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Which lathe to get?

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Pcmaker

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#1
Hello, guys.

I'm very new to machining. I'm a welder/fabricator by trade, but know little about machining. I want to get into machining as a hobby. I have limited space in my 2 car garage for equipment, so I'm looking to get a something like a 7x12 mini lathe. I'm set on a mini lathe because I do not see myself working on anything large. Mainly I'll be making random small replacement parts, tools, tool bits mostly made out of mild steel or hardened steel.

But the question is, which one do I get? I was looking at the Harbor Freight 7x10, the Grizzly 7 x 12, Sieg C3, etc...

One thing I want to add I'd like the lathe to not be so loud, as I wake up early and I like to tinker around in my garage.

-Which mini lathe should I get? Something that is not so loud and is able to work on hardened steel/stainless, etc..
-Something as "toolless" as possible. I know with the Harbor Freight 7x10 one, you need a wrench to move the sliding tail.
-I'll be getting my tooling from Amazon. Which tools should I get, in addition to cutting tools? I'm looking to get the carbide insert cutting tools.
-Something with variable speed, I don't want to mess with belts.
-Hopefully something with metal gears or have metal gear replacements available.
-I can run 220v to my garage, so it's not issue if the machine is 220v.
 
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markba633csi

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#3
Little machine shop has some good small lathes, check them out too- gear head lathes are generally louder than belt drive ones, many small lathes are belt drive
Consider getting a small bench grinder if you don't have one already, you can grind your own HSS tool bits
Small grinders (and lathes) sometimes show up cheap at yard sales(that's how I got my grinder)
Mark
 

Pcmaker

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Yeah, I have a bench grinder, among other tools. I have a pretty good setup right now. I have a drill press, bench grinder, all power tools you can imagine, welder, sanders, etc...
 

Pcmaker

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#5
Harbor Freight has a 7x10 lathe in stock at the store... I'm so tempted to get it right now
 

Andy Pullen

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#6
Get the biggest machine that you can fit into your space. You will be better off with an older American made machine. South Bend lathes can be pricey, but you can do good work on them and they are user friendly. My small lathe is a Clausing 10" x 24". It only weighs about 600 pounds and it is easily taken apart and reassembled if you don't have easy access to your space. I've had mine since 1992. The bonus with it is, it runs on 110 volt power.
 

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wrmiller

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#7
For a small, decent quality bench lathe I'd check out Little Machine Shop (littlemachineshop.com). At one time I had both their small lathe and mill. Not too small, but not too large either.
 

TerryH

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#8
Harbor Freight has a 7x10 lathe in stock at the store... I'm so tempted to get it right now
HF 10" is tiny. Even if you don't turn something longer, the lack of room between the chuck and the tail stock will be a pain when drilling or just generally working on anything. Much better off with a 12" if you can. I opted for the 7x12 Grizzly for a little more money. It is $555 plus shipping. I'm quite pleased with it.

The belt drive lathes are definitely quieter. They also have brushless motors that have more torque. All that comes at a higher price though. Everything is some sort of trade off.
 
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Aaron_W

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#9
Most of the mini-lathes are made by Sieg who then sells them to various distributors like Harbor Frieght, Grizzly, Little Machine Shop etc. There can be minor differences based on the options each seller chooses and what they include. Also differences in quality control standards.

Terry has a good point on the size. When you see 7x10" that isn't the size of the part than can be worked on, it its the size of the work space. You have to subtract the space taken up by tooling. A chuck will extend a couple of inches beyond the nominal diameter so a 7x lathe can only use a 4" or maybe 5" chuck.

A 10" bed length will quickly fill up, say you want to drill a piece of work, the 3 jaw chuck probably takes up 2", the drill chuck in the tail stock another 2 or 3" and the drill bit probably 3" so by the time you go to work, you may only have around 2" available for the piece you are working on.

You really want to figure out the size of things you are going to make though because all of the mini-lathes are limited in size. A 7x10" might be fine for you, but even a 9x19" is still fairly compact, but at around 250lbs not too portable.


