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Cheap Mini Lathe?

Post about things you have launched or thought about launching. Also post about various materials used for building cannons. No posts about explosive projectiles!
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Cheap Mini Lathe?

Unread postAuthor: clemsonguy1125 » Sun May 22, 2011 8:30 pm

Hey,
Found this on sale the other day from harbor freight, after shipping it comes out to a little under 140. Has anyone tried it out? Reviews seem decent, only issue from what it looks like is the speed control breaking. Can you buy replacement parts for something like this?
http://www.harborfreight.com/8-inch-x-1 ... _adv=50030
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Unread postAuthor: LeMaudit » Sun May 22, 2011 9:14 pm

That's a WOOD lathe :lol:

appropriate to turn wood, but for spudding? :?
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Unread postAuthor: velocity3x » Sun May 22, 2011 9:24 pm

LeMaudit wrote:That's a WOOD lathe :lol:

appropriate to turn wood, but for spudding? :?


Organic spud guns! :wink:

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Unread postAuthor: clemsonguy1125 » Sun May 22, 2011 9:24 pm

For the lower pressure stuff I do, it should be fine for turning hpde and PVC, I think.
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Unread postAuthor: LeMaudit » Sun May 22, 2011 9:33 pm

hum... I don't think so... maybe if you want to disguise your canon as a staircase pole :-D Not a pen gun then, a pole gun :lol:

Seriously the main difference between a wood lathe and a metal lathe, is not the material you can turn, but the way you turn it.

With a wood lathe you use a hand held cutter, like a large chisel. You need a lot of experience to turn something, and it is not really ment to be precise... more decorative.

With a metal lathe, the cutter is hold in a sort of vise that you can move precisely turning wheels, to cut grooves and such at very precise places.

Plus, if you want to turn PVC, you need high torque and low speed. A wood lathe would be too fast I think and would just melt the material.

You would be as good with a drill press and a file.
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Unread postAuthor: clemsonguy1125 » Sun May 22, 2011 9:52 pm

Thanks, I've been thinking of copying tech, my worry was that drill presses are mad for vertical force, not horizontal, and I would mess of the bearing system.
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Unread postAuthor: Gaderelguitarist » Sun May 22, 2011 10:20 pm

You can achieve a lot of different end results with a "wood lathe". I turn all sorts of materials on my wood lathe. The difference between wood and metal lathes is the same general difference between wood and metal power tools in general; speed control. Now granted, there are a lot of mini lathes with speed control, and this is essential for turning a variety of diameters and materials, but for metal you have to worry about it a bit more as the material stores heat much more readily.

LeMaudit, it does not take too much experience to be proficient at using a lathe with hand chisels. I learned in high school and proceeded to teach the majority of my classmates. While it won't be as easily precise as a precision lathe, you can still achieve the same results, albeit with a lot more patience and work. In pen turning, the turner must cut the wooden blank down to within 1/32" of the bushing, and then proceed to sanding. While this is not some robotic precision, it is still reasonable.

Don't even get me started on turning burl materials. Those require skill, patience AND luck.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Sun May 22, 2011 11:49 pm

Turning burl materials requires one other item, sharp tools. You will spend as much time honing the cutting edge as cutting a burl. :)

We have plenty of burls in our neck of the woods.
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Unread postAuthor: Gaderelguitarist » Mon May 23, 2011 12:17 am

Tech, I'm glad I'm not the only one. The results are fantastic, and completely worth the extra effort.

That must be nice having the ability to harvest your own stock. I live in a community ruled by a council of neo-Nazi suppremists who believe that fun is hebrew.
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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Mon May 23, 2011 1:45 am

I think a difference needs to be made between what is a "good lathe" and what is a "good lathe for the job at hand". For most spudding projects to date, my drill-clamped-upside-down-in-a-vice has served me reasonably well.

