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Micro-Mark 14" Lathe


#1

Does anyone out there in Orchid Land have, used, or know any
pros/cons re the Micro-Mark 14" lathe appearing in the recently
published catalog? Specifically how good/bad is it. What level of
precision is it capable of, how well is it made, how well does it
hold alignment, etc.

Thanks,
Les Brown
L.F.Brown Goldwork


#2

Hi Les,

Does anyone out there in Orchid Land have, used, or know any
pros/cons re the Micro-Mark 14" lathe appearing in the recently
published catalog? Specifically how good/bad is it. What level of
precision is it capable of, how well is it made, how well does it
hold alignment, etc. 

If I were looking for a lathe of that size, I’d look at the Sherline
brand (sherline.com). Sherline is a US mfg. product that has a very
good reputation for accuracy & stability. They also have a wide
selection of attachments. Sherline makes mills as well as other small
machine tools. Their tools & service reputation are well respected in
the micro-machining community.

Dave


#3

I have owned a one for about six months. They are a low end lathe,
and you get what you pay for, but I think they a good value for the
money. The castings needed to be cleaned up and I had to do some
modifications to the carrage so it could cut over the full range of
swing. It’s saving grace is the.0002" radial runout I measured at
the inside of the spindle taper. I was able to adjust the tailstock
to keep the taper on a test bar to.001" over a 3 inch length when
cutting between centers. The machine is solid with little chatter
even when cutting off. I did not like the digital readout
accessories for the carrage. When they were installed you couldn’t
get a full range of movement since they bumped into eachother. I now
use dial indicators on the carrage, I really like the variable speed
but I do wish the control knobs were not so flimzy feeling. The
accuracy of the collet chuck on the spindle was not much better than
the three jaw chuck. I was able to find #3 morse taper collets for
the spindle that are very good. Be careful, some collets are better
than others. A high quality tailstock chuck is a good idea.

If you get one of these lathes consider them to be something of a
work in progress. They will never be an Emco or a Prazi or Hardinge
(dream on) but with a bit of effort you can have an accurate, useful
machine.


#4

Les:

Does anyone out there in Orchid Land have, used, or know any
pros/cons re the Micro-Mark 14" lathe appearing in the recently
published catalog? Specifically how good/bad is it. What level of
precision is it capable of, how well is it made, how well does it
hold alignment, etc. 

While I dont have any Micro-Mark lathes to speak of, what are your
intentions with the mini lathe? What kind of tolerances are you
planning on cutting to? More importantly what is your budget for one?

Reason I ask this, you definatley get what you pay for when it comes
to lathes. I own several lathes in various sizes, several sherlines,
a prazi, a jet unit, and a monster gear lathe. Each has its pros and
cons of precision and capacity.

When your looking at mini lathes, most of the asian built models (or
models in the sub $1k range) are pretty much the same when it comes
to build quality, repeatability, and precision. Good to hold
tolerances +/- 0.001, if your patient enough you can get into the
+/-0.0005" range with mad lathe skills and a nice micrometer. A lot
of these units have (in my opinion) a lot of backlash in their lead
screws. A number of these types of lathes can be improved upon, this
is a great site for learning how to make these even more accurate,
along with tips and tweaks on mini-lathes.

http://www.mini-lathe.com

Now if your looking for something that is high precision out of the
box, I cant say enough about the prazii (wabeco now) line of lathes.
Ive had mine for about 10 years now and to this day I can still hold
+/- 0.0002" tolerance on it with no problems. But your also talking
4x-10x the price as well. The only problem i had with mine was a
broken tail stock, since i only use this machine for precision
turning (not hole drilling) It wasnt a great dissapointment for me
considering I got 7 years out of it before it broke.

Couple any lathe with some home made digital readouts (butchered
digital calipers) and I think youll have everything you might need to
do some good turning. Feel free to contact me off list if you need
any help.

P@
www.patpruitt.com


#5

Les

In regard to the lathe, I have a similar one to the MicroLux 14.
Nearly all of the Asian made lathes are very much the same whether it
has the MicroLux name, Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Jet or whatever, the
parts are interchangeable. They do not have the features the large
American lathes have, but for the price, I have found that they are a
good value for the tool. Alignment is paramount upon receipt, if for
no other reason than peace of mind.

The lathe I purchased came with many of the items sold on page 19
(assuming you are looking at the same catalog) as accessories.
Specifically, the steady rest, the follower rest and the face plate
came with mine.

