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Jeremy Smith 205/04/2020 18:01:16
64 forum posts
8 photos

I purchased LH Sparey’s “The Amateur’s Lathe”, and am half way through it. The amount of info I have learned is incredible. With that being said, The amount of gadgets talked about, and the tools you can get for these lathes is overwhelming for a beginner like myself.

I am both excited, and overwhelmed. Where do I even start when it comes to outfitting my myford ml10? I purchased some cutters off of amazon, along with a drill chuck, but I really want to be able to expand my learning, which requires more attachments, ie spending money, which isn’t always available.

Obviously this is going to happen slowly over the years, but where should I start in regards to absolutely necessary items for the beginner? Steadies? Dogs? Faceplates? Extra dead centers? Boring tools?

I have played around with the lathe for a few weeks now, and realized that I need some boring tools and a cut off tool. Any recommendations which don’t break the bank during this corona pandemic?

Edited By Jeremy Smith 2 on 05/04/2020 18:05:10

Ady105/04/2020 18:13:45
4155 forum posts
583 photos

A couple of dead centres and a live centre are a good start and always useful

Boring bars? make your own

and Welcome to the nuthouse

Edited By Ady1 on 05/04/2020 18:15:22

Bob Stevenson05/04/2020 18:14:31
464 forum posts
7 photos

"Sparey" is a great book which you can't really do without, although it's an old book now and has some stuff which looks quite quaint to modern eyes.......

I'm sure your going to get a great list of items which other posters will think are vital, however, the best way into this is to start making something and get into the forward planning with what lathe operations you will need to complete it. This in turn will show up the kit that you will need in advance so that you can; a) look around for where to get it and ....b) think about making up something yourself.

The only item that I personally could really not do withiout is a good 4 jaw chuck and 'clock' for centring workpieces in it's jaws.

Ady105/04/2020 18:19:10
4155 forum posts
583 photos

A dial indicator on a magnetic stand is a must in the early days

You can get one from ebay for less than 20 quid

Howard Lewis05/04/2020 18:28:26
4162 forum posts
3 photos

Nothing succeeds like success.

No experience is ever wasted, even if it only teaches you not to do it again.(As long as you survive! )


Baz05/04/2020 18:31:29
524 forum posts
2 photos

Agree with Bob a good 4 jaw and clock and perhaps a decent live centre will get you up and running, buy things as you need them and buy the best quality that you can afford. As for steadies, faceplates and clamps don’t bother with them yet, you will most probably only use them once or twice a year, I cannot remember the last time I used my travelling steady, fixed steady was about a year ago and faceplate only seems to be used with Keats angle plate for boring loco cylinders, so about once every eight to ten years!

Sakura05/04/2020 19:16:50
46 forum posts
1 photos

Not a very useful suggestion at the moment I know, but why not join a local model engineering club when all this over?

Jeff Dayman05/04/2020 19:22:28
1976 forum posts
45 photos

Homemade centre punches, boring bars, spring centre tap followers, tailstock die holders, and internal grooving tools all are simple, very handy for many years use, and can be made of small bits of scrap mild steel that you or friends nearby may have lying around. Many of these tools can be made from old bolts or threaded rod, although these materials are not as easy to machine as mild steel or free cutting mild steel. Just food for thought.

Jeremy Smith 205/04/2020 19:45:22
64 forum posts
8 photos

I will most definitely join a club when this is all over.


that being said, does anyone have links to tools they made for their lathes? Anything really. I am just getting started in machining, so have very little experience with the lathe. I have years of experience building stuff with my own two hands though, lots of experience with steel and welding.

