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Hobby lathe

Interested in buying a hobby Lathe

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Keith Long 117/01/2019 09:20:34
4 forum posts
6 photos

Hi I am interested in buying a hobby lathe. I have only ever used tollroom lathes such as Hardinge or Smart and Brown. I have looked at adverts for Myfords but they seem very expensive for what they are. The Chinese ones look OK but never having touched one I am not sure I would like it to have a similar capacity to a Myford could even be a bit smaller but not to small. Any ideas


David Standing 117/01/2019 10:35:14
1239 forum posts
45 photos
Posted by Keith Long 1 on 17/01/2019 09:20:34:

Any ideas


Do a search for the other 10,000 posts on the same subject? smiley

Paul Kemp17/01/2019 11:23:37
285 forum posts
9 photos


If you are within travel distance of London nip up to Ally Pally tomorow or over the weekend and you will find some vendors with machines on display. If you are judging them against S&B, Hardinge or Bridgeport though in terms of rigidity prepare to be disappointed. That said most of them will do what they claim just not as quickly in terms of metal removal rates.


Bazyle17/01/2019 13:27:52
4647 forum posts
185 photos

A Boxford would be cheaper and less of a disappointment than a Myford if used to an S&B.

John Haine17/01/2019 13:49:08
2573 forum posts
133 photos

Again, Sieg lathes from Arc seem to get a good press, but I don't think they are at AP.

SillyOldDuffer17/01/2019 15:17:56
4521 forum posts
971 photos

Choosing any tool it helps to have an idea about what it's going to be used for and the budget. 'Hobby' covers everything between roughish experimental metalworking and winning an exhibition gold medal. I work almost exclusively in metric, others exclusively in imperial, and others in both.

Expectations may be a problem if you are used to tool-room machines! Hobbyists rich enough to buy new in that category are almost unknown. Trouble is, having been spoilt rotten by working on the best machines money can buy, a hobby lathe might be a severe culture shock. New Far Eastern lathes for the hobby market are capable but not ideal for sustained hard-work. They are crudely finished compared with much more expensive Western equipment. They may lack convenience features or require adjustments that slow down your rate of work. Are you the type who makes the best of an affordable machine, or are you the type who can't cope with imperfections? ("Can't cope" covers everything between time-is-money engineering and being a fuss-pot : as it's perfectly reasonable to be a fuss-pot don't ruin your hobby by buying something you might hate.)

If you can't get to an exhibition, try visiting a local Machine-Mart. They usually have a mini-lathe on display.

How happy are you buying and moving heavy second-hand machine tools? I think it's essential to inspect second-hand machines first. Do you know how to spot junk or machines that will be hideously expensive to repair or difficult to adapt to a home workshop? It's not easy and mostly your problem if you buy unwisely. The advantage of buying new from a reputable supplier if they return your money if the deal goes sour.

Next problem is the size of work you intend. Good advice is to buy the biggest lathe you can afford because big lathes do small jobs and small lathes can't do big ones.

A mini-lathe has about 80% of the capacity of a Myford 7, but it's quiet and just about light enough to be used on a dining table. Suits light modelling and general work well. Myfords are - I think - probably too small if your interest is motorbikes, but OK for smaller gauge locomotives. As you've spotted, the worst aspect of Myford kit is it attracts premium prices. There are good and bad reasons for this. Personally I would look more seriously at alternatives, back in the day hobbyists bought Myford because they were affordable - Boxford and similar started at twice the price and up. Today, these higher specified lathes are in the same price bracket or cheaper. Excellent value if you can find a good one, and many are.

I started with a mini-lathe, learned a lot from it and had fun. After a few years I knew what was wrong with it - no slots in the top slide, awkward gear changing, tricky to adjust top-slide backlash, slide not powered, speed hi-lo lever at the back, and - by far most seriously - it was too small for about 30% of what I was doing. I upgraded to a WM280 which is rather larger than a Myford, and the biggest I could get into my single-garage workshop alongside a Bench, Milling Machine, Band Saw and Junk Box.

