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  • Lathemaster versus Sherline

    Hey guys. I'm really up in the air on which of these routes to take, either the Sherline 4400 or the Lathemaster 9x30.

    Most of what I'll be turning are custom bushings ranging from 1/4" to 1-1/2", and some small r/c parts. The spindle hole and additional capacity from the lathemaster are very attractive.

    Is the quality of one of these greater than the other? I like what I read about the support on the lathemaster, so I would not be buying anything from HF.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Had a Lathemaster for about 5 years and it & Bob served me well. Gr8 lathe only reason I sold was I needed a much larger bore, I was sorry to see it go.
    good luck,
    ed
    ps I even got my money back when I sold it.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have a lathemaster 8" and a Taig lathe.

      I use both all the time. Wouldn't want to be without either. I love my taig with the soft jaws. The lathemaster is not special beyond good customer service from Bob. Yesterday smoke started to pour out of the 8". The bus bar inside is not up to snuff and started to melt. I caught it before the mains shorted together. Replaced it with wire ties.
      I don't care for the spindle on the Lathemaster in regards to how the chucks mount. Rather have threaded or cam lock.
      Bigger is almost always better, but I do enjoy the accuracy of my Taig for small stuff. I guess it has more to do with the soft jaws than anything else...

      Comment


      • #4
        I have lathes from the Sherline up to a 13x30. You will hear it said over and over again that bigger is better when you're chosing a lathe. It's quite true and it is all about mass. The heavier machine you get, in general, the less you will deal with chatter, vibrations, finishes, etc. I cannot comment on the Lathemaster but will on the Sherline and larger.

        This is not to say you cannot do fine work with the Sherline but it is a very small, very light duty machine. The 9x30 will serve you well and your investment in tooling (or parts thereof) may be transferable to your next machine. Not so for the Sherline. I have to smile now when I use the Sherline compared to the 5" travel of the tailstock on the big machine.

        On the 9x30, you should be able to get spindle collet chucks, including one in the ER series. These are great for precision work. You can also fit an Aloris style toolpost to it for quick tool changes. I have one of the QCTPs for the Sherline and they are definitely a plus but also light duty.

        If I had no space available at all (except for kitchen table) or unable to move anything over 25 lbs., I'd but another Sherline. At this point, the Sherline no longer saves you much, if any money, as tooling accessories add up fast and are not moving to a larger machine.

        The larger sizes you plan on heading into could really use a larger machine. The Sherline can handle it but it will take forever to remove serious metal.

        Den

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gr8life
          Had a Lathemaster for about 5 years and it & Bob served me well. Gr8 lathe only reason I sold was I needed a much larger bore, I was sorry to see it go.
          good luck,
          ed
          ps I even got my money back when I sold it.
          Awesome feedback. Thank you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nheng
            You will hear it said over and over again that bigger is better when you're chosing a lathe. It's quite true and it is all about mass.
            Don't agree 100%, but thanks for the input. I'm downsizing from a Clausing 13x36. I'd previously listened to the "experts" who all said to go big and guess what? Big lathes usually suck for making really small parts. Yeah, it can be done, but there's a time and place for everything.

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            • #7
              My friends has a Sherline. It seems well made but there isn't much there for the money. There's a step between the Sherline and the 9x20 - the 7x lathes. Perhaps one of them will give you more capacity while still being easily able to make small parts.

              Comment


              • #8
                If I was you I would check the chuck mounting on the Taig as the Lathemaster is the same as that on the Sieg C6 and are difficult to source.
                Probably OK if you only go with what comes in the box else you are on your own.
                See Bob Warfields site as he has a Lathemaster.

                Peter

                Just had a look at the Lathemaster site and even they do not have a back plate for their own 9x30 lathe, strange!
                Last edited by ptjw7uk; 01-02-2010, 07:25 AM.
                I have tools I don't know how to use!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hey, you could even use the sherline as an accurate toolpost grinder?

                  Regards Ian.
                  You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Slop
                    Hey guys. I'm really up in the air on which of these routes to take, either the Sherline 4400 or the Lathemaster 9x30.

                    Most of what I'll be turning are custom bushings ranging from 1/4" to 1-1/2", and some small r/c parts. The spindle hole and additional capacity from the lathemaster are very attractive.

                    Is the quality of one of these greater than the other? I like what I read about the support on the lathemaster, so I would not be buying anything from HF.

