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New lathe...now what?

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Troptics

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Hello, I just got a new grizzly micro lathe and was wondering what all might be needed for a "basic" setup. I plan to mostly do small projects, pens, rings, threads and so on.
What tools would be best for setup and would come in handy? I'm coming from more of a 3D printing background, witch is pretty simple to say the least.
Any tips or suggestions would be greatly received! :)
 

pontiac428

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If you got the lathe new, it probably has a drill chuck, centers, a 3- and 4-jaw chuck, and maybe a few other bonuses. If you don't already have them, a digi or dial caliper, internal/external dividers, Dykem layout fluid, and a scribe will be helpful. An oil can for cutting oil and one for way oil will keep the clutter down. A chip brush for clearing chips and chip tray for catching them (oven cookie sheet works). You'll want to pick a system to use for cutting bits: inserts, cemented carbide, or HSS. If you don't have a grinder to sharpen with, carbide inserts are easiest (and most $$) to start with.

I also recommend a bluetooth speaker and Slayer. YMMV. At minimum go with Pink Floyd, but machinists should avoid jazz. Too easy to lose the melodics.
 

Larry42

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Some HSS tooling, a bench grinder to shape/sharpen them, sharpening stones. There are some good how to videos.
Measuring devices: Dial indicator, Dial test indicator & magnetic base, Thread gages, Micrometers, digital caliper.
An old copy of Machinery Handbook. Some metal to practice on: Aluminum bar stock is easy to use, Get a gallon of WD40 to use as aluminum cutting fluid. Chip brushes, acid brushes, Lathe file, Cleaning solvent, recommended lubricants. An Eagle squirt can for lube.
Carefully take it apart so you can clean any grit out of it. Go through setup procedures to align everything. Adjust gibs. Lube everything.
This is just the beginning! You will find there are many more things you will want/need as you progress. Live center, 4 jaw chuck, milling attachment, QCTP & tool holders, good set of tap & dies. The list goes on forever. Have fun.
 

Troptics

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Thank you for the information! I plan to do much more research before I start anything, just got the main purchase of the lathe itself out of the way and found myself a bit lost as to what would be a good direction to head off in next.. It's an extremely small lathe, 4 x 6 and under 50lbs. As far as lubrication goes I'm assuming a small enclosed loop with a bucket or something would work out pretty well. I should also mention that I'm doing all of this in an apartment, so vibration and sound need to be sorted out as well but that's pretty simple (or so I think..lol.)

This will be a VERY interesting adventure.
 

pontiac428

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You'll be fine running a mini lathe in an apartment. The rubber feet of the lathe are probably enough to keep the neighbors away. For oil, just use an oil can or dropper bottle and dab the minimum amount needed to keep the cut smooth. You won't need to rig up buckets and hoses for that. I use castor oil based cutting fluid (CRC TrueTap HD w/green label) for ferrous metals, and cheap, water-based Kool Mist for aluminum. Little 2-oz steel tipped dropper bottles from Amazon are all I use at the lathe for cutting oil.

Larry42 recommends grinding your own HSS, and from my perspective, I couldn't agree more. You will need a bench grinder with a rest and some time to practice, but that's how I'd teach a man to fish. I suggested the carbide inserts as a good start because you don't need to grind, just like disposable razors. I prefer HSS for the quality of finish and the ability to make a razor-sharp tool that cuts material like a scalpel. Carbide is a hard material that likes taking big bites out of hard steel. It doesn't necessarily do the same as HSS, especially in small skim cuts as you approach a dimension, at least in my experience. Lots of people use carbide exclusively and simply love it. It's up to you and what your goals are.
 

markba633csi

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It's nice being able to grind your own tool bits, but it's a noisy activity in an apartment so for now just purchase them
You don't need a recirculating coolant system for a mini lathe, just brush or drip by hand from a container when cutting steel
Aluminum and brass are often cut dry; the finish on aluminum is better with a light fluid like wd40 or tap magic
A drilled hole will come out closer to the correct size when using those fluids
Mark
 
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brino

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Welcome to the group!