I've got a Sherline 4400 which I really like, but it is a very small lathe 3.5 x 17". Very quiet, lightweight (35 lbs) and Sherline has great support, both service and available accessories. I got my lathe for model making so the size is fine for my use, but I quickly bump into the upper size limits when I look at using it for something for the "full size" world. It works great for things up to 1" diameter, 2" diameter is about the largest I can comfortably work on. The 17" bed provides plenty of room lengthwise.
 

Pcmaker

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#10
HF 10" is tiny. Even if you don't turn something longer, the lack of room between the chuck and the tail stock will be a pain when drilling or just generally working on anything. Much better off with a 12" if you can. I opted for the 7x12 Grizzly for a little more money. It is $555 plus shipping. I'm quite pleased with it.

The belt drive lathes are definitely quieter. They also have brushless motors that have more torque. All that comes at a higher price though. Everything is some sort of trade off.
I'm in the process of buying the Grizzly 7x12 from Amazon. They only have one type of delivery for $123. Do they wheel it to your garage or do they just drop it off at the front of the house?

Ok, guys. I just bought the following and I can't wait to get them!

Let me know if I need to buy anything else:

This is the lathe that I just bought from Amazon:

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DCZ7D/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Grizzly H2970 Cut Off Holder with Blade, 3-1/2-Inch

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DD4CM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Anytime Tools 5 Piece 3/8" MINI LATHE INDEXABLE CARBIDE INSERT TOOL BIT SET

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087R9NGA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Anytime Tools 5 Lathe Mill CENTER DRILL COUNTERSINK Bit Tooling SET https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000N216SU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

TerryH

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#11
I'm in the process of buying the Grizzly 7x12 from Amazon. They only have one type of delivery for $123. Do they wheel it to your garage or do they just drop it off at the front of the house?

Ok, guys. I just bought the following and I can't wait to get them!

Let me know if I need to buy anything else:

This is the lathe that I just bought from Amazon:

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DCZ7D/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Grizzly H2970 Cut Off Holder with Blade, 3-1/2-Inch

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DD4CM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Anytime Tools 5 Piece 3/8" MINI LATHE INDEXABLE CARBIDE INSERT TOOL BIT SET

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087R9NGA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Anytime Tools 5 Lathe Mill CENTER DRILL COUNTERSINK Bit Tooling SET https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000N216SU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
As long as we are spending your money...

You will want an quick change tool post and a drill chuck for MT2...I could go on...:grin: I strongly suggest that you stay away from littlemachineshop.com because you will soon have more in "things" than you do in the machine. lol...

Weird on that shipping because I bought mine directly from Griz and shipping was $89. It's delivered to the back of the trailer and you are on your own from there.
 

David S

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#12
Yes you will need a tailstock chuck to hold both the centre drills and any twist drills that you will be using.

David
 

Pcmaker

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#13
The tool post that comes with the Grizzly isn't any good? Which quick change tool post and tailstock chuck do you guys recommend from Amazon? I also want to get a knurling tool
 

TerryH

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#14
The tool post that comes with the Grizzly isn't any good? Which quick change tool post and tailstock chuck do you guys recommend from Amazon? I also want to get a knurling tool
Not a question of good or bad but one of convenience. You'll tire quickly of changing tools in the stock post. I bought all that stuff fro mine at the link in the other post . They literally have everything you'll need at decent prices. Get the wedge style post.
 

Pcmaker

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#16
I try to get everything from Amazon because I get free 2 day shipping on most items.

ouch.. the quick change tool post is a bit expensive. I'll just hold off on that til next month's disposable income bank. I bought the tailstock chuck, though. Any recommendations on knurling tool for the Grizzly?
 

