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New Guy. What machine(s) to start with?

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  • New Guy. What machine(s) to start with?

    Good morning,

    I poked around a bit for a sticky "getting started" thread but didn't come up with anything. I'm looking for an entry level lathe and probably miller to get my feet wet with a home shop setup.

    The only relatively odd constraint I have is that I need to be able to horse whatever it is up and down 5 flights of stairs to my small Brooklyn Apartment. (That may imply power constraints as well.)

    I was looking at the Sherlines but a buddy of mine, who spent his former life as a tool & die maker, expressed some concern about the physical capacity of their machines. I was also looking at that Bolton combo machine but, while cheap and small, it seems like it might be so cramped that it would be difficult to work with.

    The biggest difficulty is that I'm not terribly sure, past a few ideas kicking around in my head (bench mount cigar cutters and other odd miscellaney), what it is I want to be making.

    After decades in software development I've got to make something tactile and this just seems like the right thing. I've got half a dozen of those numbered workshop books and reading them is borderline porn.

    Thoughts? I'm rapidly approaching an impulsive "oh just BUY something!" point.


    - Mike
    Proud machining permanoob since September 2010

  • #2
    Some things to consider in small and shared areas is noise, smell, and mess. These smaller machines have gear trains that can make a hell of a racket, need a lot of oil to keep running smoothly, smoke comes from the cutter, and any machine is going to fling chips where it is difficult to clean them up. The common solution (except for the smell) is to explore enclosed machines. The motors still make pretty good noise but more of a robotic whine than gear meshing.


    • #3

      i would frist take a class on machinest and learn how to machine, from a triad school ect then get a lathe, if you wont a frist lathe get mine lathe 7x10 and learn on that I have one works well and fun also have 13x40. Go to a show like the in Porland or. this week end, and see what they do. it is a lot of fun Brett


      • #4
        Well, noise I'm oddly unconcerned with. Mess I can handle. My plan was to build some kind of enclosure (back, sides, bottom and a hinged front and top, each that would latch in place), depending on the size of whatever I ended up with.
        Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


        • #5
          "Small Brooklyn apartment" stands out in your post. That makes it difficult.

          My first thought was a Sherline or Taig machine because they are compact and can be set up with different accessorise to do different operations. I guess you have to consider what kind of work you want to do. How big? What kind of machining operations?

          If you need a bigger machine, I would start with a lathe. Some milling can be done in the lathe if you buy or make some attachments. Although it is possible to make turnings in a mill, it is much more difficult and there are many more restraints that way.

          As an aside, the machines I use the most are probably the 4x6 band saw and the drill press.
          Paul A.
          SE Texas

          Make it fit.
          You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!


          • #6
            The key phrase you said is “I need to be able to horse whatever it is up and down 5 flights of stairs to my small Brooklyn Apartment”. That leaves you with very few options. Add that to the possibility of moving a few times.

            I would say the Sherline would be your best bet for portability (I have a Unimat among other lathes). It would be nice to move up to a larger lathe/mill, however you will be dependent on having willing and hefty friends to help you move every time. You can slide the headstock and tailstock off of most lathes to break down the load to be carried which would help. Also, you can invest in a hand truck that would help in moving things up and down stairs. A 7” Chinese lathe weighs around 80 to 90 pounds which is doable with a friend and a hand truck. A 9” Chinese lathe weighs around 300 pounds. If in doubt, you might want to try carrying that amount of weight up and down your stairs using some concrete blocks tied together.

            Also, keep in mind that the metal swarf from lathes will really scratch up a wood floor and is impossible to get out of a carpet. I would lay down some 1/8” masonite on the floor and keep a broom and dust pan handy.



            • #7
              I was never happy with the quality of the mini lathe.
              I enjoy my Taig MUCH more, although it has a much smaller envelope.
              If you are working in an apartment, I would look at the Sherline and taig stuff.