I would like to go a step further, but the attitude has not changed much so far in the sense that I envision making something that works, but (dewey-1 close your eyes now ;)) not necessarily something built to precise drawings with a 0.001mm degree of accuracy.
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Mon May 23, 2011 5:31 am

To the best of my knowlage sgort87 uses a wood lathe for all his cannon part turning needs. He builds nice cannons...
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Unread postAuthor: dewey-1 » Mon May 23, 2011 6:04 am

jackssmirkingrevenge wrote: but (dewey-1 close your eyes now ;)) not necessarily something built to precise drawings with a 0.001mm degree of accuracy.


I peeked. :)

Do not misconstrue the difference between measurement accuracy with part tolerance. A part tolerance of +/- .005 inch (.12) should not be measured with a device that has an accuracy of .010 inch (.25mm).

.005 inch and .10mm are relatively common manufacturing tolerances.
Example: PVC pipe, brass tubing.

Drawings are made to the ideal dimensions and then the parts are given manufacturing tolerances.
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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Mon May 23, 2011 6:57 am

I agree with you completely, my point was that for some projects, having a 1.05 inch long piston will work just as well as a 0.95 inch piston, so adhering strictly to CAD drawings might not be essential ;)
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Unread postAuthor: LeMaudit » Mon May 23, 2011 7:01 am

LeMaudit, it does not take too much experience to be proficient at using a lathe

It certainly does require some manual skills and learning ;-) . Metal lathe does not. Just careful planning and an engineering mind. I know that... I have lots of thumbs... ;-)

not necessarily something built to precise drawings with a 0.001mm degree of accuracy

If you can do it, you will... because there's a certain satisfaction in achieving it :-D Granted 0.001mm is a bit extreme.. but 0.1mm is something you'll achieve very easily, and 0.02 if you plan carefully and spend some time tuning your tools. Better than that, a you start having measuring tools that cost more than your machines :D

To the best of my knowlage sgort87 uses a wood lathe for all his cannon part turning needs. He builds nice cannons...

Really? My bad then... in that case, sorry clemsonguy1125; I just can't see any advantages that a wood lathe can bring. Unless you already own one and just try to use it the best you can.
But I would be interested to know!
To cut strait and at an angle I would prefer a simple radial saw. To turn a groove I would prefer a column drill press, on a column long enough to accommodate the longer canon I would like to turn. . Both tools would serve me in many different ways and more conveniently for the job than a wood lathe I think... unless I also want to turn wood!
I still think that you'll need anyway a high-torque low-speed motor.
With my experiments cutting UHMW on the metal lathe, the plastic was just melting at the speed I use to cut brass. I had to go for a low speed and bigger feed to achieve a good surface cut result.

adhering strictly to CAD drawings might not be essential Wink

And this is why sometimes, it's better to do the 3D after the piece is done, in particular when the guy doing it doesn't strictly follow the plan :lol:
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Unread postAuthor: inonickname » Mon May 23, 2011 7:07 am

Gaderelguitarist wrote:You can achieve a lot of different end results with a "wood lathe". I turn all sorts of materials on my wood lathe. The difference between wood and metal lathes is the same general difference between wood and metal power tools in general; speed control. Now granted, there are a lot of mini lathes with speed control, and this is essential for turning a variety of diameters and materials, but for metal you have to worry about it a bit more as the material stores heat much more readily.

LeMaudit, it does not take too much experience to be proficient at using a lathe with hand chisels. I learned in high school and proceeded to teach the majority of my classmates. While it won't be as easily precise as a precision lathe, you can still achieve the same results, albeit with a lot more patience and work. In pen turning, the turner must cut the wooden blank down to within 1/32" of the bushing, and then proceed to sanding. While this is not some robotic precision, it is still reasonable.

Don't even get me started on turning burl materials. Those require skill, patience AND luck.


1/32 is 0.03125". The largest graduations on my metal lathe are .001", or more than 30 times more precise. I'll often not even use a full graduation, so the accuracy will be even better again.

You just can't achieve the precision on a wood lathe that you can on a metal lathe. Also, you'll be very limited- you won't be able to turn harder materials effectively. And trust me, you'll want to. I guarantee that.
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