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Always been interested ...Should i get a lathe?

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Standsontoes

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Greetings,

So since highschool shop class where i learned how to cut threads and make a cylinder into a smaller cylinder ive always been interested in machining.

Now im 30 and have the space in the garage and means to maaaaybe get my feet wet in this hobby.

First question... what do you weekend machinists make?? I have a few projects in mind that would require a lathe, but other than that... not sure what i would make... and inturn how much i would actually use the piece of equipment.

Dont get me wrong id have plenty to do learning everything i could. But infind i learn better with a practical project. It also easier to justify the real estate in the garage to the wife if the thing half assed earns its keep around the house.


Second question... is there a thing as too much lathe for a beginner? (Large industrial production lathes aside of course)

Ive done a bit of research and i know i want to steer clear of those chinese mini lathes... and to behonest the whole time ive been thinking of something with around 24- 30" center to center.

Ive found one of these locally...

Its in great shape, comes with a a bunch of tooling and.... is only $200... its not a junk yard heap with worn ways.. its from a foreclosure of a business... so yeah sort of a diamond in the rough of craigslist.

Is this overkill for someone who isnt sure they will be that interested in the hobby...

Googling always says get a lathe you can grow into not out of... but im on the fence...

I guess i could pick it up and sell it for major profit if i find im actually just into the idea of a lathe haha.


Thanks for any advice in advance
 

FarmDad

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Of course you should get a lathe after all he who dies with the most toys wins ! Right ??
I am fairly new to the hobby myself and use my lathe(s) often in my farm/ranch shopas well as my gunsmithing hobby . After a few years of having a lathe trying to go back to not having one would be like trying to get by without a welder in the shop .
 

ThinWoodsman

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Get the biggest lathe you can manage to fit/move. Definitely steer clear of the Chinese mini-lathes - some people manage to do good work with them, but they are incredibly frustrating for a beginner. Ideally some good heavy old iron would be best, but the one you're looking at is a good price and probably is rigid enough (can't really tell from the generic page). Basically anything under a 10" swing is too small, a 12" swing is about just right, and with a 14" swing you're starting to get into the equipment that requires riggers to move. Pay careful attention to the stand or bench you will put it on, that has to be very rigid and you will likely end up building one.

Harold Hall as a book called "Lathework: A complete course" with a bunch of sample projects to get to started. For the most part, they are tools to use with the lathe/mill and around the shop. You'll probably find that half of the stuff you make is tooling.

What you will end up making depends a lot on your hobbies. People who work on guns and cars do a lot of machining on the lathe. Some guys turn out custom pens (remember those, heh). I do a few projects here and there for friends and neighbors but I've mostly abandoned the idea of having a rational justification for the shop, and spend most of my time making tooling to make more tooling to make more tooling.
 

Janderso

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I'm surprised you had a machine shop in High school. I thought they were all gone.
Good for you.
Go for it.
 

Boswell

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as for what can you make. The pages of this forum are full of things that hobbyist are making with their lathes. Particularly, look at the "project of the day" thread and the Member and Moderator project forums
 

macardoso

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I own an Enco that is almost identical to the green 13x37 Warco in the link you posted. It is the first late I have owned and feel that it is a very capable machine. I paid $1100 for it with nothing other than a 3 jaw chuck and it needed a good clean. I was able to get it down a flight of stairs without any crazy equipment (engine hoist to get it on the stand). It can cut metric and imperial threads, and there are spare parts available for it through Grizzly.

For $200 I don't think I would hesitate, but just make sure this is a hobby you want to invest time and money into. Getting the lathe is one thing, but committing space for it, learning how to use it, and starting a collection of machinists tools is another. I think it is a very rewarding hobby and a great skill to know.

Here is the write up I did on the machine: https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/enco-12x36-lathe-rebuild-picture-heavy.68660/

-Mike
 

Janderso

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I should mention, you will spend much more on tooling than you will on the lathe or mill.
You can take that to the bank.
 

MarkDavis

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The sooner you get a lathe, the more time you will have to use it. Buying tooling now with a possible 40 or more years of future use make the yearly cost of owning them very low.
Don't wait until age 62 like I did.
 

Bob Korves

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Make sure everything works before buying it, or have a plan to fix anything you find in less than good, usable condition. Run it under power, make it do everything it is supposed to. At that price, it may well have issues, but price does not define condition. Hurry, you are not likely the first to see the ad.
 

Mitch Alsup

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If you are going to do tapers and threads, you want a lathe big enough that access to the bolts securing the compound slide easily.
This generally starts at 11 or 12" like a 12×36 will have these bolts on top and in easy access,
where as a 10×24 will have these bolts under the compound slide itself making taper setup difficult.
This was one of the reasons I ended up with a 12×36. As it is, maybe I should have gone to 14×??
 

