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Lathe Recommendation?


rtrinkner
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Hi folks,

 

I'm thinking of purchasing a lathe so that I can try to make my own tools, create custom cap bands, create custom cap band bushings of PEEK (e.g., to follow Fountainbel's swaging techniques) etc. I'd only be using the lathe for pen repair.

 

I'd greatly appreciate any recommendations for specific models you have used with success for pen work.

 

Thanks,

 

Richard

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Make sure your lathe can cut threads. A taper cutting attachment is also nice.

San Francisco International Pen Show - The next great pen show is on schedule for August 27-28-29, 2021. If we all do what we need to do...you can Book your travel and tables and make SF 2021 the Return. 
 

 My PM box is usually full. Just email me: my last name at the google mail address.

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I have the Harbor Freight version of that lathe, at least it looks the same. They are all made in the same factory in China, and are rebadged by various companies.

Mine has a 12" bed. You have to be aware of the limitations of such a small machine, but it is fine for pens.

You won't be making anything huge on it, but you also don't need a crane to get it into your house!

 

You will probably read a lot of negative stuff about these lathes, but this is usually from people who don't own one and have an aversion to Chinese products.

I am absolutely delighted with mine. Best $500 I ever spent.

 

You probably already found this site, but I'll give you the link just in case:

 

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

 

Edit: and yes, mine can cut threads.

Edited by Jamesbeat
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I have the Harbor Freight version of that lathe, at least it looks the same. They are all made in the same factory in China, and are rebadged by various companies.

Mine has a 12" bed. You have to be aware of the limitations of such a small machine, but it is fine for pens.

You won't be making anything huge on it, but you also don't need a crane to get it into your house!

 

You will probably read a lot of negative stuff about these lathes, but this is usually from people who don't own one and have an aversion to Chinese products.

I am absolutely delighted with mine. Best $500 I ever spent.

 

You probably already found this site, but I'll give you the link just in case:

 

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

 

Edit: and yes, mine can cut threads.

 

 

This one?

 

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-inch-x-12-inch-precision-mini-lathe-93799.html

 

Thanks.

 

Glenn

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Yes, that's the one.

Harbor Freight always have a 20% coupon (sometimes you have to search for it), so I got it for just under $500 including tax and shipping.

 

I was informed that they don't carry the 7x12 in their stores, you have to have it shipped. Shipping was only $9, but it took just over a week to arrive.

 

They do carry the 7x10 version in their stores, but it is really only a 7x8, so the 7x12 is actually 4" longer.

The 7x12 is definitely worth the wait and the extra $50 (actually more like $40 with the 20% coupon).

 

I have only had mine for a few weeks, so I'm very much a beginner, but if you have any questions that I can answer by inspecting my lathe, by all means ask away.

Edited by Jamesbeat
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I have made a lot of repairs, and money, using a little HF lathe over the last 12 years. It has it's limitations, but it is a little workhorse.

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Hi folks,

 

I'm thinking of purchasing a lathe so that I can try to make my own tools, create custom cap bands, create custom cap band bushings of PEEK (e.g., to follow Fountainbel's swaging techniques) etc. I'd only be using the lathe for pen repair.

 

I'd greatly appreciate any recommendations for specific models you have used with success for pen work.

 

Thanks,

 

Richard

Hi Richard,

I'm sure the Chinese lathes will be OK for pen repair and pen fabrication

There are however two important parameters to consider in my opinion :

1- The spindle bore should be at least 20mm.

2- Thread cutting possibility is important, but opt for TPI ( inch) thread cutting. All vintage pens- including Montblanc Pelikan and the Italian brands - use TPI threading.

Good luck !

Francis

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Francis is correct about the inch/tpi requirement.

However... Most lathes provide a lot of alternative gear wheels, and if you have a program that can do the brute force & ignorance calculations on all the wheels you'll find that most lathes can do a lot of different thread pitches that are not included in the manufacturers list. For instance my metric lathe (a re-badged version of the Clarke CL500M) has wheels so that there are over 55000 different combinations, producing about 5000 discreet pitches from 5.73 tpi to 373 tpi. It is almost guaranteed that in amongst those milliards of pitches, there will be one that is close enough to be useful.

