Difference between 7x, 8x or 9x Chinese Lathes

ShagDog

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I am familiar with a 7x chinese mini lathes. I have never seen an 8x or 9x chinese lathe in person. Other than the obvious differences in swing, I am curious as to other differences. I know the 8x12 Harbor Freight lathe weighs around 250 lbs. while the 7x12 weighs around 90 lbs. The HF 8x12 is also around twice the price of the HF 7x12.

Questions:

1. Is the price difference worth it for the HF 8x?

2. I know that weight (mass) is your friend in a lathe. However, all that extra weight may do little if the cross slide and carriage and compound slide of the 8x and the 7x are similar in size and weight. How do the sizes of the HF 8x and 7x lathes compare?

3. Any other comparisons and contrasts that may be pertinent?
 

Ulma Doctor

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the 8X and 9x are better constructed machines, more metal in them
the threading capabilities on the 8" was kinda impressive, the 9" not so much
i never got their 8 or 9 " but i did have the 7x12- it did it's purpose, but i had to make a whole bunch of quality control issues with my heap
 

markba633csi

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One thing people have mentioned is they either don't get all the gears for cutting threads or the gear set doesn't match the manual or the chart on the machine- That is one important thing to check when considering one of these.
Little Machine Shop and Precision Matthews both have good reputations for service and parts. Grizzly is a bit hit and miss, but many like them.
Not sure about Bolton.
Also, on the lathes (and mills) with electronic speed controls the circuit boards seem to fail frequently- fortunately there is a service that repairs these: www.olduhfguy.com
-Mark
 

Aaron_W

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I've fiddled with the HF 7x12 display models and wasn't impressed with their build quality. I have not laid hands on an 8x16 but from what I've read both in specs and peoples experience with them the 8x16 lathes are basically the same as the 7x scaled up, but more importantly better built. They also come with more tooling. I think the HF 8x12 is a completely different (and much cheaper) machine than the 8x16 sold by Grizzly and others.


Last year I picked up an Enco 9x20 for $300. It was in nice shape but missing some of the tooling they come with, including the change gears. It is basically the same lathe Grizzly, Busy Bee, Jet etc sells. In fact I've used parts I bought from Grizzly on mine. You will see them alternately listed as a 9x19 or a 9x20, that just comes down to whether they are sold with a (shorter) dead center or (longer) live center.

The 9x20 isn't a bad small lathe, but it does have some short comings mostly related to rigidity (it is only a 250lb lathe). There is a large active community of 9x20 users who have put together lots of modifications to improve these lathes. These lathes have been around for about 30 years, the basic design was copied from the Austrian Emco Compact 8.

The 7x and 8x are variable speed lathes, with the speed controlled by turning a knob. The 9x20 is a 6 speed lathe with the speed set by the position of the belt on the pulleys.

In size the 8x lathes are actually 8-1/4", and the 9x20 are 8.75". Weight on the 8x16 is about 150lbs, the 9x20 250lbs.
 

atunguyd

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I have the Seig SC8 which is an 11x30 lathe I guess (specs are in metric).

I went from a 7x10 to this and it is a very big step up. The SC8 has a brushless 1500w motor. Built in gear box. X and Y power feed and weighs 500lbs

From what I gather Seig is the original Chinese small machine manufacturer and has the better quality of of them all.
I think they rebrand their lathes for places like Little Machine Shop.

Sent from my SM-N975F using Tapatalk
 

tech610

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The 7x and 8x are variable speed lathes, with the speed controlled by turning a knob. The 9x20 is a 6 speed lathe with the speed set by the position of the belt on the pulleys.

In size the 8x lathes are actually 8-1/4", and the 9x20 are 8.75". Weight on the 8x16 is about 150lbs, the 9x20 250lbs.
I have an HF 7X lathe. I bought it in 1999. After many mods it is still working fine for me, but I would swap it for a 6 speed 9x20 anytime. The electronic speed control is easy to blow up and expensive to replace. I may be wrong but I've heard that the newer versions of speed controls are not easy to repair.
 

Aaron_W

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I have an HF 7X lathe. I bought it in 1999. After many mods it is still working fine for me, but I would swap it for a 6 speed 9x20 anytime. The electronic speed control is easy to blow up and expensive to replace. I may be wrong but I've heard that the newer versions of speed controls are not easy to repair.
Yeah, I know lots of people make the 7x lathes work, some quite well. My reaction is just looking at the display models. Plastic handles, movement was sort of jerky and fit seems iffy at best. It is a display model so thousands of hands and who knows how much care the employee chosen to put it together gave, but I've fiddled with more than one in the stores, I have a thing for little lathes. If I find a used one in the $200 range it will come home with me.

