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

Betzel

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Jerry may have a better suggestion, but for me mild steel or free machining (leaded) brass was easier than aluminum, because they are not quite as soft. As you may know, soft metal is "grabby" in that it tends to pull a cutter (drill, lathe bit, graver, etc.) in, like a bunch of puppies on a leash.

It's also is tough to get a good finish on aluminum, which can be frustrating. And, unless you're lucky, you'll find out what "chatter" is all about. If you've got some 12L14, why not give it a go? If your cutter is sharp, and set correctly, and you take shallow passes on a short [5/8" stick-out] stub, maybe you'll make some long, thin "steel wool" chips? I don't think you want to put a long piece in to start with. Stay safe?
 

wefalck

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'Between centers' means exactly that. Howerver, if you use a chuck or collet, you would gain a few extra centimetres, albeit you can't machine them.

BTW, the golden rule is that an unsupported bar should not stick out of a chuck more than three times the diameter. With stiff material, you might get away with four times, but after that it can become unsafe.

Steel is not steel (hence Jerry's recommendation), but given the right kind of steel, I much prefer to machine steel over any other material. Too soft materials, auch as certain aluminiums and brasses, can be dangerous, as the tool can dig in and get caught. I had some bad experiences with aluminium early in my carreer as (hobby) mechanic, but it really depends on the type. So called 'free-machining' steel seems to be the most forgiving material, as long as you don't take too heavy cuts.
 

UncleDoc

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I'm about two months into my learning curve on my Sherline (8" Metric Package B). I started with turning things I had laying around the garage. Eventually bought different sizes of 12L14, 360 Brass and Aluminum. I learned that you (I) cannot machine Copper. Started with HSS tools that came with it to purchasing a set of carbide tools. I'm grinding my own HHS tools now with pretty good success. My first project was making my wife a ring. Certainly much easier than a hammer. Made some washers which was cheaper and faster than driving to Home Depot.

Since then I'm gotten extra tool posts, different (larger) chuck, Learning every day. I agree with Jerry on reading the manual. All you need to know is in there and some won't register until you've messed around for a while.
 
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Jerry Kieffer

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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...
While soft metals are certainly better to start with, free machining steel such as 12L14 is more representative of what will be encountered. If you do not get the same results in other metals, before checking setups and tools, make sure the metal is machinable and your lathe tool is designed to cut it.
Personally, I use the short bed for Horological work and have never had a work piece length issue.
Its also important to support metal if required.

The first photo shows work that is unsupported and where the physical size of the work piece supports the smaller steps again with out issue.

On the other hand, If you were to machine the end of the stock as in the second photo without support, the stock would simply deflect away from the lathe tool tension. If the stock were to be reduced in diameter between the arrows, the center as shown would support the stock and allow you to machine to dimension over the full length.

Just make chips and all will become clear.

Jerry Kieffer

fullsizeoutput_80e.jpeg fullsizeoutput_847.jpeg
 

karlmansson

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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?
A hammer sounds like a great first project! Make sure to set some unnecessary goals for yourself though, work to tolerances and such. That will teach you a lot about how the machine behaves in regards of precision.

A second project to get familiar with the threading attachment are machinists jacks. Basically a nut and screw with flat tops and bottoms that serve as supports when machining parts with overhang. Usually on a milling machine. So maybe you will find use for them later on! But it is a good exercise in fitting and measuring threads. Plus boring in the lathe as you want a smooth and straight surface to start your thread.

Regards
Karl
 

karlmansson

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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
I have gotten a couple of hand scrapers and a small surface plate. Also managed to find some cast iron straight edges that are about 1m long, long enough to cover most of the bed. But I don't have a surface plate large enough to be able to scrape the straight edges in.

Scraping these screwcutters in is also notoriously difficult as any lowering of the bed in relation to the tumbler and gear box will lead to meshing issues at the back of the spindle. I have considered getting my hands dirty with scraping but apart from the above issues it would also mean that I would be without a lathe for the time it would take me to scrape it in. And that would be a LONG time for me. Maybe just scraping the slide ways of the main bed would an option though. The top bed has the most abuse closest to the chuck but nothing will mount there except for the occasional steady rest. And the saddle has room to be lowered down by about 0,5mm. I'm moving soon and so will need to take it apart in any case so maybe that would be a good time to make some measurements.

