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Another newbie question

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John Almond 215/10/2020 12:38:57
13 forum posts
14 photos

Hello oh learned ones,

After looking through this great forum Ive yet to find guidance regarding buying my first mini lathe so thought I would start with my first post.

Having never bought a lathe of any description and my needs are very simple I have been looking at the Clarke CL300M in machine mart.

Problem is, its a bit over my budget, im looking to dish out around the £400 mark if that is possible for something similar.

At the moment I have been using (under supervision) my old mates lathe to produce these.


These are simple brass rollers 14mm wide and 17.5 mm long with a 5mm bore/hole through them.

Like i say, dead simple product.

Your thoughts and advice will be greatly appreciated

Best regards.


Stuart Smith 515/10/2020 14:50:52
231 forum posts
27 photos

Hello John

I would suggest you don’t buy the one from Machine Mart. It is very expensive in comparison to other mini lathes from other suppliers and not as good a spec.

Arceurotrade, Warco, Amadeal, Chester and others all advertise on this site and sell mini lathes. You will find the detailed specs vary but worth a look. I bought mine from Amadeal a couple of years ago and have been happy with it, although I intend upgrading to a bigger lathe.


John Almond 215/10/2020 15:58:54
13 forum posts
14 photos

Many thanks Stuart.

I will have a look on here at the links.

I would doubt I will need loads of different cutting tools, just a drill chuck for the centre hole and a tool to cut the brass rod to the required length.

John Almond 215/10/2020 17:01:46
13 forum posts
14 photos

The CJ18A is a little over my budget from Amadeal but might be the one to go for.

Oldiron15/10/2020 17:08:29
852 forum posts
23 photos

Hi John. I searched for first lathe and found 20 posts on the subject. Even if they do not refer directly to your particular wants there are some excellent suggestions and tips there.


br15/10/2020 18:22:03
697 forum posts
3 photos

Axminster CO at £450 which is what I use is more than capable.


Edited By bsp on 15/10/2020 18:22:29

Howard Lewis15/10/2020 18:38:12
5348 forum posts
13 photos

+1 for not buying from Machine Mart based on my experience of their expertise.

Trawl this Forum to see what experiences others have had with the other suppliers. They all vary.

Over the years, having dealt with Chester, Warco and Arc Euro Trade, I would place them in reverse order for after sales support. If there is a problem of any sort, this can be important, whether it is a matter of advice or problem solving or supply of replacement parts, or even a complete machine.

Each supplier will offer a different package and warranty for what is often basically the same machine, but in a different colour scheme (Certainly if we are talking mini lathes )

Make allowance in your budget for tools such as measuring instruments, a 4 jaw chuck if it is not included in the package on offer.

Sometimes there are Accessory packages on offer which cost less than the total of all the individual items.

A secondhand machine, in good order, can be a money saver, and very often tooling can be thrown in as part of the deal.. But if you are unsure, take someone with you who knows what they are about.

Joining a Model Engineering Club, near you, can be a good way of finding a helpful guru.


Henry Artist15/10/2020 21:17:42
121 forum posts
46 photos

Further to the excellent suggestions and guidance already given I would strongly encourage you to obtain and read "The Mini-Lathe" by David Fenner. It is #43 in the Workshop Practice Series of books. This book will guide you through setting up your lathe and using it safely.

You may also find "The Model Engineer's Handbook" by Tubal Cain to be a wonderful source of information regarding the machining of different materials.

Though your needs may be simple right now, once you have a lathe you'll quickly realise that many things are possible and in a year's time you'll wonder how you ever lived without one.

Howard Lewis16/10/2020 10:21:42
5348 forum posts
13 photos

+1 for Henry's suggested reading, also "The Amateur's lathe" by L H Sparey. Written a long time ago around the Myford ML7, it is still a good source of basic information.

I think that Neil Wyatt has also written a book about the mini lathe.

As you r knowledge expands, you will find other books in the Workshop Practice Series useful.

When you get to to screwcutting, (As opposed to using Taps and Dies ) Brian Wood's "Gearing of Lathes for Screwcutting" will be useful, particularly since there are sections specific to the mini lathe.

It would be useful to do some reading before you actually go out and make a purchase, armed with that dangerous thing, a little knowledge. At least, you should have a better idea of what will fulfill your needs, as perceived at that time.


