Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

All discussion about lathes including but not limited to: South Bend, Hardinge, Logan, Monarch, Clausing and other HSM lathes, including imports

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mihit
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by mihit » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:52 am

I realise I'm late to the party, but I'll have at it anyway!
I'll second the "get a lathe first" - Doubters, you just try making a lathe with your mill...
SteveHGraham wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:27 am
You will have to have a threading dial if you want to thread.
The only thing I've ever used a threading dial for is a four-start thread. Absolutely not required to do plain threads.
I prefer a mill to a lathe for a number of reasons. You can't make straight cuts on a lathe without a milling attachment, and these attachments are pretty feeble. If you want to drill things on a lathe, you have to mount them to the spindle somehow, and because you can't move the drill bit, you have to remount the work every time you drill in a new location. With a mill, you just move the table and drill.
You bloody wot?!
Angle plates, compound vices. The travel/work planes are different, but it's infinitely doable.
You can make a lot of round cuts on a mill, using a rotary table.
Can you make a rotary table on a mill, without a rotary table?




...(The answer is yes, if you use it like a lathe)
I don't understand why people recommend lathes over mills. Much less versatile. I think it's one of those machining myths that appear for no reason and never get shot down, like, "A lathe is the only machine that can reproduce itself." You can't make a lathe with a lathe! No way.
And to you sir, I would say you never learned how to use a lathe properly!

mihit
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by mihit » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:01 am

spro wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:47 pm
New should mean it is ready to go and adjusted correctly
Caveat Emptor!
SHOULD! be ready to go.
I've known people to buy chinese machines, and have to clean out the oil and LEFT OVER CASTING SAND from gearboxes.

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liveaboard
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by liveaboard » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:07 am

I do a fair amount of threading, I do not have a threading dial or a quick change gearbox.
I just reverse the tool back before the next pass.

Change gears are tedious; I sure would prefer a quick change gearbox.
I'd also prefer lots of other things I can't afford...

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SteveHGraham
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by SteveHGraham » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:25 am

Oh, boy. Now we are getting into emotion and bordering on personal attacks. Not really what this forum is about.

1. You can thread without a dial, as I said (conveniently cut out of Mihit's quote). You can also do all your machining with files and a hand drill. It's very stupid, if you can avoid it. Threading dials were invented for a reason. You want one. Furthermore, unless you buy a very strange lathe, you will almost certainly have a dial. I agree with Harold: "Threading dial. Don't get a machine without one. Not unless you don't mind being inconvenienced beyond reason."

2. I don't know what "try making a lathe with your mill" is all about. You can't make a real machine tool in the home shop (and before someone picks apart "real," "real" means a large machine tool comparable to the ones a home machinist already has). The claim that you can reproduce a lathe with the lathe itself is ludicrous. I have a 16" lathe with a 40" bed. Mihit, let me see you use a 16x40 lathe and no other tools to make a 16x40 lathe or even a 7x14. You can't, and neither can anyone else.

Picture yourself trying to mount a one-ton casting in your 8" 3-jaw chuck so you can produce ground ways for a 40" bed. Not likely.

It's amazing that people repeat this myth when it's so obviously untrue. I should go around saying a milling machine is the only machine tool that can turn steel into diamonds. Maybe a hundred years from now, people would still be saying it.

3. Mihit isn't expressing himself with optimal clarity, but it looks like he's trying to say a lathe is just as good as a mill for drilling and milling. Not even close to true, which is why mills and drills exist. When you mill on a lathe, you get a tiny amount of travel, and before you start, you have a vertical mounting job which is harder than putting something on a mill table. Mihit says "doable," but that's not really true. You can do SOME work, the hard way, taking much longer, but you can't do all the work of a 9x49 mill on a lathe. Not possible. It's amazing that we're even discussing it.

4. No idea why he brings up making a rotary table on a mill. Not something most home machinists do. It has nothing to do with helping a newbie pick a lathe, so I'm ignoring it.

5. "And to you sir, I would say you never learned how to use a lathe properly!" Totally unnecessary and not helpful; especially the exclamation point. This is supposed to be a friendly forum.

"Using a lathe properly" doesn't mean "cobbling together desperate, tedious solutions because you lack the proper tools."

If you know you want to focus on a certain type of parts, look at the parts and buy the tool best suited for them. Maybe a lathe is what you want. If you aren't sure what you want to make, but you want to have a versatile tool which will handle a variety of jobs, buy a mill first. It's a mill. It's a super drill press. It can do a lot of what a lathe does.

Look at the CNC world. What do people buy? Mills. They do that because they know they're more versatile. Lathes get much less attention and support, for obvious reasons.
mihit wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:52 am
I realise I'm late to the party, but I'll have at it anyway!
I'll second the "get a lathe first" - Doubters, you just try making a lathe with your mill...
SteveHGraham wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:27 am
You will have to have a threading dial if you want to thread.
The only thing I've ever used a threading dial for is a four-start thread. Absolutely not required to do plain threads.
I prefer a mill to a lathe for a number of reasons. You can't make straight cuts on a lathe without a milling attachment, and these attachments are pretty feeble. If you want to drill things on a lathe, you have to mount them to the spindle somehow, and because you can't move the drill bit, you have to remount the work every time you drill in a new location. With a mill, you just move the table and drill.
You bloody wot?!
Angle plates, compound vices. The travel/work planes are different, but it's infinitely doable.
You can make a lot of round cuts on a mill, using a rotary table.
Can you make a rotary table on a mill, without a rotary table?

