Looking For My First Lathe -- And Some Questions About A Top Contender

Rob Martinez

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I have looked at some personal WWW pages, videos and sales pages with the thought of buying my first lathe. I also got with the guys in my local guild and got a lot of information there. What was very telling is that people seem to want to sell one lathe but keep their "WW" or "8mm" which I assume is the same thing. Hearing some of the prices it appears a new TAIG micro II is a very good deal at $695; 100% assembled and ready to be plugged in. The "Machinist Accessory Kit" for $295 appears to have all I will need to add inorder to cut wheels. However, it appears a bit too good to be true. I wont be cutting wheels for a while but do plan to replace some pivots immediately and polish a bunch.

Does anyone know if the TAIG lathe will do all the above with the above attachment? I believe I will need specific collets to fit the different arbors and a steady rest for re-pivoting. Does the TAIG use mm or inch collets? Is the TAIG compattable with WW collets? Any information will be greatly appreciated.
 

karlmansson

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Hey Rob!

Judging from your assumptions I would recommend reading up a little bit more on the matter before pulling the trigger on a lathe. While most WW lathes are certainly designed for 8mm collets, there is also a wide array of other lathes that take the same collets. WW stands for Webster Whitcombe and is usually referring to the type and layout of the lathe bed. They have horizontal and angular mounting surfaces of a stout, wide bed as can be seen here: Derbyshire & Webster Whitcombe Watcmakers' Lathes

Other lathes using 8mm collets would be the Geneva pattern lathes that have a "D" shaped bed with a vertical mounting surface. These beds are usually rods of about 30mm i diameter. I've use such lathes successfully for several jobs but those are mostly watch related. Both the WW and Geneva lathes are designed to be use with collets. The smallest collet for my Lorch 6mm lathe is 0.4mm. That should tell you something about the work envelope. Lorchs Geneva style lathes as well as their WW versions can be seen here: Lorch Watchmaker's Lathes . The Geneva pattern lathes are designed with repairs in mind, and less so manufacture and production. The same can be said for the WW lathes to some extent.

The Taig on the other hand is a machine lathe designed to be used with handwheels and a chuck. Precision is not on the same level as the purpose made watchmakers lathe provided they are in good condition. That being said, most inaccurate setups, including workholding, can be made to be precise provided you are ready to waste some material. A hole drilled into a piece of stock held in the chuck will for instance always be on center of the machine axis. So will a hole in a "flag" (a techique used in repivoting proceduces to provide support for a long arbor) drilled with a drill held in the headstock. With some shellac you could easily make a wax chuck for a Taig and get a wheel to run true in it. It will not however be convenient. I see there are collets available for the Taig but I have no experience with them or their accuracy.

As always, this comes down to what size work you will be doing, what your expectations of your machine is and how much time you are willing to spend fiddling around with setups.

As a point of reference, I now have a 6mm Lorch Geneva lathe, another one like it but with fixed face plate (both driven by handwheel) and a Habegger DLZTE 102mm center height. The DLZTE takes W20 collets and my smallest one is 1mm. I also have a 150mm four jaw chuck for the same lathe. I used to have a Emco Unimat as a sort of inbetween but I sold that once I realized that my 102 could do everything the Unimat could do, only better. Between the two, there is very little watch or clock related that I can't do. I have had trouble limiting myself to one size of work as this is a hobby for me and I "go where the winds take me" :). If feel like exploring something that's where I want to be able to go.

Best of luck with your decision!

Karl
 

Betzel

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100% agreed with Karl. Too many of us thought wanting to do work on clocks and/or watches meant getting a watchmakers lathe.

While having one is not a bad thing, it would not be my first choice if I had it to do over. They look great and were very well made when new, but the difficulty is that most are no longer made and were designed for very narrow purposes. Those that still are being made often lack the unimaginably wide range of accessories of the distant past, and are either frighteningly expensive or of questionable quality. And, 6 or 8mm watchmaker's lathes limit you to the size and range of what they were designed for, even with fancy attachments.

Finding a vintage machine today that still looks good and is in fine condition (meaning it passes accuracy tests you can't do by eye, and which take a while to learn how to do) for a decent price, especially with all the original accessories that fit and function is --in truth-- another hobby, which can be fun, but it's getting expensive. To your point, this may be why we all hold onto a nice WW, etc. But, frustrating if you have functional goals and a wide range of projects.

I think you're on the right track with a new machine, not from the far east. TAIG looks like a decent line. Sherline have also been at it a while and have really expanded the lineup. Have you considered one? Look at all that stuff. A new one lets you get started with a written guarantee of accuracy (better than .001") so it is you (not the tools) making initial mistakes. And you can buy the add-ons you want as you need, at a reasonable price for the quality, to make all kinds of stuff for watches and for clocks. Center-turning or an inexpensive set of turns is always an option to go super concentric, or way smaller.

Should hold you until you're wanting something much heavier, requiring another room, etc.
 
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karlmansson

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Looking again at the Taig lathes, I must recant. Seems there is actually a version with a 5C headstock! Which seems almost comical because I think that collet would almost as long as the headstock... But they have certainly made the lathes with precision and repeatability in mind! I can't speak to the execution of it though as I've never used one.

Regards
Karl
 

DeweyC

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I have looked at some personal WWW pages, videos and sales pages with the thought of buying my first lathe. I also got with the guys in my local guild and got a lot of information there. What was very telling is that people seem to want to sell one lathe but keep their "WW" or "8mm" which I assume is the same thing. Hearing some of the prices it appears a new TAIG micro II is a very good deal at $695; 100% assembled and ready to be plugged in. The "Machinist Accessory Kit" for $295 appears to have all I will need to add inorder to cut wheels. However, it appears a bit too good to be true. I wont be cutting wheels for a while but do plan to replace some pivots immediately and polish a bunch.

