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Old Craftsman lathe, sell or keep?

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  • Old Craftsman lathe, sell or keep?

    I inherited this old Craftsman lathe when my dad died a few years ago. I've just recently become interested in machining and want to work with CNC.

    I'm wondering if this lathe is worth keeping. I've had some people tell me it's not a very good one and I should sell it and get something like a Grizzly G0602. Others say it's a pretty decent lathe and the Grizzly would actually be a downgrade.

    What do you guys think? Are there any issues that would keep this lathe from being converted to CNC?

    What would this lathe be worth? I've searched around and found prices from $400 up to $2500

    Last edited by woodnerd; 09-24-2010, 11:30 AM.

  • #2
    Keep it!! Use it! (as long as you have room for it, or need the money.)
    John M...your (un)usual basement dweller


    • #3
      That's a good machine and looks exceptionally clean, though probably not the best candidate for CNC conversion. It would be an excellent machine to make the parts for a conversion though. If you want to do CNC you need to decide how big of parts you want to be able to do and design the machine around that envelope. No sense in buying four foot long ball screws if a one footer will do. Depending on what accessories you have and where you are, I could see that machine selling for between $1000-1800. This opinion is worth exactly what you've paid for it.


      • #4
        Value will depend on what accessories you have with the machine and where you are located. It looks obscenely clean, and should give you quite a bit of service and enjoyment.

        David Kaiser
        “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
        ― Robert A. Heinlein


        • #5
          Very nice condition lathe... I'd just use it.

          Price depends on where you live (please edit your profile and show location...). Around here (Seattle area) you could get $1000-1500; more if a collector wanted it for it's excellent orginal condition.
          Last edited by lakeside53; 09-24-2010, 11:58 AM.


          • #6
            Keep it and use it. I've got its twin and it is a great shop lathe. It does all I ask of it just fine.


            • #7
              Agree, it's a worthwhile machine to have. Would be very happy to have it in the shop

              Think the biggest issue with Atlas lathes is that people tend to use them like they were bigger machines.


              • #8
                A good machinist can do a lot on those lathes. That particular model is one of the later ones which were much improved. And it looks very very clean. I'd keep it, use it, and leave it unmodified.

                Check the usual suspects for a new lathe with DRO.
                Last edited by Tony Ennis; 09-24-2010, 12:06 PM.


                • #9
                  I'm not a CNC person but I have a few friends who are. The funny part is that those CNC friends are often found in my workshop using my manual machines because it is a PITA to do a quick job on a CNC where it is a snap on a manual machine.

                  Keep it (or give it to me ) and use it to build your CNC stuff. There is always a place in the workshop for a manual lathe that size.
                  Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor



                  • #10
                    You could probably sell it for $1200 - $1500, but you'd soon regret it when you start shopping for a replacement. Whatever you do you'll need a decent manual lathe, and you have one right there, so keep it and use it.

                    By the way, has it ever been used at all?


                    • #11
                      It is a very useable machine. It is a little light but very handy. Get a 4 way tool post or Aloris style tooling.
                      With an Atlas identical to yours is how we paid for our first house in 1975.
                      I would set it up at night and my wife would run it during the day while I was at work as a Tool & Diemaker.
                      She was 8 and 9 months pregnant at the time, and when I came home in the evening her huge tummy was covered in oil and chips.
                      K Lively
                      Last edited by polepenhollow; 09-24-2010, 01:45 PM.


                      • #12
                        I'm going to go against the grain and say sell it. In that condition it will attract a premium and the money can go towards a more modern and more robust replacement, that will suffer the trials of your learning much better even though it probably won't be in nearly as nice a condition cosmetically.
                        Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

                        Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
                        Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
                        Monarch 10EE 1942


                        • #13
                          It is a rebranded atlas lathe.

                          Given that the condition looks very good, that might be worth keeping. It looks to be near the top end of atlas lathes rather than the bottom. It is a family heirloom and the price was right.

