What's new
What's new

Lathe recommendation for welding/fabricating shop

drummerdimitri

Plastic
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
I would like to purchase a brand new lathe to complement the metal welding/fabricating shop that I am currently in the process of launching.

With no prior machining skills/experience with lathes, I need help finding a suitable machine.

I would like it to be a manually operated (bonus) to learn how to turn parts by hand but also be CNC capable as I am proficient in 3D design with Fusion 360 and would like to make use of that skill in order to turn parts with complex geometries.

The parts to be made will be done in small batches although I have no clue of their dimensions yet, I believe a "mini lathe" style machine should be sufficient for now.

The machine should be European made such as Proxxon, Wabeco etc. as I am looking for a high end unit that will withstand a shop environment and not a toy for home hobby use.

The parts to be turned will be made out of steel, stainless steel, brass and copper for the most part and flexible tooling options will be a must as well.

I do not have a specific budget in mind, but I'm surely not looking to spend tens of thousand for such a lathe so lets say 10,000$ max as a ballpark figure.
 
Last edited:

Laverda

Cast Iron
Joined
Mar 24, 2014
Location
Riverside County, CA
Wit no machining skills you are gonna scrap a lot of parts learning how to run the lathe. If you have no experience running CNC machines that's a bigger problem if you get one.

You need to become friends with a retired machinist. He will let you know what to get depending on what you are making and show you how to run the machine.

Also never get a "mini lathe" even if you can somehow find one that is not junk.

Always get the biggest lathe you can afford.
 

dalmatiangirl61

Diamond
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
Maybe you have a different idea of what a "minilathe" is, around here its a pos you can order from amazon or harbor fright, and discussions of them are a banned topic. Give a better idea of what you want to make and you might get some suggestions. I'd suggest getting a manual machine for learning, once you master that decide if you want to get a cnc machine.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
Just cold turkey a 12 36 lathe with 3jaw, 4 jaw, collet set, steady, Metric, and Imperial, threading ability to use insert and hss . with a speed reaching 1000...and I like a machine with a taper attachment.
QT: (I have no clue of their dimensions yet, I believe a "mini lathe" style machine should be sufficient for now.) most mini machines prove to be a disappointment. Most (minnies) are not even good to learn the ropes of running a lathe. It is like trying to ride kid's 3-wheel tricycle bike.
 
Last edited:

drummerdimitri

Plastic
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
Maybe you have a different idea of what a "minilathe" is, around here its a pos you can order from amazon or harbor fright, and discussions of them are a banned topic. Give a better idea of what you want to make and you might get some suggestions. I'd suggest getting a manual machine for learning, once you master that decide if you want to get a cnc machine.

Take the Wabeco D6000 lathe for example. This is what I consider to be a mini lathe and should be plenty large enough for my current needs.

I would like to make parts that complement my fabrication work such as handle bars, tools such as collet chucks, threaded rod, adapters for some tools, pneumatic fittings etc. It should be able handle basically anything I throw at it.

I agree with the manual machine prior to cnc, however if that's going to be the case should I would much rather purchase a brand new one that can be adapted to CNC as buying a lathe twice is not something I look forward to do since the market here is very slow moving and selling the manual machine will be a tough thing to do.
 

dalmatiangirl61

Diamond
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
I will suggest you learn how to draw.
Send your drawings to some machine shops that know how to....wait for it...Machine !
 

dalmatiangirl61

Diamond
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
Not sure it is even "glorified" ..and that's pretty damned bad.. Especially for a person who has to learn from scratch, and in a challenged commericial/economic environment as well.



Webb, AFAIK, is a South Korean Wacheon "badging". Yam/Cadillac the Taiwanese competitor.
Both are solid, reliable, performers, "third world" and not-only.
The ad says 100% Taiwan made, I thought the badging was just on who imported them. If that Wabeco is the best Germany has to offer, I'll take something 3rd world.

OP, Taiwan machines tend to be pretty good, mainland china not so much. A job that would take all day on that Wabeco, the Webb could knock out in an hour, what is your time worth?
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
You are "spoiled", Doug.

Chief Engineer would have a verbal discussion with Herr Pelz. Pelz would hand Wagner, Weishaupl or meself s a tiny pencil note with a few critical dimensions. We'd make the part, try it, alter it, build the tooling, start making 20 to 50 thousand a year.

Only THEN did Walter P___ mosey out from Engineering, measure the already-proven f**ker ... after it was an already-proven "win".

And go back to the other end of the building and make ...... ta da... a "drawing".
For the files.

Wuddn' yah KNOW it? Engineering never got blamed for designing a bad part! Only good ones ever made it to the production line.