MontanaLon

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Lathes make the world go round.

To be honest, there isn't a lot of "household" work that can be done with them. But you would be surprised at how quickly you will wonder how you ever got by without it.

As for what to make, the options are endless as long as it is cylindrical or some derivation thereof. Add in a mill and you can make just about anything.

As far as size goes, it is easier to make small parts on a lathe than it is to make big parts on a small lathe. Sometimes big on small is impossible and the smaller your lathe the smaller too big is.

But at $200 don't even think twice about it. Even if it is a pile of junk, you can likely get way more than $200 out of the parts and keep the tooling to go with the next lathe you buy that may not be a junker.
 

Robo_Pi

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I agree with most others. For $200 I wouldn't be standing around talking about it, I'd be rushing over to pick it up before someone else does. You can't go wrong at that price. Especially if you're getting extra tooling with it. Better jump on it before it's gone.
 

richl

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Why do we always get these conversations? If someone posted an ad on cl that said something to the effect.... "millionaire giving away piles of money, first come first served" would you first go to the internet and ask your friends if you should go, and what exactly should I do with the money when I get it? Sorry to sound critical, 2 of my 3 lathes were me being in the right spot at the right time and willing to do whatever necessary to get the machines in my shop.

Be bold, if the machine is what you say, it is either a once in a lifetime find or a misprint. Figure out what wonderful things you are going to do with it after it is in your shop.:grin:

Hope you get it!
 

Standsontoes

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Im confident the lathe in question is in good working order... it is a 6 hour drive to go get it (joys of living in canada) which im sure is keeping most of the riff raff from scooping it up...

Thanks for the info mike im sure ill refer to your thread lots. Im glad to know that it will fit in the box of my truck easy enough.
 

Robo_Pi

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Be bold, if the machine is what you say, it is either a once in a lifetime find or a misprint.
Exactly. This is the kind of deal you should by even if you don't want or need a lathe. If it's what you say it is, then you could easily double your money overnight just by reselling it instantly.

These are the kinds of ads that typically end in one of three ways.

1. It's simply gone before you can even call the number.
2. It was indeed a misprint and they were asking $2000 and not $200
3. It was some kind of trick where they are trying to get you to pay $200 down and mo. payments after that.
4. It isn't really as advertised and there are major parts missing or broken.

The 5th scenario is always possible, but a very lucky find when it happens.

5. The ad is for real, you got there first, and BINGO, you got a great deal!

#5 happens. Hopefully for you this will be the case. But #1 is far more likely if you're wasting time posting on the Internet asking if you should buy it.
 
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Robo_Pi

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it is a 6 hour drive to go get it
That's a valid concern, IMHO.

I have seen great deals on Craigslist that were 6 hours away. For me personally that's just too far. Period. I'd have to pass no matter how great the deal is. I'd probably pass on this if it was 6 hours away too. :grin:

Especially if you don't even know if it will still be there by the time you arrive.
 

Standsontoes

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Exactly. This is the kind of deal you should by even if you don't want or need a lathe. If it's what you say it is, then you could easily double your money overnight just by reselling it instantly.

These are the kinds of ads that typically end in one of three ways.

1. It's simply gone before you can even call the number.
2. It was indeed a misprint and they were asking $2000 and not $200
3. It was some kind of trick where they are trying to get you to pay $200 down and mo. payments after that.
4. It isn't really as advertised and there are major parts missing or broken.

The 5th scenario is always possible, but a very lucky find when it happens.

5. The ad is for real, you got there and first, and BINGO, you got a great deal!

#5 happens. Hopefully for you this will be the case. But #1 is far more likely if you're wasting time posting on the Internet asking if you should buy it.
The lathe in question is in a sale of a machine shop foreclosure that is about as far away from civilization as you can get up here in the great white north... the seller doesnt know anything about machines. He said it turns on and runs, i had him send me picture of the gear box and other specifics.
This is the smallest lathe in the sale and im assuming it didnt get much use... there is added badging on it that indicate its from a industrial machine supplier in my city... which is only 10 years old... so my hope are high that the ways arent worn...

That said i agree with most that its probably too go to be true, but at $200 i could easily flip it for triple if it is broken... and if it works and i decide its not for me i could sell it for about $3000 in my area as per the going craigslist rate right now for a lathe this size ( again pricing is my area and canuck pesos)


Perusing the forums over the last day has giving me a better idea of just how useful a lathe can be for a home gamer. I also have a cattle farm so perhaps ill save driving into the tractor dealer a bit less often for the odd part.