...(The answer is yes, if you use it like a lathe)
I don't understand why people recommend lathes over mills. Much less versatile. I think it's one of those machining myths that appear for no reason and never get shot down, like, "A lathe is the only machine that can reproduce itself." You can't make a lathe with a lathe! No way.
And to you sir, I would say you never learned how to use a lathe properly!
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by Harold_V » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:44 pm

SteveHGraham wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:25 am
Oh, boy. Now we are getting into emotion and bordering on personal attacks. Not really what this forum is about.
Pay close attention to that comment. This is not directed towards anyone---but towards EVERYONE!
It is our policy to keep this board free from personal attacks, and bad behavior in general.

State your thoughts politely, sticking to what is true, not what one hopes to be true. Do that without attacking the character of others.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

mihit
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by mihit » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:37 pm

SteveHGraham wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:25 am
Oh, boy. Now we are getting into emotion and bordering on personal attacks. Not really what this forum is about.
There was no personal attack. Your position would indicate, as I stated (even with an exclamation point) that you don't realise the full utility of a lathe. I even called you sir. Try picture an english gent in a tophat with a cane saying it then re-read my post without feeling attacked.
1. You can thread without a dial, as I said (conveniently cut out of Mihit's quote). You can also do all your machining with files and a hand drill. It's very stupid, if you can avoid it. Threading dials were invented for a reason. You want one. Furthermore, unless you buy a very strange lathe, you will almost certainly have a dial. I agree with Harold: "Threading dial. Don't get a machine without one. Not unless you don't mind being inconvenienced beyond reason."
Ignoring the "very stupid" comment. You said "You have to have a threading dial".
I disagree, and don't find the lack of one to be any inconvenience on a daily basis.
2. I don't know what "try making a lathe with your mill" is all about. You can't make a real machine tool in the home shop (and before someone picks apart "real," "real" means a large machine tool comparable to the ones a home machinist already has). The claim that you can reproduce a lathe with the lathe itself is ludicrous. I have a 16" lathe with a 40" bed. Mihit, let me see you use a 16x40 lathe and no other tools to make a 16x40 lathe or even a 7x14. You can't, and neither can anyone else.
It means just that. Try making a lathe with your mill. Any tooling you need, make that with your mill aswell.

The lathe is a very versatile machine. You can use it as a scraper for making long things like lathe beds flat. (Admittedly, this IS tedious)

Pick up Southbend's blue book "how to make a mini lathe" Then make one on your mill. Qualifying it with "real super machine tool" is irrelevant, just complete the process.

I absolutely can, and so could anyone else.
Picture yourself trying to mount a one-ton casting in your 8" 3-jaw chuck so you can produce ground ways for a 40" bed. Not likely.
Ad-absurdium. And I do not, nor recommend, grinding on a lathe. You don't need a chuck, either.
It's amazing that people repeat this myth when it's so obviously untrue.
Except it isn't. Go on, give it a go, you might surprise yourself.
3. Mihit isn't expressing himself with optimal clarity, but it looks like he's trying to say a lathe is just as good as a mill for drilling and milling. Not even close to true, which is why mills and drills exist. When you mill on a lathe, you get a tiny amount of travel, and before you start, you have a vertical mounting job which is harder than putting something on a mill table. Mihit says "doable," but that's not really true. You can do SOME work, the hard way, taking much longer, but you can't do all the work of a 9x49 mill on a lathe. Not possible. It's amazing that we're even discussing it.
Again, just read the words I said, without feeling attacked.
I am not saying a lathe is "as good as" the ideal tool for the job. The work envelope is different, but it. is. infinitely. doable.
4. No idea why he brings up making a rotary table on a mill. Not something most home machinists do. It has nothing to do with helping a newbie pick a lathe, so I'm ignoring it.
Because it's a round thing that can be quite easily made on a lathe. You said "Mills cut round things with a rotary table".
WHY i bought it up, is that you can make the tool you need for the mill, on the lathe. Again, demonstrating the utility of the lathe and one advantage over a mill.
5. "And to you sir, I would say you never learned how to use a lathe properly!" Totally unnecessary and not helpful; especially the exclamation point. This is supposed to be a friendly forum.
Given what you insist a lathe cannot do, indeed your mill fanboy-ism and even lathe bashing (constant negative language "stupid, tedious, can't, myth, not possible, ") I felt it appropriate to point out, for the Newbie, the extent of a) the lathe's usefulness and b) the limit of your learning or experience.
"Using a lathe properly" doesn't mean "cobbling together desperate, tedious solutions because you lack the proper tools."
Necessity is the mother of all invention.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
While I agree that the best tool is the right one, often times the right tool is the best one you have. I haven't found any of my (personal) lathe work to be desperate nor tedious.
If you know you want to focus on a certain type of parts, look at the parts and buy the tool best suited for them. Maybe a lathe is what you want. If you aren't sure what you want to make, but you want to have a versatile tool which will handle a variety of jobs, buy a mill first. It's a mill. It's a super drill press. It can do a lot of what a lathe does.