Then again, Sam Lybarger and Alfred Pelz had been DOIN' that s**t as a team from about 1923, onward, and Pelz only hired toolmakers if we were also telepaths who could visualize in more than four dimensions, (no, that is not a joke..) so.. it was actually fast and easy.
I didn't see where the OP had all these people internal to his organization.
 

Spud

Diamond
Joined
Jan 12, 2006
Location
Brookfield, Wisconsin
I would like to purchase a brand new lathe to complement the metal welding/fabricating shop that I am currently in the process of launching.

With no prior machining skills/experience with lathes, I need help finding a suitable machine.

I would like it to be a manually operated (bonus) to learn how to turn parts by hand but also be CNC capable as I am proficient in 3D design with Fusion 360 and would like to make use of that skill in order to turn parts with complex geometries.

The parts to be made will be done in small batches although I have no clue of their dimensions yet, I believe a "mini lathe" style machine should be sufficient for now.

The machine should be European made such as Proxxon, Wabeco etc. as I am looking for a high end unit that will withstand a shop environment and not a toy for home hobby use.

The parts to be turned will be made out of steel, stainless steel, brass and copper for the most part and flexible tooling options will be a must as well.

I do not have a specific budget in mind, but I'm surely not looking to spend tens of thousand for such a lathe so lets say 10,000$ max as a ballpark figure.
I would very much recomment taking manual turning courses at your local Technical College.
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
It's actually easier when you only have ONE.

Less wasted time "communicating". Just visualize, cut twice........... measure once.

:D
Nowadays......the language of the machinist, is a properly dimensioned drawing.
Let the OP concentrate on what they doo best.
 

lucky7

Stainless
Joined
Sep 6, 2008
Location
Canada
Don’t know about the OP’s machining abilty or needs, but in my town, the welding shop lathes are all hand me downs, never new. And bigger than the toys mentioned.
 

jscpm

Stainless
Joined
May 4, 2010
Location
Cambridge, MA
If you need to ask, it's a signal you should not be getting a lathe. Running a lathe properly is a full-time job and really has no cross-over with fabrication. Focus on what actually KNOW how to do and do that. Don't monkey around with complex equipment you have no idea how to operate. You could spend years trying to learn how to do machining.
 

guythatbrews

Cast Iron
Joined
Dec 14, 2017
Location
MO, USA
Seems like there is more rain than sunshine on your parade. But I agree that a mini-lathe maybe not the best way to go. Even if you can retrofit CNC you get what you pay for and good CNC stuff ain't cheap. Are you searching for a want rather than a need? Go for the mini-lathe if it's a want. If it's a need it's very hard to see how it will work out for you.

If your main focus is a fab shop seems you'd be better served with a nice used engine lathe big enough to really do something. Maybe not many for sale where you are?

Don't think you can't teach yourself a lot. Be wary of classes. Some of the instructors can't do so they teach. Vet them carefully. Get a good old book for apprentices. Atla$ lathes made a good one you can find on ebay Manual of lathe operation.

Don't underestimate the amount of flogging you'll have to take to learn/make on a cheap little lathe. And cheap CNC. And don't use a lathe intended for machining as a weld positioner/rotater. Keep it right away from any welding.

Good luck!
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot_20220801-081418_eBay.jpg
    Screenshot_20220801-081418_eBay.jpg
    951.2 KB · Views: 1

cyanidekid

Titanium
Joined
Jun 4, 2016
Location
Brooklyn NYC
If you need to ask, it's a signal you should not be getting a lathe. Running a lathe properly is a full-time job and really has no cross-over with fabrication. Focus on what actually KNOW how to do and do that. Don't monkey around with complex equipment you have no idea how to operate. You could spend years trying to learn how to do machining.
don't agree. it IS entirely possible to be both a welder and machinist, and the knuckle dragger stereotype of welders is just that. "welder" isn't one thing,
I do more welding than machining, but ive NEVER considered using any of my lathes as a welding positioner.

to the original poster, it seems clear from your descriptions and expectations all that you know, you have learned from YouTube.
lets clear one thing up first, there is no European made "CNC capable" professional grade lathe, and certainly not "high end" lathe for anything even NEAR 10K new.
more like 100K.
also, seems you would be wise to learn about where quality machinery is made, where the "European" branded equipment you cite is actually made, and what a real lathe even looks like.
in other words, start looking for a shop in the real world that has some of the capabilities you want, and maybe start watching some professionals on the tube, not the "toys in the basement" gang.
try watching Curtis of Cutting Edge Engineering, and also same recommendation to the "one note Johnnies" above, he is a shining example of a well rounded talent, and sharp as a tack.
 