I will admit that the only reason I wrote the program was that I was missing 2 wheels from new & didn't notice for 8 years. :blush:

 

You will NEED a collet chuck too. I have an ER32 set, covering 6 to 20mm, which is very useful. Buying direct from China via e-bay is very cost effective. On my set I have a runout that is smaller than half a division on my dial gauge (<0.005mm, 0.0002") when fitted and seated properly, so scare stories about Chinese quality are just that, stories.

 

Regards,

 

Richard.

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Enormous thanks to all who have replied! I have learned that I need to do some serious homework to understand lathe vocabulary, which is all new to me. The link posted by Nanor to an earlier FPN post on lathe terminology is fantastic.

 

I think my younger son, who is a sophomore away at college, would not mind me installing a lathe on the desk in his bed room... Maybe it's time I created a dedicated fountain-pen hobby room.

 

The Harbor Freight models greatly appeal to me. Several of the online reviews mention poor customer service. Has anybody needed to return their lathe due to product failure?

 

Again, I'm hugely grateful for the very thoughtful replies.

 

Richard

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Richard,

When you say 'installing', I get the impression that you mean to use the four corner mounting bolts?

 

My lathe came with four rubber feet, and I have been using it without bolting it down. It's probably not recommended, but it has been completely stable.

I haven't noticed any 'walking' or significant vibration/noise when using it in this way.

 

What I'm saying is that you might not have to drill any holes in your son's desk.

 

Also, an able-bodied adult can move the lathe relatively easily, so it wouldn't be difficult to move it if your son comes to stay for the holidays and needs his room back.

Edited by Jamesbeat
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I bought the extended warranty with my first one. I don't remember what the issue was, but I decided to return it for another, and was able to do so. That was about 12 years ago. Mine sees heavy use and keeps going...

A comment. If there is carpet in the room, you don't want to use it there. Cuttings go all over the place when you us a lathe. Sharp little bits of stuff from whatever you are turning fly off of the lathe and land on everything around it - the lathe bed, the counter top, your clothes, the floor. It is worse than velcro when it comes in contact with any kind of fabric with texture, like carpet. You'll never get it out of the carpet except with bare feet..... you get my point.

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Excellent advice, Ron. Maybe I'll need to use the garage work bench, although I can see bicycle flat tires in that future.

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Chips also get covered in oil and stick to things.

This makes them very difficult to sweep or vacuum up.

I try to clean as I go so that they don't pile up and spill over onto the floor.

Make sure to fastidiously clean chips off the ways and the lead screw!

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Chips also get covered in oil and stick to things.

 

I don't find this; I don't put oil anywhere that it would get on the chips in any appreciable amount.

 

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe

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Richard,

When you say 'installing', I get the impression that you mean to use the four corner mounting bolts?

 

My lathe came with four rubber feet, and I have been using it without bolting it down. It's probably not recommended, but it has been completely stable.

 

In fact, bolting down the lathe from all corners is a bad idea, as it threatens to twist the ways.

 

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe

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In fact, bolting down the lathe from all corners is a bad idea, as it threatens to twist the ways.

 

--Daniel

 

Daniel,

 

That's an interesting thought/observation. I appreciate it my friend. Would/do you do cross corners, only one end, which way?

 

Thanks.

 

Glenn

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Daniel,

 

That's an interesting thought/observation. I appreciate it my friend. Would/do you do cross corners, only one end, which way?

 

Thanks.

 

Glenn

 

There's a good bit of discussion about this among minilathe folks. Mine simply rests on the bench. Coupling the lathe to the bench can help with rigidity and vibration resistance, but in my experience, those factors come into play mostly when cutting larger workpieces made of hard materials (metals), and not when working on pen parts.

 

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe

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