David S

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I try to get everything from Amazon because I get free 2 day shipping on most items.

ouch.. the quick change tool post is a bit expensive. I'll just hold off on that til next month's disposable income bank. I bought the tailstock chuck, though. Any recommendations on knurling tool for the Grizzly?
The quick change tool holders in the link looks like it includes a bump type knurling tool. I wouldn't recommend a bump type for small machines, but rather the scissors type.

Also if you are going to invest in a QCTP, wait until you can afford a bunch more tool holders. I probably also have about 12 or more, they come in handy for all sorts of things like holding special tooling, dial indicators, and other cutting tools. Might as well include them to save shipping on a separate order.

David
 

markba633csi

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#20
Be forewarned you can spend much more on tooling than the machine itself! :big grin:
Measuring tools, cutting tools, workholding tools, the list is long
When you start having to make tools to make other tools then you are really down the rabbit hole
 

David S

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#21
Be forewarned you can spend much more on tooling than the machine itself! :big grin:
Measuring tools, cutting tools, the list is long
And we are here to help you do just that :)

But seriously so far I don't think there is any info here that is excessive.

David
 

Pcmaker

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#22
Thanks a lot, guys. I absolutely cannot WAIT to get my lathe. It's like being a kid on Christmas morning all over again.
 

Dabbler

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#23
Just a quick word of caution here. Before buying a lot of tooling, choose a simple project and turn it. Tooling is so project dependent, and you need to build up tools to do what you want to do, not me or anyone else here. If you are into building steam engines, then you will use boring bars a lot sooner than others, for instance, Take it slow - it is easy to buy hundreds of dollars of tooling you will never use.

After all, it isn't about have the most completely tooled lathe. it is about the projects you make with it.
 

Pcmaker

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#24
Yeah, I just want the basic stuff and the must-haves for now and I'll work my way up. The knurling tool, though, is something I've needed quite a few times, but couldn't get it done because I didn't have a lathe.
 

Aaron_W

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#25
The quick change tool post is nice, but it is just a time saver. You can pretty much do everything with the standard tool posts until you get sick of them.

I'm not sure what the standard tool posts are on your lathe but I used the standard tool posts on mine for 2 years just fine. I did finally break down and get a quick change type from Little Machine Shop and it is a nice thing to have.


You might want to look into using high speed steel tooling instead of carbide. It works well on the small lathes and is cheaper. You can grind them yourself as well as resharpening them. There is a great thread about grinding your own tools here.

https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/models-for-grinding-hss-lathe-tools.62111/


You will also find that you can make a lot of your own tools from plans and kits, and often just by eyeball for simple things.


As far as delivery, these little lathes are not that heavy, most are well under 100lbs so no need for special equipment beyond maybe a hand truck to get it into your shop.

Tons of good educational lathe videos on youtube.
 

Pcmaker

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#26
The quick change tool post is nice, but it is just a time saver. You can pretty much do everything with the standard tool posts until you get sick of them.

I'm not sure what the standard tool posts are on your lathe but I used the standard tool posts on mine for 2 years just fine. I did finally break down and get a quick change type from Little Machine Shop and it is a nice thing to have.


You might want to look into using high speed steel tooling instead of carbide. It works well on the small lathes and is cheaper. You can grind them yourself as well as resharpening them. There is a great thread about grinding your own tools here.

https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/models-for-grinding-hss-lathe-tools.62111/


You will also find that you can make a lot of your own tools from plans and kits, and often just by eyeball for simple things.


As far as delivery, these little lathes are not that heavy, most are well under 100lbs so no need for special equipment beyond maybe a hand truck to get it into your shop.

Tons of good educational lathe videos on youtube.
The reason I went with the carbide tooling is because I'll be working on stainless and other hardened metals. I want to make screwdriver bits and I think those are made of chrome vanadium.
 

Pcmaker

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#28
I think you will quickly find that the best accessory you can get for your lathe is a mill. :)
Ah, don't get me started... it'll be awhile before I can justify another big tool purchase. Maybe in 6 months or so..

Just looked up pricing.... seems like mini mills are lot more expensive than mini lathes.
 
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