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    Default Best Benchtop Lathe

    Hi,
    I am getting back into machining (did a fair amount 20 years ago) and looking for recommendations on the best benchtop lathe made today, preferably not Chinese made as I hear issues with the quality. Money is less of an issue than space is, hoping to stay under 12x30 and keep the weight manageable (under 1000lb, preferably 500ish)
    I’ve been looking at Jet and PrecisionMatthews but both have all sorts of stories about quality issues. Also looking at the used market but nothing of interest has come up. Unlike milling machines where it looks like there are some decent Taiwanese ones for under 5k I can’t seem to find a good lathe option.
    Any thoughts or advice on the best machines to look at would be appreciated (or if anyone has a quality used one in the pacnw)
    Thanks
    Arthur

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    Godspeed...

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    Hi tartcha:
    Prazi, Weiler, Wabeco, Emco, Levin, Lorch, Schaublin, Sakai/Toyo, Hardinge probably a bazillion others I haven't thought of.

    I recommend you go to this site:
    Lathes + Machine Tool Archive

    This site will set you up with many pleasant hours of research.
    All depends on what you want to do and whether you insist on a new machine or will accept a used machine and can recondition it.

    All of these are the "best" depending on what you intend to do with it.
    None are cheapo crap...some are pricey as Hell.
    Everything from watchmaker's lathes to instrument makers lathes, to high end hobby lathes are represented in the list I gave you at the beginning of this post

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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    Thanks! Super helpful

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    Quote Originally Posted by tartcha View Post
    Hi,
    I am getting back into machining (did a fair amount 20 years ago) and looking for recommendations on the best benchtop lathe made today, preferably not Chinese made as I hear issues with the quality. Money is less of an issue than space is, hoping to stay under 12x30 and keep the weight manageable (under 1000lb, preferably 500ish)
    I’ve been looking at Jet and PrecisionMatthews but both have all sorts of stories about quality issues. Also looking at the used market but nothing of interest has come up. Unlike milling machines where it looks like there are some decent Taiwanese ones for under 5k I can’t seem to find a good lathe option.
    Any thoughts or advice on the best machines to look at would be appreciated (or if anyone has a quality used one in the pacnw)
    Thanks
    Arthur
    Get a bigger "Bench".....

    What's wrong with "Floor mounted" anyways ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Get a bigger "Bench".....

    What's wrong with "Floor mounted" anyways ?
    This!^^^

    "Bench Mounted" and a max size of "12x30", pretty much equals cheap import crap, unless you are looking at a LOT smaller machines than 12x36. Or a lot older than you may be happy with, depending on how you feel about using the lathe, vs. working on it.

    Think of it in terms of it coming with it's own bench! It'll open up a lot more opportunities!

    There are lots of decent quality, smaller lathes out there in the wild, but specifying a bench mount, in addition to your upper size limit, excludes an awful pile of what would be far better than average machinery.

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    You mentioned Bench mounted and the first thing I thought of was an infamous one with the name starting in "A". Zinc alloy gears and many other die cast parts, the Asian lathes look very high quality by comparison to the "A" made in America one. So cheaply made isn't necessarily an offshore commodity.
    Find a brand you're thinking of and find videos of guys working on them, I helped an old guy with his Asian benchtop lathe and once we got into it a short ways I knew it could never take a decent cut because it was designed by idiots.

    Lots of plastics and die cast stuff? Well, it is 2021, you're going to get that now, nothing's built to last these days unless you pay a premium.

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    Getting hard to find now in excellent condition, but they are still out there. For a bench top sized lathe, Emco Super 11. High enough original build quality that having one fully rebuilt wouldn't be out of the question if it needed it. And they come with what I think is a very important design option. There tee slotted cross slide. In a home shop with limited room for additional machines, line boring between centers can be of real help. It's basically a free upgrade at the expense of a slightly weaker cross slide.

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    A UK-made Harrison M300 has a 13" swing -- and with the shorter 24" center distance fits nicely on a sturdy bench. Might not be the best, but it's a far more capable lathe than a typical 12" x 30" Chinese import. Particularly if it comes with the taper attachment, metrinch dials, etc. A shadow of its former M300 self is now made in China - still a better lathe than many. It's light enough for one person to move. Heavy enough to make good use of a 3hp motor.

    Unless you're making only small stuff, I can't see the attraction of an under 500 pounds lathe. To me, it's sort of like looking for a 5 pound dog. You might as well get a cat. Ideally, you only have to move a good lathe once or twice. Take the major bits apart and even a 1200 pound lathe and a bit of ingenuity can have one person get it most anywhere - with relative ease. I can see those with seriously restricted space wanting to fill up the 20 cubic feet or so of space under a lathe with drawers and tooling.