                          I suspect CNC conversion shouldn't be too difficult - it looks easier than a lot of lathes I have seen. While the quick change gearbox can interfere with access to the left side of the lead screw, you have access to the right side and a support that can easily be detached and replaced with a stepper mount. Attaching a mount to the cross slide shouldn't be too hard. Use double end shaft motors so you can mount a handwheel on the back side. Put a negator spring on the cross slide to take up the backlash if you are, for example, taking finishing cuts on a taper where the cutting forces aren't enough to take out the backlash. Look for a way to attach an encoder to the spindle without getting in the way. An extension to the left side of the spindle with a 25/32" bore and a 1" OD could be used with one of the US Digital large bore encoder wheels. If that isn't practical, there are probably places you can mesh an encoder wheel with a gear with one of the existing gears; not quite as good but should do ok. If you will be cutting shoulders on the left side or tapers that get thinner approaching the headstock, then a negator spring pulling the carriage towards the tailstock and very light cuts are in order.

                          Downsides: poor rigidity for its size, doesn't have 1-3/8" spindle bore, threaded spindle nose (so be careful if stopping suddenly or running in reverse or the chuck may come off) instead of camlock, limited metric threading (if any), zamak gears. I don't see a 4-jaw chuck, follower rest, steady rest, faceplate, or tailstock chuck in the picture; if those aren't hiding in the cabinet, you may be able to get them on ebay. A quick change tool post would be in order.

                          CNC operation will bypass a lot of the Zamak gears. CNC will let you cut metric threads.

                          Rigidity may be poor for a 12" lathe but how does it compare to a smaller lathe when taking similar cuts on the same size work? The difference will be less. Don't expect to do heavy hogging but if you treat it like a light duty hobby machine instead of a production lathe and work within its limits you should be ok.

                          Get that can of WD-40 away from the lathe (you can use it to disolve gunk, though) and get some way oil and spindle oil. You can get starter bottles of both as a set on ebay from a couple sellers now for $11 to $16 shipped; seach for "spindle way oil".

                          Since you may be new to machining, the following 10 videos may be useful:

                          Asking prices are often way out of line so look at completed sales where possible and compare condition and accessories.

                          With the G0602 you would probably get a good set of lathe specific accessories and steel gears instead of zamak but poorer quality castings and you would probably need to do a little work to improve the fit and finish. The G0602 may be a bit more rigid. The G0602 can do metric threading but the quick change gear box is rather limited and you would probably need to swap change gears to go between common thread sizes. And you would give up the longer ability to do longer or wider work, though the G0602 may be a little more rigid. You might get a bad one or have it damaged in shipping and have to wait to send it back and get a replacement and physically hassle with moving the old lathe, the new broken lathe, and the new replacement lathe.

                          Buy new or buy used, you are rolling the dice, these days. You have that one in hand and can assess its condition. You have it and it is good enough for hobby use. Unless a collector is willing to give you a lot more than it is worth as a functional tool, you may as well keep it. If you buy the accessories you might be missing on ebay before you need them yesterday, you may not spend too much for them.



                          • #14
                            Thanks for all the replies.

                            In the pile of stuff from my dad, there is a 4-jaw chuck, a faceplate, three or four additional toolholders, and some other stuff that I have no idea what they are.

                            The WD40 was for cleaning cosmoline off another machine, just happened to be sitting on the lathe. The pile included some way oil, although for all those years I thought my dad was muttering about "whale oil".


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by woodnerd
                              Thanks for all the replies.

                              In the pile of stuff from my dad, there is a 4-jaw chuck, a faceplate, three or four additional toolholders, and some other stuff that I have no idea what they are.

                              The WD40 was for cleaning cosmoline off another machine, just happened to be sitting on the lathe. The pile included some way oil, although for all those years I thought my dad was muttering about "whale oil".
                              i think you'd kick yourself later for unloading it.