Lathe question

meatyrem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2010
Messages
773
Location
Coldwater michigan
I would like to know what lathes are a good starting point. What size will work for action trueing and bolt, action, and barrel work. Basically looking for information on a lathe that will be used for action trueing and sorts and nothing real high tech but a basic simple lathe that will get the job done. Are there any types and models to avoid.
 

J E Custom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,723
Location
Texas
I would like to know what lathes are a good starting point. What size will work for action trueing and bolt, action, and barrel work. Basically looking for information on a lathe that will be used for action trueing and sorts and nothing real high tech but a basic simple lathe that will get the job done. Are there any types and models to avoid.


Hear is just one that will do what you want.

WT 13" x 40" Gap Bed Geared Head Lathe

Look at the features this Lathe has and look for something with all of these. right down the specifications and then do a search for other brands and you should find something.

Expect to pay $3500.00 to $8000/00 for one that will do what you want. also you may find a good used Lathe with all of the features.

J E CUSTOM
 

LONGSHOOTER

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2007
Messages
178
Location
Flat Rock, Michigan, USA
Hear is just one that will do what you want.

WT 13" x 40" Gap Bed Geared Head Lathe

Look at the features this Lathe has and look for something with all of these. right down the specifications and then do a search for other brands and you should find something.

Expect to pay $3500.00 to $8000/00 for one that will do what you want. also you may find a good used Lathe with all of the features.

J E CUSTOM
Be aware, that lathe is 3 phase.
 

LoneTraveler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Messages
763
Be sure to check Motor specs. Many lathes need 3 phase power which is a bad thing unless you shop already has 3 phase power. When you purchase a lathe remember to check close what is included with lathe. Does it have a 3 jaw universal chuck and or a 4 jaw manual chuck. When doing precision boring, or turning you need the 4 jaw for precision stock locating. And old philopsy of machine shops I have been around and worked around, The cost of chucks, tool holders, cutting tools, boring bar set up, dial gauges and base, center finder, micrometers, Taper attachment, back headstock centering unit all the tools and measuring equipment will cost about the cost of lathe to put it in service on the shop floor with its own operator. I have though of making the plunge into a lathe and milling machine myself. Good Luck.
 

J E Custom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2004
Messages
10,723
Location
Texas
Be aware, that lathe is 3 phase.

You are correct. It is easer if you find a single phase with the same features.

I have a similar 14x40 lathe and In order to get the features I wanted at the cost I could afford
at the time, mine came with a 3 phase Motor so I bought a phase converter for less than $100.00.
and It works great.

J E CUSTOM
 

FearNoWind

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
2,323
Location
North Central Valley California
Be sure to check Motor specs. ... .

Salient point in deed. There are countless features in a lathe that area easily overlooked. Spindle speed control (is it fixed, switchable to specific set speeds or infinitely controlled from 0 - X over an adjustable range), size of hole through spindle, Swing over bed, etc. For example, if you're turning the handle on a rifle bolt using a jig will the bolt handle clear the bed? How securely are steady rests attached and how many steps does it require to put them in place; what's the quill diameter and how does the tail stock lock down; what type of tool holder is included; are the gears for the saddle/lead screw interface shielded; if it includes a four jaw chuck is it self centering or independent jaw type? It's a big expense so take your time.
 

Trickymissfit

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
4,148
Location
greenwood, IN
Be sure to check Motor specs. Many lathes need 3 phase power which is a bad thing unless you shop already has 3 phase power. When you purchase a lathe remember to check close what is included with lathe. Does it have a 3 jaw universal chuck and or a 4 jaw manual chuck. When doing precision boring, or turning you need the 4 jaw for precision stock locating. And old philopsy of machine shops I have been around and worked around, The cost of chucks, tool holders, cutting tools, boring bar set up, dial gauges and base, center finder, micrometers, Taper attachment, back headstock centering unit all the tools and measuring equipment will cost about the cost of lathe to put it in service on the shop floor with its own operator. I have though of making the plunge into a lathe and milling machine myself. Good Luck.

you hit a good point! Always multiply the cost of the machine by at least 75% for tooling. That free tooling is just what it's worth. A good quality chuck with cost you roughly $125 an inch in diameter. The price of a good tool block and a half dozen heads will scare many guys off! Yet you get what you pay for. The cost of carbide boring bars has gone silly these days. Then there's the cost of inserts! Buy cheap ones and get cheap results. Hate to think what a diamond insert cost these days.

Better lathes are always three phase because they are geared towards a more professional user. I would want a gear head lathe rather than internal belts. Look for flame hardened ways, and if the machine is used; plan on scrapping the cross slide and maybe even the apron. Also examine the tail stock very closely, as it hard to fix right.
gary
 

Trickymissfit

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
4,148
Location
greenwood, IN
You are correct. It is easer if you find a single phase with the same features.

I have a similar 14x40 lathe and In order to get the features I wanted at the cost I could afford
at the time, mine came with a 3 phase Motor so I bought a phase converter for less than $100.00.
and It works great.