For apartment use a couple other things might help......

1) some kind of back-splash/shield. When you do use cutting fluids some will spin off and make a stripe up the back wall....and down your face, and chest....

2) Can you do this in an UN-carpeted room? all that little curly swarf is bad enough when only little bits make it inside the house from my shop by hitching a ride on my shirt, shoes, in a cuff or pocket, and even in my beard! Perhaps a little shop-vac at the door to the room to try to maintain "domestic bliss".

Most of all be safe and have fun!

-brino
 

Troptics

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Thank you all for the warm welcomes and information! It's nice to see an active forum with helpful people!!

I have just finished removing all the shipping/packaging grease they come covered in. Gave everything a nice amount of WD40. Now looking into something that will last a little longer as a protectant and lubrication. Although WD40 might be fine for now. I have some tools coming in, eye wear, some carbide tipped bits as well as some carbide insert bits. Going to hit the hardware store today after work to pick up some stuff, cheap stock, dial, and whatever else I find that seems useful..lol.. I've attached a photo of the lathe for anyone wondering how it looks.. (It's so small! (bic lighter for scale))

It seems to struggle with lower RPM like something might have a slight bend in it somewhere. (working with Grizzly about this issue)
It's also belt driven, not sure if that's a good or bad thing.(better than plastic gears I'm guessing)
Figure its fine for a first, entry level lathe. :)
11.jpg
 

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Larry42

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Looks smaller than I had expected. What are you intending to make with it? I'm guessing that you will do better with HSS tooling rather than carbide. Depending on the system used many variable speed drives don't develop much power at slow speeds. You will want to use some way oil on the bed. Keep it covered when not in use so it doesn't collect a bunch of dust and get gummy. Will it cut threads?
 

ErichKeane

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Looks smaller than I had expected. What are you intending to make with it? I'm guessing that you will do better with HSS tooling rather than carbide. Depending on the system used many variable speed drives don't develop much power at slow speeds. You will want to use some way oil on the bed. Keep it covered when not in use so it doesn't collect a bunch of dust and get gummy. Will it cut threads?
Doesn't appear to. This is a really tiny lathe it seems. The carriage drive is on the tailstock side, which is a first for me! No compound either, so it is really just for turning down and drilling.

I wouldn't dare trying carbide on it, you'd get just about no depth of cut before stalling it.
 

Illinoyance

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Now that you have the lathe there is no end to the things you will
'need".
 

GunsOfNavarone

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Tell me that lighter in that picture is HUGE!! I have. Ever seen such a small lathe! What is the go of waste in that motor? Crazy, i had no idea! By what you'll be doing, i assume the rest bar and leveling isn't something you'll be worrying much bout? Can you cut threads? There is no half nut?
 

Grinder74

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All good advice and I'll 2nd Slayer! \m/ \m/

Sent from my SM-T378V using Tapatalk
 

Aaron_W

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Wow, that is really tiny and I say that as someone who owns a mini-lathe.

With such a short bed you will probably find yourself running out of room very quickly, but it will still be a good learning experience for you.

If you plan on doing any drilling, you may want to invest in some screw machine drill bits which are much shorter in length than the standard type you find in most stores. I'd also look to see what the smallest available drill chuck you can use is. A standard 3/8" chuck will eat up most of your working length even before you add a drill bit to it.



WD40 works fine as a cutting fluid for aluminum, but don't use it as a lubricant for the machine. WD40 isn't intended as a lasting lubricant.

Most recommend a way oil like Vactra 2, but 3 in 1 oil can be used on most small lathes. Sherline says 3 in 1 oil can be used, but recommends Super Lube synthetic grease on their machines.

Super Lube

I was using my lathe in a spare bedroom for awhile. I bought a 2x4 foot piece of 1/4" hardboard to put under the lathe, and a piece of poster board behind it to keep the worst of the mess contained. One nice thing with mini-lathes is they don't throw the oil and swarf as far as the big ones, so it is fairly easy to keep it contained. The plastic spindle guard on yours will help with that too.