Does anyone know if the TAIG lathe will do all the above with the above attachment? I believe I will need specific collets to fit the different arbors and a steady rest for re-pivoting. Does the TAIG use mm or inch collets? Is the TAIG compattable with WW collets? Any information will be greatly appreciated.
Rob,

To me, the most important question is "What do you intend to do with it?" The taig may suit, or a Geneva 6mm stick lathe may suit.

What are you doing now that makes a lathe desireable? How would it help?
'
'Do you want to make a clock (Carriage or tower?)
Do you want to primarily make watch staffs?
Do you want to use it to help in disassembling sub assemblies?
Do you want it for only new work or to service/repair pieces that are already made?

You get the idea.
 

gmorse

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Hi Rob,

'Do you want to make a clock (Carriage or tower?)
Do you want to primarily make watch staffs?
Do you want to use it to help in disassembling sub assemblies?
Do you want it for only new work or to service/repair pieces that are already made?
If, as you say, you intend to cut wheels, I suggest that a lathe isn't the ideal tool; a mill would offer more accuracy and ease of setting up. However, if that's only one of the tasks you anticipate for the machine, you may have to compromise to some extent between cost and functionality, depending on the size of work you wish to do.

Regards,

Graham
 

Betzel

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Rob,

Maybe you know what you want to do. If so, great! Charge on. If not, welcome to the rabbit hole. One day you think you will be replacing balance staffs on pocketwatches, then you find a grandfather clock that needs a new barrel arbor. A first lathe that gives you a range of options and lets you roll with whatever comes along might make sense. Just a guess based on experience.

You can always buy more cool stuff later as you can never have too many tools! :)
 

Jerry Kieffer

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I have looked at some personal WWW pages, videos and sales pages with the thought of buying my first lathe. I also got with the guys in my local guild and got a lot of information there. What was very telling is that people seem to want to sell one lathe but keep their "WW" or "8mm" which I assume is the same thing. Hearing some of the prices it appears a new TAIG micro II is a very good deal at $695; 100% assembled and ready to be plugged in. The "Machinist Accessory Kit" for $295 appears to have all I will need to add inorder to cut wheels. However, it appears a bit too good to be true. I wont be cutting wheels for a while but do plan to replace some pivots immediately and polish a bunch.

Does anyone know if the TAIG lathe will do all the above with the above attachment? I believe I will need specific collets to fit the different arbors and a steady rest for re-pivoting. Does the TAIG use mm or inch collets? Is the TAIG compattable with WW collets? Any information will be greatly appreciated.
Rob
As others have mentioned, you have not specified what you intend to do with the lathe.

Watchmakers lathe
A watchmakers lathe is designed specifically for watch work with its accuracy and capabilities dependent on your hand control of the cutting tools.
While this comes easy for a few, others can spend years becoming proficient and still others use them in ways not intended as with many tools. Typical watchmakers lathes are often purchased and sold at a very reasonable prices, so there is no reason not to buy and explore and no reason to sell.

Taig Lathe
The construction quality of the Taig lathe is far superior to asian imports.
However, it comes from the factory designed as a very basic machine style Lathe without some features that limits its capabilities. Examples as follows.

(1) It lacks a variable speed drive.

(2) Both the Carriage and Tailstock lack leadscrew/calibration control for accurate tool positioning.

(3) There is no provision or accessory for single point thread cutting.

(4) There is no provision for the use of WW or 8MM watchmaker collets.

(5) There is no provision or accessory for alignment adjustments in all directions to allow micro drilling.

(6)The cross slide has a very small table limiting tooling setups.

Personally, I use these and other features regularly each time the lathe is used for Horological work.
While Taig owners will occasionally up grade their lathes with modifications, For $695.00 you can purchase a Sherline Lathe that includes all of the features above and plus some as well as a larger line of accessories.

Wheel and pinion cutting.

As mention by Graham, cutting Wheels and pinions on a Lathe is not the most efficient method. In fact when compared to other options such as a Mill and rotary table, the Lathe is probably the least efficient.

While a Taig Lathe could be setup to cut teeth, it would require some rather complicated component construction best done on a milling machine. However, if you have the Mill, then that will be a better option for the procedure.

When unsure request demonstrations.

Jerry Kieffer
 

Rob Martinez

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Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Looks like I still have a lot of research ahead of me. I will give the Sherline a better look as well. My only anticipated use for the lathe is to re-pivot and polish pivots of clocks (not looking to do watch work). Wheel cutting is anticipated but that isn't in the near future. Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong point of view. Will a mill allow me to re-pivot and polish pivots? If so, maybe I should (initially) look at getting a mill instead of a lathe? Lots to think about -- again, that you all so very much for participating in my education!! Very Respectfully, Rob
 

Betzel

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not looking to do watch work
Rob, it's admirable work, but watches have issues not found in clock work. And when you're older, the hill is steeper :)

Wheels are what we think about making, but another thing to consider is how you might cut those pinions "someday." They're probably called "milled pinions" for a reason. For projects, I'll use wire lanterns until I have a mill. I'm not aware of anyone using a mill for re-pivoting or polishing work, but you never know.

For polishing, a lot of folks believe you have to use a lathe / jacot-style tools, etc., which is fine (if you can do it without breaking them) but I'll share a technique I learned in a clock course that may buy you time in selecting a first tool: using a thin-edged piece of hardwood in a vise, finely v-notched with a file for the pivot, and a pin vise to hold the arbor, with a properly dressed burnisher, clean oil and proper technique, you can rest the pivot in the notch and simply, safely (and affordably) polish even the finest French pivots to a mirror without much risk. Just practice on something to get the hang of twirling the pin vise in one hand while burnishing gently (and level) in the other direction with the other hand. Old school, but it really works.

For repivoting various sized clock arbors "dead straight" on, then cut them down to size with a graver or cutter, I'm not aware of old-timer methods, but others might. I use an offset centering runner with a lathe, softening the ends and HSS twist or WS spade bits, then cut them to size using the same setup. You may know PCB carbide bits can lead to broken bits of carbide inside the arbor. Dentists call these "difficult extractions." Many of us learn this the hard way.

