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  1. #1
    Registered User Glenn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Central Florida

    Why do I need a lathe?

    OK, so it is a bit of a loaded question. But the real one is this:

    For those of you who own a lathe, or even those who want to own one, why? What do you make on it? What can I make?

    The reason I ask is because there have been a couple of times in my life that I have had a need for one. Sometimes I could get access to one, other times I figured out other ways of completing the project. None the less, I want one. But honestly I don't know if I can justify owning one.

    So I would like to hear about some of the projects you have done, would do, or will do.

    Glenn H. Shelton III
    My Garage Pics

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Syracuse, NY

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    I had a 13" LeBlonde Lath, and a Bridgeport mill. After buying the tooling, and machines, you realize you could have farmed out the piece you need, and been $3-4000 ahead. + your time...

    Scrap metal made....while you wait!

    The difference between a difficult problem and an easy problem, is having the answer!

  3. #3

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    I recently was bitten by the machining bug. and I find that I use the lathe for things I never thought I would and it does take time to get used to the machine and tooling can be a hassle to find and expensive that said. today I ofset drilled and bored out 2 pieces of 1/2 inch plate i think it was 3" X 4"
    the hole is a loose fit on a 1" steel rod. this is for a tubing bender i am building. also I am turning a 6" round piece of steel to make the die for the bender as well. pictures are posted here look under shop built tools. also I am making the Ideler and drive wheels for the belt sander which are slightly crowned.
    My only real advice is get a lathe that is big enough to do something with and not wore slap out. american lathes made in the 60's seem to do pretty well. as you can see I have 2 lathes a big and a small one. I use the big one more but each has it's place. I still need a toolpost for the little lathe and a few other things. it all really boils down to if it is something you like to do. it is not only a money thing.depending on what part of the country you live in will as to how much you would have to spend for used equipment (supply and demand) If you have any specific questions i can probably answer them I have been doing the machine thing for about 3 years and have had some time at the local VO-TEC and a couple of very gracious people helping me, as well as the huge resources on the internet.
    Happy Hunting
    archie =) =) =)

  4. #4
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    My assessment? Archie has a lot of nice toys!!! That green lathe is a monster!

    Love to learn more about your bender you are setting up. Looks mighty stout!
    Last edited by Cebby; 11-10-2006 at 09:52 PM.

  5. #5

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    Like you I have been thinking of picking up a lathe for small
    projects. I just finished fabbing a bead roller, and would like
    to cut my own profiles. I googled 'lathe projects metal" ,and
    came up with a ton of interesting results. Here is one with
    a lot of interesting ideas, and projects, check out the
    Bonneville racer he's building.

    Hey, if we want a tool, buy it! LOL I know you have room for one!


  6. #6

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cebby View Post
    My assessment? Archie has a lot of nice toys!!! That green lathe is a monster!

    Love to learn more about your bender you are setting up. Looks mighty stout!
    I know where there is another lathe like it that migh be bought. It's grey though.
    as for the bender I am using the pro tools free plans and I was by the junk steel place and found the channel for 14 dollars as it turned out that peice of steel was at the absolute maximum size my power hacksaw would handle.
    the holes were slightly offset because the steel is wider than the plans called for. but all in all coming along. posted a couple more photo's this weekend. the radious tool and maybe sander/grinder too
    archie =) =) =)
    P.S. thanks for the compliment. .... using tools to make tools.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Fort Wayne, IN

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    I've had a lathe of one sort or another for the past fifteen years or so. I now have three South Bends and a huge Clausing that someday will get put together.

    The South Bends get used almost everyday mainly, making tools for the project of the day.

    If you can find one you can afford, don't hesitate to get it.

    As for the cost of tooling, (George Costanza voice on) fuhgedabuitit!(George Costanza voice off). Enco has all manner of tooling at stupid cheap prices. Once you get good at running the thing, or find you need better tooling, buy better tooling. Chi-Com tooling only hurts me when I consider the politics behind it.


  8. #8

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    I'm kind of asking this myself right now, except that I was browsing CL a few weeks ago on a Sunday when the wife was at work. Guy had several things fs. He's a contractor and seemed like he needed some cash. Or maybe just scamming me!

    I was mostly after the parts washer. It's a few years old, on a safetyclean barrel, a few gallons of cleaner, works and it looks in good shape for $35. (with the original barrel that hadn't been used) because I think that it would be handy.

    Also had a 9" South Bend lathe "B", 4' bed, on the tube style base. His building used to be an industrial electric motor shop (family owned) for about 60 yrs, and the lathe came with some other stuff when he bought the building. 3 and 4 jaw chucks, change gears, and a few boxes of parts, accessories, and old tooling.

    I didn't have anything but my eye to judge it with, except that it ran when plugged in in both forward and reverse. The stuff from the shop seemed like it was in ok shape, it was bought to do the job and it didn't look abused, just used. I don't want to say what I paid, but it was pretty reasonable. (less than an import) I could easily online auction it whole and get back my money.

    I can't really decide to hold on to it and or just move it and take the cash.

    I've never used a metal lathe, but I always kind of figured I would have one just because I like to learn about tools and how to make things. I got one, but I got no idea how to use it. Last week, the local paper featured a machine shop here with apprentices and talking about how they can't find people to work there. I'm a little beyond changing jobs, but it sure appeals to my learning jones!

    If I keep it, it isn't like the children will go hungry. Just don't want to mess it up, and I'm not sure how best to learn how to use it. My space is at a premium.



  9. #9
    Contributing Member MXtras's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Somewhere in Virginia

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    Just buy it, play, learn and then if you don't like the thing, sell it. Older lathes hold their resale pretty well - as long as you are not getting sacked when you buy it and as long as you don't destroy it in the process!

    If you are contemplating buying it and you don't, you will kick yourself down the road.

    Valentine'e day coming up - tell the misses its for her!


    If it wasn't for the last minute I wouldn't get anything done

  10. #10

    Re: Why do I need a lathe?

    Go to Lindsay Books online and pick up a copy of the old South Bend lathe manual "How to Run a Lathe"...No. 21150 for $7.95. While it won't answer your every question, it is a very clear primer for lathe operation as well as being specific to your "B" model.

    As to whether you'll use that new/old lathe...depends on the work you do, but it will give you the ability to do much more work/operations than if you didn't own a lathe. If those boxes of parts and accessories contained a milling adaptor, you can even do small milling operations with the old South Bend. Parts are plentiful for the 9" if you should need to refurbish anything on that lathe. My vote....keep it...and use it!!!!

    If you do decide to keep the machine, clean the wear surfaces, buy a quart of way oil for the machine and coat the ways. Grit is the biggest killer of precision on any lathe and the way oil will keep wear to a minimum.
    Last edited by Wyoming; 02-11-2007 at 01:28 AM.

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