View Full Version : Lathe anybody?

01-10-2007, 09:02 PM
I've been delaying the purchase of a lathe for quite some time now.
My idea was to get a mini-lathe around $400, 7 or 12", with the idea of cutting molds, brass, and working on small parts and barrels ends.

Now I'm getting the idea that theses chinese made pieces are inaccurate at best, and I'm not sure of the actual skills of those who say that.
So, as the only really pressing jobs I have to do are brass conversions I am thinking about these $150 pen or wood lathes.....any thoughts? Do they have usefull graduations? Can they use common tools?

Thanks in advance.

01-10-2007, 10:19 PM
You get what you pay for. I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for the right lathe for a while, too. I want one that I can thread and rechamber on. If you are going to do any barrel work, you have to have a big enough hole through the headstock to fit it through, and most small lathes and all-in-ones don't. The little all-in-ones might be able to handle all the brass work that you want to do, and have the advantage of milling/drilling capabilities, but I don't know how precise they are. I agree about the cheap Asian tools and wouldn't waste the money. I think that you can get a good used American, European, or Japanese lathe for less than you would pay for the cheap POS they're importing now. It wouldn't necessarily have to be an engine lathe, though. A toolmaker's lathe is small and very precise, and would probably be just the ticket for what you want to do, as well as not as much in demand (less expensive) as the bigger production tools. I am looking for something like a 36" or 48" Southbend, but that's probably much bigger than you would need.

01-10-2007, 10:27 PM
I forgot:
Lee Valley/Veritas sells Taig Lathes. They are very high quality mini-lathes that have both wood or metalworking tooling. Kind of the ultimate pen lathe. They don't have lead screws, so they can't cut threads, but they'll do just about anything else and there's a ton of optional tooling available for them. This company doesn't sell poorly made tools, only the very best. Mostly woodworking tools, but excellent measuring stuff and hard to find specialty tools. Also a small selection of specialty hardwoods. www.leevalley.com

01-12-2007, 08:55 PM
Thanks Versifier

Lee Valley seem to be out, maybe only for Canada. If you decide to buy one, look at www.cartertools.com (make sure you've got a motor at home for the cheapest kits :)).

It seems that pen and wood lathes work with patterns or chisels only, I really can't be sure from the pics they show...

01-30-2007, 09:40 PM
Most Aisian small lathes are junk. I is best to shop for a good used American or European lathe. I bought a 9X18 1947 vintage Logan with lots and lots of tooling a couple of years ago for $800.00.

If you want a floor model lathe, those marketed by Jet will deliver good service for gunsmithing work. Yes, they are Asian, but the Jet folks watch the quality control like a halk. The same can be said for their drill presses and others machine tools. Very good value for the money.

01-31-2007, 01:28 AM
I just found me a 36" Southbend!!!! It will be delivered to me tomorrow evening. 30's vintage bench lathe, owned by two generations of toolmakers, babied all its life - no production work. "Moving sale - everything must go" it went to me. :) I'm not going to tell you what I paid for it or you'll be getting out the little wax Tom dolls to stick pins into. After a thorough cleaning and lubing, I'll post some pictures. There is a 4' Southbend floor model available locally for $1500 in pretty good shape if anyone is interested. It never rains but it pours. :-D