Reply by David Kirtley

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3167 days

#1 posted 02-12-2011 08:28 AM

On a lot of the Chinese tools, I would agree that the quality control can be a bit hit or miss. There are some dark horse surprises though. I have one of the little SIEG 7×10 lathes. No, it is not a Myford Super 7, but it holds the tools and spins the workpiece. It has some real benefits. It has great support from companies here in the US like A2Z CNC, Little Machine Shop, Grizzly, and Micromark where I can get replacement parts for everything and a wide array of tooling and accessories. Even with a top quality lathe, the lathe is the cheap part. It is all the tooling and accessories that are the real expense.

The Sherline is a nice little lathe (I have 4 of the lathes and 6 of the mills to play with at work) but to get a threading feed, a compound slide, and a chuck, we are looking at a $1200 starting price with no tooling or accessories versus the $350 I paid for the SIEG—Gotta love those 20% off coupons. Aside from having a larger turning capacity, the savings allowed me to purchase a 4 jaw chuck, milling attachment with tool holder and a few endmills, a real nice faceplate mounted ER32 holder, full set of ER32 collets, quick change toolpost, steady rest, follower, set of boring tools, index tool holders, calipers, a couple dial indicators, a small rotary table, drill chuck with center bits, a couple sets of taps and dies (English and metric), metric and English thread leadscrews, a Proxxon rotary tool with tool holder for the lathe to use as a toolpost grinder and slitting saw, and other goodies as well.

I would argue against buying an older model used lathe unless you are really familiar with them and have ready access to parts or the where with all to make replacement parts. The amount of work getting a used lathe back within tolerance is not much different than getting a not perfectly finished new lathe fitted in. Then you still have the problem of where to get parts and accessories.

The real questions you have to ask yourself though:

Will you use it enough to justify the expense, mess, and space?
What size work will you be doing?
Are you willing to give up your wood working time to do metal work?

It was a pretty easy choice for me. I am just doing it for fun. If I need a bigger or smaller equipment, I just take it to work.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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