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Mini lathe and mill

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  • Mini lathe and mill

    I don't know if any of you have or have used in the past a mini lathe or lathe mill combo. I am currently looking for something large enough to work on custom bike parts, spacers, risers, intakes flanges, exhaust flanges, and other stuff. Not looking to resurface fork legs so no need for something that large.(yet). Just looking for anyone two cents on the matter, recommendations etc. Or if anyone has something for sale or may possibly be looking to get rid of. From what I can tell from the import machines they are for the most part a rebranded Jet. Same part #s etc. I know that you can mill with a lathe too with the right cross slide setup so maybe for now one wouldn't need a mill yet and perhaps I would be better to just keep the two separate. Want to start small, small projects/ parts. But the machine needs to handle most motorcycle parts.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    i have a mill/ lathe combo that i use in my garage. i started with a mini 7x12 harbor freight model but quickly found out it was way to small (and underpowered) i would go with something much bigger than you expect you want so you can grow into it and it will be ridged enough to handle the strain of cutting steels.

    i own a smithy granite I-Max and im pleased with it for what it is. its better to have a seporate lathe and mill but for the home space is allways a issue. Click image for larger version

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    my Wallet is Getting dangerously close to spontaneous combustion


    • #3
      Was the harbor freight machine too small power wise, or too small for the size the pieces you were working on? I know you can add a 4 bolt plate for the tooling on the cross slide instead of the original 2 bolt setup and that supposedly makes a substantial difference in rigidity and improves the cutting ability. Theoretically no more work trying to climb the cutting tool and stall the machine. I don't know any of this first hand but it is what I have read so far. If you have any other advice please share, I would like to be as informed as possible before I make a decision on what to get. Thanks smokescreens.


      • #4
        I was in the machining trade for approx. 20 years and its always better to have separate machines as smokescreen (SS) stated. However it cost more typically for separate machines and takes up more space. A multi-tool always reminds me of the ole shop smith woodworking tool, same concept. Upside is more compact, usually cost less. Downside is having to change setups whenever you need to perform an operation that you're not setup for, so if you're trying to fine tune something you may be going back and forth. The big downside is usually capacity and rigidity. moving the table/cross slide to drill holes doesn't require as much rigidity as milling steel. I've never used a multi-tool so i can't speak of experience on that but i do know you will be happier in the long run with purpose built individual tools. That being said, space and budget constraints always cause us to make trade offs. I agree with SS, if you get a tool get one bigger than you think you'll need or you'll probably be trading up in short order.

        Also, keep in mind the tool is self is just the initial cost, you have to get ancillary accessories and tooling.

        I'd like to hear other peoples experience with multi-tools. I'd also like to hear Mort weigh in as he was a fabricator also.
        2012 Road Star Silverado S


        • roadiemort
          roadiemort commented
          Editing a comment
          We had separate machines, Milling, Radial drill, Lathe, never used a 3 in 1 myself.

      • #5
        Most of the inexpensive 3-1 machines are underpowered (no torque) and can’t drive less than about 500 RPM (too fast for decent steel work)
        we have a 3-1 at work that is pretty much a 400 pound boat anchor. Can’t make much of anything bigger than a pair of fists. Not enough travel for anything of real length or area. Better off to dig for a better quality machine. You can get table top 3-1 and 2-1 deals at pawn shops to learn a little on and make your notes on what it does not do for you.

        Wherever you go in life, ride there if at all possible.


        • BubbaKahuna
          BubbaKahuna commented
          Editing a comment
          "Can’t make much of anything bigger than a pair of fists."
          I guess that could be taken a couple different ways ...

      • #6
        mine is a 12x24 though i have chucked up 13" stock as well. 2hp 240v and i can turn the rpm down to about 50rpm or so a d still turn steel pretty good.

        the harbor freight one i has was way underpowered as well as not ridged at all. it would stall and crash on 6" diameter aluminum when trying to take off only 0.005"

        but they way i looked at it is i learned on a machine tgat wouldnt hurt me to bad if i did something real dumb, lol also almost all the gears are plastic inside the harbor freight and it has a cog belt driving it that is not much thicker than a rubber band. plan on replacing parts often. but you can get parts as well as upgraded parts for them. but its still going to be a hf lathe just a little less prone to busting.
        my Wallet is Getting dangerously close to spontaneous combustion


        • D-Fresh
          D-Fresh commented
          Editing a comment
          Your machine definitely looks beefy compared to most of the stuff i've seen. The lathe portion of your machine looks pretty standard. I'm curious, how does it fair when using the side of an end mill when squaring up bar stock? What's the largest size end mill you can side cut with as well as the thickness of the stock?