All the best!
 

karlmansson

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Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Looks like I still have a lot of research ahead of me. I will give the Sherline a better look as well. My only anticipated use for the lathe is to re-pivot and polish pivots of clocks (not looking to do watch work). Wheel cutting is anticipated but that isn't in the near future. Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong point of view. Will a mill allow me to re-pivot and polish pivots? If so, maybe I should (initially) look at getting a mill instead of a lathe? Lots to think about -- again, that you all so very much for participating in my education!! Very Respectfully, Rob
A mill certainly can be used as a lathe by holding the work in the spindle. It would not be my go-to though because of the previously mentioned convenience factor. You would need some sort of permanent stop or reference to be able to bring the Y-axis (or X-axis if you decide to use the Y as you infeed) to center height of the work. A horizontal milling machine would be more like a lathe in that way. Many of the smaller mills can be set up to mill in the horizontal plane but then tram is a big issue. Too many moveable axes. You would have to do quite a lot of indicator work before starting to turn before you can be sure that you are not turning a taper on your part.

The Unimat SL I mentioned before was a combi machine that could quite easily be converted from lathe to mill but I quickly realized that this was just simply too much work. Lately, most of the work I've done in my shop has been to minimize the amount of work I will spend in the future setting things up and being hindered by not being able to push on with something just because I either don't have the right tools for the job or have to stop mid project and solve some type of workshop logistic. Having the same machine as both mill and lathe would make you prone to that, at least if they use the same spindle. Some lathes, such as the Emco Maximat, have a milling column that fits the lathe bed but is an add on rather than a different way to fit the lathe head stock.

Bottom line is: some work is better suited for a mill with the right attachments and some work is better suited for a lathe with the right attachements. There are milling attachments for lathes that some people use for cutting wheels and pinions as well but those introduce other compromises. Such as dividing with the lathe headstock. I would recommend getting a lathe, getting familiar with machining in general and seeing if it is for you. Next step, when the need arises, is to start hunting for a small milling machine. I did that for a few years... Suffice to say there is no free lunch and no perfect tool for all jobs.

Regards
Karl
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Looks like I still have a lot of research ahead of me. I will give the Sherline a better look as well. My only anticipated use for the lathe is to re-pivot and polish pivots of clocks (not looking to do watch work). Wheel cutting is anticipated but that isn't in the near future. Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong point of view. Will a mill allow me to re-pivot and polish pivots? If so, maybe I should (initially) look at getting a mill instead of a lathe? Lots to think about -- again, that you all so very much for participating in my education!! Very Respectfully, Rob
Rob
I would start by reading Betzel and Karls post a couple times and further research the use of both the Lathe and Milling machine.
Based on your work description, I would definitely purchase a Lathe first and consider the Mill at a later date, as the Lathe is specifically designed for the work you have described.

However, the thought/evaluation of using a Mill for all of your work is an excellent exercise in understanding the value of capabilities and versatilities of various machines. Many including myself at one time purchase various limited use machines and ended up with machines that were my projects rather than working on projects. Since none were versatile and were not compatible with each other, I had little capability and the worst part was I never really developed skills to work on projects. A Lathe and a milling machine are the basis for basically everything that is machined today. However in production, each part is machined on a machine setup for that part. In a small shop you do not normally have that option to have many machines to do each part we work on. So it is of great advantage to have a Lathe and Milling machine were accessories are design to allow you to use each machine to do its part on a single part. In addition, accessories should allow you to transfer a part from one to the other as required. And of course the machine should configure to whatever setup is required in a timely fashion.

While I have suggested the purchase of the Lathe for your work, lets explore a versatile mill only for all of your work for giggles.

Personally, I use my Mill as a lathe quite often when other machines are in use because of its ability to easily adapt to most all requirements. Not all machines are this versatile.

The first two photos show the mill set up as a turning lathe. The headstock was rotated 90 degrees and locked in position by a Key and a tool post clamped in a vise. The "Z" axis was then used to adjust lathe tool height. Setup time is less than 5 minutes unless the phone rings.
Occasionally, one of my challenges to beginning mill students at the end of a class, is to demonstrate machining half a balance staff on the mill. The two photos represent the most effective method of doing so on this machine.

One of your other desires was to repivot. Third and fourth photos again shows a less than five minute setup. The accessory block on the right is squared to the bed with a machinist square. The vise is square to the block by the machined guides and the lathe collet holding tool post is square to the vise when clamped sitting on parallels. Drilling alignment is achieved by matching two points, one in the spindle and one in the tailstock collet using the "Z" and "Y" axis. fifth photo. On this machine, either a collet or Lathe chuck or all Lathe accessories can be used to hold a work piece in the headstock spindle. If a little additional time is spent on accurate alignment , this arrangement will actually out perform my watchmaker lathes due to leadscew control of the axis.

The sixth photo shows the Mill set up for cutting wheel teeth.

My large machines were also purchased based on capabilities, versatilities and compatibility with each other. The lathe is a Emco Maier (Austria) V13 13 X 40.

The Mill is a Emco Maier (Also Austria) F3 per sixth photo. In this case the vertical headstock will rotate 360 degrees and the horizontal bed will tilt up or down in either direction.

The seventh Photo shows the vertical headstock rotated off to the side on a hinge, exposing a Horizontal spindle. It also shows the horizontal bed removed exposing a vertical bed.

All of my work is done on the four machines listed due to their capabilities and versatility and their ability to work on projects and not be projects.

