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Entry level metal lathe suggestions

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  • Entry level metal lathe suggestions

    Been toying with the idea of a small-ish lathe for a while. I have zero experience running a lathe since metal shop in high school where we had large monarchs to work on.

    I think for the kinds of work I want to/might do, something around a 10" x 24" (ish) would be what I'm after. Pure lathe operation. My neighbour has a large turret mill I can use when needed for now.

    Restoring an old south bend or atlas in this size would be neat, but the ones I've seen forsale are outrageously priced.

    What should I be looking for? Not trying to start a 'holywar' of one vendor or another. I've looked at a few youtube videos, but nothing has really hit the mark yet in terms of enlightenment.

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  • #2

    Re: Entry level metal lathe suggestions

    I think Dale at Build Something Cool on YouTube has done a video on buying a used lathe. Also you can beat This Old Tony for a laugh and some learning , he did a new Mini lathe tune up. You are going to have to go through all the parts and operations to evaluate the condition. The more any lathe comes with the better, buying accessories after the fact gets expensive.
    Keep in mind it’s not only the lathe, it’s everything that goes with the lathe. You are going to also want to do milling at some point, slippery slope,
    I have two lathes in my shop newer Asian 10x30 one and a Southbend heavy 10.
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    • #3

      Re: Entry level metal lathe suggestions

      Tubal Cain [MrPete222] has some excellent videos on purchasing old lathes, Logan, Atlas, Southbend that you might find useful. Am working my way through his course on using the Logan lathe and have found it worth the $ to purchase. He also has a course one on the Atlas lathes. Like you have no experience with metal lathes since Jnr High School back in the late '50's.


      • #4

        Re: Entry level metal lathe suggestions

        Originally posted by cstephens2 View Post
        ...Restoring an old south bend or atlas in this size would be neat, but the ones I've seen forsale are outrageously priced.
        There are some good deals but you have to be patient and ready to jump in your vehicle with cash in hand at a moment's notice. You might want to put the word out with friends and relatives that you're looking for a lathe. Someone may know someone who is downsizing, etc.

        If you want to go with an older used lathe, you'll want to stick with the major manufacturers (Atlas, South Bend, Logan, ...) since there is a reasonable supply of parts. Generally, parts aren't cheap but at least they are available. Condition is the main issue with an older lathe. It may have spent decades sitting in a corner waiting for you...or it may have spent the same decades working multiple shifts every day! The beds, the gears, the lead screw and feed screws are important bits to look at.

        They are a tonne of fun! My tiny Atlas 618 was a wreck when I got it. I enjoyed the process of resurrecting it and I'm having a blast learning to turn metal. I've even made a few things that vaguely resemble what was intended!