J E CUSTOM

be aware that some converters are better than others. Heard a lot of bad stories.
glt
 

Rustystud

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Messages
442
Location
Youngsville, NC
I would rather have a lathe with 3 phase motor. Three phase is no trouble with a Variable Frequency Drive. They cost roughly $125.00 per horse power of the motor. My lathe was bought with a single phase motor. The NEMA Metric Three phase motor with the same footprint and sheeve shaft size was a 7 1/2 hp motor. It has been running for 10 years now with no looking back.
Nat Lambeth
 

Hired Gun

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
1,561
Location
North Bend, Oregon
When we were starting out we were taking machine shop classes at the community college. On open lab nights we were fitting muzzle brakes and bolt handles at school. Unless I was doing it for a living you can have a lifetime supply of custom rifles built for what it's going to cost to get to the point to do the first one. JGS reamers are $200 and $100 for the gauge. There is one barrel job. A Starrett .0001" indicator is $350. There is another barrel job. A reamer holder is another $250 and a bucket of cutting oil is $150. There is another. How many barrels could you have fitted for what that lathe is going to cost. When a lathe is not in use it still must be kept warm and cared for or it will start rusting. It's like buying a horse. If I wasn't doing it for a living I could never justify it.
 

LoneTraveler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Messages
763
Hired Gun I agree with you on the room to keep it in. Metal cutting machines and metal do not work accurate in changing temperatures. I know a machine shop that had to partition off an area for a computerized Mill and 2 Lathes and air condition and heat the area. These machines would not do accurate work in extremely cold or hot weather.
 

Trickymissfit

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
4,148
Location
greenwood, IN
Hired Gun I agree with you on the room to keep it in. Metal cutting machines and metal do not work accurate in changing temperatures. I know a machine shop that had to partition off an area for a computerized Mill and 2 Lathes and air condition and heat the area. These machines would not do accurate work in extremely cold or hot weather.

a typical lathe wants to see temps above 65 degrees all the time. The spindle bearing pack wants to see temps between 120 degrees and 150 degrees that are constant. That's where a lot of size variations come from. It's a good idea to actually warm the spindle up for about twenty minutes at 100 rpm. Shops that constantly work in the half thousandth range will often keep the chuck turning at about 50 rpm all the time. CNC lathes are even more critical even though the have a spindle growth compensation built into them (well the good ones do). A machine center is a different ball game! We had programs loaded in the machines that did a warm up circuit. They started out at 150rpm, and went up to 600 rpm with all the slides and rotary tables moving. The idea is to make everything get lubed and of course get warmed up to about 140 degrees. We used special dummy tool holders as it's a bad thing to really wring about a machine center's spindle line while not under a load (hard on the bearings and tool retention). A grinder is never shut off as long as there are people in the shop (loosing a set of bearing here is a real bad thing).

To set a lathe and make it cut strait is harder then most folks think. Leveling one only gets you started in the right direction. Ninety percent are done wrong from the start (even when done by the manufacturer). If the lathe doesn't have lag bolts to hold it in place you'll never keep it strait. Nothing new under the sun as it's been a well know fact for a hundred years. Unknown to many folks is the fact that concrete moves all over the place with temperature changes as well a humidity changes. That's why you want the lathe on 8" of concrete with heavy rebar. You can do it on 6" with a light weight lathe (like a Southbend bench lathe), but you still want lots of rebar and steel screening (like fencing). It's a good practice to check machine alignments three times a year and after every wreck.

Compressed air ruins more machines than anything. Use a good paint brush that cost about three dollars at Walmart. Your new lathe will love you for that alone! Lastly, buy a 1.5 inch diameter piece of Thompson rod that's about 20" long. Use it to check the headstock alignment as well as the frame.
gary
 

Canadian Bushman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2012
Messages
1,814
Location
Houston, Texas
I agree with just about everything that has been said. Youve been given some good info to consider by some very knowledgeable individuals.

That being said, there is gonna come a point when you realize you cant afford all the things that make a good gunsmithing lathe, and even if you could you probably wouldnt wanna spend that much on a hobby.

This is where know how comes in. Many talented smiths and machinist make beautiful wepons on crap machines everyday. I suggest diligently applying yourself to understanding the core concepts of operating a lathe and performing the smithing operations that apply to what you wanna do.

After that youll understand what parts of a machine are critical and which ones can be easily circumvented with know how and a little practice.
 
Last edited:

Hired Gun

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
1,561
Location
North Bend, Oregon
This is where know how comes in. Many talented smiths and machinist make beautiful wepons on crap machines everyday.

I have to disagree. The gun might look good on the outside but inside I have seen some really poor machining posted up here and can't help but think if the guy had a better machine he could do a lot smoother work.

If you just wanted to make aluminum pillars or turn plastic you could get by with a pretty cheap machine. Risking a $500 to $1300 blank is not something I would try on a lightweight machine.
 

Primary

LRH Assistant
Here are some related products that LRH members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to LRH’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to LRH discussions about these products.

 
 

Recent Posts

Top