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three in one machines

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  • three in one machines

    Can anyone recommend a good three in one machine, or at least a lathe/mill combination, in the range of $1200? I am considering getting a Smithy Midas 1220, but have gotten some pretty negative comments about them.


  • #2
    As I indicated in another thread, IMHO there's no such thing as a "good" 3 in 1: they are always a compromise. Do yourself a favor and get a real lathe or mill (depending on which you will be using most) and enjoy machining, not fighting the machine.


    • #3
      Ditto. Get separate machines. It may take you a bit longer to afford to get your shop equipped, but you'll be happier with the results, long-term.

      This hobby is hard enough without being annoyed by your equipment every time you step into the shop.

      Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
      Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
      Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
      There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
      Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
      Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


      • #4
        I beg to differ but with qualifications. I have a Maximat 7 and it is a solid machine and very accurate. That being said, it is also tool room quality and does use standard lathe accessories. It is not cheap by a long shot - good machines are expensive no matter what size they are. The smaller machines also limit you in size of project.

        If you can afford it, look for good lathe first - you can do some milling with a lathe - them when you have better funding get a nice mill. If you only plan to do tiny stuff look for a Wabeco, Prazi, or Emco - good machines but not dirt cheap.

        Good luck, take your time and make the right decision for yourself.


        • #5
          As a 3in1 owner I would say don't do it. I thought it was a good idea considering my space and money constraints. If I had it to do again I would just spend the money on a better lathe and buy a mill when I could aford it. The rigidity just isn't there with mine.


          • #6

            The three and ond may be a compromise, but this world is based on compromise.

            You hang on to that money and the other side of the compromise may be kitchen cabinets,or tires for the car.
            Then you got notten.

            Never had a three and one, but sometin, is beddah than nottin.

            See ya!
            Oudadaloop kap


            • #7
              I have owned one of these "creatures" as my soul metalworking machine- a chinese made "smithy". I struggled and learned the hard way. Good tools make it easier. The eMco Austrian made machine is a great piece with a different layout. On the Chinese 3 in 1's you lose lots of time shifting from lathe to mill. I had to remove the chuck (held by three bolts!) each time I wished to do some milling. Drilling was OK, but milling was very slow due to the dinky mass and poor design. It lacked rigidity. I read and reread machine shop texts. The techniques used by the pros, where rarely useful on my Smithy. Now I have a normal lathe and am surprized at the ease and quality of things I can make. I am a novice, no doubt. A great mind with experience and know-how could make the loose machines do good work. I have neither, but it gripes me the 3in1 machines being touted by companies as a GREAT starter machine. I bought a small 3" taiwainese lathe, a Posidion. It is NO Hardringe or Monarch, but it is fun to use for my little projects. Even it is ten times more useful than my chinese 3in1. I am just trying to be helpful and save others much grief. I am sorry to this day I wasted so much time and money struggling with poor equipment. A used 3 in 1 machine a at low, low price could be a workable compromise, but I bought mine new to avoid used machine problems. It was a bad choice. But we are free to choose, it is your money. Best of Luck, Tim

              [This message has been edited by old sass (edited 01-23-2002).]

              [This message has been edited by old sass (edited 01-23-2002).]


              • #8

                Those 3-in-1's are the worst tools on the planet. Just look at the trash this guy churned out on one.



                • #9
                  Yeah, right!!
                  One, he is very, very experienced.
                  Two, he has a $3000 "quadra-lift" milling attachment.
                  That ain't no Smithy, brudder ;-)


                  • #10
                    I am no machinist but I do enjoy machining.I also had $1200 to spend on a lathe. Rather than buy a bigger older lathe I opted to go new so I got a 9x20 Jet lathe. If I could do it over again I would certainly go for the bigger more rigid machine.Mark


                    • #11
                      The picture looks like a Smithy - but I am sure it cost him more than $3k before he started on that engine.

                      IMHO, considering he used a CNC machine that is a lousy example of what CNC can do. Go to Sherline's website to see what an "animal" with less than perfect MANUAL tools can do. I am in awe...

                      In the end I would buy what you can afford and get started - then go from there.



                      • #12
                        The secret my friends is in the person not the machine. I've seen trash made on quality equipment and vice versa. Buy the best machine you can afford to tool and still get in your space.


                        • #13
                          Hehe, so you were able to detect my sarcasm?

                          You are right. The guy building the engine is a lifetime machinist, has an expensive setup (but what would that cost if it was Southbend and Bridgeport?), and obviously he has more free time on his hands than Tonya Harding.

                          But, it does show that it is possible to turn out some amazing stuff on a combo machine, given the talent and patience. (Assuming they are telling the whole story and all of it was really done on that one machine)

                          Yes, I just bought a 3in1 against all the advice of those who say they are paper weights. Given my budget and space contraints, I was looking at either building Gingery machines from scrap or buying something cheap now. When I factored in my time, it made sense to get a cheap machine now. I can alway build attachments using Gingery methods if necessary. Not all of us are hard core machinists working on large pieces with less than .001" tolerance requirements. At a minimum, the lathe alone has much more capacity over the bed then a 9x20 and more capacity overall then a 7x12.

                          The stuff I will use this machine for doesn't require the tightest of tolerances. For instance, my first project is to make a cam bearing installation tool. Simple and well within the capabilities of a 3in1. Yeah, it may take longer to setup, but that's not a concern to me. I like to take my time anyway and check things three or four times before I cut. It certainly won't be as painful as using a hand drill, a vise and a file.

                          Who knows, maybe I'll hate myself later for having purchased it...but it sure beats having nothing at all and paying the knucklehead "professional" machinist down the street good money to screw up my projects on his Southbend (it's happened more than once).

                          I wrestled a LONG time with what to buy. It was between a 9x20 import lathe or a 3in1. Grizzly Outlet is blowing out the last few discontinued G9728's for $695. This was a $950 machine. That made my decision.

                          I don't drive the best car, I don't live in the best house, I don't have the top-of-the-line home theater or the fastest computer. Why then do I have to have a Bridgeport and Southbend? If I had that kind of dough, I'd invest in a better house or car first.


                          • #14
                            I was not impressed to be frank. Now that you tell me he was a lifer I am even less impressed.

                            There is a guy in the Sherline book "Table Top Machining" that built a working gas turbine with a basic model Sherline lathe. His "workshop" is a total pigsty - junk all over hell's half acre. Builds model aircraft - like the carbon fibre composite U2 11' wingspan model he made for the turbine he built from scratch. Absolutely beautiful - works of art. A true craftsman in every sense of the word.

                            The lifer may be a good machinist, but from the looks of his engine he is not a craftsman. Don't get me wrong, what he did is good. He could have done a lot better is what I am saying. But then, maybe I am just too cranky today.