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machine part material for small lathe


Dec 4, 2021
I have a number of smaller incomplete lathes in my possession. From a small, unknown watchmaker's lathe, 4.5" swing, up to a 8" Southbend. Much of what I need to replace would be milled from rectangular bar stock, some round stock also. I've read a long time ago an ideal material would be class 36 gray iron. That's not readily found, but class 40 gray iron is, in a few different supplementary grades (G2,...), having to do with what exactly I'm not presently sure, hardness maybe. I imagine the 40 stuff would be an acceptable substitute. The big question is whether cast iron is really necessary at all. I'm not put off by the prices of a relatively small amount of cast iron, but steel bar stock is far more easily found, and if you find the right supplier, considerably cheaper. At least that;s how it used to be. The damping quality of steel doesn't seem to differ all that much from the iron. Would parts made from steel be entirely unacceptable for home shop work?

A few items I would have to have cast. Cattail Foundy seems to be open for business still, I'd probably check out their prices (which I have done years ago and they weren't too bad).
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Jul 16, 2004
Houston, TX USA
Steel yes bar stuff C1018 or ASTM A 36

Really nice cast iron bar and plate is made and sold by such as DURABAR

Large pieces of nice machining steel plate are like ASTM A516