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Jonathan Covell22/11/2020 10:48:45
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4 forum posts

Hello.

I am Jonathan, a software dev (java/spring/reactjs/android) based in West Yorkshire.

Just signed up as I have been generally thinking of getting some form of lathe after doing the whole "If you are still wanting something a year after you initially thought about it". So I have saved up some budget a month for a lathe over the year (well...it is the my big spend hobby money fund I guess) with about a £700 budget to date.

I mainly tinker with code but have also designed and had my own PCBs fabricated (for various daft things like binary clocks / ESP32 based home automation and IR voting systems) and the Chinese DIY 3D printer my brother got me for Christmas a few years a go is about the level of engineering in the physical world I do.

I will be lurking around as I have read hours worth of "this lathe that lathe" and watched about 9000 hours on "The CJ18A and other chinese cheap lathe" videos on YouTube and probably now more confused about making the "right" choice from the get go.

Thank you .

Bazyle22/11/2020 14:32:37
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5578 forum posts
207 photos

Hi there. Good engineering area to be in and probably plenty of lathes around second hand. Good too that you have taken the trouble to do some research rather than whacking yet another request for the advice that has been given countless times before. That should mean you have also seen the advice to join a club, even in these times many are still active by zoom, email, and restricted meetings when allowed.

Has your software interest steered you towards or away from CNC type thoughts?

Brian H22/11/2020 15:03:13
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1865 forum posts
106 photos

Hello Jonathon and welcome. There will likely be fellow members in your area willing to help looking at any lathe you wish to buy to ensure it's a good 'un.

What sort of thing are you considering to be making with you lathe, that will help in determining the size of machine that you need, along with the space required, a very important consideration.

All the very best with your quest and, you know where to come for any help and advice.

Brian

Harry Wilkes22/11/2020 15:46:28
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1005 forum posts
63 photos

Welcome to the forum

H

Howard Lewis22/11/2020 16:59:57
3799 forum posts
3 photos

Welcome!

Do find a local Model Engineering Society, and join. You will meet a lot of fellow enthusiasts and expertise, face to face. many will be happy to give face to face, and hands on demonstration if you have an immediate problem, as well as pleasant social contact (One happy day, not too far away, we hope )

As already said, what you want to make / repair will have a great influence on which lathe you need.

As examples, you can't skim brake discs on a mini lathe, but you would not want to make parts for a watch on a machine capable of swinging something 18" in diameter.

Equally, if you want to refurbish the tele forks on your motorcycle, you will need a lathe with a large bore in the Headstock, and a reasonable centre distance.

A worn old lathe may let you make the odd nut and bolt, but may cause you problems if you want to make a 1.5 cc engine for a model aircraft.

If you want make O gauge locomotives, a mini lathe would probably suit, but not if your ambition is to produce a half scale Traction Engine..

One person can just about manage moving a mini lathe, but anything larger will need at least two people, especially if the machine is unbalanced by a hefty motor hanging off the back.

Also where do you plan to have your workshop?

Hauling a 300Kg lathe up two flights of stairs, or down into a cellar will not be much fun. (Not impossible, but there are easier things to do )

Nor will your neighbours be impressed if you make a lot of noise, just when someone is trying to sleep, or watch TV.

If you fancy a second hand lathe, do take someone knowledgeable with you to see it, try the machine and check that all the accessories are there and in reasonable condition.

Just a few thoughts!

Howard

SillyOldDuffer22/11/2020 17:11:50
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6469 forum posts
1422 photos

Dig around enough on the forum and you'll find several posts from me regretting the time I wasted dithering about which lathe to buy. Unless you have an unusual requirement, I suggest just buying one! Tonight.

New hobby lathes will be a bit rough. Buy from a British seller and they will back you up if you happen to get an actual lemon. Buying cheap direct from abroad is painful if it goes wrong. While duds certainly exist, all my Chinese kit worked out of the box. Don't expect high-end machine tools at hobby prices. All my machines required minor fettling (small assembly errors) except for my milling machine which was good enough. Far eastern lathes are capable of good work.

Assuming general purpose hobbying, bigger is better because small jobs can be done on big machines but not vice versa. But don't buy a giant machine if clockmaking or tiny modelling is your main interest because big is also clumsy. Size is also set by budget and space.

I started with a mini-lathe and learned much from it. Main problem was it's too small for about 20% of what I do. I bought a Warco WM280, which is bigger than a Myford. The WM250 is smallest member of the same family and a considerable improvement on a mini-lathe. Rather similar machines are sold by a number of vendors. You can agonise endlessly about the minor differences between them, but seller support is more important than the kit.

Many prefer second-hand western machines but they're second-hand. Condition is everything. As a beginner I was nervous of buying second-hand partly because of a bad experience in my youth, fortunately wasting time and petrol rather than money. After a couple of years mini-latheing I was more competent about what to look for, good and bad.

If money isn't a problem, a number of non-far-eastern sellers advertise on this site. No direct experience of them myself. Another possibility is a new Far Eastern industrial grade machine. Sit down before looking at the prices: anything from 5 to 20 times more expensive than the hobby equivalent.

My mini-lathe wasn't ideal but it got me started without breaking the bank and I had a lot of fun and interest with it.

Come on in, it's a fantastic hobby.

Dave

Jonathan Covell23/11/2020 13:55:18
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4 forum posts
Posted by Bazyle on 22/11/2020 14:32:37:

Has your software interest steered you towards or away from CNC type thoughts?

