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Buying an older lathe - Advice?

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Forum topic by toddbeaulieu posted 09-06-2015 10:59 PM 1613 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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toddbeaulieu

780 posts in 2464 days


09-06-2015 10:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe myford american

Hello, I’m finally ready for a lathe. I’ll want to learn everything buy pen making. I REFUSE TO MAKE PENS and have made a pact with a buddy to never, EVER do that. ;)

Bowls, spindles, whatever.

I’ve read a lot of previous threads, but 99% of them seem to be about current models, sales and recent used models. I’d like to try to find an older model, though.

I understand that I’ll need a face shield and better grinding wheels and to learn yet another sharpening system and I’ve been watching some intro videos on FWW about general concepts. I have much to learn about chucks and whatnot, but I figure I’ll start with the unit itself and go from there.

So … I have a POS HF that I got on CL a few years back for $90, but I refuse to even try it. Besides, it’s missing the banjo and I have no interest in buying parts for this. Knowing my history of equipment upgrades I will end up with oldie but goodie eventually so I am hoping to cut to the chase.

First, I can’t use a metal lathe as a wood lathe, right? Just want to make sure. I’ve seen what look like great deals locally. Look at this gorgeous machine!

A couple of that I’ve come across so far:

1. Myford ML8 – $800. Looking this up online it’s rolled steel. Needs a base. He had it mounted on top of a bench. Looks cool, but at that price I’d prefer a turn key system.

2. American – $250 which is great, but it’s 3 P. Not sure I want to mess with that. Also, I can’t tell if that (and the base) are cast, or what?

As always, I appreciate all thoughts.

Thank you.


34 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3123 days


#1 posted 09-07-2015 12:13 AM

First, I can’t use a metal lathe as a wood lathe, right?

Wrong. There are a lot of folks turning wood on a metal lathe. But (and this is just my opinion) a metal lathe is really overkill if you aren’t going to be turning metal.

I don’t know anything about the others, but from the photos you posted, I think you should keep looking. The Myford looks like a tube lathe, and 3 phase power for the American could be a problem. To be fair, there a lot of people using tube lathes, and a lot of people re-work the electrical for use on single-phase service.

In my view, it comes down to this … do you want to be turning wood, or tinkering/rebuilding a lathe?

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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toddbeaulieu

780 posts in 2464 days


#2 posted 09-07-2015 12:17 AM

Been reading more. I think the oil system is a major factor in a metal lathe and while I’d love to be able to tinker with metal in the future, wood is my focus right now,

That guys got a converter but yeah, I’ve managed to avoid 3 P up until now so why start with this?

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TheDane

4997 posts in 3123 days


#3 posted 09-07-2015 12:51 AM

Just a thought … look for a local turning club (AAW probably has one or more local chapters within easy driving distance … http://www.woodturner.org/?page=Chapters ) and drop in on one of their meetings (they will welcome you).

Doing so, you are likely to accomplish a number of things:
1) Make some new friends.
2) Find an excellent resource for your new woodturning hobby.
3) Get a line on good, used equipment when club members are upgrading, etc..

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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Rick M

7905 posts in 1840 days


#4 posted 09-07-2015 03:23 AM

I have 3 old lathes, a 20’s Goodell Pratt, a 50’s Craftsman, and a 70’s Delta. My advice, look for a 50’s or newer wood lathe from a company you’ve heard of, with a standard size spindle like 1×8, with #2 Morse tapers on head and tailstock. Deltas are the most common and most are built like a tank. Craftsman are okay but may need a bit of fiddling and they are lighter duty. Avoid Craftsman tube lathes (they have one single steel tube bed). Avoid anything with a stamped steel bed. There are other brands beside Delta and Craftsman but those two will probably be 99% of the wood lathes you find from 1950-1980. Pre-50’s lathes are fine if you know what to look for and what to avoid, there was a lot less standardization before WWII so you can get some oddball threads and tapers, and more likely to get something with plain bearings instead of ball bearings.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Shadowrider

183 posts in 669 days


#5 posted 09-07-2015 04:00 AM

That metal lathe does look like someone put some TLC getting it into shape.

Long time machinist here. Metal lathes are for metal. As stated they need a coat of oil on dang near every surface which will play heck with your wood. Also the wood dust will play heck with your lathe.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1595 days


#6 posted 09-07-2015 12:07 PM

For turning bowls & spindle this used lathes is a good compromise. Would definitely want to know extent of restoration done. After seeing and hearing it operate would haggle for better price if decided to buy.

http://boston.craigslist.org/bmw/tls/5204056557.html
http://vintagemachinery.org/pubs/detail.aspx?id=835

You always want the lathe running as you operate the speed lever, and always move lever to slowest speed before shutting off. Part of that is safety & other is keeps you from messing up the reeves drive.

You can always find used metal lathes lather on!

-- Bill

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Rick M

7905 posts in 1840 days


#7 posted 09-07-2015 06:54 PM

^^^^^^^
Nice find on the PM. Holy cow they have a lot of lathes for sale up there, cheap too. I wish it were like that down here. I’d be looking hard at that Shop Fox for $500. I don’t know much about them and it’s not vintage but might be a very good deal at that price.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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toddbeaulieu

780 posts in 2464 days


#8 posted 09-08-2015 05:25 PM

Thanks for the feedback all! Both the PM and the Shopfox are both in my short list. Neither does outboard turning, right? I’d think that a big miss, no? Boy this is tough. So you’re saying stay away from a pre-1913? Look at this beast!