That's the other thing though: measuring this thing for wear is a task in an of itself. The rear slideway for the saddle is a rectagular groove milled into the rear of the bed. The saddle then comes across the bed and rests on a V in front. The profile looks a bit like a G on its face but without the 90 degree part in the middle. I think I would need something like a sled similar to that to be able to measure with a machine level to get an idea of the wear.

Regards
Karl
 

measuretwice

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Sounds like you are well familiar with the task. Yes the leadscrew and gearbox can need to be adjusted, but the challenging bit imo is scraping the headstock and tailstock in for bearing and alignment.

The key to a bed is getting the V done. All the two surfaces have to be is flat. Then using a precision level, like the Starrett 199, get the long flat done, parallel to the V (I suppose technically its parallel to imaginary apex of the V). Now you've surfaces on which to slide something along carrying and indicator making all the other surfaces relatively easy.

Its for sure a big project I would say one has to really want to take it on....but the rewards are there....and me thinks you may already be bitten with the bug having acquired some tools :)

Here's some of the pics I wanted to post. You mentioned a sled - the last bunch are of an alignment device I designed based loosely off of the old king-way devices - something to act as a sled holding indicators and a level. Being able to move an indicator and level along is fundemental to this work. I also built a swing tool for it - using angular contact bearings, essentially a mini spindle that lets you sweep an indicator. Thats the tool for sraping the headstock and tailstock in

If you get into it, I'll help where I can









 
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Betzel

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I have gotten a couple of hand scrapers and a small surface plate.
Good luck. Machine tool reconditioning maybe deserves its own thread?

With a small "chinese tombstone" and growing assortment of other tools (Height, dial, 123, V, but no gauge blocks) I'm wanting to give hand scraping on some grey cast iron scraps a try as well, but on a smaller scale. Has anyone found small scraping handles (like someone might use for "tight" work) anywhere in the EU?
 

Betzel

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Interesting handle technology, thanks. Did not know!

The difficulty for me (I will probably end up making it from scratch, but I'm relocating as well) is to find a flexibly sturdy piece of steel that I can fasten modified (normal, 2-hole) carbide scraper blades to somehow. A thin step and clamp is needed up front to hold the blade, yet allow the scraper into crevices (v-ways - I have a sticky top slide) and allow the metal handle to give way slightly.

I've yet to do it, but it looks like firm light "springy" pressure is needed to take shaving passes. A half-size version of a "big-boy" scraper? ;-)

[edit] Wow on those reconditioning images. Nice pattern, and thanks for posting. That's not your day job? :)

The scraping on the machine surfaces in the attached is pretty good. But, cosmetically on the sides?

Better than bad nickel plating, looks cool, and it's free practice!

1.jpg 3.jpg 2.jpg
 
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measuretwice

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I just use mild steel, say 1" wide by 1/8" cold rolled bar stock and silver solder carbide blanks onto the end (after lapping the sides of the carbide with 10 micron diamond paste). Make them in batches, its really nice have a stack of sharp ones to grab from

The other thing not mentioned, which is a huge success factor is a fast and good way of sharpening. You lap the sides of the carbide so you can sharpen just by lapping the end. Most guys put a cast iron disk on a motor as a lap, I made one from cast iron disks and a cheaper bench grinder. Scrapers need constant resharpening and very fine edge. With a DOC of 1/10 of thou, a less than fine edge will just bounce over the surface
 
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measuretwice

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here, lots of photos of home made scrapers. If you want it in excruciating detail, I wrote a series that ran for two years in home shop machinist which is still available. Been working on the follow up piece, reconditioning a lathe, that has involved scraping all or part of 6 lathes


edit: Betzel, that scraping looks pretty good to me! Not the day job, most of my career between intermediary work; corporate finance and commercial real estate but several years ago I left it and bought and relaunched a defunct heavy fabrication business....that's the day gig. No real machining there but the guys give me home work occasionally
 
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Betzel

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Mike, I think that link is privileged in WP, so we can't see the content there. "Sorry, you are not allowed to preview drafts."

It can wait, but I'd love to see the content when you have a chance. Thanks!
 

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