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Getting Started

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  • Getting Started

    I have had some machine shop trainning years ago (about 10), and am a little "rusty". I have always wanted to improve my machining skills, but never had the opportunity until now. What do you recommend that I start with mill/lathe wise, hand tool wise, and measuring equipment wise ? I would like to keep the equipment in my basement, and am expecting a budget up to $3,000. Any ideas or suggestions


  • #2
    Check some of the past 40 days of threads in this board. This question gets asked over and over - there is no easy answer - it really depends what you plan on doing with the tools. Do you have any plans or projects in particular you are inclined towards?



    • #3
      A mill-drill, and an atlas,or logan 10" would be one way to go.

      You could probably find them for the amount specified with some extra for 1" mic,
      6" venier, 6"scale,and indicator.
      Also need a vise, collets, and chucks but thats streching it a little bit.

      You never have enough tooling, but between ebay and flea markets at shows it will build up.

      A mill-drill and lathe will allow you to make anything up to a 1/8 scale locomotive, or 1/4 scale traction engine,if you're into models.

      Enjoy your Hobby



      • #4
        I'll second Kap, a few additions will be necessary, such as some kind of cut off saw. No big expense, those cheap asian bandsaws do work rather well for what they cost, ditto for a chop saw, but those bandsaws do serve as a vertical saw to an extent, they can't be used with narrower blades.

        You'll need a bench grinder of some sorts, lots of cheap ones on the market, some a little bit better than others, got to keep those bits and drills sharp.

        I was thinking the other day while in shop running shaper, you know, a person with a mill-drill and a shaper can tackle most any mill type job. Shapers can be picked up rather reasonably sometimes, larger is cheaper, how good are those basement stairs.

        Good luck with your endevors, be patient and things show up.


        • #5
          Halfnut's right,

          Some kinda saw is really nice preparing materials. Saves lots of arm power.

          Grinder too.

          I forgot bout that.

          I had a 7" Havair shaper cost $350 way back then.
          That was real nice to have before I got the mill-drill.
          I used to part stock off in the shaper.

          Lathe Milling attachments are a poor substitute for a mill, but nescessary sometimes. I made one of them on the shaper too.

          The list goes on and on.

          You'll get there .

          Happy Machining,



          • #6
            As I've said before...look on this as a long-term proposition. You don't need to (can't) get everything all at once, unless you're one of those fortunate few for whom money is no object. Even then, it would just be a matter of luck, because it takes a while to figure out what you, personally, need to do what YOU want to do. Maybe if I could fulfill my fantasy of ordering one of everything in the MSC catalog..... ;-)

            Anyway. I'd take a serious look at "good used American" machine tools. If you're patient, you ought to be able to get a pretty decent used lathe (South Bend, Logan, Clausing) for a couple thousand dollars. See, for instance, or Dave Sobel's or Plaza Machinery's ads in HSM. There are certainly other fine dealers around the country, too, but I know those 3 have a good reputation.

            One advantage to buying used: the machine will likely come with some assortment of tooling, which if you have to buy it separately can easily cost as much as the lathe.
            You'll need at least a 4-jaw chuck, a tailstock drill chuck, and a faceplate or two. A pair of centers. That's pretty minimal, but you CAN get by for a while with that amount of tooling. A 3-jaw is handy, but not strictly necessary; I got by with just a 4-jaw for years. Collets are a great addition, but expensive. If you do get collets, by the way, get only the common sizes. I can't ever imagine using a 31/64" collet for anything, for instance. If you get 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 1, that will likely cover 99% of any collet work you ever do.

            You can get a mill/drill for under a thousand. I'm tempted to suggest you go cheap here with an eye to replacing it in the future with a knee mill. If you can save up another $3K over the next few years, you might find a "good used" Bridgeport to buy, or maybe a Jet JVM-836 if the size of a B'port is somewhat daunting.
            You'll need a vise and a hold-down set. A few collets: 3/16, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 will cover you. Also a drill chuck.

            As far as small tools....
            A set of drills. One of the made-in-USA 115-pc sets may be the best deal. They are often on sale for around $100.
            A GOOD 0-1" micrometer. You'll be using it ALL the time, so get a good one. A "good used" Starrett mike would likely be perfectly satisfactory; Starrett mikes seem to last nearly forever. For larger dimensions, for now get a 0-6" caliper. At some point you'll likely want more micrometers, but the caliper will do.
            A dial indicator, like a Starrett "last word." I've had indifferent success buying used indicators, but if you can buy one with a return privilege that would be fine.

            I agree about the cutoff saw. Using a hacksaw to cut off a 2" diameter bar gets old real fast. Those 4"x6" horizontal/vertical bandsaws are perfectly adequate. You'll probably want to tune it up a little.

            Oh -- taps and dies. You may want to buy them as you need them, although a set is certainly convenient. As time goes on though, you'll be buying replacements and additions, and you'll eventually need to figure out where to put all the odds and ends of taps and dies you accumulate. I've got a cheap 60-drawer plastic cabinet I keep all my taps and dies in. Just start out that way, buy them as you need them, and fill the drawers as you get them.

            And of course books. For a general introduction to nearly all aspects of home shop work, I really like "The Amateur's Lathe" by L.H. Sparey. Reading that will give you a much better idea of what you need. The Argus Home Workshop Series has some good titles too.

            I guess that's enough rambling on for now....

            [This message has been edited by SGW (edited 01-26-2002).]
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