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Which lathe?


#1

I’m looking to add a small lathe for wax ring working to my arsenal
of tools and have found two that I am considering. The EZ - lathe
(Stuller) and the Proxxon micro lathe (Rio). I like these because
they leave both my hands free to work, but I want to make sure that
they hold the wax tubes solidly and spin smoothly.

I’m hoping that some orchid members might have had some experience
with these units and can put their two cents in, opinion wise.

Thanks, Leslie


#2
can put their two cents in, opinion wise. 

Well, Leslie, that’s the question isn’t it? Which lathe? I have no
real experience with the lathes or (like Jim’s “anvil like objects”)
lathe-like things you mention, first off. I have worked my way up
from lathe-like things to the real deal, though, and I’ll just say
that you’re better off getting the real deal to begin with, if you
can. Many of the cheaper things have a wood lathe mechanism. There’s
a tool rest and you use gravers or chisels in an offhand way. That’s
good for wood and better than nothing for jewelry. I had a Unimat
long ago that was more trouble than it was worth, and it was worth a
LOT. Then I had a lightweight Taiwan lathe that kep blowing speed
controls that was only slightly better. Now I have this:

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1rq

Which does a fine job, for the money. It takes standard lathe tooling
and chucks, has tapered roller bearings on the headstock, will also
turn metal including steel, you can ream out wax tubes to size with a
boring bar.

On and on. All for the same price as the better Proxxon lathe that
weighs way considerably less. It’s the real deal, and if you want
the real answer to your question, that’s my own answer. Don’t fiddle
with the toys, just buy a lathe. BTW, Harbor Freight, Grizzly and
even Jet all carry this lathe. They are all made by the same company
in Taiwan, and only the Paint jobs are different. They all look
alike because they are alike.

Now, to be sure, an even better answer is to buy Hardinge or South
Bend, but I don’t have $15K and up handy, myself.


#3

you can do small work on a big lathe but you cant do bigger stuff on
a small one.I have 1948, 9x20 southbend that i spin ring waxes all
the time I also make dies and other tooling as needed the company
still has my serial # card on file. Buying good used american made is
safe as long as you get something that does not have too much wear or
has had reconditioning to the lead screws and head stock and the
chuck has standard threads.

go to you local machine shop ask some questions and do some reading
up on lathes http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1rp i have very good
luck buying from these guys - go


#4

Now, to be sure, an even better answer is to buy Hardinge or South
Bend, but I don’t have $15K and up handy, myself.I have found with
the current state of economy that at least for a little while longer
an excellent used southbend or hardinge is going to cost alot less
than you think any where from $500 - $2500 if you shop around go to
freight qoute dot com for bargain ship rates - goo


#5

Leslie

I could not find the EZ lathe on Stuller’s site.

I am acquainted with Proxxon and other brands of micro lathes and I
find Sherline to be among the very best.

I have a three jaw chuck and with the tailstock and live end center
can easily and securely hold those round bars of carving wax that
everyone sells. I have had my Sherline lathe and mill for more than
15 years now and they are still “dialed” in and working perfectly.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1rs I believe is the website. No
connection, just happy with the product.

Also, Otto Frei has had several used Sherline lathes in the past.

Hope this helps
Sam Brown
San Jose, CA


#6

Hi gang,

Speaking of Hardinges, I have a friend who has a Hardinge she’s
looking to unload. It’s the ‘instrument lathe’ version: XY toolpost,
no power feeds, but it does have the variable speed drive, and the 5C
collet nose and closer. (DV-59) It’s in West Virginia, and could be
had for only $5K.

If you’re interested, drop me a line directly, and I can send you
the pictures and info.

Regards,
Brian


#7

I just inherited a Sherline mini lathe from deceased father, and am
trying to figure out if I can possibly use it! Shaving out the
insides of rings for sizing? creating grooves for channel setting?
It’s cool, and has sentimental value but maybe it will just live in
a cupboard.

Catherine Galloway


#8
Now, to be sure, an even better answer is to buy Hardinge or South
Bend, but I don't have $15K and up handy, myself. 