Jerry Kieffer

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DeweyC

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Thank you everyone for the great feedback. Looks like I still have a lot of research ahead of me. I will give the Sherline a better look as well. My only anticipated use for the lathe is to re-pivot and polish pivots of clocks (not looking to do watch work). Wheel cutting is anticipated but that isn't in the near future. Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong point of view. Will a mill allow me to re-pivot and polish pivots? If so, maybe I should (initially) look at getting a mill instead of a lathe? Lots to think about -- again, that you all so very much for participating in my education!! Very Respectfully, Rob
Rob,

Following your replies, I think there are two books that will be helpful to you before you plunk down money on a lathe. The first is Archie Perkin's "The Watchmaker's Lathe" AWI Press. The second is Malcolm Wild's "Wheel and Pinion Cutting" (Crowood Press). This second is not to be confused with the 1981 pamphlet.

These books together provide virtually everything you need to know about horological machining, including recipes for the tasks involved. Wild provides several alternatives for precision setups and both books are very well illustrated. These are the books I recommend to young watchmakers interested in upping their game.

Also look at the videos on youtube by Steffen Pahlow. He was a WOSTEP instructor when I was there. His videos provide excellent recipes for any horological machining I can think of.
 
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Jerry Kieffer

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Rob
In post #13, I referenced the sixth photo as a Wheel cutting setup per your interest, but the photo was not posted. Since this is a new post, I will elaborate for those new to wheel and pinion cutting.

The photo that was intended, is the first attached photo. The setup provides a very clear obstruction free position for observation of the machining process. This is critical when initially setting up depth of cut for proper tooth profile. Its also a very rigid setup.

The second photo shows an example of several barrel teeth replaced between the arrows and a cutter machined on the mill that duplicates original tooth form. Commercial cutters rarely duplicate the many tooth forms found in horology and can cost well over $100.00 each.

The third photo shows the same illustration setup for a watch pinion using a commercial cutter.

The fourth photo shows a method of testing the pinion or wheel before removal from the setup. Once all teeth have been cut, a barrel with arbor installed is held between ones fingers and held against the pinion. With the rotary table set in continuous rotation, any fit issues can be easily felt and diagnosed.
At this point, the R/T can be repositioned slightly to take another slight cut on all teeth to adjust the tooth form and retest. It is of course reprogramed for indexing at the new cutter position.

In the early years I was inspired by a publication and setup shown in the fifth photo. This is a stock photo and did not dig for my copy.

To make a long story short, after machining a half dozen examples, I typically selected the best one I was not happy with. Thus my experience cutting teeth on a Lathe has been the least effective method.

Jerry Kieffer

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karlmansson

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Rob,

Following your replies, I think there are two books that will be helpful to you before you plunk down money on a lathe. The first is Archie Perkin's "The Watchmaker's Lathe" AWI Press. The second is Malcolm Wild's "Wheel and Pinion Cutting" (Crowood Press). This second is not to be confused with the 1981 pamphlet.

These books together provide virtually everything you need to know about horological machining, including recipes for the tasks involved. Wild provides several alternatives for precision setups and both books are very well illustrated. These are the books I recommend to young watchmakers interested in upping their game.

Also look at the videos on youtube by Steffen Pahlow. He was a WOSTEP instructor when I was there. His videos provide excellent recipes for any horological machining I can think of.
Huh, I had heard that Steffen was a retired architect that had taken up watchmaking as a hobby. Maybe he trained as a watchmaker after retirement? Or did both? A friend that is one of two founders of the brand GoS Watches here in Linköping where I live did something similar. He is a software engineer working with radiology viewing and storage applications that I use on a daily basis. But he took a few sabbaticals, got a WOSTEP certification and then paired up with a local blacksmith to make watches based in pattern welded steel. Now he’s working part time with both.

As Jeff Goldblum would have put it: Life, uh, finds a way...

Regards
Karl
 

DeweyC

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Huh, I had heard that Steffen was a retired architect that had taken up watchmaking as a hobby. Maybe he trained as a watchmaker after retirement? Or did both? A friend that is one of two founders of the brand GoS Watches here in Linköping where I live did something similar. He is a software engineer working with radiology viewing and storage applications that I use on a daily basis. But he took a few sabbaticals, got a WOSTEP certification and then paired up with a local blacksmith to make watches based in pattern welded steel. Now he’s working part time with both.

Karl,

'Europeans!!! He sounds like the person who was a physician and a Ph.D. Physicist who designed the complicated astronomical watch for Nardin. I should know his name for correctness; if you do please let me know.

Then there are those Swedish surgeons in training with too much time on their hands who take up serious watchmaking as a hobby. I am guessing you can also give Chopin and Grieg recitals.

This is why I loved my time in Switzerland. People really let their accomplishments speak for them and do not brag about how good they think they are. The very best are among the most humble. They truly understand they are "merely" standing on the shoulders of those who came before.

I only ran into him in passing, I do not know why he was there; but at least 3 months. WOSTEP Neuchatel has a history of bringing talented people in for a limited run. Keeps the staff energized.
 
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Betzel

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Maybe he trained as a watchmaker after retirement? Or did both?
IIRC from a passage in his book, I think it was both. He often refers to the Glashütte tradition in his videos, and they are in the old GDR. So, I think he got some of his early training (and perhaps a few of those complete tool sets) in the GDR before unification. Way before youtube...

I have not been to any live in-person training, but I've learned a lot form him. In one clip, he breaks a new case cover spring testing it. I keep it in mind when things go wrong on my bench :)
 

sharukh

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Huh, I had heard that Steffen was a retired architect that had taken up watchmaking as a hobby. Maybe he trained as a watchmaker after retirement? Or did both? A friend that is one of two founders of the brand GoS Watches here in Linköping where I live did something similar. He is a software engineer working with radiology viewing and storage applications that I use on a daily basis. But he took a few sabbaticals, got a WOSTEP certification and then paired up with a local blacksmith to make watches based in pattern welded steel. Now he’s working part time with both.

As Jeff Goldblum would have put it: Life, uh, finds a way...

Regards
Karl
I believe he is an architect by profession. In one of his videos he mentions a mentor whom he used to visit secretly before the unification. He does not mention his mentor's name.