Dr. MC Black16/10/2020 10:30:55
237 forum posts
1 photos

I suggest that you consider the Taig/Peatol.

They are available second-hand from Ebay sellers for around £300 and there are lots of accessories available.

Ask Mr. Google (or equivalent) to search for Peatol (for the UK distributor) and Taig (for US siles)

I have a Taig and it does everything that I want (including light Milling)

John Almond 217/12/2020 11:24:37
13 forum posts
14 photos

Ok chaps, I bagged a cl300m in pretty good nick second hand but I did notice this problem.


Its fine regarding level, it just seems to wander away from me when I tighten the bolt holding the tailstock, it all seems to move around a bit before the bolt grips then has I tighten the bolt it moves away from me and ends up in that position.

any thoughts?

Dr. MC Black17/12/2020 11:36:16
237 forum posts
1 photos

My first thought would be to check to see if any of the bolts/screws have been bent.

Have you cleaned the Morse taper?

JasonB17/12/2020 11:43:03
21468 forum posts
2455 photos
1 articles

If you look at the underside there are two cap head screws in slotted holes, loosen these slightly and slide the head into position then tighten up again. There may be a grub screw on the right hand side that needs undoing too.

Edited By JasonB on 17/12/2020 11:45:25

Oldiron17/12/2020 11:48:52
852 forum posts
23 photos

Glad to see you followed all the great advise this forum has to offer. My cousin had a cl300m, it was a pretty dismal piece of kit and he soon got rid of it. He bought a Boxford B for less than the cl300m cost him new and has never looked back.


SillyOldDuffer17/12/2020 12:00:51
7574 forum posts
1681 photos
Posted by John Almond 2 on 17/12/2020 11:24:37:

...bagged a cl300m ... but I did notice this problem.


Its fine regarding level, it just seems to wander away from me when I tighten the bolt holding the tailstock, it all seems to move around a bit before the bolt grips then has I tighten the bolt it moves away from me and ends up in that position.

any thoughts?

Tail-stocks are right-left adjustable so you can turn tapers. On my mini-lathe (now gone so I can't photograph it) there were four adjusting bolts bottom right of the tail-stock. The end pair lock the slide in position, while the two on opposite sides control the offset.

With the tail-stock locked down on the bed, in theory all you have to do is to free the slide by slackening the two end bolts, and then twirl the side adjusters in opposite directions until the tailstock aligns correctly with the headstock. (Done initially by eye with centres as in your picture, then by nipping a few inches of shim or a 6" steel rule between the points - the shim sits straight when the points are accurately aligned.) When the offset is correct, it's locked with the end screws. Sort of!

In practice all four screws effect alignment and adjustment is tricky because this is a crude mechanism. Inside the tailstock the adjusting screws bear on a rough steel block, causing erratic adjustment. Don't panic - it can be done! But it might take several attempts to get all four bolts 'just so'. Once adjusted I suggest leaving it alone! Fortunately, I only needed to cut a couple of tapers on my mini-lathe!


Howard Lewis17/12/2020 12:57:31
5348 forum posts
13 photos

Welcome, and congratulations on your new acquisition. You are unlikely to regret it, and a whole new world of things that can be done will open up for you!

If the lathe does not have the manual with it, try to find one. It is pretty basic, but one rule to observe always, is never to start or stop the lathe with the speed control set to anything other than ZERO.

Otherwise, you are liable to damage the control board! (Expensive )

The manual will tell you haw to operate the machine, with guidance on depth of cut and, when the need arises, how to set up the change gears.

The Tailstock looks to be out of alignment. If you try to drill with it like that, best case you will get oversize holes.

Worst case you will break the drill! (Always start a drill with either a Centre Drill or a Spotting Drill )

As Jason says, find the capscrews and adjust them to bring the two centres into alignment.

When they look to be OK, trap a thin piece of steel between then, so that it is horizontal.

When it lies exactly square across the lathe, the centres are aligned. If it is at an angle, adjust the two capscrews until it is. Lock the two capscrews against each other so that the steel is still square across the lathe.

Eventually, you will be able to make up, or buy, and alignment bar and set the Tailstock with the bar between centres with a dial indicator.

You can buy cutting tools, and drill chucks, and suitable arbors from any of the usual suppliers, such as Arc EuroTrade, Warco, Chester, Axminster, RDG, Chronos etc.