Now I know what's "wrong" with a WM280 - for example, a clutch would be nice, and a comprehensive gearbox - and I would be much more confident buying second-hand. But - for what I do - the lathe's shortcomings are trivial. I'm unlikely to change it.

My main regret about buying a lathe was not getting on with it! Once I had one, I regretted the time wasted while I dithered about buying new vs second-hand.


Mick B117/01/2019 16:05:51
1124 forum posts
62 photos

I'm with SOD and think Warco will do well enough. I can work to fine enough tolerances, turning and milling in the vertical slide, with mine - if I do my part.

Machines these days are mostly good enough that the user's capabilities count for more than name-dropped makers.

Mick B117/01/2019 16:06:08
1124 forum posts
62 photos
Posted by Mick B1 on 17/01/2019 16:05:51:

I'm with SOD and think Warco will do well enough. I can work to fine enough tolerances, turning and milling in the vertical slide, with mine - if I do my part.

Machines these days are mostly good enough that the user's capabilities count for more than name-dropped brands.

Michael Gilligan17/01/2019 16:56:31
13547 forum posts
586 photos

Posted by Mick B1 on 17/01/2019 16:06:08:

Machines these days are mostly good enough that the user's capabilities count for more than name-dropped brands.


'Proof of the Pudding' ... courtesy of Bill Pudney:


I have installed it on the Schaublin and it works quite well. All the machining was done on my Sieg C3 lathe and Sieg X2 mill.




Edited By Michael Gilligan on 17/01/2019 16:58:01

John Reese19/01/2019 23:03:00
768 forum posts


Since you have experience on some of the worlds finest lathes I think you will be extremely unhappy with the Asian hobby lathes. If you had an unlimited budget and the available space I would recommend a Monarch 10EE or a Hardinge.

Howard Lewis20/01/2019 13:19:37
2142 forum posts
2 photos


You will, as almost always, get what you pay for. You are experienced with lathes, so know what to look for, and wear/defects to avoid, and would be safe to buy secondhand.

To create fury, I am not a Myford fan, because of it's lack of rigidity. Having said that FANTASTIC work has been done on them.

The older lathes may not have some of the features of the modern Asian products, (nor some of their vulnerabilities. Belts are cheaper to replace than circuit boards, for instance)

Indeed in my eyes, some of the latest offerings seem less good than my 15 year old Asian machine, (probably cost cutting accounts for that), although have some features (such as Leadscrew covers) that I would like..

You will know that ex Industry machines, such as Colchesters or Harrisons will have been worked hard, but an ex College machine may be relatively unworn, even if superficially scarred.

One of the determining features has to be what you want make on it. A 21 inch DSG won't be much good for watchmaking, nor a C2 mini lathe for skimming brake discs.

Visit your local Model Engineering Club, and as many of it's members workshops, as possible, look at websites, and attend Shows to see what is on offer. Do take note of the comments on here about after sales support and spares availability!

Horses for courses. Decide what course you want to race, and then buy the best horse that you can afford, and fit into the space available.


fat finger work deleted

Edited By Howard Lewis on 20/01/2019 13:21:59

Bazyle20/01/2019 18:23:32
4647 forum posts
185 photos

The Ally Pally show was a bit disappointing for comparing a range of lathes in the flesh. There were a couple of Myfords used as demonstrators for DROs, Axminster has a C4 about Myford size with variable speed drive and changewheels, Chester had a DB10 with variable drive and a couple of levers but still changewheels which is about Boxford size, Warco had their full range so the WM250 would be the equivalent of the DB10.

They also had something I hadn't seen before a GH600 the same size as the 250 but with a geared head. The only reference I can find now is **LINK** They might just have been seeing if anyone was interested like they did a few years ago with the BH600 revisited (green painted Chester Craftsman) and then dropped because gear heads were only slightly more expensive then.

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