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Sherline Lathes

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  • Sherline Lathes

    Has anyone had any experience with Sherline lathes and milling machines? I have read a bit about these, and think this may be the thing to get started in metal turning. I have turned wood before, but never metal.
    I have always wanted to learn how to turn metal, but simply do not have the space for a huge lathe.

    I wish to make screws, and other small parts for my gun collection. Not to mention other small parts around the house.

  • #2
    If you want a small lathe for making small parts, a Sherline is certainly one of your best machines. Not your only choice, but a good one.

    However, at about $670 to $750 (new) for the lathe and attachments to make a screw, you will have to make a whole lot of them to break even, but it can be done.

    Good luck and happy chip making..........


    • #3
      You might get Joe Martin's book "Table Top Machining". I thought it was expensive and it really is. There's a good reason, too. It is filled - FILLED with information and color photos for someone thinking about doing small machining. I read my copy four or five times, each from a different knowledge level. First time, I was clueless and the Color Photos kept me going.... Last time, I was looking for serious details and the content was ususally there. The guys here might not find it of such interest, as it speaks to a "new person" in this. But I thought it worth skipping lunches to buy it and have been well satisfied.

      Then, there are the Yahoo groups - which you might eventually be interested. I found Nick Carter's web site enormously useful - and interesting. He is a Taig dealer and is a great personal and web site resource. I suppose you have been to the sherline web site?

      Just to not play favoritess, I bought a Unimat small tool for my son (he's 7) and he loves it - and is learning the basics too. This whole craft - and the knowledge like how to do your own screws - is getting thin in this country. I have been an engineer most of my life and really knew nothing about the praticalities of turning metal and making plastic. Doing a good, usefule small screw seems at the start and core of this whole knowledge base.... This machine is not for doing screws normally.

      Sorry to ramble... but it's a point I want to work on fixing.... The direce question you asked means you will also have to have a fixture to make screws. Won't cost much and is small in size.

      -- jerry


      • #4
        I own a maximat 7 which is a toolroom quality machine that uses standard lathe tooling. The one Problem with the Taig and Sherline is the high cost of add-ons. And there are plenty. They are more difficult to thread with than an Emco, Prazi, or Wabeco (Austrian and German lathes) but cheaper to purchase. For a low cost alternative the small 7x10 Harbour Freight might be better suited for your occasional use - I have never used or seen the HF machines so I cannot personally recommend them.

        All of the Machines listed above except for HF are well made for the money you spend (I cannot comment on the HF).

        The Taig is very popular here for wood turners who use them to turn pens, but to get them to the point where they are effective metal machines it may be more cost effective to look elsewhere (at least from my Canadian $ viewpoint).

        The Sherline has many configurations and numerous accesories. They are not cheap however, and often cost more than their full sized counterparts. It is an excellent machine for its size, and a kit can be purchased to run the spindle up to 10,000 rpm - ideal for super finished Aluminum turnings (using PCD inserts).

        The Emco, Prazi, and Wabeco are mini lathes. They use full sized lathe parts, so tooling and accesories is not as expensive as the Taig and Sherline. They can also do larger, more serious work. Be advised that even these lathes are often too small for many of the more interesting and useful projects. I purchased my Emco Maximat 7 (7"x18") because I wanted something that did not take up much space - it is too small for most of what I need to do.

        Which brings us to another alternative. Since you do not mention any back ground in machining, you may best serve yourself by first talking some course at your local school, tech school, colege, or university to give you a solid grounding in the basics. The most important of which is safety. Lathes are dangerous if not used with care. Mills more so. By taking a course, you will also get a better idea as to where your real interest lies so you can make an intelligent purchase to pursue this and your other hobbies in conjunction. This could save you from making some expensive mistakes common to first timers that just run out and buy willy-nilly. By educating yourself you will gain by being able to choose better tools for yourself and your hobbies all the while maximizing your ever shrinking dollar. Well worth the effort.

        And trust me, if you do "get the bug", you will want a bigger machine to make barrels for your guns next... (or whatever grabs your snappy)


        • #5
          I agree with Thrud, very good advice.
          The 7" X 10" is probably a better choice in most instances. An Atlas 6" lathe is another good choice, and a 9" or 10" lathe is even better. Get the biggest you can afford and accomodate.
          A good used machine will frequently come with a lot of tooling, which can save quite a few dollars in the long run.
          The Sherline and Taig are good machines, and capable of good work, but are limited in that dedicated tooling is required in many cases. A 7" x 10" or other "real" lathe will use standard tooling that can be used if you move to a bigger machine at a later date.
          The suggestion of taking a course in machining is well taken. It will give you knowledge and confidence that will help you in the selection of the tools best suited to your needs.
          I think many people leap into this hobby with great expectations, and become dissapointed and frustrated due to the lack of basic knowledge and having purchased equipment unsuitable to their needs.
          Jim H.


