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Mini/micro lathe

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Geoff Sleath12/02/2019 19:44:39
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3145 forum posts
247 photos

I'm toying with the idea of 'investing' in a small lathe. I'm very much a beginner and just want to be able to make small parts as well as learn a bit. I don't have much space and one of these small lathes might just fit on one of my benches.

There's the Axminster series C1 Micro lathe. The main drawback is that it doesn't have a compound slide so machining tapers would be very difficult if not impossible. However I'm not sure if it's a necessary feature but suspect it might be useful.

Another possibility is the Amadeal CJ18A Mini Lathe which is a bit bigger but still doable. This does have a compound slide and other accessories are available.

For both lathes I'd need tools and a tailstock chuck, at least.

Has anyone any experience of either? Am I wasting my money (apart from the fact I can't actually justify buying either if I were being coldly practical.)

Geoff

Don Fry12/02/2019 20:27:29
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3129 forum posts
38 photos

If you are buying new, with basic tooling and bits, £700, £800?

I have a machine which is functionally identical to the C1. It's a good little lathe. Once in a while, you get a job, and you are pleased you have a lathe. But for our uses, count up its uses. £800 is a lot of time purchased off the likes of Ken King.

Levanter12/02/2019 20:59:39
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819 forum posts
428 photos

Hello Geoff

You should look on the sister site modelengineer where this question gets asked lots of times with some very helpful replies. The link should take you directly to the mini-lathe threads You will also find it is possible to turn tapers without a compound slide by offsetting the tailstock.

There are lots of considerations and for some the hole through the headstock spindle might be too small, what diameter do you want to swing? and the list goes on.

You can easily spend as much on tooling as you do on the machine and remember you can do small parts on a big lathe but not the other way around.

I was very lucky. I picked up a Proxxon 400 being sold on behalf of a customer of Lancaster Model and Hobby World about 4 years ago. It came with a whole load of tools and the milling attachment. All for the price of the basic lathe.

About the best advice I can give is if you but new, go to a reputable dealer. If you buy secondhand, get someone who knows about lathe to have a gander.

Finally, don't be coldly practical. Once you have one you won't look back as it opens a whole new world and is immensely satisfying.

I know you have Thames Barge on the go which will need some fittings.

Levanter.

Outrunner12/02/2019 21:10:43
22 forum posts
1 photos

Which lathe to buy question is a minefield a bit like the which transmitter is the best one to buy. Sorry I can't answer your question directly as I don't own a mini lathe, but I can recommend a good place to buy one from **LINK**

I have purchased tooling from Arc Euro and they are an excellent company to deal with. Have a search on the Model Engineer forum for Mini lathes, they have been discussed many times before. **LINK**

Phil.

Ray Wood 412/02/2019 21:43:13
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23 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Geoff,

Once you have one it opens up a whole new world, once you have a lathe you will realize you need milling of flat surfaces, so a top side is the way to go, i,'ve had 2 Myford ML7's as the classic model engineering machine and although initially expensive second hand, they hold their price and sell easily and accessories are available, you will need a 3 jaw & 4 jaw chucks if buying second hand the machine may have all the bits with it.

Good luck

Regards Ray

Geoff Sleath13/02/2019 00:05:43
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3145 forum posts
247 photos

Thanks everyone. I'm still thinking but I have signed onto the Model Engineer forum (same log in as here).

I'm sure an ML7 would suit me perfectly but I simply don't have the space for one. My father had a Harrison lathe which I tried to use occasionally but for some reason he never would show me how to use it properly. He'd help me out by doing it.

Geoff

Martin Harris13/02/2019 01:38:45
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8179 forum posts
206 photos

...talking of which, there's a useful facility on their (almost identical) website to this one and presumably run by the same techies that allows you to do a much better search of the site - which includes the forum. I appreciate that you can point Google in the right direction with a manual search but this seems much easier.

There's a discussion here if the powers that be might like to consider getting a similar bit of code added?