      • #7
        i havent really played with the mill much other than some aluminum. i did run a fly cuter with about a 3" wide pass and it left a nice finish.
        my Wallet is Getting dangerously close to spontaneous combustion


        • #8
          This is the machine I am currently looking at, Smithy 1230 LTD comes with some extras to get a guy started. Appears to be large enough for me. Please tell me your thoughts on this machine.
          Attached Files


          • #9
            that will probably be ok for light work. just dont expect to be able to take big cuts.
            my Wallet is Getting dangerously close to spontaneous combustion


            • #10
              I don't expect to take very big cuts. This definitely isn't very husky as far as rigidity and hp, but as far as size and capability it seems to easily exceed the mini machines. I have been drooling over the granite xt max, it still isn't a production machine but it has 2 hp motors as apposed to 3/4 hp motors. Problem for me is being able to afford it. Plus side is that the wife is on board now to get the machine and that's half the battle right there. Had to tell the wife I won't hurt myself again ( long story short) can't say I blame her for being afraid I almost had my arm torn off and choked to death. Moral of the story is respect the machine and how dangerous they are, don't get complacent, be confident, cautious and smart. Don't do stupid


              • #11
                so you had a prior lathe accident? Speaking of safety, don't wear rings while operating machinery that rotates or climb ladders.
                2012 Road Star Silverado S


                • #12
                  Yes sir I did. No loose clothing, long sleeves of any kind, no gloves, unless they are latex or something like disposable medical gloves, definitely no rings. If you're cold get a heater. The cost is too great to be complacent believe I know. I broke my arm 2/3 up my forearm almost a compound fracture, lathe took my glove then my sleeve to the pouch of my heavy sweatshirt until it began to choke me with my ear and my cheek rubbing the headstock. Fortunately I had shut the machine down when I knew I wasn't getting out of my glove, had I not shut it down I would have been a stain on the shop floor. I was moonlighting over my lunch break and in a hurry. You absolutely cannot rush especially with old heavy ww2 iron. There's nothing like playing tug of war for your life listening to your clothes being split off of your body and feeling it tighten around your neck, gave me the heebeejeebees for a couple years to even think of what happened. Needless to say my wife has her reservations about me getting a machine and rightfully so. I learned the hard way unfortunately, some are lucky enough to learn from others, I was successful with emry cloth doing it wrong until it got me, I went for more of a purchase on my workpiece, was goin good until I went over the keyway. Didn't even know I was hurt when it was over and I got out of the lathe, stood up and saw my arm, it should have been pointing horizontal but it was pointed at the floor. Next seven days spent in the hospital. Broken bones don't hurt its the swelling that hurts like hell. Hopefully others can learn from my mistake.


                  • #13
                    Managed to dredge up some copies of my xraysX. Click image for larger version

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                    • #14
                      Not an experienced machinist but will add this. I bought an 11” Sheldon lathe in very good condition for $400.00 I have more than that in tooling but I have made some antique tractor parts that I could never find and some repairs around here and I believe it has more than paid for itself. I did buy a big red emergency shutoff to add to this large as the foreword and reversing switch isn’t in an ideal spot for an emergency.
                      I keep looking for a large bench mill.


                      • #15
                        good deal on the sheldeon. everything in my garage other than my welder and reloading press has paid for itself. the reloading press would have but i keep buying more stuff for it to expand my caliber selections. im up to 9 calibers i think, lol
                        my Wallet is Getting dangerously close to spontaneous combustion


                        • AR. Hillbilly
                          AR. Hillbilly commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I’m guessing your press may have paid for itself as well. Maybe you have some dies that owe you a little. I have a mechanics machine co. Camelback drillpress from 1894 that came from the Daisy BB gun factory.

                      • #16
                        great posts! i bought second hand,
                        first lathe was way to small- lucky to onsell with minor loss, i did look at the multi tool lathe/mill combo but decided to give them a miss. one thing to consider is the spindle bore size and the swing of the chuck
                        here is what i have - i prefer to have single use machines but i have the space- 2 mills and a lathe.
                        on the lathe front i agree with others its always better to have some thing bigger than you think your going to need, before i got my mills i tried using the vertical mount mill plates to some degree of success
                        my mills are sat on 44 gal drums full of concrete and that keeps vibration down
                        my lathe is a 600 mm bed, would like to get bigger at some point, but happy to wait for the right one to show up.
                        i chucked in a pic of my press- i made that in the xmas break last year , the smaller blue mill helped with that- with the f# semi gig Click image for larger version

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                        if i cant get all the pics on in this post ill just chuck them up in succession


                        • #17
                          Nice gear. Hopefully soon I will be able to capitalize on some equipment off of Craigslist. Seen some decent deals on older production machines. From what I saw a couple months ago for the price of a Smithy I can get a lathe and a mill.


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