Sharukh.
 

karlmansson

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Karl,

'Europeans!!! He sounds like the person who was a physician and a Ph.D. Physicist who designed the complicated astronomical watch for Nardin. I should know his name for correctness; if you do please let me know.

Then there are those Swedish surgeons in training with too much time on their hands who take up serious watchmaking as a hobby. I am guessing you can also give Chopin and Grieg recitals.

This is why I loved my time in Switzerland. People really let their accomplishments speak for them and do not brag about how good they think they are. The very best are among the most humble. They truly understand they are "merely" standing on the shoulders of those who came before.

I only ran into him in passing, I do not know why he was there; but at least 3 months. WOSTEP Neuchatel has a history of bringing talented people in for a limited run. Keeps the staff energized.
Not so sure about doctorates but if you want too look him up his name is Patrik Sjögren. The brand is GoS Watches - Handmade in Sweden

We are getting dangerously off topic here but no, no Grieg or Chopin for me. I'm a sax player, studied jazz and improvisation for a few years before med school. Patrik and I actually used to play together in a pretty silly but serious band here in town. Patrik is a drummer, that's how I got to know him. The band is called Helmut Jederknüller mit seinem Super Stereo a GoGo Orchester (they're on Spotify!). They play only entertainment music as it was played in Germany between 1967 and 1973. James Last, Max Greger, some Herb Alpert too. You know the sound :). Mostly engineers in the band but an OB/GYN as well. We used to tour a bit around Hamburg before the Rona hit.

IIRC from a passage in his book, I think it was both. He often refers to the Glashütte tradition in his videos, and they are in the old GDR. So, I think he got some of his early training (and perhaps a few of those complete tool sets) in the GDR before unification. Way before youtube...

I have not been to any live in-person training, but I've learned a lot form him. In one clip, he breaks a new case cover spring testing it. I keep it in mind when things go wrong on my bench :)
That's true! It seems he has had quite a few mentors. Some of his tools were donated from a "Glashütte friend", I remember him saying that about the iron lap he uses for snailing ratchet wheels. Although WOSTEP seems like a very comprehensive system I guess the real learning process lies in the doing. And if he has had a few select people looking over his shoulder as he learned that seems to me as good an education as any. Although his persistent lack of finger cots makes me uncomfortable sometimes...

I've learned tons from him as well! I sometimes just like to watch these talented people work. Somehow I think I am interiorizing aspects of just how they work. Small things, how they move stuff, set things up, where extra care is taken, how things are measured and so on. Makes it easier to emulate and I think it saves quite a few steps on the learning curve.

Rob, sorry for derailing your thread! Steffen is certainly worth checking out for learning about watchmaking skills! It is unfortunate though that he has the most complete collection of Lorch lathes, screw cutting and plain, that I've ever seen and the tool envy strikes every time.

Regards
Karl
 
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Betzel

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Rob, something's really coming out of all this.

I think it's that we were all there once, and none of us ended up with just a lathe. Maybe the boildown is to find a versatile lathe, then think about a mill, shooting for tooling (collets, chucks, accessories, measuring tools) that: 1) work correctly when you buy them and 2) are interchangable on both machines. That's very solid, on-topic, advice.

Though mills can be versatile, most of us (in hindsight) would have first chosen a well made and precise mini lathe with a clear, unfrustrating and affordable upgrade path over a watchmakers lathe, especially one of uncertain origins missing the cool accessories. Nice sets still turn up, but collectors will bid far beyond par value as the renaissance in horology now includes old tools. The best (not abused or incomplete) sets are all gobbled up / have risen 5x or more in price, due to scarcity alone. Chinese (or Indian) equipment may be inexpensive and well made someday, but it just isn't. You never mentioned them, but they're a constant accessory-path distraction. Once you measure runout, you may agree it's better to just throw a few extra bucks in to buy a drill chuck on a collet from a reliable source when ordering something.

For collecting, besides Steffen, look at Niels Machines and lathes.co.uk --it sets expectations on the accessories you will almost certainly be looking for after a while. Suddenly, a dinged-up bed with a (matching?) head and tailstock seem less appealing. Bergeon's are accurate to .01mm (or less) and Sherlines to .001 (or less). Both are top of the line. But look at the price difference, then consider the respective upgrade paths? TAIG machines look promising, but Sherline has far more than it all, right now, and at a fair price. The tooling is 100% interchangable, and you can get on with learning the craft of measuring and doing precise work in horology, rather than rare tool collecting. You can always do that on the side ;-)

his persistent lack of finger cots makes me uncomfortable sometimes...
He is a mentor in too many ways. An experienced machinist can forget how hard it is to see a running chuck, or what it will do to a finger when you slip. I remember an unclamped circle cutter on a drill press flying out between myself and a friend, embedding into solid oak a few feet away. Was not easy to remove.
 

DeweyC

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Not so sure about doctorates but if you want too look him up his name is Patrik Sjögren. The brand is GoS Watches - Handmade in Sweden

We are getting dangerously off topic here but no, no Grieg or Chopin for me. I'm a sax player, studied jazz and improvisation for a few years before med school. Patrik and I actually used to play together in a pretty silly but serious band here in town. Patrik is a drummer, that's how I got to know him. The band is called Helmut Jederknüller mit seinem Super Stereo a GoGo Orchester (they're on Spotify!). They play only entertainment music as it was played in Germany between 1967 and 1973. James Last, Max Greger, some Herb Alpert too. You know the sound :). Mostly engineers in the band but an OB/GYN as well. We used to tour a bit around Hamburg before the Rona hit.
I love it! Karl, you sure ain't no one trick pony! And thank you for Patrik Sjogren''s name. I am embarrassed
I did not know it but he must have a truly interesting story. The Nardin watch he designed is much more interesting to me than any of the Grubel Forsy product.
 

karlmansson

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I love it! Karl, you sure ain't no one trick pony! And thank you for Patrik Sjogren''s name. I am embarrassed
I did not know it but he must have a truly interesting story. The Nardin watch he designed is much more interesting to me than any of the Grubel Forsy product.
Patrik designed a Nardin watch? That's more than I knew.
 

karlmansson

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Oh. Then I did understand the reference to his name. I thought you were telling me the name of the individual who designed the Astronomical WW for Nardin.
I'm sorry Dewey, you've lost me completely. I can't find a mention of that watch in this thread. I had to check with Patrik and he has not done any work for Nardin.