    The 11" Emco noted above is also pretty decent. Even better the Maximat V13 which (I believe) could fit on sturdy bench.

    Lots of other good used bench-sit-able lathes. Sheldon, for example.

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    I have been thinking about the same thing for the Garage as I think I can sneak it in-where My American Pacemaker would probably catch the Mrs. ire..

    I really like the Myford's out of England, seem to be plenty available with a lot of literature, and parts and accessories available-most of the re-sellers from England will export and help get the wiring right-of course the German's make some very nice ones also...screen-shot-2021-02-14-2.38.30-pm.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve's Hobby View Post
    I have been thinking about the same thing for the Garage as I think I can sneak it in-where My American Pacemaker would probably catch the Mrs. ire..

    I really like the Myford's out of England, seem to be plenty available with a lot of literature, and parts and accessories available-most of the re-sellers from England will export and help get the wiring right-of course the German's make some very nice ones also...screen-shot-2021-02-14-2.38.30-pm.jpg
    Given a choice, there's only one reason to get a Myford over an Emco Maximat 11.

    You want something to admire and polish, not actually cut metal.

    Agree with those saying to drop the bench mount requirement. My Maximat can be bench mounted, I'm happier with it on its cabinet base.

    Drop the weight limit, too. The Emco is - I think approx 200 kg. My Colchester Chipmaster is ~600 kg. Now we're getting to decent mass & rigidity. Heavier is better.

    PDW

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    best bench top lathe?

    my vote would be this one
    High precision air bearing CNC lathe and grinder - YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by neanderthal mach View Post
    Getting hard to find now in excellent condition, but they are still out there. For a bench top sized lathe, Emco Super 11. High enough original build quality that having one fully rebuilt wouldn't be out of the question if it needed it. And they come with what I think is a very important design option. There tee slotted cross slide. In a home shop with limited room for additional machines, line boring between centers can be of real help. It's basically a free upgrade at the expense of a slightly weaker cross slide.

    Love my Super 11. I can take a decent cut in 4140HT and also dust tenths with it all day long. I've seen some on a bench but the cabinet is better. The t-slot compound is super handy, I mounted a fixture on it and did some drilling in Ti with a simple Z axis Mach 3 set up.

    Emco Maximat Super 11 Lathe








    Last edited by Terry Keeley; 02-14-2021 at 11:34 PM.

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    Thanks all, this is super helpful. The reason I am looking for a bench lathe is I will need to be able to move it, that said I plan on welding up a super heavy duty cabinet sitting on a number of leveling feet, wheels will be on it but not used unless moving it. The best place I have for it is in front of my hvac equipment, won’t be moved often and don’t mind releveling every time I do.
    The Emco looks pretty nice. I also noticed PrecisionMatthews has a Taiwanese made 12x36 that looks interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tartcha View Post
    Thanks all, this is super helpful. The reason I am looking for a bench lathe is I will need to be able to move it, that said I plan on welding up a super heavy duty cabinet sitting on a number of leveling feet, wheels will be on it but not used unless moving it. The best place I have for it is in front of my hvac equipment, won’t be moved often and don’t mind releveling every time I do.
    The Emco looks pretty nice. I also noticed PrecisionMatthews has a Taiwanese made 12x36 that looks interesting.
    I think you should step up to a Smitthy 3-in-1 machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tartcha View Post
    The Emco looks pretty nice. I also noticed PrecisionMatthews has a Taiwanese made 12x36 that looks interesting.
    I don't think the two are in the same league, although it might be guilt by association....i've not used a Prec.Matt tool.

    you guys are so stuck in the last century....want a nice benchtop screw cutting lathe? I've got a Holbrook B8 and a Rivett 608 which are hard to beat.

    If I only had one, it would be heavier floor model. Keeping it small, a standard modern 11 or 12 lathe would be ideal...with the cast iron base.

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    I’ve always avoided combo machines, is there something special about the smitthy ones?

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    Doug is being sarcastic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tartcha View Post
    I’ve always avoided combo machines, is there something special about the smitthy ones?
    Unmentionable on PM but that company was supplying a manual lathe to the Marines a few years ago.
    It was a manual lathe, not a combo model.
    Good chance they still are.

    Buying a benchtop, or any lathe be sure it has all the threads you might need, gears are made of a long-life material. You can get service and parts in the USA or whatever country. The name is old enough to expect parts 5 years down the pike.

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    Makes more sense now, I looked into it a bit and wasn’t impressed


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