Hardinge’s are nice little “go to” lathes in the metal working
industry. They should be available at very reasonable prices in this
economy. I sold several of them when I closed out my tool room 18
months ago at auction for $1,000-$1,500. Hardinge’s are so plentiful
and so is related tooling and related technical skill if yu run into
a problem. Every machine shop has one. Check out the industrial
auction houses, go to an auction and talk to the seller. Amazing how
much you can learn.


#9
I have had my Sherline lathe and mill for more than 15 years now
and they are still "dialed" 

Of the micro lathes, Sam is correct, Sherline is probably the best.
Or Taig, maybe. I haven’t personally used either one.

I first cut a punch on a Southbend when I was about 17 - that’s
about 1969. But I am NOT a lathe expert, I just have some experience
with them. And I still have that punch and I think this thread is
useful, too.

Goo says that you can pick up used lathes of better quality and yes,
you can. Jo-Ann was at an estate sale and they had a Southbend and a
Bridgeport mill to match for $150 each. They were covered with
talcum powder because the guy was cutting alabaster, but that’s not
really harmful She can home and said, “I didn’t buy them because I
didn’t know if they were any good.” And of course they were sold
when we went back. Seems it’s always the other guy, and there are
lots of lathes out there but not so many under 12 inch swing. But if
you can find one and get one, then Goo’s is good advise.

As long as you have a reasonably machine - I’d put Sherline in that
category - you can do work, it’s just what work and how easy/hard it
is to do. It’s the little flexsharft things and others that are
mostly just a little silly.

But lathes are about two things - rigidity and features. Rigidity is
that property of machine tools that makes them stay put in every
way. If you try to cut titanium on a Sherline, it will more or less
flex (we call it spaghetti), because the frame and the whole machine
isn’t “stout” Do that on a big time machining center and the only
thing that’s going to give is the metal being cut. That machine
isn’t going anyplace. My lathe is 385 pounds - what many might call
a “real” lathe will clock in at 1000 and much more. That isn’t just
because they are overbuilt, it’s because of rigidity. A 24 pound
lathe (Sherline) will certainly do work, but you’re not going to
rebuild any transmissions with it. {joke…}

The little lathes have a lead screw that moves the carriage. What
you have to do it crank that sucker hundreds of times, and there’s
no power feed, either. Bigger lathes have a rack and a wheel that
move the carriage quickly, to anywhere, and then the lead screw is
engaged only for the power feed or for cutting threads. Those small
lathes take 1/4" tooling, which is to scale for the machine, but all
you can get are high speed steel and brazed carbide. My lathe has a
quick change toolpost and half inch tooling with indexables all
around. I can use anything smaller, too. You just can’t do that on
the micro lathes. I have longitudinal power feed but not on the
crossslide, which is a feature of larger lathes. I have a gearbox
for thread cutting. Otherwise you need to use change gears, which is
a real PITA. Mi lathe was around $1500 new with shipping and a stand
and tax. Not so bad…

Just some rundown on what lathes are about. I cut stainless steel
wedding bands, when I want, pretty much effortlessly. I’ll offer a
VERY usefultidbit: Southbend long ago published a little booklet
called “How to Run a Lathe”. It’s still available, it’s cheap, and
it gives you a complete rundown on what everything’s about from a
beginner level. Kind of must-reading for a newbie…


#10
Of the micro lathes, Sam is correct, Sherline is probably the
best. Or Taig, maybe. I haven't personally used either one. 

I can find my way around a lathe, but I would not call myself an
expert. Nevertheless, I would advice before expending anymore
euphoria on a product which is borderline between junk and barely
useful, to take a look at Cowells. I do not know if it is the best,
but I do know it is quite good. Here is the website
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1s4

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#11

Having a Clausing model 102 (12 X 36) I naturally tend to lock
towards Clausing. Atlas Clausing has a book also still available
called “Manual of Lathe Operations and Machinists Tables” which
dates back to the 1930’s that they have been updating as years go by
and still publish.

Yes there are ripped off copies at places on the net and Eprey, but
get the original. LOL it costs less than what a lot of the rip-off
artists on Eprey (my name for eBay) charge, and the way I see it it’s
like the stuff we make here, they have put a lot of effort over the
years in keeping updating this publication and supplying it for
little return because believe me what the beginner hobbyist market
brings Clausing is negligible compared to the professional market,
and this book is to lathe operations as Leonid’s soldering 101 DVD is
to the Professionals world.