K
 

karlmansson

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I thought this thread was about a first lathe? Somehow it appears to have gone very sideways.
It has!
Maybe we reached "data saturation"? Although unlikely, as this has been the subject of discussion for years.

I considered getting a Sherline, both mill and lathe, for quite some time. What put me off the thought was in part import costs (though I see you are in the US Rob) and that the size of the tools would be a constrant for me in the long run. While the machines themselves seem to be well made and there are both accessories and spare parts available at a moments notice, the machines themselves don't scale up. There is a long bed version of the lathe and a mill with a larger work envelope but spindles, collets and chucks come in one, rather small, range of sizes.

I knew I wanted to do other work with my machines as well, such as restoration work and accessory work for the machines themselves, so I went with larger options. Larger, more work intensive options it would turn out.

Just to broaden your horizons there are some more contenders out there:
Vector - Chinese copies of the Bergeon 8mm Geneva style lathe. All the reviews I've seen appear to reinforce that this is actually a pretty good lathe. It is made with a great deal more care than most "Chinesium" machine tools sold on the market today it seems.
Cowells - both mill and lathe. Expensive but perfectly sized for clock and watch work. It's the British aristocrat cousin of the Sherline. Cast iron and a price tag to make your nose bleed.
Schaublin, Habegger, Simonet, Mikron - for clock work, a decent Schaublin 70, or even in rare instances a 102, will suit your needs. It will also make making jigs and other tidbits for clock work easier. I use my 102mm center height Habegger for clock work. Even used it with a 3mm collet to hold a ladies wristwatch crown and shortened the tube on it using that lathe. Sharp tools and good magnification and you can do a lot smaller work than you think you might on a machine that size. Moving in 0,01mm increments on my machine at least takes some care but is far from hard.

Regards
Karl
 

Isaac

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Just to slide my note in here,

I have a Taig lathe. Rock solid, simple, and does pretty much anything I ask of it and is very easy to modify and add dial gauges, etc.

I've heard lots of people switch out the Taig's standard motor with Sherline's variable speed setup. Can't go wrong with that, but for what I do I'm not suffering from not having infinitely adjustable variable speeds.
 

Betzel

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Vector - Chinese copies of the Bergeon 8mm Geneva style lathe. All the reviews I've seen appear to reinforce that this is actually a pretty good lathe. It is made with a great deal more care than most "Chinesium" machine tools sold on the market today it seems.
Karl, I've heard this, but just don't know. Good comment! And, well said about the Cowells.

We may have wandered, but this topic has been played before (if you've been here a while). Many of us will end up with a small-scale machine shop to fit different needs at work, and for hobbyists, as much as our spouses/budgets will tolerate. Taxes and shipping are high. As an American living in the EU (with VAT of ~20%) a Sherline will have to wait. If I stay longer, maybe I'll get a Proxxon (etc.) for larger work. About the Vectors, I don't think Flume or Boley (GMBH) would sell anything that was crap, but they seem to only sell to distributors, so where would you actually get a Vector? I know markets are protected, and I don't think Sincere or Merlin are selling these on eBay? To my knowledge, old Geneva parts (Lorch, W-J, Boley, etc) won't fit the Vectors.

Also, Flume and Boley still sell the LEINEN line with many original components, now made by Praetcma. These are great machines standardized for interchangeability, but the quality is better than it was in the old days, so it has to be super-expensive. But again, where to buy? I have a WW83 in the US, an instrument lathe, but with many traditional horological attachments. Personal preferences aside, quality, expansion via accessories, interchangability and cost are key tool purchase factors. For the OP (and others) the question is where to start. We all end up in about the same places?

Superfine: Favorite turns/Watch size lathe with a safety roller/between centers
Watches: 8mm WW or Geneva (a longer WW bed is heavy and gets in the way, but can be handy)
Clocks: A Mini (TAIG, Sherline, Cowells, etc.) or Instrument 8/10mm ---either category needs to have good attachment options
Projects: A sturdy/heavier mill for gears, pinions and flat work, and a bigger lathe (for everything else)

If I were doing it over again, enjoyed clock repair/making, and lived in the US, I would get a Sherline Mini (lathe) first, then accessorize and look for whatever I wished I had while I was using that. Just my opinion after years of collecting antiques, and thinking chinesium (a special amalgalm of recycled whatever?) will work. Not yet.
 

Betzel

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That certainly redefines benchtop machining, and it's working ranges!
 

Betzel

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Back on topic, maybe, I think Vector (like Proxxon and Optimum, etc.) is a branded control process of requirement spec, supervision over production (in China, etc.) and final quality control / tolerances checked, documented and guaranteed for a controlled distribution and (justifiably) higher price. Warco is catching on in the UK, but everything else (AFAIK) is rejected, or run out back as fast as they can, painted other colors and sold via the usual bidders, including Sincere or Merlin on eBay.

Does anyone here buy directly from Flume or Boley? If no, how would you buy a Vector branded lathe?
 

measuretwice

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. The watch and the lathe in question are also pictured.
That's a great looking lathe, what make is it?


We are getting dangerously off topic here
I think a bit of off topic conversation makes for a better forum and helps develop relationships. The regimented strictly business forums can be rather dull, so I don't mind hearing about the musical adventures. Some real Renaissance men here!
 
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wefalck

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Some 25 years ago I used to live in Berlin and could just walk into the Flume outlet there. At that time they did sell to private persons, at least over the counter.