I know of the grbl opensource project but with it being in C/++ I couldn't really do a meaningful PR unless I really spent some time reading all the wonderful work they've done. I would of course love to maybe one day have enough knowledge of it to maybe try do some PRs to fix simple issues etc.

As far as venturing in to CNC I was at one point looking at building a wood CNC machine.

It is on the to-do list and would probably be easier as a first venture (especially after building a 3D printer) and the software is similar I guess (being grbl based).

My thought was buying a router off fleabay and simply using that with enough hose clips to secure it (till I made something better). I do have a plunge router but I'd rather keep that separate from any Frankenstine creation I make. I am sure I've seen cheap makita second hand 800W+ working routers on fleabay and marketplace to experiment with and I am sure it would be a better designed


The frame is where I'd spend most time (and maybe most money?). I don't know if I'd just buy the expensive extrusion stuff and use the hardware that seems to be quite common, or make some type of wood/aluminium mixed frame to cut down on costs and later regret it. We will see.

Jonathan Covell23/11/2020 14:27:54
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4 forum posts
Posted by Howard Lewis on 22/11/2020 16:59:57:

As already said, what you want to make / repair will have a great influence on which lathe you need.

As examples, you can't skim brake discs on a mini lathe, but you would not want to make parts for a watch on a machine capable of swinging something 18" in diameter.

Also where do you plan to have your workshop?

Hey thanks. Yeah I can see me mainly making smaller items. So far it was thinking bits like chess pieces (brass/alu/steel/bronze?), small engineering items like bushings and threaded engineering pieces and maybe bits like custom kitchen items.
I wasn't planning on say bike forks or anything of that size.

As far as "the workshop" I have the back of a double garage. I have another side room with shelving off the side of the garage where I can store tools, leaving the main area left for the existing bench and vise (~ 6ftx3ft). I have quite a lot of basic tools and a few power tools (plane sander/mouse sander/dewalt drill/circular saw/jig saw).

So I don't think I'd get away with anything more than a "7x16" ish sized lathe bed. I have space next to the main workbench that could maybe fit that with a bench under it to store stock/tools.
I am looking in future at say a bench-top drill press as well (maybe up to a 14mm?). Not really looked far in to that at the moment.



Jonathan Covell23/11/2020 14:52:35
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4 forum posts
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 22/11/2020 17:11:50:

Dig around enough on the forum and you'll find several posts from me regretting the time I wasted dithering about which lathe to buy. Unless you have an unusual requirement, I suggest just buying one! Tonight.

New hobby lathes will be a bit rough. Buy from a British seller and they will back you up if you happen to get an actual lemon.

I bought a Warco WM280, which is bigger than a Myford. The WM250 is smallest member of the same family and a considerable improvement on a mini-lathe. Rather similar machines are sold by a number of vendors. You can agonise endlessly about the minor differences between them, but seller support is more important than the kit.

Many prefer second-hand western machines but they're second-hand. Condition is everything. As a beginner I was nervous of buying second-hand partly because of a bad experience in my youth, fortunately wasting time and petrol rather than money. After a couple of years mini-latheing I was more competent about what to look for, good and bad.

My mini-lathe wasn't ideal but it got me started without breaking the bank and I had a lot of fun and interest with it.

Thank you. This is more the advice I need.
I was a photographer for 5 years as a side earner (weddings/events etc.) and developed the hindsight for "what I wish I just got at the start". If anyone got in to it and was wanting to be even semi-pro, from experience I'd be like "Good condition second hand 5DIV or III and a 35mm sigma and an 85mm". Would have saved me a lot of money, trail and error and I'd have ended up with a camera and lens combo for 99% of my work ha.

Looking at the Warco's they look a lot more professional compared to the "Chinese imports". I see they have a "mini-lathe" that they have metal gearing for and a brushless motor. It seems for the extra 50% in price, getting metal gearing, 100mm 'chuck', plastic chuck/face guard (if that is what it is called), alu handwheels and a 12 month warranty is probably already worth the extra if I have £700 already saved.
Warco Mini Lathe - £675 vs £460 for "CJ18A"

I mean I'd love a W250 or even a W280 but the cost and my experience I feel I could be getting way in over my head very soon.

I guess something like the "Warco Mini" with its 350mm between centres and the upgrades from Warco would keep me entertained for some years while I saved up for something like a second hand W280 in the longer term?

If there were a W250 second hand in good condition for ~£7-800 then that would be ideal ha. I mean I will watch this and see what it goes for as a "baseline" to what I could spend if I want something better in a year or so...
Ebay - W250

Thanks for the help .

Howard Lewis23/11/2020 14:57:53
3799 forum posts
3 photos

If possible, isolate your workshop from the garage, and insulate the walls if you can. Not only will it be more cosy, but decreased temperature variations will reduce the risk of rust. Don't make it air tight though, allow a small high level vent and another at floor level. Tye lower one should allow moist air to escape, ant the higher one will allow drier air to replace it.

n You exhale moisture, so the air needs to be kept as dry as possible.

Heating should not be by any combustion source, so electric heating is the optimum, probably.

The floor can be cold, so rubber, plastic mats, or good old fashioned duck boards, will save your feet a little!

The lighting needs to be good, generally, and on the machine. Shadows over where you are trying to view the cut, or to measure are, to say the least, a nuisance.

HTH

Howard

Edited By Howard Lewis on 23/11/2020 14:59:02

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