Edited By Jeremy Smith 2 on 05/04/2020 19:47:21

Oldiron05/04/2020 19:52:39
642 forum posts
22 photos

I agree with all the comments above. Have a cleanup around the shed/house/garage. Anything that has metal parts is ripe for stripping down to make bits & pieces. Printers, lawnmowers. PC cases old garden tools, car parts etc are all fair game. Not all of the metals will be good for machining easily but excellent for practice until this virus has passed and you can get some better quality material. I made a lot of my original accessories from scrap metal of unknown quality. It taught me how to overcome many problems on the lathe and mill. My travelling steady, fixed steady, Face plate, go/no gauges and many parts of my dividing head were made from scrap from many sources.

Good luck Have fun & stay well


edit spelling  also look here for tool tips etc    Journeyman


Edited By Oldiron on 05/04/2020 19:56:38

Edited By Oldiron on 05/04/2020 19:59:38

Martin Connelly06/04/2020 11:32:48
1621 forum posts
179 photos

Things have changed a lot since the Sparey book was written. He lived before the Internet, online ordering and delivery within a few days of ready made tooling with relatively low price. You have to look at something like making your own hardened and tempered centre as a training exercise rather than a necessity you have to make for yourself. It is a balance you have to find for yourself between making something for your own personal entertainment or training and getting the current project done without too many sidetracking sub-projects. That though can be part of the fun of this hobby.

A grinder is probably high on the list of necessary tooling for most lathe operators.

Martin C

Howard Lewis06/04/2020 12:33:16
4162 forum posts
3 photos

Sparey's detail tended to be around the most prevalent hobby lathe, at the time, the Myford ML7. Whilst the details may differ, the underlying principles do not.

It is still a good foundation book.

To it, I would add Tubal Cain's "Model Engineers Handbook". This is a splendid reference book on many aspects of model engineering, and a set of Zeus charts.

As time goes on, you will find a use for many of the Workshop Practice series. Buy each one as the need arises. Over the years, I have accumulated a dozen!

When you get into screwcutting, you may find Brian Wood's " Gearing of Lathes for Screwcutting" a useful addition to the library.

You won't be using the books all the time, but they will be an invaluable reference for all sorts of jobs.

As in making or buying tools, the motto is "Slowly, slowly catchee monkey" Otherwise you will end like me at least one purchase that you never ever use! We all learned to walk before we began to run, and only sprinted later on.

Some accessories will be little used, but invaluable for the odd special job.


fat fingers strike again

Edited By Howard Lewis on 06/04/2020 12:33:48

Edited By Howard Lewis on 06/04/2020 12:34:52

Edited By Howard Lewis on 06/04/2020 13:01:11

IanT06/04/2020 13:44:57
1750 forum posts
164 photos

I've made (and purchased) a number of useful looking things that I've never really used very much - and also put off making things that are actually very useful and get used a lot.

I've only used my fixed steady once but have found the tool-post mounted guide-cum-cutter holder very useful. My traveling steady has been used but think a Martin Cleeve bearing-type steady would be better for much of my work. A spindle handle is so much better than pulling the belt around by hand but that's what I did for a long time. Collet blocks are very useful things but I rarely use my Spin Indexer. I use some insert tooling but HSS is still my go-to for most things. I could go on but I'm sure others here will add their own views.

I quite like making things and I'm very easily distracted - but I'm really trying to limit my tool & gadget building to things I actually need to progress a specific build these days (and I still don't always succeed).

Spareys book is very good but in some ways needs to be used as a problem solving manual. If something isn't going well or the way you expect - then he might well be able to help. Same with GH Thomas, Stan Bray etc. Try to use them as required and not just as that "seems useful" - and you will probably make better progress than I have.

Best Regards,


ega06/04/2020 14:24:08
1940 forum posts
160 photos

Posted by IanT on 06/04/2020 13:44:57:

My traveling steady has been used but think a Martin Cleeve bearing-type steady would be better for much of my work.

One use for the MC bush-type steady would be to get round the problem of the small Myford spindle hole.

Were you thinking of a travelling version of this? Not sure how this would work for repeat cuts.

Nicholas Wheeler 106/04/2020 15:50:48
453 forum posts
25 photos

Put the book away, and use the lathe to turn metal bars into smaller ones.