Welcome, and don't feel intimidated by the large lathes many members have, almost all of the information transfers regardless of size.
 

Mitch Alsup

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For the record, I use an ISO 32 oil on just about all lathe surfaces (ways, bearings, bushings, ... )

I tried some way oil, but it does not let me "feel" the movements on the lathe as well as the ISO 32.
This is on my G0730 mill and G4003G lathe.
 

Troptics

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With this lathe I mostly intend to do golf tees, rings and pens. (what I think as light work)
I'm not sure how powerful the motor is or what metals will work. Hoping it will handle some of the harder metals - not in a hurry to get things worked down, more then happy to take my time with things.

I did pick up some steel rod (think its cold rolled) so I have no idea how it will handle it..but I guess we'll find out!
I also need to do some digging on types of metals and all that good stuff.

It does not do threads witch is a bit upsetting but its fine for what I'm doing. (theres gotta be a way to use a drill to get threads done, will just take a bit of math I suppose.)

It's the smallest lathe I could find that didn't look like it was from the heart of china (that's a joke btw)

Like I said before, this is mostly just an entry lathe to see if I like machine work as much as I think I do.
If this one works for what I'm doing, I have no problem spending more money for something nice and of decent size.
I've been getting more and more interested in lathes, CNC machines, welding and blacksmith work recently, enough so I'm thinking about looking into it as a career.
Gotta start somewhere right?
 
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Troptics

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And on that note, if anyone knows a company that makes small lathes with more features and built well for around 500, ill return this one and get something else, not attached to it. =p
 

GrayTech

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You will be able to do threads on your Lathe with a tap and die set. You just need the tap holder and die holder for the tail stock. You could probably add a compound and power feed pretty easily.
 

mmcmdl

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And on that note, if anyone knows a company that makes small lathes with more features and built well for around 500, ill return this one and get something else, not attached to it. =p
That is one small lathe ! :grin: I just noticed the lighter . I would think you could find a nice $500 Atlas or SB that would suit you well . Have fun learning and welcome to the site .
 

Aaron_W

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Your biggest issue is going to be length. the 6" referred to in size is the total working length including any tooling.

The 3 jaw chuck is going to take up probably 1" of that 6", if you put a drill chuck in the tail stock you lose maybe another 1-1/2"-2", and then the drill bit stick out is probably another 2" leaving you about 1" for your actual work piece.

It looks like that lathe has about a 3/8" spindle bore so golf tees and pens would probably fit, allowing you to run most of the length into the head for drilling operations. Golf tees are fairly short, and pens usually made from multiple sections so those will likely fit within your limits for turning operations. Rings of course are usually quite short.

Small lathes will cut just about any material the big ones will, they just take little bites. Some steels are kind of nasty to work with regardless of the lathe size. Aluminum is nice to work with, and if you need steel, stress proof / stress relieved or 12L14 is easier to machine than most cold roll or hot roll steels.



There is a market for tiny lathes, so they hold their value well. If you use this one and later decide you want something bigger, you could probably get $200-300 back from selling it. Little lathes are also little, so they don't take up much room as a second lathe which can be handy.

If you decided to return it, there really isn't much even on the used market for mini-lathes under $500. The usual suspects at or under $1000 are the various Chinese 7x12" and 7x14" lathes (all basically the same, just different colors for the different sellers), and closer in size to this one are the Taig and Sherline lathes, both of these are US made (AZ and CA).

Something else to consider is the availability of accessories, like chucks, drill chucks, steady rests etc. I'm not seeing any accessories listed for this on the Grizzly site. It looks like you get what it comes with and anything else is guess and hope or DIY (and you will find that you make a lot of DIY machine parts, you have a lathe so often have the option of buy, make or modify).



For your stated purpose, I think this little one will work for you. However if you decided you could bump your budget up another $500 or so (machine tools are great at blowing budgets), I think you would end up with a machine that is more than twice as useful for you in the long term.