That all suppliers were as good… My lathe was made in 1942, still
holds tolerances to 1.5 thou and parts are still available from
Clausing…

Kay


#12

Before you think further about getting a lathe, I would have you
first consider getting a CNC milling machine.

Even with a top-endlathe you can only make round things.

IF you have $2000 to spend, you should invest in a 3-axis CNC milling
machine with Xylotex control box, preowned. Then spend your spare
change on the rotary table, chucks, collets, endmills, and engraving
bits.

Then find yourself a leftover computer and load it with a Lucid Lynx
live disk from cnclinux.com, and you are good to go.

With a mill you would be able to engrave, create molds, create rings,
create findings (if so you’re inclined), perform lathe-like effects,
and create other fixtures and tools.

When I was first unemployed in 2005, my wife was also still working,
and so I feltfree toinvest someunemployment money on the above in the
hopes I could create electro-mechanical apparatus on contract.

I couldn’t find any demand for custom equipment during the recession
then, but I had lots of spare time to teach myself the basics of
milling from books.

However, I can make nice looking engravings, and I know I’m just
barely scratching the surface (no pun intended). I can also make nice
looking shapes in aluminum, silver, copper, and brass.

So I recommendfor your first sophisticated instrument to self-train
on, the CNC mill you give you the better long-term outcome for your
money.

I think the Taig 2019 ER/CR tabletop has the best compromise between
ruggedness, accuracy, and price.

Just saying.
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#13

I can also recommend MANUAL OF LATHE OPERATIONS and MACHINSTS
TABLES, that Kay recommends. It is an invaluable hands-on reference
work. Mine is dogeared, oil-smudged, torn in many places and still
expected to provide great service to me (and now my son, too) for
decades to come.

My lathe is a Boxford (British, built in 1963) and still works to
remarkably close tolerances, if required. The lathe and the reference
book have ~ for many years ~ allowed us mine value out of countless
projects. Just about had a divorce when my wife found out how much I
paid for it, used, in 1980.

I also took a college-level machinist’s course a few decades back,
to pick up the specific skills (of which there are a few…).

Also around that time, I bought a small Far East-built milling
machine. I had to invest about 40 hours into that machine just to
bring it up to the lowest level of acceptable precision because it
was so poorly made. It’s purchase price reflected this, however.
So… you get what you pay for and I am reasonably happy, since I
worked to improve it, with its overall performace…

Whatever you purchase, spend time investigating it and go for the
best you can afford – it will keep on repaying your diligence many
times over.

Jeff


#14
I am acquainted with Proxxon and other brands of micro lathes and
I find Sherline to be among the very best. 

Another extremely good micro lathe is a Pultra. Difficult to find
and much sought after.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#15

At last count I have 6 lathes ranging from a new Haas TL-1 CNC lathe
to a old Levin watchmakers lathe. There are a couple of ancient
South Bend’s (13" and 9") an EMCO Maier Compact 5 and a Sherline in
the collection. We use that Sherline virtually every day. For jewelry
scale work the Sherline has been a real work horse. It has
limitations but they have lots of tooling for it and I have seen
amazing work done on it. With moderate skill you can hold tolerances
of.001" I have bought a fair amount of used machine tools, if you do
not know a lot about them you can easily buy a real piece of junk
that will not hold any kind of decent tolerances and may not work at
all for what you want to do or it can be a beautiful tool that runs
like a top and is still capable of high precision work. So while the
advise about buying a used South Bend or Hardinge or what have you
is well meant if you don’t know how to assess the condition of a
lathe it is a real crapshoot as to whether you get a winner or loser.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#16
take a look at Cowells. I do not know if it is the best, but I do
know it is quite good. 