Then look at some of the parts your existing projects need. That will decide what you need to acquire to make them.

Some of the stuff in Sparey's book can now be bought cheaply, and the effort better spent on using them.

Morty06/04/2020 16:17:38
77 forum posts
83 photos

Hi Jeremy!

It sounds like We are very much at the same place (At the beginning!!), but it sounds like You have done more 'swarf production' than Me!

I bought My first lathe last Year (Super 7), but health problems have prevented Me from getting on with things until now.

The present Lockdown has given Me the opportunity to strip My lathe down to clean it up, and I have started a thread about this ( latest posting just before Yours!), so I am hoping to get properly into turning later in thr Year.

I have built up a collection of 'Workshop Practice Series' books while I was laid up last Year, the first I bought was Number 34, Harold Hall's 'Lathework, A Complete Course' , available for about £6 online, and I found it a very interesting read.

Harold also has a very good Website of His own with lots of projects, and is also known to appear on the Forums here.

In it He covers getting going and also many projects that give a good grounding in producing useful tools for around the workshop, well worth a look!

I hope We have much fun in this great hobby, I'm really looking forward to joining in!

Keep Safe! Cheers, Pete

AdrianR06/04/2020 16:25:35
488 forum posts
25 photos

Being a relative newby I would recommend the following;

  • A set of indexed tool holders. Grinding your own tools is great, but carbide is a lot easier to get started with.
  • Tail stock chuck
  • 3 and 4 jaw chuck
  • Tail stock centers, 1/2 and whole dead. live is a luxury but useful. You can make them, but they are very cheep.
  • DTI and mag base.
  • Micrometer
  • Vernier
  • Parting tool, I would recommend these
  • Drills, a set of HSS 1mm - 10mm ideally in 0.1mm steps but at least the tapping and clearance sizes. A few larger drills big enough for your boring bar.
  • Taps and Dies
  • Metal, lots of it, free turning steel, brass and aluminium. Nothing stops you making things faster than not having the materials. Some silver steel is also good to have.

After that just buy things as you need them.

You also need to find what rocks your boat. Models, engines, tools? So find a few small projects to make. A tailstock die holder and a wobbler steam engine is a good start.


IanT06/04/2020 18:02:35
1750 forum posts
164 photos
Posted by ega on 06/04/2020 14:24:08:

Posted by IanT on 06/04/2020 13:44:57:

My traveling steady has been used but think a Martin Cleeve bearing-type steady would be better for much of my work.

One use for the MC bush-type steady would be to get round the problem of the small Myford spindle hole.

Were you thinking of a travelling version of this? Not sure how this would work for repeat cuts.

No EGA - Sorry - just put it down to old age.

I got my 'steadies' mixed up when typing - the MC bearing-steady is a fixed steady - the other thingy (guide-cum-cutter) is obviously of the moving kind. And yes, the MC type is very handy to (for example) centre drill stock that won't fit through the headstock. As Martin Cleeve explained - you can also use it to mill on 'light' lathes - with less chatter using a bearing-supported holder - without needing to touch (tighten up) the headstock bearings. I know everyone has a mill these days - but mine are both down the Shed and I don't go there too much in the depths of Winter - so I still do small inside jobs on the EW when needed.



larry phelan 107/04/2020 09:49:59
907 forum posts
17 photos

By the time you work your way through that book, you will have a very good grounding in lathework

It is simple and direct, aimed at the man with little money and no-one should be without it in the workshop.

How many times have I been through it ?? How long is a piece of string ?

ega07/04/2020 11:21:41
1940 forum posts
160 photos


MC wrote a number of articles about improvements to the EW. His steady design was updated some years ago and written up in one of the magazines. Here is my version of the latter:


You do need a bush for each size, of course, but the advantage is that in theory at least they need no axial adjustment.

The date stamp on the photo is a reminder of my own age!

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