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Old 07-23-2008, 05:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Yet another "I need help picking a lathe thread"

Well Iím looking for a lathe, but this isnít a ďwhat lathe is idealĒ thread. Building a garage is 2-3 years down our to do list, so what Iím looking for is something that I can get down a flight of stairs into my basement, then get out of the basement one day. Iím going to be looking to do mainly bolts & internal pieces and nelson tube sized components. Iím buying this fully knowing that Iíll have to buy a new unit down the road if it becomes a serious hobby.

Iíve gone through all the previous threads, but they all focus around getting the best sized lathe, as opposed to the smallest that you can deal with. In the specs on these models, the 9x19 has a shipping weight of 300 lbs which is a little much in my situation. Some of the older craftsman lathes that have been mentioned here are 180 lbs or so, but have been unable to find one locally (Calgary a great place to buy surplus industrial machines, but not so much on the hobby/recreational use side for some reason). Iíve also found the 7x12 in a 7x14 version for a similar price.

G8688 7" x 12" Mini Metal Lathe

House of Tools - Force Precision Mini Lathe - Metalworking Machines Metalworking Machinery Lathes, MetalMetal Lathes - Item Description

Iím also in Canada so not everyone will ship up here, especially used items, so Iím looking for something thatís readily available and as big as possible staying under the 200 lb mark. Anyone know of an 8x + unit that's not 300 lbs?

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The thing about the 7x12" lathes and the small lathes in general is that you have to change the gears to perform different threading operations and this can be a pain if you do a lot of threading. Also they are not that rigid but will machine brass and aluminum just fine or harder materials in real small increments. If you get a 7x12", get the cheapest one you can find.

Get the 9" x 19" and use 3-4 people to move it. Bolt it to some cross 2x4's or something for movement. The 9x19 is a much more capable lathe. Threading operations can be performed quickly and the machine is more rigid. Speed changes require moving the belt, but that is a quick operation compared to changing the gears on a 7x12.

If you get a 9x19, you would want to get a 4 bolt compound hold down, as opposed to the 2 bolt that comes with it, as it is not rigid enough.
That is this product: LittleMachineShop.com - Four Bolt Compound Hold Down for 9x20 Lathe

You also want to get a quick change tool post, regardless of the lathe you get.
LittleMachineShop.com - QC Tool Posts: Tool Posts
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i have a 7''x14'' and i wish i would have gone bigger for sure. some day i'll get something better. i'd say get the 9''x19'' for a small "moveable" lathe as BrianHindt said.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Does Canada have harbor frieght?

Id second the 9x19 or the 8x12 lathes they have for what you describe. If when you decide to build your garage you can always buy a larger one and use the smaller lathe for dedicated service.

If thats not an option, you should try micro-mark. Its a highly modified mini lathe and has rave reviews by its users.
Tools and Supplies for Building Scale Models | Micro-Mark: The Small Tool Specialists
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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the micro-mark 7 x 14 is the lathe i bought.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hmm, thanks for the input guys, I'm going to go do some searching, see what's available to Canada in an 8x.

C6, what are you limited to on the Micro-mark?
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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C6, what are you limited to on the Micro-mark?
I would be very interested to hear the answer to this as well. Ive been wrestling with myself over turning my not so large garage into a tinkerers playground, since I only plan on making small, at most pgp length parts if a smaller size lathe would get it done it would make my day.
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hit princess auto. They have a little dinky lathe that you should be able to move by yourself. I am not sure of the exact size, maybe 7x11. Not sure of the quality however. IIRC it has a power feed.

A good option is also busy bee ( run by the brother of the guy that runs grizzly). Put an add in your local Triad ( free buy sell and trade), I had a WTB in and got a bunch of calls on lathes.

If you are looking specifcally for an old craftsman type, try also searching atlas and southbend, they were the manufacturers of a lot of them.

BTW you can move a fairly good size lathe with just a pickup truck and an engine hoist. We got a 12x39 home that way, without pulling it off the stand.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've read a lot of bad reviews on the princess auto model, so I'm hesitant on that. I've looked at busybee, and might have a line on a used 10x18 locally but I haven't heard back from the seller.

Thanks for the info, back to the search I go.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I got this one and I like it a lot...

Link to Wholesale Tool page

I was able to get it into my basement by myself pretty much. You can take most of it apart. It was the smallest lathe that I found that had a 1 inch bore through spindle, so I could do barrels if I wished.

When it was on-sale around Christmas it was closer to $1100.
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