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WTB First Lathe Southern Michigan

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  • WTB First Lathe Southern Michigan


    I am looking for a good first lathe to explore the metal working hobby. My budget is around 1000.00. I am completely new but have always been fascinated by metal work. I have researched the subject of buying a used lathe and someone said to "tell everyone you can that you are looking", hence this post.

    One problem is I have no real idea of what I would make nor do I have a need to fix anything at the moment. This may sound crazy, but all I know for sure is the interest in the hobby. During my research the last few years I have read a good bit; Sherline's table top machining and The Amateur's Lathe by L H Sparey both recommended by different forum groups.

    So if anyone knows of a lathe that might fit a "good starter" please let me know.

    Thank you

  • #2
    I’d suggest a South Bend 10-inch swing lathe. These are good machines, there are thousands of them out there, lots of tooling is available (and easy to make), and you can always sell it if you should need to.

    You should be able to find a good one in your area. Unless you’re experienced at what to look for, I’d recommend paying a little more and going with a dealer. Ask at the local machine shops for the name of a reputable dealer who has the skill to find you a good machine.

    Expect that tooling will cost you as much as the lathe. You’ll need a good 3-jaw chuck, a 4-jaw, a quick-change toolpost (you can make this as your first project), and a slug of little stuff such as centers, toolbits, drill chucks, and so on. You’ll never have enough tooling, so just figure that this will be something you’ll add to as time goes on.

    Twleve-inch swing machines are very popular, but I was once told by an old-timer that 90 percent of what anyone does on a lathe is less than 3 inches in diameter and within six inches of the chuck. After ruining many parts over the last 25 years (see my sig line), I’ve found that the old timer was right. Unless you’re re-building auto differentials or boring long rifle barrels, an SB 10 should handle most any project you’d find in the amateur literature.


    • #3
      Well, in true HSM BBS fashion, here's a completely unrelated answer...

      There's a round ram bridgeport, 110v AC on Detroit Craigslist right now for $350.

      Just thought since you are trying to enter the field, it might be of interest.

      Seriously though, watch craigslist, and don't buy the first one you see.


      • #4
        • Avoid the Atlas/Craftsman models unless the lathe is great and the price is right. Trust me.
        • The Southbend 9" is a nice lathe. One HSMer just made some significant backhoe repairs with one.
        • Be prepared to spend more on tooling than you did on the lathe (though not necessarily on day 1)
        • When you're going to look at a lathe, take a knowledgeable friend.
        • Buying 'American Iron' has a nice ring, but you're really probably buying someone else's worn-out or abused junk. I've had a lathe for 2 years and haven't made a chip - I bought abused junk. Fixing it has been educational and worthwhile, but my interest has waxed and waned making for slow progrss. Consider instead buying a brand new ubiquitous 9x20 from Harbor Freight et al. They have a huge following and many mods are published on the web.


        • #5
          There is a machine shop auction coming up on Dec. 11th in Flint, Mi. I'm going to be down there hopefully buying up some tooling and other obscure stuff, but the add online seemed as if they had a fair number of machines as well. The last machine and tooling auction I went to that this guy ran had very reasonable prices, I dont think he charges any buyers premium (I have been to probably 30 of his auctions and he never has yet). Anyhow, it might be worth a look if you can hold out for a month.

          Here is a link to the details, PM me if you happen to want to meet up or something.



          • #6
            Be careful buying at an auction. If the machine is from a production shop, it may be beaten to death. Such shops make money by making parts, not from babying their machinery. Checking it out during the brief inspection period, particularly if you aren't skilled in how to do this, can be a challenge. School lathes or those from other government agencies are often OK. They may have big dings from crashes but are often otherwise not worn.


            • #7
              Fellows thanks for the advise. Here is the one I am looking at. This fellow seems like a stand up guy. While I dont have a problem with buying used I dont have a friend with experience to evaluate this machine.


              • #8
                I guess I should include the link to the pics.



                • #9

                  I am sorry messed up the link. Here are the pics of the lathe.


                  • #10
                    Looks like a Clausing, maybe a 12" model 100, WW2 vintage, sitting on some other machine's legs.
                    Last edited by rantbot; 11-04-2009, 10:39 AM.


                    • #11

                      You are right on the money. Near as I can tell it is a mark 3 40s vintage. The only negative I have read about is the availability of spare parts.

                      Thanks for your reply,


                      • #12
                        Where in Michigan are you located. Medema online auctions has a clausing
                        lathe at a machine rebuilder coming up,(, also mills and plainers and other lathes.


                        • #13
                          Hey Cheap Jon,

                          I am in Jackson.


                          • #14
                            Zap I just sent you an email.
                            Pics of shop and some projects


                            • #15
                              sent reply


                              I responded with a PM. I tried to email but it got rejected.