The 7x12/14", Taig and Sherline lathes are very popular so there is a lot of support for them, both accessories and info. Sherline in particular has a huge variety of available bits and bobs to cover most any need. The larger budget would also put the Chinese 8x16 and 9x20 lathes, and small vintage American lathes like the Atlas / Craftsman 6x18" lathes within reach if you are patient. Of course you could find the smaller machines used as well, but what typically happens is rather than cheaper you find them with more tooling keeping them at or above the bare bones new price.

I have a Sherline and personally I think it is probably the best value mini-lathe available for small projects. The entry level Sherline 4000 is a 3.5x8" lathe. You trade off a little bit of swing (diameter) but add a couple of inches to length which at this size is very useful. The bare bones lathe with a chuck (basically what you are getting with the Grizzly) would run about $700. They also have some very good package deals, to help you blow your budget with additional tooling. The 4400 is their long bed "deluxe" model which is a 3.5x17" lathe, the longer bed adds $100 to the price.


If you do decide to return the 4x6" and look at something a little bigger / better, the members here are always happy to help others spend money. ;)
 

Latinrascalrg1

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You would be much further ahead by returning that lathe and then go to your local harbor freight to pick up a 7x10 or 7x12 model lathe they sell in that $500 price range. You will still be very limited in the size of work it could handle however the difference in capability is literally like going from a wood lathe to a metal lathe. Having threading ability opens up the work envelope substantially plus it has enough power to turn at least mild steel with very satisfactory results.
 

Troptics

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Funny, I remember looking at harbor freight and not seeing something close to the same price range.
As well as what Aaron_W said, I will try to return this one and put a little money into something that will be better in the long run.
Thank you both!
 
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Latinrascalrg1

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Listed at $599 but Add the 20% coupon and its $500 before tax. I would Absolutely go for the larger atlas or sb or logan if you have the space needed but if you gotta stay small this lathe would be more capable.

 

Downunder Bob

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Nice little lathe, I'm guessing you have no previous experience with lathes, so please be very careful the spinning chuck and workpiece can do you a great deal of harm if it contacts you, and or your clothing.

Having said that I'm sure you'll have fun I Know some have said go for carbide inserts and others have said go for HSS. The simple advantage of inserts they are ready to use , no grinding required. Hss generally require some grinding before use.

It has been said that a grinder might be too noisy for apartment use, however a small belt sander might be suitable in its place. Should be quieter. and a little bit easier to use, for a beginner.

HSS will give you a better finish particularly on small work, but you will need to learn how to sharpen the bits. You might want to have a look at the diamond , or similar, tangential tool holder system this makes sharpening a much simpler process.

You will find that your lathe has very little power at low speeds, just a function of variable speed motors, and their controllers. This can be partly overcome by changing pulley sizes to suit.

Good luck and enjoy.
 

Firstgear

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Listed at $599 but Add the 20% coupon and its $500 before tax. I would Absolutely go for the larger atlas or sb or logan if you have the space needed but if you gotta stay small this lathe would be more capable.

I am not sure what the extended warranty would cost, but it would be a good idea to get one.....
 

markba633csi

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That lathe looks about the size of a Unimat, same limitations on length and ability to cut threads. Even so, I made all kinds of stuff on my Unimat
Mark
 

Aaron_W

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I don't know about the extended warranties, my experience with HF is the stuff either works fine or it is broken as soon as you take it out of the box. The standard 90 day covers that. There are a lot of popular mods for those 7x lathes which would likely void any extended warranty.


Another + for Sherline and Taig. They know many users modify the machines and they seem to stand behind them even modified, unless the modification was likely the cause of the failure. Sherline machines come with a 1 year warranty, and lifetime parts replacement in the case of a defective part that fails. Taig comes with a 2 year warranty.
 

Pcmaker

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I would return to Grizzly, save up and get this instead, which they have on sale sometimes for $500


or this, which is probably the same exact lathe, only with a different branding for the same price you bought your current lathe, only with a LOT more features.

 
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