          • #6
            I thought about taking a course at the local community college here in Omaha. Seems like a good idea. Anything that involves spinning metal is dangerous, so point well taken.

            Thanks for all of the suggestions. I would love to buy a bigger a lathe, but space considerations are a big part of this. I am AD military, and moving this thing is going to be a big issue. I am very carefull of what I buy, because it is almost certain I am going to have to move it.


            • #7
              I also agree with Thrud. I have a Sherline lathe (with a dust gathering milling column) as well as an Emco Maximat 7 like he has. The Sherline is a very light machine, a good thing in terms of carrying, a bad one in terms of cutting and stability. Check out , a very good reference for the 7x10,12 and 14. They have more beef to start with and you will get more done for a lot less money. Also, your tooling will be more transportable to a larger machine if you ever have the desire to move up. The longitudinal power feed and ability to thread (without resorting to a hand operated approach) are other strong points.

              That said, I still like the Sherline for real quick, less critical jobs in aluminum, delrin and brass.


              • #8
                I also will agree with Thrud. I have two sherline lathes and one mill. The one dates back to 1975 that I bought for my wife when she wanted to make small things for doll houses. Never used it and I very seldom except on rare occassions. The other ones are set up for CNC which I use to make small medical device prototypes. For this application they have paid for themselves.
                Thank you Thrud for a reply to one of my questions awhile back. Forgot now what it was but it answered my question.


                • #9
                  I have been responsible for the purchase of 5 Sherline machines, a lathe and mill at home and a long-bed lathe and 2 mills for making small prototypes and repair parts at work. The machines at work were a begrudging concession by the owner of the company, seems that the last lathe they had there was used for more personal jobs than company work. He got rid of it. When I came aboard, I would occasionally bring my own machine in to do a job cheaper than sending it out. When I was able to demonstrate the value of having the machines around, the boss relented and got one of each. Also made me promise no G-jobs. We got the second mill when the first one was busy paying for itself reworking some production plastic housings.

                  The single most important (and expensive)accessory is the rotary table. Get one - you won't regret it. (Shameless plug here: See my article "The Geneva Mechanism" in the Jan-Feb 2003 issue of HSM)

                  Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                  ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


                  • #10
                    Oh, forgot to add, I have an Atlas 6" lathe. The Sherline is much more ridgid than the Atlas. However, am glad to have both. The atlas for larger stuff and threading, the Sherline for precision. On my list of things to do is to make an adaptor arbor so I can transfer work held in the Sherline chuck or faceplate to the Atlas.

                    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~


                    • #11
                      The HF machine looks like it may give more bang or the buck.I may go ahead and take a look at this one, as we have a harbor freight tools in Omaha.


                      • #12
                        I can't remember either, but no need to thank me anyway. You get what you pay for around here, you know.


                        • #13
                          I have both a Sherline 4400 lathe and HF 7x10 lathe. If you will be turning pieces 3" diameter and less, the Sherline is the way to go IMHO. It's a high quality, accurate machine out of the box. The 7x10 can no doubt be made so; there is a LOT of information out there on tuning up and improving a 7x10. If you want to spend your time on such improvements and really need to turn larger work, then the mini lathe may work out fine for you.

                          There's not all that much tooling you need to buy for a Sherline, if you are doing basic facing and turning operations. Almost any of the Sherline tooling you feel you need can also be made; I've made my own knurling attachment and rotary table.

                          The Yahoo Sherline group is a great resource for finding out more.



                          • #14
                            I don't own a sherline or other small lathe or mill. I've used both a sherline mill and lathe setup for CNC, and I was not thrilled with the results... could have been just me though. The general flavor of this thread to me is that you need a small lathe to do small work, not so. While I know space and moving is a huge consideration for pv74, I would consider buying a larger lathe. When it is time to do the gun barrel, it will be much easier. I own a Used 10" SB lathe. Came equiped with taper attachement, lever action 5c collet chuck, cabinet stand and a load of tooling. The price was much less than a comparable new import. I frequently makescews on this lathe in the 2-56 size for my instrument repairs, and I've done a fair bit of gun smithing for a friend as well.



                            • #15
                              I bought the Homier after reading this article:
                     . I have since taken a machine shop class at the local community college. I recommend both for a beginner.

                              As for the lathe, I realize that it's not as rugged as the big machines that we used in class, but for small work, it works well. I have compared it to the HF version in the local store and it is essentially the same. A great value for US$299.

                              As for the class, I found that I learned a lot that I wouldn't have found out on my own. My instructor was good at showing the basics, and seemed happy to help me when I asked questions that were outside of this beginner class. Another good investment (US$60).

                              Having a lathe, even a small one, is very empowering. Have fun!
                              The early worm gets eaten.