              • #8
                I would look at the Grizzly combos. No, you won't make shuttle parts, but for the money and portability, one of the machines in this link would be a hell of a good place to look first.



                • #9
                  Nice. Ok, sounds like we're zeroing in on Sherline or Taig.

                  I'll make whatever accomadations need to be made in the space for cleanup. That I can handle.

                  I plan to move someplace a bit more spacious in the next year or two, so as much as it kills me to say it, if I end up buying something and outgrowing it while "getting the machining bug" then buying something "big enough" after I move, then that's just win all around.

                  The thing that scared me about the sherline was that when I bought whatsisname's book, all the work examples are dinimutive little steam engine replicas. Sure, pretty impressive, but it doesn't help me get a feel for the size of what I can reasonably chuck and work with in either machine (their lathes or miller.)
                  Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by garagemark
                    I would look at the Grizzly combos. No, you won't make shuttle parts, but for the money and portability, one of the machines in this link would be a hell of a good place to look first.

                    Those look like they fit most of the bill as "get your feet wet" machines (if perhaps a bit cramped.) But even the smallest has a ship weight of 475 pounds, which sadly puts them way outside of my unfortunate parameters.
                    Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


                    • #11
                      You have set a pretty tight set of constraints right off the start...

                      5 flights of stairs? That's going to put a major crimp in the size of machine and the size of project you can handle. Even if you could get a large amchine up there, you'd still have to carry up all the raw stock for your assorted projects.

                      Power should not be a concern until you get well above the 9 x 20 size machines. Old SB and assorted antiques run 110 power for surprisingly big machines, and if properly motivated, you should be able to find 220 single phase in just about any apartment. The older machines sometimes were easier to disassemble into pieces to move.

                      As far as work size, I'd suggest a visit to the Sherline Craftsmanship site for a look around, as well as a visit to a local distributor if possible. The Taig and Sherline lathes are similar in capacity, but as a Taig owner, I believe the Sherline lathes have more support and better accessories (like taper ability, threading kit, etc).

                      It's been said before, but the price of admission to one of the shows would be an excellent investment at this stage for ideas, networking, tooling up, and possibly even watching a few demos. I learned a heap going to the Oregon show even after I'd been making chips for a decade using what I could glean out of books and some rudimentary skills from shop class.
                      Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit


                      • #12
                        Starting out with a decent quality small machine and planning to trade up as situations allow sounds like a good plan.

                        The nice thing about this hobby is that nearly all the hardware has decent resale valve when you decide to move up. In fact, if you buy something used and manage to keep it in decent condition then you're just about gauranteed your money back when you trade up. Buying new involves a little more loss, but fewer risks.

                        If you're interested in seeing some of this hardware in person, the Grizzly store in Muncy, PA is only about 2 hours west of NYC.


                        • #13
                          Get a mill and a lathe (They make sizes to fit every need)

                          well I would buy a small square column mill and a small lathe

                          Mills on this page start at 150 LBs (G8689) or 290 lbs (G0740) could work


                          Lathes start at 90 lbs (G8688) 300lbs (G4000)


                          Here's a good comparison of the size difference of the lathes

                          Here's a good comparison of the size difference of the mills

                          Pictures are representative of the size differences they are not the exact models I mentioned in my post
                          Last edited by KiloBravo; 09-22-2010, 12:39 PM.


                          • #14
                            The comparisons between Sherline and Taig are interesting to me. Looking at them (and knowing nothing) the Taig looks like a far beefier thing. And the price differential is nearly alarming. $300something for their lathe will all the trimmins'? That's... I can spend that on a couple boxes of cigars.

                            But the "whups, can't do that on this" possibility makes me shy away from it.
                            Proud machining permanoob since September 2010


                            • #15

                              Hmm... Those do look pretty slick. Price is sure right as well.

                              G8688 G8689

                              Any other thoughts on Grizzly vs. Sherline?
                              Proud machining permanoob since September 2010