TartanMac13/02/2019 02:02:23
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245 forum posts
150 photos
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/7-12-Mini-Metal-Turning-Lathe-machine-Automatic-Metal-Wood-Drilling-600W/253521972470?_mwBanner=1&ul_ref=https%3A%2F%2Frover.ebay.com%2Frover%2F0%2Fe11051.m43.l1123%2F7%3Feuid%3D90be325eacb44059b276c201dac1b873%26bu%3D43052585276%26loc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ebay.co.uk%252Fulk%252Fitm%252F253521972470%26sojTags%3Dbu%3Dbu%26srcrot%3De11051.m43.l1123%26rvr_id%3D0%26rvr_ts%3De486521c1680ac750a440cc2ffeffcff&ul_noapp=true&pageci=2502735c-cba7-403c-aaae-48d3da4c528f

This is what I'm looking at getting. The supplier is getting restocked in March. The spec looks good I've been watching Steve Jordan on YT he was in the aerospace industry for around 15 years from memory and he has modded his Chinese mini lathe for more accuracy and also shows how to do milling with it with an L bracket.
Percy Verance13/02/2019 06:39:35
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7385 forum posts
143 photos

Levanter

That Proxxon lathe you got had hardly been used. I knew the original owner well, and I was the unfortunate soul whom carried it 30 odd yards to his workshop where it eventually was set-up. The chap became quite ill not long after buying it, and sadly passed away after a lengthy stay in hospital. Lancaster Model Shop acquired it as part of a *job lot* when his daughters needed to clear his house. He owned no less than 6 ( yes 6 ) Saito radial engines - all unrun - plus dozens of other coveted types, such as his collection of 10 or so Lasers. I have no idea where they went.

 

Edited By Percy Verance on 13/02/2019 06:45:28

Denis Watkins13/02/2019 06:42:28
3388 forum posts
151 photos
Posted by TartanMac on 13/02/2019 02:02:23:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/7-12-Mini-Metal-Turning-Lathe-machine-Automatic-Metal-Wood-Drilling-600W/253521972470?_mwBanner=1&ul_ref=https%3A%2F%2Frover.ebay.com%2Frover%2F0%2Fe11051.m43.l1123%2F7%3Feuid%3D90be325eacb44059b276c201dac1b873%26bu%3D43052585276%26loc%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.ebay.co.uk%252Fulk%252Fitm%252F253521972470%26sojTags%3Dbu%3Dbu%26srcrot%3De11051.m43.l1123%26rvr_id%3D0%26rvr_ts%3De486521c1680ac750a440cc2ffeffcff&ul_noapp=true&pageci=2502735c-cba7-403c-aaae-48d3da4c528f

This is what I'm looking at getting. The supplier is getting restocked in March. The spec looks good I've been watching Steve Jordan on YT he was in the aerospace industry for around 15 years from memory and he has modded his Chinese mini lathe for more accuracy and also shows how to do milling with it with an L bracket.

Link **LINK**

Levanter13/02/2019 07:19:49
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819 forum posts
428 photos

Hi Percy


That's a sad story but thank you for recounting it. I was very lucky to get it as I know there was considerable interest at the time. As soon as I saw the Ad I called Lancaster and paid a deposit for the asking price to hold it while organising full payment and shipping. They made a great job of crating it and it arrived in Mallorca without a scratch. I bribed two young lads from the ferreteria opposite to get it into my flat and onto a cabinet bench I bough from a local tool merchant. One of my better purchases and though I say so myself, has gone to a good home.

Using it for some model boat fittings right now.

Levanter

John Rudd13/02/2019 07:38:02
92 forum posts
2 photos

Geoff,

Arceurotrade sell the Sieg SC3 mini lathe, I think they may have on offer atm....They advertise over on the model engineer forum. I have one, lots of tooling and extras, great little machine and has a brushless motor too. Be careful, some of the other minilathes have dc brushed motors and are prone to failing motors/speed controllers....

supertigrefan13/02/2019 10:24:55
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685 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by Martin Harris on 13/02/2019 01:38:45:

...talking of which, there's a useful facility on their (almost identical) website to this one and presumably run by the same techies that allows you to do a much better search of the site - which includes the forum. I appreciate that you can point Google in the right direction with a manual search but this seems much easier.

There's a discussion here if the powers that be might like to consider getting a similar bit of code added?

.....or just Google your query followed by 'Model engineering forum' rather than use the lame search engines provided with the providers package, it's what I do on here when I need a search.

kc13/02/2019 11:19:56
5801 forum posts
167 photos

I cannot really advise what modern lathe to buy but I will say a Unimat ( original type) was too small to be of much use for moderate size items while a Myford ML7 is so much more useful.

