There are lots of versions of lathes inside the metalworking industry. A few variants aren't all that obvious, yet others tend to be more niche.
For instance, a centering lathe is a dual head machine in which the work stays fixed and the heads move towards the workpiece and machine a center drill hole into both ends.
The ensuing work-piece may well then be employed "between centers" in an additional procedure. The application of the term metal lathe can also be regarded as fairly out-of-date nowadays, as plastic materials along with other composite materials are in broad use and with suitable adjustments, the same concepts and methods might be applied to their machining as that employed for metal.
Lathes can be split into 3 varieties for straightforward identification:
- engine lathe,
- turret lathe,
- and special purpose lathes.
A few smaller sized ones are bench-mounted and semi-portable.
The bigger lathes are floor-mounted and may even call for custom transport when they have to be relocated.
Field and maintenance metal shops usually make use of a lathe which can be modified to a lot of functions and that's not too huge to be transported from one job site to a different one.
The engine lathe is preferably suited to this purpose. An experienced machinist can achieve more machining jobs using the engine lathe compared to almost every other machine tool. Turret lathes and special purpose lathes are generally found in production or job shops for mass manufacturing or specialised parts, whereas basic engine lathes are generally employed for any kind of lathe work.
The miniature precision home metal lathe by Central Machinery was moderately well received by its reviewers. Some people opted to purchase it from Harbor Freight.
One buyer told us that when you purchase one of these miniature metal lathes that essentially you are getting a variety of different, unassembled parts. After you wipe off the packing grease, you'll have to consult the manual, which many buyers told us was completely useless.
The reviewer who spoke to told us that the best thing to do was to go to YouTube and look up advice on assembling and configuring a miniature metal lathe-there's a ton of information out there that can help you to get started, including how to add cutting tools, adjusting hex keys, dealing with replacement screw sets and starter kits.
Beginners Guide To Operating A Lathe
Another reviewer was overwhelmed by the complexity of the machine- saying that you get a lot of different components at a reasonable price, but it is not completely polished and pre-assembled for you to get it up and running.
If you are mechanically inclined, and gifted with some solid commonsense, this might be the cheap miniature metal lathe to purchase. If not, it would be wise to join a community college machine shop course to apprise yourself of the basics. One reviewer advised that you never drink before or during operation of this miniature home metal lathe because it has a ton of horsepower that could potentially injure or even kill you.
As well, you should not wear loose clothing while you are using it- make sure to remove, tie, cover your hair or lose articles of clothing so that it doesn't get near the machine when it is running. This reviewer also sad that after you unpackage it, make sure that you go over it thoroughly, tightening all of its components, removing the covers from the feed and lead screws to oil them, cleaning it with a small shop vacuum and chip brush, and keeping it fully lubricated throughout its lifespan.
Another reviewer we spoke to says that he has been using his miniature metal lathe for over three years without any issues, cutting stainless steel and a variety of different wood, sometimes operating it up to 14 hours a day, for a week at a time. This buyer also cautioned new purchasers that you will have to spend some extra money to get this miniature metal lathe completely operational for you- you'll have to buy bits, parting blades, center drills and other components before you can start having some fun as this reviewer did making tools for home use.
Another option we examined was the precision benchtop miniature metal lathe. Its manufacturers say that it is ideal for ID (interior diameter) and OD (outside diameter) turning, threading, drilling and performing cuts on different materials. When you purchase this miniature metal lathe it includes external jaws, a chuck key, internal draws, and speed read out, 11 gears engineered to alter feed read speeds, and a 5/16 inch steel-brazed carbide cutting set.
Maching Rebar With A Metal Lathe
One reviewer we spoke to said that for the price it is an exceptional value, considering that you will not be able to find an American-made miniature metal lathe at this price point.
This buyer actually modified his miniature metal lathe with a 5 inch chuck along with a custom face plate, including a cam stop kit for the tailstock. He told us that after these modifications, along with deliberate practice and patience, he was able to perform all of the cuts that he wanted to.
He just cautions new users not to make cuts that are too deep. In general, he says that this is a great tool for the weekend hobbyist, but if you are in the market for something more professional you would want to look at the Warner Swasey metal lathe.
Yet another reviewer told us that like other buyers he thought this was a solid miniature metal lathe, but it will not run right out of the box- it will require your deliberate attention to configure it and operate it the right way.
Another option was the Grizzly G0602 bench top metal lathe. One buyer we spoke to who is a DIY machinist hobbyist was in the market for a small benchtop miniature metal lathe that would enable him to turn relatively small-sized projects with adequate precision.
But he wasn't interested in spending over $3,000. He was particularly impressed by the threading range, especially in comparison with other miniature metal lathes that lack a true variety of inch and metric threads. He also commended the quality of its build, saying that it is very solid.
On the downside, he was unimpressed by the tailstock because it only has 2.5 inches of travel. The four-way tool post was also a disappointment- he ended up swapping it out. Another reviewer who thought that it was a smooth and reasonably powered miniature metal lathe with solid options for a cutting threads, did criticize it for the poor engineering of its belt changes for spindle speeds.
The Shop Fox 10 inch miniature metal lathe was not as well received at some of the other models we examined. Its manufacturers stress that this miniature machine is ideal for the enthusiast, and is designed for small scale turning.
Particularly, ShopFox says that this relatively compact miniature metal lathe is great for gun hobbyists, model makers, toolmakers in any sort of hobbyist machinist searching for a way to economically create threaded parts, small precision parts, dies and fittings. It comes with two different feedrates that will move the apron .002 inch and .004 inch per each revolution of the workpiece. As well, repair ad is able to cut threads of 24, 16, 18, 19, and 20.