Then I actually looked at a Vector in the Flume shop for accessories that might fit my Wolf, Jahn & Co. (it was before ebay etc. came on-line), e.g. the vertical slide with cutting-spindle. I was shocked by the poor quality - the castings had holes ... I found it far too expensive then, though I could not check the accuracy.

Betzel, are you sure Prätecma still exists and works for Boley ? Just after the Wall came down I met the Prätecma representatives at the Model Engineering Show in London and they sent me a catalogue for the Leinen WW82. In the late 1990s or early 2000s I visited them in Limbach-Oberfrohna near Chemnitz, but understood that they were selling out at that time. Koch, who made excellent chucks for them and others at the same location seems to have stopped that business a couple of years or so ago. I didn't check recently on Prätecma, so my information may not be up-to-date.

I visited Cowells in the mid 1990s to collect a vertical slide from them. The stuff is very well made - sturdy may be the right description, not as light and elegant as the older stuff ...
 
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Jerry Kieffer

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Back on topic, maybe, I think Vector (like Proxxon and Optimum, etc.) is a branded control process of requirement spec, supervision over production (in China, etc.) and final quality control / tolerances checked, documented and guaranteed for a controlled distribution and (justifiably) higher price. Warco is catching on in the UK, but everything else (AFAIK) is rejected, or run out back as fast as they can, painted other colors and sold via the usual bidders, including Sincere or Merlin on eBay.

Does anyone here buy directly from Flume or Boley? If no, how would you buy a Vector branded lathe?
Betzel
I would strongly suggest anyone considering the purchase Vector Lathes, compare them side by side to readily available similar vintage watchmakers lathes. The quality difference is truly stunning Per Wefalcks comments. While I have never owned a Vector Lathe, I have had a chance to work on one some time ago.
My last inspection of a Vector lathe that was boxed with accessories was a late production example at the Lone star regional about a year ago.
If anything , quality and feel of the components had further decreased slightly over earlier examples.

Jerry Kieffer
 

Betzel

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Mike, looks like Karl got himself a Habegger 102 Habegger-Neotor Lathes I'm sure there is a story involved.

Wefalck, guess those days are gone. I think the same for Frei in California? I have not visited personally nor called, but their website is still up at Drehbänke They make other items. Since I chase stuff for my '83, and try to make/copy what I can't find, I download what info I can in case they give up. Boley, Flume and Praetecma provided high resolution images and technical data like taper angles, etc. Where can you actually buy these things? No idea.

Jerry, thanks again. Not a fan of Asian stuff, just trying to understand. What's the use of us saying to the OP it's an option for a first lathe if you can't actually buy one? And, stunning doesn't even cover it when you think about manufacturing processes a hundred or more years ago, and what it must have taken for people to get things that precise in those days. No lasers, no carbide, not even HSS. It's mastery and pride...

 
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karlmansson

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That's a great looking lathe, what make is it?




I think a bit of off topic conversation makes for a better forum and helps develop relationships. The regimented strictly business forums can be rather dull, so I don't mind hearing about the musical adventures. Some real Renaissance men here!
It’s a Habegger DLZTE. Habegger made two basic variants of screwcutting lathes, TDLE and DLZF. TDLE has a single lead screw and a simpler gearbox for the feed. 102mm center height though. The tag @swisstoolmaker (William Brem) has some pretty good footage of his on his Instagram page. The DLZF is a lot larger and heavier, usually with cabinet with motor mounted and belt drive from underneath. Dual feed, overload clutches on both longitudinal and cross feed planetary gearbox for the feeds and 500mm between centers. Not at all dissimilar to Schaublin 102VM. The DLZF has a back geared headstock as well. It has the ways hidden under the bed with a guard to keep the chips away. As I mentioned, mine is a DLZTE which is a DLZF but with the TDLE headstock. Sometimes I miss that back gear... I need to make myself a countershaft. Also, not having the longer headstock means that mine is 700mm between centers.

Habegger made some really interesting design choices in these machines. Not having a ton of experience with machines I can just say that I'm overall very impressed. Every moving part with the exception of the feed selector and gearbox levers, run in ball bearings. The front spindle of mine is a large bronze bearing though with a cotton wick wrapped around it for oil retention.

The "Neotor" designation was (as I understand it) only used on the plain turning bench lathes Habegger made to compete with Schaublin. The screw cutting varieties were all called simply "Habegger - Meinisberg".

More info on the Habegger lathes can be found on Davids site over at Habegger / Neotor Lathes - Anglo-Swiss Tools
On page 22 of the 1952 catalogue you will find my lathe. Only place I ever saw a reference to it.

Not too much of a story other than I saw it in an online listing looking like crap and I got it for not too much. Spent a LOT of time restoring it cosmetically. There is some wear in the bed and some pretty substantial dings. But I manage to crank out some nice parts nonetheless. Work with what you've got I say :).

Regards
Karl
 

Betzel

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Nice restoration on the Habegger. Is that the original paint color? I thought battleship gray was the standard ;-)

Anyway, the OP probably already has a lathe by now, but did not know Walsh sold these, so here you go:

"Precision German made 8mm lathe with a comprehensive range of accessories, housed in a wooden case. Contents: Lathe bar (length 260mm), Headstock (height 47mm), Tailstock, 2 tool rests, Drilling tailstock, Adjustable foot, Compound slide rest, 2 drawbars"

If you can believe what you read these days the Vector is now "German made." Given it's size, cost of about $4200 (with collets ($1200) and a motor $1000, so you're at $6400 now) you have to order it sight unseen, ship it across the pond, pay import duty, and no maker's other parts fit this model, I would rather have a Sherline with its accuracy guarantee and huge selection of optional accessories any day.