Whatever you choose make sure you get all the item with special fitings or special threads - at the initial stage because these foreign lathes come and go from the market quickly. Anything for a Myford is always available, but not so for many other lathes.

If the tailstock has a Morse taper then tailstock drill chucks etc are easily available, but for those lathes without standard tapers it could be very difficult to buy later. You might be able to get a chuck threaded for most lathes, but things like steadies and vertical slides etc may never be available in a years time. Therefore the initial outlay for a s/h Myford could be less than for a cheaper lathe because the myford accessories are easily available so you don't need to buy all at once.

Gordon Tarling14/02/2019 09:21:27
222 forum posts
4 photos

There's a lot of info on this website - LINK Unfortunately, it would seem that he now has started charging for access to some of it.

John Duncker14/02/2019 15:23:17
64 forum posts
7 photos

I have decided I want a small lathe and have been doing my homework. I will be buying what is the base model Chinese mini lathe at 7 x 12 with the dc brushed motor. There is a huge installed user base and many sources of info. start with **LINK** and then read up on Varmint Al

The early base models at speed control issues but that is mostly fixed now. If you manage to stall it and the magic smoke escapes the controller can be fixed fairly easily and there are people around who will fix it for you.

There is one oddity though, they are likely to be supplied in the UK with a imperial leadscrew at 20 TPI but metric lead screws on the cross slide and compound. Not a problem is seems but odd. Imperial mods are available.

They come in a bewildering variety of colors lengths and accessories but the base lathe is made by Sieg.

It is clear that they are thrown together at the factory by workers on piecework they do work 'out of the box' as they are no longer thickly smeared with heavy grease but just a light coating of an anti rust agency. However accuracy and finish quality can be improved by careful adjustements. Well documented on many sites as well as Youtube.

Dane Crosby14/02/2019 16:56:03
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235 forum posts
23 photos

I am still using my ancient Unimat SL. It has no obvious wear and has many chucks, centres and attachments. Tools are readily available and I enjoy making small and tiny parts with it.

Sourcing drive belts can be a headache but there are ways around that.

kc14/02/2019 17:04:41
5801 forum posts
167 photos

The Peatol lathe has been around for decades ( remember them at the Model Engineer Ex and being advertised in RCME ? ) and is much cheaper than others especially if you use your own motor ( ex washing m/c etc ) and might be the cheapest satisfactory lathe.

John Rudd14/02/2019 17:17:24
92 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by John Duncker on 14/02/2019 15:23:17:

the base lathe is made by Sieg.

It is clear that they are thrown together at the factory by workers on piecework they do work 'out of the box' as they are no longer thickly smeared with heavy grease but just a light coating of an anti rust agency. However accuracy and finish quality can be improved by careful adjustements. Well documented on many sites as well as Youtube.

On what evidence do you base that statement, that they are thrown together?

As a Sieg minilathe owner I feel I must defend this particular product of theirs....I've had no issues at all with mine, nor with the minimill that I subsequently bought...As a time served engineering apprentice, I have the experience and lnowledge on how to use these machines, not someone who has bought on a whim to make a few bits for model aircraft.....

If you buy a mini lathe from one of the reputable suppliers (Arceurotrade...no affiliation, just a satisfied customer....) their minilathe does not require any setup at all or any careful adjustments....Ketan the owner of Arc has a very close relationship with Sieg, so a purchase from him is likely to be of the highest quality...

PeterF14/02/2019 19:56:27
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382 forum posts
555 photos
Posted by kc on 14/02/2019 17:04:41:

The Peatol lathe has been around for decades ( remember them at the Model Engineer Ex and being advertised in RCME ? ) and is much cheaper than others especially if you use your own motor ( ex washing m/c etc ) and might be the cheapest satisfactory lathe.

I have a Peatol lathe with compound slide and milling attachment, normal chucks and a collet set. I have found it very useful for a lot of small items, spinner nuts, scale details, pulleys etc. I have cut aluminium, brass, carbon steel and stainless steel using a small set of replaceable tip carbide tools. It really came in really useful when completing the scale detail on my quarter scale Tiger Moth.

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