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  • Smithy...

    I'm a pretty experienced woodworker/turner who is ready to get into machining.

    I've been doing some homework on Smithys. Searching the forum, it sounds like most users here are pretty down on the combination machines.

    I was in Ann Arbor on business a couple of weeks ago, and got to visit the factory and take a look at their machines.

    They seem very well built, high quality...I'm just wondering why the general low opinion of these machines??

    Is it just the fact that a dedicated mill and dedicated lathe will always perform better on thier own?

    I can't see any reason why the lathe portion of a 3 in 1 would perform any less than a dedicated lathe, so perhaps the mill portion of the 3 in 1's just don't perform as well? If this is the case, how so?

    Other considerations?

    Thanks.

    bg

  • #2
    Welcome aboard ! See you have been around a while an not posted much. I suggest you check the archives on this. This is a subject that has been discussed many times before on the board. One of the limitations I see is having to change the set up to go from milll to lathe and back also lack of elbow room. Also there have been folks on the board that have had quality issues with smithy to the point of returing machines. I am not downing the company or there product but do your homework.
    Regards
    Tin
    Ad maiorem dei gloriam - Ad vitam paramus

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    • #3
      Hey bg, I have a smithy (CB-1220) and have been pretty happy with it. I found mine used in the local paper and got it for about half of new price. Smithy's prices on machines and accessories is way high. Customer service is reportedly good, though I have never needed it personally. You can do a lot with these machines. Most of the limitations have workarounds and everything is limited by the operator initially anyway--no matter what you get. The biggest pain is the switchover from lathe to mill and viceversa. On my model, I have to remove the lathe chuck to have any kind of room for milling. I would say, check it out. Better to get started with a Smithy and move up if need be, than to sit around for a few years waiting for a Sounth Bend/Bridgeport/whatever to show up in your area. Sidegrinder.

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      • #4
        3 in 1

        The machines might look nice from a woodworking perspective, but they lack travel in X and Y in mill mode, which limits things a lot, than there is change over time. They are not as rigid as a single purpose lathe or mill. I found both a mill and a lathe used for less than the cost of a 3 in 1, And both were US made (South Bend and Cinncinati And if you think its hard to find machines where you are, try Alaska ) A lot of things can be made on one of them but I would rather use a Hammer and chisel and file. Yes I have used one , a friend has one (poor guy) after watching me on my machines he definatly wants to upgrade (his machine was free even). If you only can squeeze one machine in, and don't plan on ever putting anything bigger than a 6 in square block on the mill, and not much steel work mostly brass or aluminum, than maybe.......Take spindles and gearboxes apart and clean out sand and gravel (not joking)....The machines are all made overseas.
        Last edited by Bguns; 10-23-2006, 05:29 PM.

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        • #5
          I have a 1220 , the mill part is light duty but the lathe part works just fine. I would have bought 2 machines but it would have cost me $1,000 more.

          If you are doing small repair and hobbie work it will work just fine. I did not need big and powerful machines at home because I have access to my brothers business shop.

          I like my smithy , its all I need for use at home.

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          • #6
            I also have a 1220 machine and am very happy with it - sure i would rather have a full size stand alone lathe and no mill, but for my space constraints and budget the 1220 is great. At least it allows me to get into machining and learn a few things.

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            • #7
              I got back into machining with a 3 in 1 Grizzly lath (G0516). The price was right, the size and capability suited my facilities and needs, and it is doing a fine job. As I create more tools for it to counter some of it's limitations it becomes more pleasant to use. I'd still like a good solid LeBlond or Hardinge, but for now this is really all I need.

              I have a few issues with it:

              - No thread dial - made one for it

              - Plastic gears in the mill head. Will replace with metal when they blow out

              - Slop in the compound rest and cross feed slide - makes for poor accuracy. Will replace the screws and nuts and tighten up tolerances

              - Dials are marked 0-79. I'd prefer 0-99 and that requires a new dial and new threads on the slides.

              - Belt drive is just weird. The belt is too short and won't move from pully to pully easily.

              - This I don't get: The mill and spindle are MT#3 tapers but the tail stock is MT#2. Why not make them all the same? I'll probably buy the R8 modification from the LittleMachineShop.com.

              - I've already outgrown the 3 in 1 paradigm and am ready to buy a new base unit for the mill from the LittleMachineShop.com as well - it gets pretty tight with all that stuff in one place, and the mill deserves a better table than the cross slide with slotted plate.

              Still, I've no regrets that I bought this model. If I move up to larger/better gear I can give this one to one of our sons. Meanwhile I've relearned quite a bit and learned a lot of new stuff, and I have a lot of new tools I made for working on my Harley but that's another problem.

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              • #8
                I've got a Smithy Granite 1324 with the Shooting Star DROs. I would have American iron tools but for the fact that my basement is quite small and has terrible access.

                If you accept that the tool as shipped from Smithy is sort of a starting point, you'll be fine. I've had mine almost all the way apart to clean and paint the interior of the headstock and replace the spindle bearings. Twice, once with the bearings Smithy cheerfully sent me the second I said " I've only had this a year, but my spindle bearings seem to be..." and a second time with genuine Timken precision bearings I paid for myself.

                I've scraped, lapped, deburred and fitted everything on reassembly, and now, apart from the size limitations and the inherant lack of rigidity of the milling configuration, it works perfectly fine, and has in fact, paid for itself several times over.

                "Lay on ground-light fuse-get away"

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                • #9
                  moto

                  Nice Rotary table clamping trick :

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                  • #10
                    Me too

                    I have a Smithy 1324 which is quite a bit heaftier than their early machines. It has a lot of convienent features that really work well for me. I do metal working as a hobby to make parts I can't otherwise get. The only time I had a problem (drive pulley) their service dept was fast and quick and no charge. I didn't think the compound was stiff enough, and after making a solid pillar block for a BXA quick change tool post, I took the time to "improve the compound tool post". I also use a torque wrench (25 ft pds) to clamp down the two head locks on the milling head. Otherwise It does slip calibration when you bust an endmill (ask me how I know). I have found out there is no shop building big enough or machines heavy enough, or and end to "just another machine".
                    What ever you get, just take your time learning it and then have fun.

                    FOM
                    Fat Old Man

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