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Selecting a lathe.

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Old 02-28-2012, 03:16 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 38
Selecting a lathe.

I'm a relatively newly licensed manufacturer of firearms, mostly for building ARs. I've had a few barrels threaded for muzzle brakes and would like to start looking for a lathe to perform these operations myself; along with chambering barrels and other operations common to a gunsmith's lathe. Also i would like be able to build suppressors, (not until i am licensed for that), but would want that capability out of my lathe. I have no clue where to start looking or what is needed. I have never used a metal lathe before but am familiar with similar tools. Any help / advise would be appreciated.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:42 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Allen, TX
Posts: 2,608
Re: Selecting a lathe.

Just over a year ago, I was considering a lathe for hobby gunsmithing.

I ended up going with a new Grizzly so that I'd have a little better support/comfort.

If I was in your position, I'd hire someone with extensive experience either full time or as a consultant.

It's never about what you're able to read/learn. It always comes down to what you don't know. And, experience is key.

From the lack of response to your post, I'd say the experts here are reluctant to offer advice as it would take volumes to be worthwhile.

Nonetheless, they are usually always more than happy to answer specific questions.

Best of luck!
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Old 03-01-2012, 02:16 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 38
Re: Selecting a lathe.

I did look at a new grizzly online the other day, I just didn't know if there were any online sources that specifically sold different lathes new and or used. I have been considering taking gunsmith classes where I could learn to use a lathe for my applications. Anyone know of a web site that has variouse lathes? An online search for me didn't turn up what I was looking for.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:11 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 796
Re: Selecting a lathe.

Birmingham is a good brand for import lathes but they are considerably more than Grizzly. Spend as much as you can upfront so you don't outgrow it or wish for something of better quality down the road.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:02 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 71
Re: Selecting a lathe.

Grizzly is good and also check out Baileigh Industrial. Both have reasonable priced pieces that with operator skill will work for gunsmithing. Try and get ahold of some take off barrels or discards to practice on. Shorten them up rechamber reinstall and shoot for accuracy. The learning curve is pretty steep for match quality machining. GOOD LUCK
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:00 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: greenwood, IN
Posts: 3,546
Re: Selecting a lathe.

you need to know right upfront wether or not your going to use three phase electricity (440 vt.) or not. If you do go the three phase route, you'll suddenly open the door for a bunch of equipment that you could get to before. If you have three phase the best current production lathes are the Hardingh bench lathe (an AR barrel fits nicely inside the spindle). The other would be a Colechester out of the UK. The rest are distant. If you can find a good used Monarch Double E that will handle an eight or ten inch chuck, you'd be way out front.

Single phase equipment is really ment for the hobbiest first, and manufacturing last. I have not seen any Asian built lathes that I'd give much more than $4K for tooled up. A Colechester or Hardingh are that much better! Nothing cuts threads as well as the Hardingh, and they are typically capable of holding five tenths or less all the time.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:15 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 38
Re: Selecting a lathe.

Thanks for the info guys, that's what I wanted to know.
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