Consideraing getting a metal machine which would be more useful.

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Been looking at benchtop lathes and or mills .......... Everything I have been looking at has a 1.5 or 2 hp motor .

I have used them before and on occasion still do, but thinking it would be really cool to have something I can make tooling and other parts with.

I have been leaning more towards the mill since I can change it into a cnc driven unit later.

Any one have or can offer opinions on which would be better as the 1st bought piece ? it would be appreciated.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
The short answer is both.
Your intuition is correct on the mill being used more, but often the mill is used to detail turned pieces.
Short small pieces can be turned in the mill by putting the stock in the headstock and clamping the turning tool in the vise.
The mill can be sinfully accurate for some woodworking joints if you don't mind the sawdust cleanup.

Accessories are always an added expense. Either machine is worthless without them.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I have 2 hp metal lathe (pictured below)
I think the horsepower figure is meaningless if not downright deceptive if used as a buying criteria. Too much horsepower on a small machine will stress the casting strength. Look for a machine made from good castings from a Meehanite certified foundry.

1 2 HP lathe - 1.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oka

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
@bob vaughan Holy Crap ! Isn't that a tad big for turning a door knob ? :p

I know the HP is just a reference ......... for me not just casting but how parts are precision machined or casted, whether the power feed lead screw has back lash adjustment or not , if it has ball oilers or not, and on and on, I guess my thinking is based on my need to fab special parts the mill seems more the way to go. Lathes are more forgiving and less trig/math.
Just curious what others do.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Woodworking tooling generally involves a rotating shaft of some sort, thus the predominate use of a metal lathe for woodworking machine support.
A 'for instance' is using the metal lathe to sharpen a mortising chisel. There are other methods for this job, but nothing beats a ground edge for sharp.
While the Dremel holder was done on a mill, it could have just as easily been done with a hack saw. the thread is 5/8-11, the same thread used on hand grenade fuses, a useless but fun fact a friend recently shared with me.

1 2 HP lathe 2 - 1.jpg
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
HA ! That looks like a jig I would make. I'll see if I can find the pix of my jerry-rigged setup on a Bridgeport to cut threads on a rod. I put the material in the Chuck and set up stepper to collect a string I ran around the rod to turn it.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Having these machines in your own shop to use at your own will is nice for the long term. For the short term, it always seems you're spending more and more money just to get the things for your own shop. I suspect that few employees know what their employers actually spend to have that equipment available for work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oka

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Agreed, in the short term, it does seem like a lot of money going out. And Yes, almost universally, emplyees think companies are making buckets of money and destroying tools .......well np, we can just get more.
What was frustrating for me was I sold off so much when I moved to Hawaii only to find out so many tools I thought would not be a problem to replace really are a pain to get here.
Further, here in Honolulu there are only 2 real machine shops, both charge too much and their QC is not much better mine ...... plus it takes them too long to produce.

..
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Sounds like you'll be in the catbird seat for a new career, or at least some good "beer and pizza" money when you get your shop set up.
 
  • Thanks
Reactions: Oka

Hmerkle

Board of Directors, Vice President
Hank
Corporate Member
Oka,
Given the opportunity, space and money - I would opt for a Bridgeport (not a J-Style - tube mounted head - you want the dovetail mounting)
Here on the mainland - you can find they reasonably priced on the used market - not sure in Hawaii - but thinking there might be some government surplus finds for a good hunter - same with a lathe.

As for the Lathe make - it really depends on how big you want to be, but I had to wipe away a little drool seeing Bob's LeBLOND!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oka

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
Many of the used metal lathe and mills available for sale have 3 phase motors on them. Those would require changing the motor out and replacing with a single phase unit, or installing a phase converter to power it up. Be sure you know the phase requirements on the unit you are looking at. My shop is crowded with machines and work benches. At one time I was considering buying a Smithy Granite lathe/mill combo; Grizzly makes similar machines for a good price also. If I had the room I'd want stand alone machines though, as the extra steps to reset the machine can be annoying.
 

cmboggs

Chris
User
My $0.02 would be start with a lathe.

When I was learning machining that’s where we started. Then learned how to use a lathe as a mill with the cutter mounted in the chuck aAfter that it was on to the Bridgeport.

As for make and model, I’ve been looking into Precision Mathews (https://www.precisionmatthews.com/) and Sherline (Sherline Products – Sherline offers the world's most complete line of precision mini-benchtop manual and CNC lathes, milling machines, and machine-shop accessories for light-industrial and home-shop use.). Both of these are newer, smaller, products that interface well with all the vintage stuff floating around. And can be turned over to CNC pretty easily. Both have a ton of great support.

As an aside, it is somewhat funny how quickly the price can go up when looking at machine equipment (or woodworking “support”). Metal working has a really high barrier to entry when compared to woodworking. And of course the more precise you want to go, the higher the price gets. It makes me sad when I see a lot of great lathes/mills sold for scrap when all they need is a good home.
 

bobsmodels

Bob
Senior User
I would add that if your going to get a lathe and mill, spend some time looking. I would recommend a Bridgeport Mill, it is most common. As for a lathe I am partial to at least 12" again this size is common. In both cases take your time and look at them in person. It will be real apparent on the condition when you inspect. Here is a link, it has some advice. Adventures With Klunkers

I primarily do metal working. My wood shop can be seen in my article on installing a Dust collection system that used to be in the library (which I do not see any longer). I have a 15", 12", 7" and small Sherline lathes, also a BP, Clausing Vertical and horizontal mills. Do not hesitate to purchase a 3PH machine as long as you have 220, you can get away with 110 but less efficient, by just purchasing a VFD control. I have them on most of my machines and they would add about $200 for a nice one for either a BP or 12" lathe and give you the ability to have speed control.

One other thing to consider, get as much tooling as you can. A rule of thumb is if you purchase a machine without tooling you will spend at least half the cost again in tooling.

Here are a few shots of my equipment. You can see the VFD's.

Good Hunting

Bob
Bridgeport-EM.jpg
Clausing-5904 EM.jpg
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I'll second the motion on three phase for metalworking equipment. Get a rotary phase converter and series a couple of starter controls at each machine. That way, when you approach the machine you hit start for the phase converter, then start for the machine. Reversing drum switches allow instant reverse for things like tapping. I've been running this rig since 1996 so it was way before VFDs were common.

1 2 HP lathe - 3.jpg


1 mill control.jpg
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Thanks Guys, I have used both a Bridgeport mill, and Southbend metal lathe in the past. My Issue is not the equipment or how to use it per say , it is; I really only have space for bench-top units. A Bridgeport would not fit height-wise, so I ll have to wait until I move next year. I did look at a Leblond Regal lathe... looks like the one you have, but it is just too big.
My end game here longer term is to have a couple smaller units, the bench-top mill I going to eventually turn into a cnc and then get a better mill and better lathe once I have a real shop. MY final equipment list once I move is those 2 and a new table saw, I also have a 1940 Clausing Drill press but it is too tall for this Garage really.
 

Hmerkle

Board of Directors, Vice President
Hank
Corporate Member
We can't wait to spend your money next year Oka! Looking forward to your move and all the machinery you look at along the journey!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oka

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
LOL ! NP Let me know how much Ya'll have and I'll spend yours too !! I am good at spending....... got that part down, know the savings part ..... well still work in progress ..... :p we are all tool addicts, and what my plan is once I retire to make sure I have the toys I want ;)

We can't wait to spend your money next year Oka! Looking forward to your move and all the machinery you look at along the journey!
 

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top