                          Hi Connor1,
                          On the youtube, blondiehacks does a short video on these Asian lathes where he discusses their good & bad points. He discusses how the various sellers have relabeled the same basic set of castings and gives examples of what to look for regarding the better versions vs the ones with cut corners pricing.
                          I thought it was well worth my time watching it.
                          I see you're considering 2 different lathes, the above video may give you some help deciding if one or the other is for you.
                          Also, I've done a good bit of milling on a Southbend 9" and I agree whole hardheartedly with danlb. It can be done within the limited work envelope, but it's slow & the set up can be a PITA.
                          Hope This Helps,
                          David in Sunny Malolos

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                          • #14
                            It looks like the cross slide dovetails are made with bolted-on sections. Is that right & is this something that's commonly done? I've never seen/noticed it before.

                            https://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/fi...hotoid=1850796

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bob Engelhardt View Post
                              It looks like the cross slide dovetails are made with bolted-on sections. Is that right & is this something that's commonly done? I've never seen/noticed it before.

                              https://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/fi...hotoid=1850796
                              That's just an illusion. There is an opening between the dovetails and a plate that covers it. The dovetails are part of the cross slide casting.
                              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                              Location: SF East Bay.

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