By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Hello everyone

Lathe suggestions

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Joe Goult 124/11/2020 15:55:53
1 forum posts

Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum and I'm looking for suggestions for lathes for someone on a budget with not much space?

Rockingdodge24/11/2020 16:30:47
267 forum posts
51 photos

Hi Joe, welcome,

That begs a number of questions:

What do you want the lathe for?

How much can you afford bearing in mind an appreciable outlay in lathe tooling and other kit?

How much room do you have?

No doubt others will be along with their input soon smiley



Edited By Rockingdodge on 24/11/2020 16:31:51

Chris Evans 624/11/2020 16:35:22
1820 forum posts

Welcome along. I concur re questions above. What do you envisage using the lathe for ?

Brian H24/11/2020 18:01:29
1964 forum posts
108 photos

Hello Joe and welcome.

I suppose that the question is; what's the biggest job you are likely to use it for? as well as the questions asked above.


Harry Wilkes24/11/2020 18:08:02
1024 forum posts
63 photos

Welcome to forum


Henry Artist25/11/2020 05:09:27
120 forum posts
46 photos

Hello and welcome to the forum. face 1

A lathe is an incredibly versatile machine tool but no single lathe is perfect for everything a lathe could be used for. If such a machine existed we'd all have that one. Instead we have a bewildering variety of the things each capable of performing well within a certain range. If what you want to use a lathe for falls within the capacity of a particular machine then, Hurrah!, you have found the one that's right for you.

So to help point you in roughly the right direction it would be really good if you could give us a bit of a clue as to where your interests lie. You don't have to be too specific just a general idea, for example -

  • Model making
  • Model engineering
  • Vehicle restoration
  • Wood turning
  • Clockmaking
  • Instrument making (scientific or musical)

Most people start out with a mini-lathe. So many in fact that there is a thread specifically for them to read at the top of the Manual Machine Tools section of the forum.

** LINK **

Remember to leave room in your budget for the "everything else" that you will need in order to actually make things with your lathe e.g. extra chucks, measuring instruments, lathe tools, things that go in the tailstock, drills, taps & dies, materials, etc. (A hacksaw, small bench grinder, and a bench vice are useful too.)

Ian B.25/11/2020 09:50:57
163 forum posts
5 photos

Welcome. All the comments above are so valid. And I would reinforce the statements that the tooling costs are much more than you think. I would suggest from my own collection of items that the machine itself is one lump probably over the years less than half. Not all has to be bought straight away but some will. Some if you are prepared to invest time instead of cash can be made once you start setting up. I like many others many years down the line am still making tooling. Plenty of designs out there.

I have a love/hate relationship with mini lathes but still use one as deep down they are OK for the money.

But again its what you want to do and where your interests lie.


Howard Lewis25/11/2020 14:58:56
4143 forum posts
3 photos

Agree with all the above.

On a limited budget, your machine will be a hobby lathe, not a tool room precision machine, so don't expect too much of it in capability or absolute precision. For a start, a 3 jaw chuck will not hold work absolutely concentric..

If you have any queries, ASK. You may get different opinions, on here, so that you have to make the choice (like the lathe ) that best suits your needs and aspirations.

When you can, join a Model Engineering Society, local to you.

Gather information BEFORE selecting and buying the machine. Many Far Eastern lathes are very similar, (some come from the same factory ) but differ in paint scheme, as if that matters, and in the package offered by the importer, and the after sales support provided..

Hopefully members will be prepared to provide face to face, and hands on advice and demonstrations.

Before over extending the budget, try to distinguish between the "Absolutely necessary" and the "Useful at some future time"

You will need a bench grinder and a few measuring instruments almost from the start. Ditto for a Tailstock Drill Chuck

A bench grinder will allow you to learn how to grind High Speed Steel tools. If you need, Carbide tips can come later, once you have grasped the basics. When you eventually progress to form tools, you will be grinding these from HSS..

With a 4 Jaw chuck will come the need for kit to centre work, so a DTI (Ideally plunger and finger types - but one sort will get you started ) and magnetic base of some sort.

To save mioney, and gain useful experience, some tools, you can make. They will help in the work and extend the usefulness of your machine.

Climbing onto a hobby horse,a Centre Height Gauge should be and early one.

Eventually there will, be a need for thread gauges, to identify unknown threads that come into your life.

The you will discover Taps and Dies of the various sorts. (At least 6 different, but similar, varieties if you so wish, or find the need )

Things like collet chucks can wait as can DROs, IF you find that they are really essential.

For Reading,

Zeus charts - contains all manner of useful information. An almost essential first buy.

When the Budget allows for it (Birthdays or Santa? ) books such as:

The Amateurs Lathe - L H Sparey. Old but useful on basic principles.

The Amateur's Workshop - Ian Bradley Ditto

The Model Engineers Handbook - Tubal Cain. A very useful reference book.

Others may recommend Harold Hall's Books, or Dave Fenner's book on The Mini Lathe, or Neil Wyatt's books on The Mini Lathe and Basic Lathework.

Every one of the above will contain information that will be useful to you, on basic principles and as a reference.

You can start worrying about setting up gears for screwcutting at some later date.

Learn to walk first, marathon running comes much later.

Work within your limits, so that you don't take on a task which you then find to be beyond you, leading to disillusionment.

Hope that all these ramblings will be of some help


Bo'sun25/11/2020 16:34:00
297 forum posts

Good points Howard, but Joe needs to bear in mind the limited travel with lever style indicators.

not done it yet25/11/2020 19:56:49
5382 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Bo'sun on 25/11/2020 16:34:00:

Good points Howard, but Joe needs to bear in mind the limited travel with lever style indicators.

Agreed but one can get close by simply approaching the item with a pointer and comparing points at 180 degrees - close enough to then use an indicator instrument. If using a 3 jaw chuck (well any, really) it is not always necessary to bother with highly accurately centred stock - as long as the turning operations are all completed without removal of the item from the chuck.

Perhaps a lathe dog, centre finder, centre drill and live centre (for turning between centres) are all good early items to purchase and learn how to use?

JA25/11/2020 20:11:53
1055 forum posts
54 photos

When you get your lathe the first thing you must do, even before reading the instructions and books, is to make a wooden bridge that can sit snugly on the bed. This will protect the bed from damage when chucks etc are changed. All it will cost is a few bits of wood, nails and some glue.


I would add to the list of items above a mandrel handle for turning the chuck by hand, very useful when it comes to using a tap or die.

Edited By JA on 25/11/2020 20:15:49

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest