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Kind of lathe

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  • Kind of lathe

    What are the manufacturer jet, wilton or birmingham like for lathes? are they good bad? I would like to by a lathe for home use probably a 12 by 36. What would you reccomened as far as a gear head lathe or belt driven? Any other manufactuerers you would reccomend? any internet sites you would reccomend? thank you

  • #2
    Probably the biggest difference between those brands would be the color. Generally junk, but may be OK for occasional home use.

    With a little careful shopping and research you could get a "real" lathe for about the same money. You might look a Colchester's, they're nice gear head machines.

    I can't believe I'm writing this, but the Jet, etc would most likely be a better machine than a South Bend and the other small American lathes which are so popular with the HSM crowd.


    • #3
      have a look at these

      good machine for the money,but may be larger than you want.
      If you do go for the others that you suggested look for made in Tiawan, they tend to be better made than china.
      please visit my webpage:


      • #4
        DR, I don't know much but it seems like SB is THE lathe among a lot of folks....have I been mislead all this time?

        Other than Colchester, what would be some other "real" lathes for those of us who new to machining?




        • #5
          I got my 1951 14"x36" Leblond regal for $700... I Am happy.. Happy.. (snicker) Happy..

          For my experience, I'd buy older iron with life left in it.



          • #6
            DR, Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as if your post states that Jet is junk, yet it is better than SB. If this is so, then it follows that junk is better than SB. Please explain, and include your personal experience with each of the above lathes. That is, please fill us in on how you determined each of these (Jet, Wilton, South Bend and Birmingham) were junk of various colors.
            Mct, The archives are full of threads in which people actually using some of the above mentioned lathes have discussed them. I have been using a Birmingham for about 3 years, and have had no trouble with it. I initially had some difficulty with the dials, but becoming more familiar with it has caused that problem to pretty much vanish. It is the 12X36.
            The decision is often one of buying a lathe and making chips, or waiting until hell freezes over for the right one to come along. A lot of people will tell you what a great deal you can get, and a lot of people are still waiting for that great deal. I bought my Birmingham, later I found a 10EE at a good price. I used the Birmingham to make repair parts for the 10EE. You mostly need to decide whether you enjoy the excitement of making thing or of shopping. Mike


            • #7
              I paid $500 for my Variable speed 1958 Sheldon 13" swing lathe. Bought a Shoptask originally and it took about two years before the Sheldon came up. Not much tooling though, just a Buck 6" 3 jaw, a 4" 4jaw on 5" backplate, a 9" face plate, jacobs chuck, ...that's about it. Still a great lathe and a good deal.

              [This message has been edited by kenc (edited 11-30-2003).]


              • #8
                I have been running machines for about 26 years now, I have run alot of different lathes, Colchester, Clausing, South bend, Atlas, Victor, my honest opinion is the Leblond Regal is so far above and beyond most that it is pitiful, the Monarch would run a close second, I own a South bend and like it very much but it is not in the same league as a Leblond at all, a 15" Leblond Regal new in 1981 cost more than $25,000 tooled then, and it was built on the inside and outside like a Rolls Royce. I owned 2 Birmingham mills for 7 years and they were great mills, had to get rid of them when my father and I had to close our mold making shop, they were both used 50 hours a week and held up very good, I would imagine there lathes to be of comprable quality.


                • #9
                  Mike T,

                  "DR, Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as if your post states that Jet is junk, yet it is better than SB. If this is so, then it follows that junk is better than SB. Please explain, and include your personal experience with each of the above lathes. That is, please fill us in on how you determined each of these (Jet, Wilton, South Bend and Birmingham) were junk of various colors."

                  My personal experience with Jet comes from prowling their warehouse when they were in Tacoma and looking over the machines. Jet has always considered their own machines unworthy of repair, they don't repair machines returned under warranty. They used to re-sell the returned machines to dealers at a discount, the dealers in turn would re-sell the machines as new. IMO, that says a lot about Jet and their machines.

                  The other machines listed are built to the same basic design as Jet so one has to presume they aren't much if any better than Jet.

                  As to SB's, I've owned several and have never liked them. While I don't like Jet I'd still take that over an SB.

                  My preferences come from having owned a production machining business for 20+ years so my opinions may not directly translate to HSM'ers.


                  • #10
                    HA! Nothing like a lively controversy for the holidays! Go for it, fellows---I'll stick with my 1943 M-W Logan 10 x 22.


                    • #11

                      Yep, a little controversy does stir things up.

                      Speaking of opinions on machines....I wish people would qualify their opinions by giving some background and experience. Sometimes I offend people with my judgements on machines. A Jet machine may prove to be the most wonderful thing on earth for casual use of a HSM'er who's been chewing out parts with a hacksaw and file, but from my perspective of making high precision parts they're junk.


                      • #12
                        If your looking at Wiltons and Birminghams, then also look at the Kent.

                        Out of the crate.. my test bars were and still are more accurate than I can measure, after about a years worth of heavy use.
                        Runs quiet and can produce a very nice surface finish.

                        I've used and liked most of the US and other brands mentioned, but, spendy spendy spendy for the HSM. And used iron usually is too used, if you know what I mean.

                        Don't know much about the Jets. People seem to like their support.

                        Tom M.


                        • #13

                          I have a South Bend 9" model C. I have often wondered what people are talking about when they discuss "chatter". It is not something I am familiar with.
                          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                          • #14
                            Gypsie you just broke my heart. I paid $1800 for my 13X24 Leblond Regal toolroom lathe. I guess that's what happens when you have machining fever and little experience. (tho mine did include a taper atchmt) While I don't have any machine shop experience, I'm thoroughly happy with mine too. I like it better than the S'bend's and Monarch's I used at the Vo-tech classes I took.
                            But even if the quality were the same I'd still rather have an old American made such as the LeBlond than a new Asian lathe...lots more character and historical significance. Don't know the background of mine, but every time I use it I like to imagine (whether true or not) all the work it performed in support of WW II, back in the 40's, and all the talented machinist's hands that cranked those worn, shiny ball cranks before me. ...brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it (sniff..sniff).

                            Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


                            • #15
                              My wife asked me a while back if a certain ice cream was any good.
                              I explained that ice cream was like sex. None of it is bad, but some of it is better.
                              Lathes are pretty much the same way. If you don't have one, the next one you get will be the best you've got.
                              The import vs. used American will never be resolved except on an individual basis. I prefer a good used American machine to an inexpensive import. I drive General Motors cars and vote Republican. Moosetracks is my favorite ice cream. Anybody who thinks differently is welcome to their misguided opinions, but in my heart, I know I am right.
                              Jim H.