Accuracy, I found to be largely a matter of cleaning. Oil, grit and
small pieces of work can and will lodge in the jaws and throw you off
as well as the rails for the carriage and the tail stock. Keep the
dove tails snug, to loose and your bits will move, to tight and you
have a hard time moving the slides and cause excessive wear. With
that said, I can hold to within 0.0005 inches on most projects, a lot
of this is principally found in the setup, how fast you feed, how
deep you cut and when you begin your finishing steps.

There are many user groups for these small lathes and it was very
worthwhile on my part to search them out as many speak to the
limitations and upgrades for these class of lathes, most of which can
be done inexpensively.

One thing I have learned is that you will spend more on tooling and
tools than you do on the lathe. Measuring tools for even the
alignment functions are expensive and should be considered in the
overall budget of the machine.

Search out a machine that comes with as many accessories as
possible. Stick with standard tapers and sizes. MT 3 and MT 2 are
standards, and should allow availability of tooling from many
locations.

Terry


#6

Hi Terry,

Thanks for the info re the 14" lathes. I’ve put ten or twelve years
in on my 24" Sherline lathe but have always lusted after the heavier
equipment. I appreciate the tutorial on the Asian units. I’m not sure
I need another hobby - even though the Sherline can produce pretty
tight tolerances keeping it aligned and dealing with the backlash
problem takes up a lot time.

It sounds like the 14" lathe in question, though, would be suitable
for turning mandrels and other large parts which I’m always in need
of so perhaps one is in my future.

Thanks again,
Les Brown


#7
Reason I ask this, you definatley get what you pay for when it
comes to lathes. I own several lathes in various sizes, several
sherlines, 

I have the 10" version of the asian lathes. I did a LOT of research,
and what I discovered was that they - Jet, Harbor Freight, Grizzly,
Boxford - are not “Pretty much the same”, they ARE the same - they
just have proprietary paint jobs. I did that by going online and
looking at the manuals - the Manual part of them are written
differently, but the Parts List portion was identical, right down to
the handwriting. So then it just came down to price and shipping,
which took me to KBC tools. What the gentleman above says is
absolutely true, though - they are not going to do aerospace work -
they just don’t have it. But I’m just a casual user, turning wax
rings and stainless and such, and it works great for that…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#8

Pat,

Thanks for the response. I’ve owned and operated a 24" Sherline for
the last ten or twelve years. It has served me well given my limited
needs and skills. I would like something a little heavier, though
with similar tolerances, hence my questions about the Micro-Mark.

Beautiful work, by the way.

Les Brown
L.F.Brown Goldwork


#9

Below is a good link to the Mini and Micro lathes and mills.

http://www.mini-lathe.com/Links.htm

I spent some time investigating the subject. The choice I took was to
find a good used lathe for sale. It was in near new condition with
some tooling in addition. I saved some 25 to 35 % of new. Find
someone who is wishing to upgrade in size… This is a tool to make
tools. Buy it in good condition, take care of it

and you should be able to recover most of your investment…

Being an outside machinist / millwright for 35 + yrs, I believe that
this type machine is a good value for the money. The machine I bought
was a Homier. Most parts are inter changeable with other lathes of
the same type. But. Inspect the machine you wish to buy.

Robb


#10

Les:

Thanks for the response. I've owned and operated a 24" Sherline
for the last ten or twelve years. It has served me well given my
limited needs and skills. I would like something a little heavier,
though with similar tolerances, hence my questions about the
Micro-Mark. 

From the sound of it, your just looking for a good general purpose
unit and the Micro Mark should suit you just fine, and it would be a
nice upgrade from the sherline unit.

I will add, invest in good indexable carbide insert turning tools.
They are expensive, but will last a lot longer than HHS tooling. The
plus side with some of the tooling is the interchangeability of
shaped carbide inserts, like the mini-systems line.
(http://www.niko-nikcole.com/mini_system.htm)

Beautiful work, by the way. 

Thank you, its truly appreciated.

P@
www.patpruitt.com


#11

Ah, now I get it. I was thinking, wait a minute, Sherline doesn’t
make anything bigger than 3", and I never heard of Micromark having a
14"er. Then I realized you meant the bed length. Lathes aren’t
classified by the bed length, they are know by their “swing”, which
is the biggest diameter part they can turn. Thus your 14" lathe is
actually a 7" x14" lathe. A 14" lathe will weigh no less than a ton,
probably, and take 1 1/2" tooling. That being said - I have the 7
x14, dismantled under a workbench, and I’d love to get rid of it -
just the motor and electrics is dismantled… If anyone wants a
fixer-upper project, there you go - it’s mechanically fine, just the
electronics. I went to the 9 x 20, and if one is contemplating buying
a new (import) lathe, I would recommend it highly - and much more
highly than the 7 x15. It’s a lot more lathe…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com