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Lathe question

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Unread 09-11-2011, 11:46 AM
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Location: greenwood, IN
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Re: Lathe question

Originally Posted by straightshooter View Post
I am looking to buy. The add had a video link and after thinking it all the way through, this machine is just way to big. It would be a big headache to even have it unloaded. If anyone can utilize this machine, it is in the las vegas craigslist and the cost is $3000, but like I said, this machine is huge.

Just some history. I am taking a machinist course and want to have a machine of my own so I can practice a lot more. My goal is to do precision gunsmith work truing actions, chambering, head spacing, and treading barrels. I may also decide to contour barrels in the future. I am looking at 3 types of lathes. The cheap import lathes-reason, to have a new lathe (don't have the skill to grade used lathes), also the lathe will be used in a two car garage. The second type is a good quality used lathe like a 16" Hardinge etc.-reason, max size that I feel I could get to fit in my garage shop, a machine I could grow with, capable to do everything. The last type is a used toolroom style lathe-reason, small enough for my shop, may have a little extra precision from what I have read. Any suggestions from smiths that specialize in building precision bolt action rifles would be greatly appreciated.
Your thinking right! You just don't need a large tool room lathe, unless you plan on doing work on the side. For 98% of the folks here an 8" or 10" lathe will do it all.

Never seen a 16" Hardingh hand lathe, but then again I've not seen everything in life. Right now the best new lathe a guy can buy (for what we are doing) is probably a Colechester out of the UK. Excellent quality, and somewhat overbuilt. But then they don't come cheap. I don't think Monarch Sidney builds hand lathes anymore, as they are now part of LeBlond Makino. A real shame. The LeBland Regal line is fairly good, but beware of the servo setup in the headstock (we'd probably never have a problem, but the mechanism is known for failure). They tend to need a rescrape every five years or so. Stay away from the Southwest Tracs and their clones. Simply junk on a good day! What you really need is a 10"x42" lathe (an 8" chuck will do just fine). I would be on the hunt for a Southbend (an original one), and rebuild it as I got the time.

Whatever lathe you buy, your gonna have to tool it up. I like Buck Chucks over all the others. The Alorus Tool block has become the standard, but there are a couple others just as good. Don't get sucked into buying the smallest one. But the middle sized one, as it has a much bigger varity of tool holders. They make a tooling head for the Alorus that uses collet sleeves to hold boring bars. Buy this one! Everybody has their favorite brand of boring bars, and it's hard to beat a Sandvik or a Kennmetal. But there are others as well. Buy good ones as they seem to have better anti vibration properties. A couple small carbide ones are also nice to have. The Alorus threading heads are very nice and resharpenable. You'll also want a good drill chuck. I like the Jacobs ball bearing chucks as they are easilly rebuildable, and down the road that option pays for itself. (also much more accurate) You don't need an Albreight in a lathe, so don't get talked into one of them. Buy a good spray mist coolant tank that runs off air pressure. (they make small one gallon ones). Of course your gonna need some measuring tools (mics upto 3" will get you by)

I learned to run a lathe on a Southbend, and then moved upto an American and a LeBlond lathe that was much bigger. It's all the same in principal, so don't worry about that part. In that shop each lathe man had a Monarch and an American Precision lathe except for yours truly! But later I had a 10" Monarch with scales on it, and was ruined! I highly recommend the addition of scales if you have the money! I've since installed about thirty sets on tool room lathes. I personally like Anilam as they seem to be straiter and easier to install. Nothing wrong with the more common Hidenham, but they are not as strait out of the box. These days I wouldn't own a lathe without scales!
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Unread 09-11-2011, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 208
Re: Lathe question

Thanks everyone for the replies. I have always received really good advice from this sight.
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