Ill update if i do end up picking this up... thanks for the thoughts gents
 

Robo_Pi

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If you can get the guy to send you some pics and you're confident that you'll take it,...

AND if you can get him to commit to the sell before hand (perhaps even pay for it in advance if you trust the guy, or put money down)

AND if you are willing to drive that far to pick it up (probably worth the trip)

Then I say GO FOR IT! :grin:

But the longer you sit around and contemplate it, the more likely someone else will buy it out from under you.

So make the choice and do it,...... or not.

Let us know how you make out.

BEST OF LUCK! In whatever you choose to do.
 

Standsontoes

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That's a valid concern, IMHO.

I have seen great deals on Craigslist that were 6 hours away. For me personally that's just too far. Period. I'd have to pass no matter how great the deal is. I'd probably pass on this if it was 6 hours away too. :grin:

Especially if you don't even know if it will still be there by the time you arrive.

I drive a rig for a living so 6 hours in a pick up is a treat compared to that... not a huge concern but when you factor in fuel for the cost of the lathe now im talking about $500....

Still worth it id think..... still working on getting the Ms. on board... even if she says no i might just get it and store it in the barn till she comes around haha.... if i get rid of my table saw in the garage she might come around haha
 

richl

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Sounds like it could be worth the drive. A machineshop closing down may also have other items for you to consider.

Again, good luck.
 

Ken from ontario

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Im confident the lathe in question is in good working order... it is a 6 hour drive to go get it (joys of living in canada) which im sure is keeping most of the riff raff from scooping it up...

Thanks for the info mike im sure ill refer to your thread lots. Im glad to know that it will fit in the box of my truck easy enough.
Standsontoes, I wouldn't wait too long , others who are interested in that lathe may not hesitate they way you think, distance is a one time hardship and many including myself ignore the pain of long travel, if the seller is not willing to hold it for you until you get there, then offer to pay a half now and half later just to secure the deal.
BTW, as a mini lathe owner I didn't take the mini lathe bashing personally, it is rampant around here any way, the funny thing is, you don't see many mini lathe/mill owners knock their machines ,that should tell you they are not as bad as you think and your goal is not to buy one anyway .

Best of luck and welcome to the forum. let spending begin.
 

Robo_Pi

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I drive a rig for a living so 6 hours in a pick up is a treat compared to that... not a huge concern but when you factor in fuel for the cost of the lathe now im talking about $500....
I think it's worth it.

Still worth it id think..... still working on getting the Ms. on board... even if she says no i might just get it and store it in the barn till she comes around haha.... if i get rid of my table saw in the garage she might come around haha
Can't help you there. I'm single so I get to do whatever I want. :grin:
 

Robo_Pi

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BTW, as a mini lathe owner I didn't take the mini lathe bashing personally, it is rampant around here any way, the funny thing is, you don't see many mini lathe/mill owners knock their machines ,that should tell you they are not as bad as you think and your goal is not to buy one anyway .
Off topic point, but I can't help but agree. We don't see the mini lathe owners bashing their own machines. That speaks volumes.

Same for the Chinese machines. I have a Chinese machine, and while I'll agree it's not the greatest thing in the world, it's not junk either. And for the price I'd say it's well worth it. I don't even think it's meaningful to compare it to machines that cost twice as much. China probably make pretty good expensive machines too.

The reason Chinese machines get such a bad rap is that people buy the cheapest Chinese machines and then complain because there not as good as expensive machines. Well, duh? That's like buying a cheap economy car and complaining that it's not a Rolls Royce. :grin:
 

ThinWoodsman

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Off topic point, but I can't help but agree. We don't see the mini lathe owners bashing their own machines. That speaks volumes.
I own a Microluxe (i.e. Sieg) 7x16 mini-lathe. I bash the mini-lathe constantly. I suppose as an alternative to building a lathe from scratch (ala Gingery), they're a good idea. I bought the mini-lathe intending to use it, and it was unusable from the get-go. It's currently in pieces while I slowly fix everything that is wrong with it.

That 14" Logan I bought from a closed machine shop on craigslist? Worked from day one. Well, okay, it worked as soon as I got the 3-phase power going, which was more like day 13.
 

ThinWoodsman

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Still working on getting the Ms. on board... even if she says no i might just get it and store it in the barn till she comes around haha.... if i get rid of my table saw in the garage she might come around haha
I have to admit, I kind of sprung the whole machine shop thing on the missus when she returned after a few-weeks absence. It was a bit of work building a shop in the barn that fast, but now it's the place where I fix everything :)
 
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