Look at the CNC world. What do people buy? Mills. They do that because they know they're more versatile. Lathes get much less attention and support, for obvious reasons.
The CNC world is 5 axis machine centres. Why? For obvious reasons. (The combination of lathe, mill and pantograph)

"Buy a mill first" - OK, that's your advice, fine. (You're obviously talking about a vertical mill) It's well and good for you to point out the utility of a milling machine, but that shouldn't be to the detriment of any other machine.
Last edited by mihit on Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mihit
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by mihit » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:44 pm

And what is the cost difference between a Vertical mill and Lathe of comparable work envelope? I would think that a knee mill would be much more expensive.

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SteveHGraham
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by SteveHGraham » Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:55 pm

Mihit's posts on this matter are obviously not the most helpful, and my continuing to point out the obvious would be a waste of everyone's time. What I wrote is correct, and I hope the OP finds it useful.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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pat1027
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by pat1027 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:19 pm

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

The decisions which machine(s) and lathe then mill or mill then lathe are really driven by what you are going to make and how near and dear you money is. I like the 3595 over the 5200. The compound cantilevering out like it does on both of them though not so much.

I started with an Atlas 618, I got it cheap and it got me started. Initially I intended just to build some 7-1/2" gauge cars and it was fine for wheel and axles. Bigger stiffer more powerful would have been nice turning wheels but you can do more work with what you have than catalog pictures. Later I changed my mind and decided to start a locomotive and picked up a 9" South Bend. It's a light machine and I can't hog away as fast as guys with big machines. But it brought a quick change back gears and a power cross feed. Now I can set the feed and relax for a minute or two. Turning the drivers was a challenge but I will say as an amateur I am not troubled by having used to small a machine. I take pleasure in having done it and succeeded. Would a 12" be nicer? Yes. Am I going to step up? Probably not.

I did fall into the trap of carbide inserts but managed to wiggle free.

shorttrackhack
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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by shorttrackhack » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:04 pm

I would recommend getting a saw and a welder first. Then again, I am a fabricator that just uses machines to fabricate better stuff than I could without them.

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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by Harold_V » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:57 am

pat1027 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:19 pm
I did fall into the trap of carbide inserts but managed to wiggle free.
That's an interesting comment, one that needs to be read and understood.

Those who have the intestinal fortitude to read my ravings are all too familiar with my admonition to avoid that trap. Not doing so robs an individual from learning one of the most valuable lessons that is to be learned in the shop--the one of grinding cutting tools. That skill, above most others, will permit a guy to take cuts that most likely would not have been successful with insert tooling. It's hard to understand, and many will argue the point, but the harsh reality is the use of HSS tool bits on light duty machines is far better than the use of carbide (there are exceptions).

Thanks for your contribution.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

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Re: Newbie - Buying first metal lathe

Post by BigDumbDinosaur » Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:12 am

Some thoughts on which should come first: lathe or mill.

A large number of the parts that have gone into my F7 were produced by a laser shop as blanks or formed subassemblies (e.g., the frame sections). Many others were fabricated by me using the machines in my shop: an Arboga geared drill press, a Wells horizontal band saw (rescued years ago, along with the drill press, from a machine shop auction), a powerful belt and disc sander, and a 250 amp MIG welder (as well as the ancient Lincoln AC225 I purchased in the mid-1970s). Of course, I have an assortment of hand and power tools, most of the latter being pneumatic. Point is, about 80 percent of the parts made for my F-unit were produced with nothing more than the above resources.

That said, there are precision components that had to be produced in a lathe and/or mill. Although skilled with both machines, I own neither and hence I've been dependent on others to do my machine work for me. For a long time, I had an arrangement with a local machine shop whereby I'd get my machine work done at no charge if I provided them with the raw material/blanks. In exchange, they got computers and repair parts at cost, along with free service. This arrangement came to an end in late 2017 when the shop closed down and liquidated. Since then, I've been imposing on a friend who has machine tools, but feel a bit like a welfare leech in doing so.

If I were to suddenly come into money—sufficient to purchase machinery without feeling like I'm stealing food off the dinner table—my first purchase would be a good lathe, probably an older American-made unit. Parts in my locomotive that were produced in a lathe outnumber those produced in a mill. In years past when I used to build race cars, I spent much more time on a lathe than I did on a mill. So I would purchase the machine from which I would likely get the most use, which would be a lathe.

Of course, if the money was available, a mill would be added to my shop. However, it's all wishful thinking at this point in time—I'm at an age where visits to the doctor seem to outnumber trips to the shop. :D
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