So the more I think about this the more I find myself thinking maybe I should just start with something simpler and smaller? And more turn-key where I can working immediately with something … anything … until I know what my interests will be.

I’ve read a lot of good things about the Delta 46-460 but I see none of those anywhere. Does anyone know if the current offering of this model is the same, or this is new, cheaper version that I need to avoid? It's only $610 on Amazon with free shipping!

Or, what about the Rikon Midi for $700?

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4203 posts in 1659 days


#9 posted 09-08-2015 06:57 PM

That Delta isn’t really ideal for turning bowls, which is something you said you would like to do…

If you want to turn metal -and- wood, get two machines, one for each. Oil and metal swarf don’t agree with wood, and wood chips and sawdust don’t agree with oily metal. Each was designed for a specific purpose, and while you could make them work, it will be a compromise that might not be ideal.

If you are looking to turn bowls and spindles, find a nice used multi-speed lathe. Something with at least a 10” swing and 36” bed. They can be found for reasonable prices if you are patient, and will usually include extra stuff that would not be included in a new lathe purchase (turning tools, chucks, faceplates, etc…).

If you are looking to make machine parts out of metal (bushings, screws, spacers, etc…), then get a metal turning lathe. Again, they can be found used for a reasonable price if you are patient – although they will generally still be considerably more expensive than a wood lathe.

I have three lathes. One is an older South Bend lathe (similar to your first picture) that I use to make parts for machines that I’m restoring. The other is a vintage Delta wood lathe that I use for making ‘artistic’ type stuff out of wood (bowls, spindles, lamps, candle holders, etc…). The third is a hybrid multi-purpose mini lathe that can turn just about anything I want – as long as it’s small (it only has a 5” swing). Between them, there really isn’t anything I can’t turn except for really large stuff.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

4997 posts in 3123 days


#10 posted 09-08-2015 07:14 PM

Too bad you aren’t closer … I have a Delta 46-460 (Type 1 … 4 years old) that I will likely be putting up for sale soon. I bought a Nova DVR 2024 in May and really only have room for one lathe in my shop.

I have done a lot of bowls on my Delta … check out my projects … and have been very happy with it. I upgraded to the Nova to get the additional torque of 2.3hp motor and the 20” swing.

The $610 price is a great deal … especially with the free shipping.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

1882 posts in 1595 days


#11 posted 09-08-2015 07:30 PM

You can turn outboard on a PM 45. They offered an outboard tool rest, but need left hand threads on chucks & faceplates to turn OB.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaUQ3aEbzwA

Good luck in your quest!

-- Bill

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

780 posts in 2464 days


#12 posted 09-08-2015 07:36 PM

Too funny that you posted that video. I JUST watched it moments earlier. That’s a sweet restoration!

So you guys are pushing the 45? I just emailed him.

View REO's profile

REO

889 posts in 1534 days


#13 posted 09-09-2015 01:47 AM

I like it when these topics come up about turning wood in a metal lathe! just a few precautions and some exciting news too!

Both wood and metal lathes in the past came wit Babbitt bearings they are not made for the high speeds used by many wood turners today. look for ball or roller bearings in the headstock. If the headstock splits across the spindle with bolts holding the bearing cap in place it is most likely a Babbitt bearing setup.

Cast iron works great without oil slathered all over it. use wax on the ways instead.

it is perfectly fine to clamp across the top of the paramedal ways with a flat bottom banjo the flat sections on the tops of the ways are not contact surfaces for the apron slide. if you wish make an adapter that slides with the banjo and has a flat top to contact the flat bottom of your banjo.

It is easy to get a wide range of speed on an older lathe metal or wood because you can construct a jackshaft between motor and primary drive. Back gears on a metal lathe are terrific and with the right dri lube can run for years without wearing out. (10” atlas lathe head used for 2’ diameter lathe for twenty years in a turning only shop. the lathe in the picture)

most of the older metal lathes it is easy to find cheap faceplates and chucks for because the threads are standards. they will alll take MT tooling something that many older cheap side wood lathes do not do.

Because they are built to turn metal they will hold up to large overhung turnings (I have repaired several spindles from older wood lathes that were used for chucking even parts for a pepper grinder when the operator got a catch and bent the spindle. some broken at the drive pulleys.)

I still have a “metal lathe” that has been used for wood since purchased new in 1949 for custom wood turnings it has turned Millions(I have the newspaper article) of parts.

metal lathes are really just pattern makers lathes that didn’t make the grade LOL.

Had to add: 3ph is easily handled with a vfd for under 150 bucks.

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ART LACKEY

111 posts in 2839 days


#14 posted 09-09-2015 02:25 AM

Hey I would like to say that what ever you buy, don’t buy newer craftsman lathes because you need cast iron to dampen vibration. If it’s heavy you will find it more enjoyble to turn.

-- IF YOU GIVE A MAN A FISH,YOU FEED HIM FOR A DAY,BUT IF YOU TEACH HIM HOW TO FISH---HE'LL SIT IN A BOAT AND DRINK BEER ALL DAY!

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7905 posts in 1840 days


#15 posted 09-09-2015 05:30 AM

I’ll sell you my 50’s Craftsman lathe but shipping might be a killer, ha!

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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