Joe Henderson

Aluminum
Joined
May 21, 2006
Location
Blooming Grove, Texas
Until you learn how to operate a lathe I'd suggest a decent South bend lathe or something similar. 16" would do. you crash a gearhead lathe and you're done. CNC is nice but you have to know how to machine in order to do decent work. Trash one of those and you've spent some money. A decent belt drive manual machine will be more forgiving. Good luck. Just my .02.
 

M.B. Naegle

Titanium
Joined
Feb 7, 2011
Location
Conroe, TX USA
One thing I'd add to the above: Don't consider the lathe just another tool to have in the fab-shop. IOW, don't put it IN the same shop. Too many good lathes are ruined by streams of abrasive particles flying over them from the cut-off saw next to them, or the constant rain of soot and dust settling over everything.

Having a lathe in the building can be a big help to any fabrication business, but as others have stated, it takes a different skill to operate and maintain than your typical cut and bead procedure. Depending on your layout, it would be good to have it on the far side of the shop from where all the "action" is and covered up when not in use, if not in a back room of the location. It's not quite "clean-room" territory, but somewhere closer to the offices than the general welding floor is ideal.

Depending on what you plan to do with it too, an older machine might be ideal. If you're cutting mild steel pins and bushings to weld onto other pieces that are .005 or less precision, an old Iron lathe with plenty of wear can be had for cheap and give satisfactory results (to be fair I'm a little biased though). Many fab-shop level parts don't get very long, so bed wear isn't as big a deal.

Having a lathe in the shop is less of a "buy it for everyone to use" kinda tool and more of a "only Joe touches that" kinda tool. That said, since you'll be getting acquainted with it already, making some minor repairs and cleanup to an old iron lathe plays right into it's ownership, Just don't take it as "it's already worn out, so ride it hard."
 

drummerdimitri

Plastic
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
One thing I'd add to the above: Don't consider the lathe just another tool to have in the fab-shop. IOW, don't put it IN the same shop. Too many good lathes are ruined by streams of abrasive particles flying over them from the cut-off saw next to them, or the constant rain of soot and dust settling over everything.

Having a lathe in the building can be a big help to any fabrication business, but as others have stated, it takes a different skill to operate and maintain than your typical cut and bead procedure. Depending on your layout, it would be good to have it on the far side of the shop from where all the "action" is and covered up when not in use, if not in a back room of the location. It's not quite "clean-room" territory, but somewhere closer to the offices than the general welding floor is ideal.

Depending on what you plan to do with it too, an older machine might be ideal. If you're cutting mild steel pins and bushings to weld onto other pieces that are .005 or less precision, an old Iron lathe with plenty of wear can be had for cheap and give satisfactory results (to be fair I'm a little biased though). Many fab-shop level parts don't get very long, so bed wear isn't as big a deal.

Having a lathe in the shop is less of a "buy it for everyone to use" kinda tool and more of a "only Joe touches that" kinda tool. That said, since you'll be getting acquainted with it already, making some minor repairs and cleanup to an old iron lathe plays right into it's ownership, Just don't take it as "it's already worn out, so ride it hard."
Don't worry, I own a 5000 sq-ft workshop split onto two floors. I will eventually dedicate the top floor to any machining works/offices so it is far away from the dust, particles and welding spatters of the fabrication floor.

I would rather stay away from used machines even though I can find some decent ones locally since I have no experience with Lathes and don't know what to look for in terms of acceptable damage/wear.
 

drummerdimitri

Plastic
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
Seems like there is more rain than sunshine on your parade. But I agree that a mini-lathe maybe not the best way to go. Even if you can retrofit CNC you get what you pay for and good CNC stuff ain't cheap. Are you searching for a want rather than a need? Go for the mini-lathe if it's a want. If it's a need it's very hard to see how it will work out for you.

If your main focus is a fab shop seems you'd be better served with a nice used engine lathe big enough to really do something. Maybe not many for sale where you are?

Don't think you can't teach yourself a lot. Be wary of classes. Some of the instructors can't do so they teach. Vet them carefully. Get a good old book for apprentices. Atla$ lathes made a good one you can find on ebay Manual of lathe operation.

Don't underestimate the amount of flogging you'll have to take to learn/make on a cheap little lathe. And cheap CNC. And don't use a lathe intended for machining as a weld positioner/rotater. Keep it right away from any welding.

Good luck!
To answer your question, yes the lathe is more of a want at the moment than a need as I would like to eventually open a machining floor in my workshop with a lathe, mill, surface grinder etc. to expand my skillset and offer the customer more flexibility in terms of fabrication jobs.

That being said, I currently have a lot of time on my hands and would like to make use of it learning a new skill in this case machining on a lathe.

I am a firm believer that learning on the go through trial and error and with the help of all the YouTube tutorials and online literature is the most efficient way to go about it.
 








 
Top