That’s a fine looking machine Leonid, and I’ve heard of them, too.
Next time I have a spare 5 grand, maybe I’ll buy one. That’s a watch
and clock-maker’s lathe. Turning a man’s wedding band on that would
be about the maximum capacity for it. Which is fine…

I’ll just say something more about lathes in general - It’s been
said (often) that the lathe is the only machine that can be used to
build any other machine, including another lathe. That’s true…
All of the little lathes I’ve had over the years have only made me
want more: Well sure it does this, but I sure wish it did that! I
sure miss a power feed,

I need to turn this but it just won’t quite do it… Etc. Once you
have one, you have one -“Hey, I need this thing and I couldn’t do it
before but I have a LATHE!” I posted a thing about making stamps a
while back. In the old days I’d cut the stock with a hacksaw and
then grind and file or whatever for an hour just to square off the
end. Now I just chuck in in the lathe and it’s done in about a
minute, plus it’s “perfect”. Handy thing to have, a lathe…

I won’t suggest Ebay necessarily for buying, but it IS a great place
for shopping and learning what’s out there. Business and
industrial/metalworking/metalworking equipment or like that. And
it’s also fascinating to go to Utube and search for “machining
center” and other terms and there are many vids of modern machine
tools doing what they do. Nowadays there’s a lathe chuck with what
amounts to a milling cutter doing the work, and the two work in
tandem to get work that would take days to do not so long ago.
Fascinating stuff there…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#17

Decide what your budget is and what you are going to be using it for
most often, then look at some product. If it’s just wax, you won’t
need anything to elaborate. I’m sure a sureline is fine. I have a
Central Machinery Mini lathe(7 x 12) which I found for around $350.
It works great. It’s all metal and has some weight to it( around
75-100lbs). I use it for metal and wax. It’s the tools and
accessories that you need that will empty your pockets. Have fun,
Scott

Scott Verson
Metal & Stone Design
952-929-1605
www.metalandstonedesign.com


#18
That's a fine looking machine Leonid, and I've heard of them, too.
Next time I have a spare 5 grand, maybe I'll buy one. That's a
watch and clock-maker's lathe. Turning a man's wedding band on that
would be about the maximum capacity for it. Which is fine.. 

That what I sought when I first saw it. I know a guy who has one. But
I saw it handled square block 2 by 2 inches. And there was no
chatter, no vibration of any kind. As far as price, who is fault it
is that dollar has no value anymore.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#19
Before you think further about getting a lathe, I would have you
first consider getting a CNC milling machine. Even with a
top-endlathe you can only make round things. 

The lathe has sometimes been referred to as the queen of tools
because it is the only tool that can reproduce itself. What tool do
you think was used to make the first mill? You can mill with a
lathe. and you can aslo make non round items. I would say the lathe
is the first machine tool to have and then a mill if necessary.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#20
We use that Sherline virtually every day. For jewelry scale work
the Sherline has been a real work horse. It has limitations but
they have lots of tooling for it and I have seen amazing work done
on it. 

First I have to second what Jim says, in every way. Second I’ll say
that this thread is probably real useful to lots of people, whatever
the postings. I remember when the Taig first came out and boy was it
ever an ugly duckling and overpriced, too. Now the Taigs and the
Sherlines have carved out a real place for themselves. Andrew today
talks about CNC Taigs for milling. They are scaled to jewelry, they
have the essential high RPMs for milling wax, and they are very
reasonable for a turn-key CNC system - around $2K, last I looked. A
guy I use for cutting CNC, occasionally, uses a basic Sherline for
cutting off and sizing his waxes. For 500 bucks or whatever, they
aren’t bad at all. And, as Jim gets at---- You can buy a 12" by six
foot lathe everywhere, new and used. That’s about the standard for
machine shop, general purpose lathes. Heck, it’s even easy to buy one
with a ten foot bed. Smaller lathes - nine inches (Swing, as lathes
are sold, is the largest diameter that can be turned, not the length
of the bed) and under are few and far between and for every one
offered used there are ten people looking for them.

All I would really advise is that if you are a serious person, save
your mo= ney for something real. There are lots of toys, and things
that look good but are actually toys, out there. Think of it as a
major purchase and something to last for some years, at least. I had
the 7x12 from Central Machinery, too. That’s the one the speed
control kept blowing out, so I went to their 9x20, which is actually
a pretty fine machine - import doesn’t always equal evil. Leave room
for growth - once you have a nice lathe, you’ll want to turn
stuff…