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Best metal lathe for a rookie?

plumber123

Plastic
Joined
May 9, 2024
Location
Beverly MA
Hi, I'm looking for advice on buying something hobby use only. I'm always welding and making gadgets and things I need. My friend left me a lot of machine bits etc when he passed. I finally figured out what everything is but I think I need a lathe to use or maybe a monster drill press. Any advice?
 
Hi, I'm looking for advice on buying something hobby use only. I'm always welding and making gadgets and things I need. My friend left me a lot of machine bits etc when he passed. I finally figured out what everything is but I think I need a lathe to use or maybe a monster drill press. Any advice?
Depends on what size the odds and ends are. If they're Morse Taper #2 sized items (or drill bits < 1/2" dia.), a little South Bend lathe might be fun for hobby work.
 
This may be a good deal not far away from you.
Likely the owner found that it was not high enough quality for trans work.

 
Check the hobby forums.

For your needs one of the better Chinese lathes might be good enough but discussion of such machines is forbidden here.

Do your online research, pay attention to pros and cons and then buy the best you can afford and the largest you have room for.
 
If you can, find someone local who is knowledgeable and willing to mentor you. By far, that will be your best resource. Somebody knows somebody who might be willing and will actually enjoy answering questions and demoing various basic machining questions. Find that person. That person is likely a retired guy with a few machines in his home shop.

Denis
 
Cnc may be much better for manufacturing a part.
Manual may be better for one-ups, few ups and learning turning skills.
For a manual lathe good to have a thread cutting, 4jaw chuck, tail chuc a steady.abnd a bench grinder for making special tool bits.
 
Hi, I'm looking for advice on buying something hobby use only. I'm always welding and making gadgets and things I need. My friend left me a lot of machine bits etc when he passed. I finally figured out what everything is but I think I need a lathe to use or maybe a monster drill press. Any advice?
To get started, I'd get a used South Bent 9 inch lathe, and learn lathe operation on it before considering anything larger. Aside from complexity, the larger lathes can be quite dangerous to the uninitiated, so it's best to make your initial mistakes on something smaller.

There is an immense ecosystem for these SB lathes, so parts and more importantly advice and help are widely available.
 
I think I need a lathe to use or maybe a monster drill press
Those are 2 totally different types of machines.

Any advice?

Yes.
Do some soul searching to find out exactly it is that you want to do. Then take a class at a local community college.

If you buy shit, you're going to get shit. Save your money until you can afford a halfass decent machine not some flimsy hobby piece of shit from Harbor Freight.
 
Tell us more about what you are making, so we have an idea of the size.

A 9" South Bend is a great starter lathe - good machine, parts are available, even rebuild manuals and kits are available, and chances are you can sell it for close to what you paid when you decide to upgrade.

If you are planning on gun barrel work, a 9 won't do, you'd need to go to a heavy 10 to fit the barrel thru the spindle.

Do some searching for tips on evaluating a lathe. You don't want a really worn bed; a little is OK, but nothing really shot. Check the teeth on every gear, run it through all its motions. If you don't know how to do that, and the seller knows how, don't be shy to ask him to run it.

Also, what's your budget?

Steve
 








 
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