As a newbie, I would suggest starting with High Speed Steel tools, which you can regrind to sharpen them.

The above suppliers will be able to supply in sets, if that is your wish, or you can buy individually.

This puts a bench grinder on the shopping list for the future.

FWIW, buy the largest that will fit your mini lathe, (Possibly 10 mm square? )and still need only a little shimming to bring up to centre height, NOT above. This will maximise rigidity.

It would be a good learning exercise to make yourself a Centre Height Gauge, and will provide you with experience and a tool which will save time and messing about setting up tools in the future.

A bit late for Santa to bring you some books, but the basic principles are set out in L H Sparey's "The Amateur's Lathe". Other useful books will be "The Amateur's Workshop" by Ian Bradley.

Neil Wyatt and David Fenner have both written books specifically about the mini lathe.

Another good reference book to mbuy is Tubal Cain's "Model Engineer's Handbook"

Before too long, you will need measuring equipment. Probably the first will be a calliper. Nowadays, most choose a digital one. A calliper will usually cover a range from 0 to 150 mm (0 - 6" in old money) and can changed from Metric to Imperial at the press of a button.

Dial or Vernier callipers, will be graduated in either or Metric or Imperial units, but do not have batteries that go flat at inconvenient times!

If you want, you can buy Micrometers, later.

Eventually you will find a need for Dial Indicators. (Certainly, if you have a four jaw chuck with the lathe.

3 Jaw chucks are ideal for holding round or hexagonal material. but for square, or irregular shapes, the 4 Jaw independant comes into its own. It also allows work to be brought on centre more accurately that most 3 jaw chucks can.

"Finger" types often have smaller graduations , but a shorter range, than Plunger types. (Typically 0.0005" graduations vs 0.001" for Plunger types ) Choose which sort of dimensions you will work in, probably Metrric, if your lathe is Metric, rather than Imperial.

You will need a base on which to mount the Indicator, and although a Scribing Block will do for some jobs, a Magnetic Base will probably be more useful. The ones with an adjustable linkage tend to be less rigid than those with this facility. For measurement, rigidity is essential to maximise accuracy, although the adjustable type make setting quicker and easier.

Then you will find a need for taps and Dies to produce external and internal threads.

Probably a Metric set would be a good starting point. Whitworth, BSF or Unified are only likely to be needed if you get involved in restoring older Cars, Motorcycles or machines.

Finally, ask questions on here, some VERY expert and skilled folk who will help you.

Find a Model Engineering Club near you and join. There you will find like minded enthusiasts who will answer questions face to face and even demonstrate how to do jobs.

End of long ramble.


Dr. MC Black17/12/2020 13:09:02
237 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Howard Lewis on 17/12/2020 12:57:31:

If the lathe does not have the manual with it, try to find one.

It may be obvious, but a good place to start would be the manufacturer !

Enjoy your lathe



John Almond 217/12/2020 14:17:36
13 forum posts
14 photos

Howard and Dave

Many thanks for your advice, (I will ignore old irons comment, he must be having a bad day, lol).

I did indeed get this book, same day delivery from you know where. The mini lathe by Neil Wyatt.

I do have the instruction manual.

I will check out your instructions and report back on the results.



Andrew Johnston17/12/2020 14:31:22
6283 forum posts
677 photos
Posted by John Almond 2 on 17/12/2020 14:17:36:

.........I will ignore old irons comment...........

That's rather precipitate. Value can often be extracted from a forum by assimilating those comments that do not agree with ones pre-existing ideas.


Howard Lewis17/12/2020 14:42:06
5348 forum posts
13 photos

You sound to be heading in the right direction.

Advice not commands!

Tubal Cain's book is a reference book, not an instruction manual, but contains lots of info that you will seek at some time!

Without wishing to insult, do be aware that it is a small hobby lathe, with a small motor, not a larger, industrial Toolroom lathe with a 10 hp motor.

Having said that lots of fantastic work has been done by folks working within the limitations of the machine.

Lots of nice mods have been done to make the lathe more versatile and easier to use.

Good Luck, and Enjoy yourself


Edited By Howard Lewis on 17/12/2020 14:42:46

Edited By Howard Lewis on 17/12/2020 15:01:51

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