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Craftsman 109 or HF 7x12? Opinions please.

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  • Craftsman 109 or HF 7x12? Opinions please.

    Yes I'm fully aware that both are really light duty machines.
    Yes I know the 109 has gears made out of jello, but aren't the gears of HF made out of butter?

    If you needed a light duty bench top lathe and had these two to choose...which one and why?

    109 price is low machine is very good. 4-jaw faceplate rocker tool holder and complete gear set (I think) also has lathe dog, drill chuck and dear center.(of which I'm wondering what the taper would be.)

    HF comes with that stuff as well.
    Bricolage anyone? of lifes fun games.

  • #2
    Actually, the gears on a 109, despite being zamac, are one of it's better features.........

    Everything else sucks.

    Who wants a crossfeed of 0.0416 per turn? With no dial anyway?

    Who wants a tiny 0.5" spindle that is almost certainly bent before you get the machine? The center is a Morse 0 taper, standard, but hardly ever seen.

    Buy the IMPORT....... EVEN FROM Harbor Freight it will probably be better than any 109.

    Or buy a 6" Atlas, which uses the same gears as the 109, but is a LOT better.

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan


    • #3
      I had a 109 for a long time. It's better than no lathe at all, but as J tiers notes, the lack of crossfeed dials is a serious handicap. You have to mike everything. It also has the annoying lack of a carriage hand wheel, which means that to manually advance it, you must either disengage the feed and just push it, or turn the feed screw with a little knob at the end. One way is useless for anything but rough positioning, the other painfully slow, and if you have the feed set for threading, it's nearly impossible to do a manual finishing feed.

      It's too bad, because the quality of the casting was pretty good. The basic finish of ways and dovetails, etc. was probably better than what you'll get from the bottom-line chinese stuff, and despite the measly half-inch spindle, it had the potential to be a decent little machine, but to make it useful you'd have to redesign a few things.


      • #4
        Seriously consider an Atlas 618 (6") over the 109. I rarely recommend an import over domestic, but in this case the 7x12 beats the 109. The 618 wins out over the 7x12 and accessories/parts are easy to find if required. Next up the scale is an Emco Compact 5......


        • #5
          It is hard to ever recommend a 109.


          • #6
            It's now five against the 109 vs. the crummy import, starting with Jerry. Did someone mention the 109's spindle is also likely to be bent?


            • #7
              I have the 7x12 that's similar to the HF model. It's quite capable and did not require too much cleanup to get it to work properly. All parts are readily available through Little Machine Shop.

              If you need one that size, I'd recommend it.

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


              • #8
                I sold my 109 to get a 7 X 12. The 7 X 12 is a much better machine that can make nice parts. I recently built a small steam engine using the mini lathe,

                Check the one from HF as it could be a 7 X 10, which can be too short sometimes when you need to drill. Although if the HF lathe is a good price buy it and add the 14" bed kit from Little Machine Shop.
                Mark Hockett