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Micro lathe - Where to start

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Micro lathe - Where to start

Unread postAuthor: qwerty » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:17 am

Hey guys,
I've been really interested in lathes recently and have now considered buying one.
Of course, the large, full size ones are way above my price range (under £300) so i started looking at the mini lathes.
Although i have never used one before i am getting the basic concept of how they work ect.

So far, i have found this, but i do need some help on what i will need to get started.
I want to be able to turn aluminium to make small parts with but what tools do i need?




http://www.peatolmac.talktalk.net/lathe.html


Is this what i am looking for?

I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

Thanks.
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Unread postAuthor: ramses » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:28 am

You definitely want something bigger. I suggest the 7x12 or 7x14. Anything smaller and you will hate it. They are imported by a number of places in the US: Harbor freight, Grizzly, Cummings, Homier, Jet, and I think shopsmith or something. The going price around here is around $500. Look for a used one; I got mine (with accessories) for $460 on ebay, and I picked it up at the guy's house, so no shipping.
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Unread postAuthor: qwerty » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:34 am

You definitely want something bigger. I suggest the 7x12 or 7x14. Anything smaller and you will hate it.


Why is small so bad?
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Re: Micro lathe - Where to start

Unread postAuthor: velocity3x » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:10 pm

Add in some extra money for tooling and a tool grinder of some sort.
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Unread postAuthor: Selador » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:11 pm

qwerty wrote:
You definitely want something bigger. I suggest the 7x12 or 7x14. Anything smaller and you will hate it.


Why is small so bad?


For one... Smaller is less stable.
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Unread postAuthor: Gippeto » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:45 pm

X2 on the tool grinder. HSS blanks will be the handiest things you've ever seen once you learn to grind them....get an extra fine diamond file to hone them after grinding as well. :)

Drill bit set of decent quality....letter, 64ths and number will cover most requirements.

A boring bar is a good thing to have.

Rigidity won't be as good on a smaller machine, but need not have a major effect on the end product...just means you need to take lighter cuts, and make more of them.

A milling attachment, while not being as good as a true mill, will add versatility. As an aside, an oak block bolted on in place of the tool post, and bored to size with an appropriate bit, makes a handy stock holder for simple milling operations. Slit the side of the bored block, and fit with a couple wood screws to "tighten" the stock in place. Milling bit then goes in the lathe chuck.

Down the road, you may consider a four jaw chuck and a dial indicator with base. Handy things to have.

Edit: Shoulda looked at yer link first...Still applies, but will encourage you to look for a bigger machine than that.
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Unread postAuthor: qwerty » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:21 pm

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Unread postAuthor: ramses » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:07 pm

I'd have to say spend another $20 (and shipping). The main thing with a bigger lathe is more length. You will find that you need a special (and maybe more expensive) set of drills. Remember that the length is specified from the spindle face to the tip of a dead center.

So that 10 inches gets eaten up by the chuck, workpiece, drill chuck and drill.

It'll go fast. The larger spindle bore on the 7x12 will allow you to stick larger diameter work through the spindle out the other side of the headstock. I've managed to do some work on 5' aluminum rods with my mini lathe, but it's not the safest. That end flies around and NEEDS to be supported by something. I simply turned the speed down and put the rod thorough the looped handle of some chemical bottle I had lying around. :D
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:54 pm

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-inch-x-10-inch-precision-mini-lathe-93212.html

This is about the best beginners lathe on the market that I know of. You have to buy tooling, it doesn't come with any but still your better off with this one to learn on. Worth the wait if you have to save your money to get it.
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Unread postAuthor: qwerty » Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:03 pm

Ouch, £324 expensive as i only get £20 pounds pocket money each month, might have to sell some junk on ebay...
Shipping will add quite abit too.

To get started, what tools ect would i need and how much would they add to the price?
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:22 pm

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

Here's a education for ya. I could sit and type all day and you still will have questions, that being said...The link above will answer probably answer most of your questions. If you have any more after going through Mini-lathe.com, then come back and ask. You can also check out http://www.cnczone.com/

Go to mini-lathe first.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:18 pm

A mini late often lacks a compound head, large motor, etc which limits the largest diameter you can turn of harder materials such as steel. This limits their practical material size to less than 2 inches for most harder materials.

Mini lathes are OK if you are building a model boat engine where all the pistons and such are less than 1/2 inch in size. If you are trying to make a steel screw for a home made drill press vise, you will quickly find it does not have enough size, stability, or power to do the job.

A better lathe can cut threads for a drill press vise. A mini late can make screws for a model air plane engine cylinder head. It is basically a watchmaker's tool and undersize for larger parts.
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:25 pm

I have to disagree with you on this one Tech. I have the 8X12 and can turn steel up to 4"s with no problem. The 8X12 is the big brother to the 7X10 but still a mini-lathe in comparison to a South Bend 8X12, or a Bridgeport the same or bigger etc...

A watch makers mini is more along the line of a Unimat or Fox or anything similar to the 2 qwerty posted.

Mini is a bad description to put on these dare I say "middle weight" metal lathes. The 7X10 Seig or Central Machinery is the perfect learning 1st time owner lathe because of it's versatility of being able to do both the little stuff and some of the heavier work.
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Unread postAuthor: Technician1002 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:23 pm

I was thinking of the unimat size when I think of mini. My dad has a Logan and a Unimat. The Unimat uses a sewing machine motor and o rings for belts. It simply does not have the torque to turn anything over about an inch in diameter.
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Unread postAuthor: velocity3x » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:24 pm

qwerty wrote:Why is small so bad?


Because your designs and ability will quickly outgrow the capacity and capability of your mini lathe. Soon after buying it, you'll find the need for a fully grown lathe.
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