                    Thanks.
                    Look here for examples of recent work I did with a Sherline lathe and mill:

                    http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=38782

                    I'm not familiar with the Lathemaster, but can attest to the quality and performance of the Sherline.
                    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
                    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In the cost vs capacity debate between the two I would personally chose the Lathemaster. There is alot of truth in the a big lathe is better than a small lathe. To a point. Really small work in a really big lathe is cumbersome in that such machines sometimes have too much power. But what i really can not understand about the whole 9x18/30 inch class of lathes is why hasn't somebody thrown the headstock design in the trash and beefed it up with a larger bore spindel or possibly an internal 5C collet bore. The cost of the bearings isn't going to be that much more. True the spindle costs are going to be higher but for the versatility I would think you'd have a ready market
                      Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sounds like you already made up your mind as to which route your going to take...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Spin Doctor
                          But what i really can not understand about the whole 9x18/30 inch class of lathes is why hasn't somebody thrown the headstock design in the trash and beefed it up with a larger bore spindel or possibly an internal 5C collet bore.
                          There are two aspects of why I think this happens. The first is that the vast majority of buyers of mini-machines are hobbyists who are mostly price buyers.

                          The second is that you have a relatively small number of distributors, nearly all of whom want to maximize their sales volume. As a result, everyone converges on selling more or less the exact same thing that appeals to the largest number of customers. Lathemaster and Industrial Hobbies are exceptions as they are essentially 1-2 man shops which sell a slightly nicer version of the things sold by Grizzly or Harbor Freight. Even there the difference is minute and mostly a matter of QC/support rather than things like bearings. I wonder how many 9x lathes Mr. Baliola sells for every Lathemaster?

                          The first problem is one of information. If buyers don't know that better bearings = better lathe, then no one will pay $150 more for the "professional" model. The Internet is slowly but surely changing that. Benchtop CNC is 100% a product of online knowledge distribution and we are seeing Sieg and others starting to build product for that market.

                          Likewise, it is becoming more feasible to have small, limited-volume dealers serving a national customer base. Harbor Freight is always going to want to sell the least to the most, but I think in another ten years we will see more small dealers with "enhanced" versions of the cheap stuff.

                          Of course, another answer is that the cheap Chinese junk actually works fine for most people who are too dumb to know better. I will often make parts to .001" for the sake of doing so, but quite often .010" would suffice.

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                          • #14
                            cheap Chinese junk actually works fine for most people who are too dumb to know better
                            Guilty as charged!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't have either but have looked at both and own a Sherline mill. I don't think there is a clear winner, either way. Depends on exactly what is important to you. Cost of the lathes (with the same accessory package) is about the same and cost of extra accessories may be somewhere in the same ball park. In one case, you get bigger parts in the other you probably get better quality of manufacture. But size itself can be qualitative, too.

                              Sherline:
                              - I would expect superior fit and finish, though the lathemaster is
                              apparently good quality for an inexpensive asian import.
                              - parts availability - they have been making basically the
                              same machine for several decades. It is not hard to get new
                              parts for a 30 year old machine. In fact, the pricelist is online. It isn't
                              hard to get the parts to upgrade from one model to another.
                              However, Harold Clisby and Carl Hammond have died and if
                              something happens to Joe Martin, not sure how the company will fare.
                              - documentation is written in English
                              - some neat accessories
                              - variable speed control
                              - easier to move - downright portable.
                              - good support from the manufacturer
                              - bed cross section is VERY small though the lower power and short
                              length on the regular sherline mean the bed doesn't need as big
                              a cross section but on the longer bed version, rigidity could be an issue.
                              But primarily when you are actually using the extra bed length.
                              - one of the few machines still made in the US
                              - CNC upgade kits available
                              - videos of it turning various materials on web site (possible short bed version)
                              - can convert to mill
                              - modular design
                              - lathe accessories fit mill and vice versa.
                              - no compound, but spindle rotates for turning tapers.
                              - Hand crank on Z lead screw for accurate positioning without DRO,
                              dial indicators, etc. Gotta crank like the dickens though and the
                              hand wheels are tiny.
                              - Full nut on lead screw. Newer lathemaster lathes appear to have less
                              than a halfnut. However, on the sherline you are always using the
                              leadscrew whether or not you are threading.
                              - not a rust magnet
                              - Manufacturer actually puts their name on the product
                              - hand crank threading
                              - History goes back to about 1971.
                              - you don't need to spend a few hours taking it apart and removing the
                              shipping grease.
                              - spindle runout specified at 0.0005" max. My 26
                              year old spindle (lightly used) has about 0.0002. Lathemaster doesn't
                              seem to have a max runout spec; I have seen one report of 0.002"
                              and another of 0.00015".
                              - access to both ends of the Z axis lead screw
                              - sherline has a much better website
                              - If you have a disability and standing is an issue, the sherline may
                              be easier to work with.
                              - There is a significant aftermarket
                              - There is a body of educational material that specifically targets the sherline.
                              - There is very little confusion about which accessories fit your machine
                              compared to an import lathe.