All of these small lathes are built to a budget to be affordable to hobbyists, the 7x are just built to a much smaller budget. I think all have good bones to work with if you are willing to put the time and effort into them. That is actually a big part of why I grabbed the 9x20, it seemed like a fun project to make it better.
 

savarin

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I purchased my 9x20 in the understanding it was really a kit of parts that required a lot of work to fettle and get working well.
I enjoyed the journey and as it was the first lathe I ever owned I learnt heaps in the process.
To date heres what I have done (some might say butchered) to it so far.
  1. indexing unit
  2. reverse tumbler
  3. cross slide handle
  4. better worm
  5. oilers and grooves on cross slide
  6. extra oilers on saddle
  7. extended cross slide travel
  8. solid plinth
  9. 4 bolt clamp for tool post
  10. axa tool post
  11. er collet spindle chuck
  12. vertical milling slide
  13. extended splash guard
  14. shelf for tool holders
  15. cam lever saddle lock
  16. new half nut lever
  17. half nut dimples further apart on apron
  18. lead screw brush
  19. ball turner
Of course I would love a better larger lathe, mill, shaper, etc etc but costs do not allow this.
I think the 9x20 is a lot of bang for the bucks but then I dont have any experience of anything else.
 

Ulma Doctor

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I purchased my 9x20 in the understanding it was really a kit of parts that required a lot of work to fettle and get working well.

I think the 9x20 is a lot of bang for the bucks but then I dont have any experience of anything else.
you have done very well at that too, good Sir! :beer:
you have a tenacity that is required to do very nice work
 

hman

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Aw sucks, yourself, @savarin ... Boo-boos encountered on the way are nothing, compared to the quality of the final result. And your results speak for themselves!

Also, as I've (delightedly) learned for myself, we're not working against a schedule. So mistakes are doubly unimportant.
 

ThinWoodsman

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I purchased my 9x20 in the understanding it was really a kit of parts that required a lot of work to fettle and get working well.
About five years ago, I purchased a 7x lathe without that understanding, and having no experience with running a lathe (or a mill, for that matter) it almost turned me off the hobby completely. Fortunately, I went with some of the "get proper-sized machinery" advice, which proved well-founded: I built a shop, bought some decent-quality used machines, and couldn't be happier.

The 7x has been demoted to wood-lathe status. In time, I may get a proper wood lathe and use it only for grinding. I have toyed with the idea of making it a rigid and precise machine, and while that is a challenge, I am not sure it is worth the trouble.

I understand that a 7x is all that some people have room for, and that experienced owners can make better use of the thing than I initially could, and that for some the least expensive lathe is the only option. In my experience, however, I bought a proper lathe for slightly over double the cost of the 7x, not counting the outlay for the riggers of course. So, considerations of space and budget aside, I view the 7x, and possibly the 8x, import lathes as a waste of time and money.
 

Firstram

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I have a green 7x10 that I got from a friend who got it used in the 90's, it's serial # 184. Motor and controller were both shot. I think it was machined with a hammer and chisel. It was so bad you couldn't adjust slop out and have any travel on any axis.

Over the years I have upgraded everything
Treadmill motor, KB controller, jack shaft
Up graded the spindle to 4"
Tapered roller bearings
1" extra travel cross slide
20 TPI lead screws
Ball bearings on cross, compound and carriage feeds
Camlock tailstock and compound
Moved feed direction and speed levers to front of machine
Scraped for contact and oil retention
Custom banjo for additional feed speed reduction

I'm sure there's more but you get the idea, it definitely was a kit.
Now I can take a .050 doc on aluminum.
It is my go to for small bushings and pins, but I'm glad I have a 1340 Jet for everything else!
 

silence dogood

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I have a Lathemaster 8x14. Lathemaster does not sell lathes of mills anymore. However HF sells the same machine but call it 8x12. Yes, it is a much beefier machine and can do a lot more than a 7". You can get tooling from HF or LMS. Grizzly has a 8" but weighs at 190lbs. Little Machine Shop 8" weighs at 240lbs but at 500 bucks more. Mine weighs at 260lbs, that's more than some 9". Yeah, there are things other than weight, but mass and how rigid a machine is important. I've had my lathe for about 10 years now. This lathe is a plain Jane but tough and has served me well. If I bought a 8" now, I'd most likely go for Little Machine Shop.
 

MillersvilleProf

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I have always found the 7" machines capable in good hands, but feel many folks have unrealistic expectations for them. I teach some machining classes at Millersville University and purchased eight of the LMS 7x16 lathes for my lab about four years ago. I use these along with five 13" Clausing Colchesters to teach the basics of metal turning. I also used Cummins 7x12" lathes when I taught at the University of North Dakota along with several Sherlines and had no problems with those either. My normal project for students is a small oscillating steam engine and students maintain the required tolerances with no problems.
 
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