[Edit: These look exactly like the ones sold by Sincere and Merlin. Made in "x" can mean a range of things, such as: "Made in China but finished in Germany to a much higher standard than lathes straight from China." So, who knows if they get them fat and hand finish, or cherry pick the ones without defects, etc.? In addition to casting porosity Jerry mentioned, I doubt their iron (or Chinesium) is allowed to rest for a year before machining, so I doubt the higher price gets you more than finishing]
 
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karlmansson

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Nice restoration on the Habegger. Is that the original paint color? I thought battleship gray was the standard ;-)
Thank you! This was the closest that my local paint shop could mix up based on a plate that had escaped the two latest "Bucket 'O Paint" style paint jobs that this machine has had during its life. I scraped off three layers and the bottom most was very close to this, only a little greyer. My plan was to get it as close to original as possible.

K
 
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measuretwice

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It’s a Habegger DLZTE.
Thanks....sure it a beauty. I've a deep affection for the small Swiss machines and have several. I know Habegger from the Aciera F1 and Schaublin 70 copies. Copies may not be a fair word, but I don't know the history, in any event they are among the finest machines every made

I have done a lot of, and written a lot on, machine tool reconditioning which essentially means scraping. If the wear wears (on you), its a fantastic way to restore all bearing surfaces to factory or better accuracy using fairly simple hand tools and techniques. That lathe would certainly be a worthy candidate of the time and attention!

just for kicks, here's a few shots of a Holbrook B8 (another peer in the best lathes ever made class imo) bed I've scraped. Last shot shows a machine tool alignment device of making used to help get the geometry aligned. Work of the length of the bed is to a tenth. Working on scraping the rest of the lathe into the bed. On deck is a Schaublin 70 that was sadly rather abused.

As for colour, I like the RAL 731, a blue grey that imo suits them.

edit. photo links aren't workign. grrr. this site doesn't processes them as I'm used....will try later
 
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wefalck

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Boley are still around, but seem to sell now the Leinen WW lathes (made by Prätecma ?) and Vector D-bed lathes: boley GmbH

Prätecma seems to have moved from Saxony to SW-Germany (Baden-Württemberg).

I didn't follow these developments for the last 15 years or so, as I was fully equipped. There has been a lot of change, as these companies struggle to survive in a niche market. After the unification of the two Germanies the economic realities struck the previously protected companies, resulting first in separation of the state precision engineering 'company' into more or less its original component companies, which then amalgamated or where bought out or went to the wall (with lower case w this time). I thought that Prätecma was one of the latter ones after they bought out some of the Saupe business. My understanding was that what is sold as Vector was originally made in the GDR and later production was moved to China. Perhaps Boley repatriated some of the production or just acts now as an agent.

Anyway, if you are prepared for a shock, you can contact Boley or Prätecma and ask for a price-list.
 
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Rob Martinez

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Thanks everone -- With the help of other NAWCC members I got a great price on a new Sherline 17" (metric) package B with extended 38cm milling attachment and 4 jaw chuck. Now I need to find some child-like first projects to gain some skill at using the lathe for more than just turning an arbor as I polish/replace a pivot... And I am talking baby-step like projects... I found 1 kit that includes plans and material for making a hammer (yes, a little embrassing but hey - gotta start somewhere)..... Any former/current students or instructors out there with suggested sources for first/beginner projects?
 
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Betzel

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Awesome. Jerry won me over a long time ago, so I'm going to live vicariously through you!

Do not laugh at making a hammer. It's not child's play! Of all the projects I've done as part of a distance learning course for clocks and watches in the UK at the BHI, my hammer head was the worst. Making any old one is easy, but making one precisely, e.g. within specified tolerance, was really a challenge. I almost did not turn it in...I did learn that holding things still (using a filing jig) is the only way to do good hand work.

So, one (free, youtube) course on general machining I found worthwhile was a guy in Montreal who used to teach metal / machine shop classes at a technical trade school. His sense of humor needs to be clipped, but he's a good teacher and covers safety well: "Thatlazymachinist" A lot of it is at a larger scale, so I had to re-think it all small, but all the principles are exactly the same. Smaller just makes it harder, IMHO.

It sounds strange, but you could accidentally think these things are toys. Nope. Finger and eye injuries are really bad...
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Thanks everone -- With the help of other NAWCC members I got a great price on a new Sherline 17" (metric) package B with extended 38cm milling attachment and 4 jaw chuck. Now I need to find some child-like first projects to gain some skill at using the lathe for more than just turning an arbor as I polish/replace a pivot... And I am talking baby-step like projects... I found 1 kit that includes plans and material for making a hammer (yes, a little embrassing but hey - gotta start somewhere)..... Any former/current students or instructors out there with suggested sources for first/beginner projects?
Rob
I would suggest the following to get started.

(1) first read the Assembly and instruction guide from cover to cover at least twice.

(2) Properly adjust and align the lathe per instructions and or contact Sherline if assistance is required.

(3) Learn to adjust the lathe tool height in relation to spindle center of rotation again per instructions.

If these three things are not mastered, little good may happen.

(4) You must learn about metals to understand what can and cannot be machined. I will never forget trying to machine a hardened shaft on my first lathe with a HSS lathe tool and thinking the lathe was worthless when nothing happened.

Consultation by metal suppliers will be invaluable.
I would suggest purchasing some 12L14 steel to practice on.

Once you have mastered turning, boring, parting and Work Piece Support as Required, you can then consider a project. But it would be best not until you have mastered the above items.

Jerry Kieffer
 
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Rob Martinez

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Jerry,

Thanks for the info. I bought the steel. However, (showing my ignorance here), I understood that aluminum was a good metal to start on being it is soft and the shavings aren't as unforgiving as steel. Not sure where I got that data but looking at the starter kits (which I will put away for now) they are made from aluminum as well. Might aluminum be my second metal purchase? With my extended bed, how long of a piece can I put on the lathe? The discription said it was 17" between centers... but I assumed the head/tail stock would eat up some of that.... Either way I can cut it down from its current 12" with a saw but I can see my excitement is getting me ahead of myself... I have officially put the credit card down and slowly stepped away... Received a suggestion to make fake bullets as a way to start cutting, etc. Might be an interesting key chain bob...
 

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