                              Lathemaster:
                              - bigger spindle bore
                              - 5C collets possible with front mount collet chuck even though it doesn't
                              have a 5C size spindle bore
                              - higher horsepower
                              - can turn longer and wider work
                              - much more metal in the bed. But at twice the length, it would
                              take about 6 times as much metal for the same rigidity at the same
                              horsepower, and this machine has more HP.
                              - compound
                              - In Engrish written the documentation is.
                              - motor runs in reverse. Chuck doesn't spin off when run in reverse.
                              bolted on chuck, though not too bad since you only have to
                              loosen/tighten nuts, rather than remove. Poor man's camlock chuck
                              substitute. May not locate chuck as accurately or hold it as well.
                              - belt drive gives higher torque at low speeds, but not as easy to
                              change as variable speed motor.
                              - bundled with most of the lathe specific accessories. Sherline has
                              package deals (not including 4 jaw chuck)
                              - good support from the dealer
                              - powered threading, power feed (z axis)
                              - 22 lubrication points per day, not counting ways and leadscrew?
                              - some of the tooling/accessories fit many other machines in the
                              same size class but there can be confusion about which one fits your
                              lathe and the quality of each option.


                              I suspect the lathemaster may be made by Jiangsu Xima Machine Tool Manufacturing http://www.xima.net.cn/English.html

                              Video review of lathemaster:
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9Ft3aeC6L0

                              The history of the Sherline lathe is the opposite of many products. The original model was designed by Harold Clisby as a more rigid alternative to the Unimat and manufactured by Ron Sher's company in Australia. Joe Martin, a hobby machinist, originally intended to be an importer but he and his friend Carl Hammond had to move production to the US to get the quality up.

                              If you think you can really deal with the limited work envelope of the Sherline, it may work ok for you. If you think you need larger but aren't willing to pay (or lift) more (about double) for a 12x36 or better with a D1-4 or better spindle, quick change gearbox, gearhead, etc. the lathemaster 9x30 is probably a pretty good choice in this class.
                              You might also look at a PM1027. It has been suggested this might be the same as the BVB25L which might be made by www.bvjy.com. A lot of resemblance to the busybee/craftex B2227L but some key details such as motor horsepower, spindle bore, and longer bed are different.

                              It is frequently said that you should get the biggest lathe you can afford, fit, etc. and that people usually regret having one to small but not having one too large. Well, people do regret having ones too large if they have space limitations, move frequently, etc. and some have downgraded for that reason. But I can also vouch for the problems with too small a machine which can't make big parts.

                              Rigidity is a little more complex. It is not just how much the machine weighs. It isn't just how much metal you have but where you put it. It is also a matter of proportion. I will focus on the bed, but other parts can affect rigidity (such as the notorious compound mounting on the 9x20). Double the length of the bed with the same cross section and you have 1/8 of the rigidity (for static deflection, vibration is more complex). Which is about what sherline did on the long bed model. If you double the length of the bed, you need to almost double the cross section in each direction for the same shape. Take the ratio of bed lengths and raise it to the 3/4 power. However, if you are only making a small part you can, to some extent, ignore the total bed length. Thus the long bed model won't be as rigid as the short bed version but for parts that would have fit on the short bed the performance will improve, possibly to close the short bed performance. The section of the bed you are using is between the spindle and tailstock if you are turning between centers. The sherline is a hobby machine which pretty much limits you to positive rake tooling. The lathemaster, proportionally, has a larger bed cross section vs length so it may be significantly more rigid at the same cutting forces. If the bed length is double and the cross section dimensions are tripled, the result would be about 10 times lower deflection for the same force. You can also probably cut about 10 times harder when you consider the extra motor hp and belt reduction, which uses up your extra rigidity but you don't have to cut to the motor's limit, either. You can hog faster on roughing cuts and get better positional accuracy on the finishing pass at the same speed you would have used. You can cut lightly with the sherline and get good results. But if time is money then it makes a big difference. A pro will go out of business due to labor costs. If you are a hobbyist having fun making shavings, you may not mind the extra time. Depends on whether you have patience and are enjoying the journey rather than in a hurry to get to the destination. However, the two beds differ in more than just size, they differ in shape. A lot of lathe beds have shapes that leave a lot to be desired. The Sherline bed is small but has a decent shape. I can't see enough of the lathemaster bed to be sure of its structure. It looks like it may be stronger against sideways deflection than many but may be prone to some twisting. More mass can help reduce the amplitude of vibrations as can lossy material such as cast iron.

                              Bear in mind that if you change your mind later, a lot of tooling/accessories may need to be repurchased to fit the newer machine. A lot of accessories/tooling for a smaller machine can be used on larger machines with adapters but they will be on the small side. Larger tooling often won't work on a smaller machine. If you think you might be upgrading to a larger machine later, using a machine that at least uses some of the same tooling may be worthwhile.

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