Choosing Metal Lathe for Peculiar Purpose - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxcarPete View Post
    Do you have room in your heart for the 5-string banjo?

    +1 on the horizontal mill. It'll take up a lot less space than any lathe with enough swing for you, and all you'll need to do is figure a way to hold your banjo rims in the spindle.
    Ha! There's room still, I think

    Definitely going to have to look into the vertical mill idea, thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Going in a suboptimal direction, here. Large-swing lathes are big and heavy and power-hungry in places where you don't need them to exist nor eat at all.

    WHEN.. you know in advance that the work will ALWAYS be (relatively) large diameter, and (VERY!) short on-axis..?

    A conventional lathe is not what you need.

    The whole "infrastucture" is optimized for a different purpose altogether.
    You do not need a "bed", for example.

    "Back in the day" this is what a "Tee" lathe was built for. They just do not happen to have ever been common.

    So, too, vertical turning lathes. Better-yet, their modern "VMC" equivalent of the CNC tribe.

    Cheap seats? A modified horizontal mill.

    Yes, it would want some "frankenstein' adaptation.
    Just not very much of it.

    No, that is none of dificult, costly, damaging to its original purpose, hard to undo, confusing to set up or utilize, nor high-maintenance, going forward.

    Dead-easy, rather.

    Trivially low cost. TINY floorspace. Low mass to transport. Small power budget.

    Close operator access for ease of set-up and ready access to controls.

    Been done. Lots of times.

    Some examples can be found "right here, on PM"

    2CW
    Thanks for the heads up! I'll have to look into the horizontal mill idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenton View Post
    Leblond 8" Swing Lathe 3hp 3 phase 220v | eBay

    This goofy looking thing may be about perfect for you. No lead screw so no threading. The title says 8" swing but the tape measure seems to indicate 16" over the ways
    What a trip! That really the ideal spec setup on a lathe for my purposes. Thanks for finding that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
    To tie it woodworking, using a Grizzly anything is like trying to use any other Harbor Freight or similar cutting tool and expecting good results. Careful as even discussion of those is not always permitted here.

    As for the combo machines, those are akin to a Shop Smith in the woodworking world. If you think a Shop Smith makes a nice wood lathe and a nice drill press then you might be ok with a combo machine, but I'm not a fan. I've used some "nicer" combo machines, and found them to be less functional than even a beat up/worn out nicer machine with a lot of years on it.

    Often over-priced due to popularity, but older South Bend 10L and similar lathes, while not a highly solid metalworking machine, do have a decent reputation for lighter work. IMO they are an order of magnitude better than today's green imports. Aim for something of at least that quality, but in a size envelope appropriate for your work.
    Yeah, I was wondering about those combo machines that way...Definitely not a Shopsmith fan and was figuring it might be a similar experience. It's a shame too because they have a huge amount of swing in a small package.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    I was wondering the same thing, op might even be able to add some riser blocks to his existing lathe, although he did not mention its size.
    I think I said 12" earlier, but my current wood lathe is actually a 14" swing lathe. Doesn't do half bad with them cross-slide added, but certainly not as rigid as it could be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlgrimmy View Post
    Thanks for the heads up! I'll have to look into the horizontal mill idea.
    John Oder is one who had some good photos on PM of that sort of use.

    You only need two "add-on" items, optionally three:

    1) A faceplate that can hold fixures, clamps, or adjustable "jaws'. All of which are stock parts and common. And/or readily shop-fabbed. No point in a B&S #9 'tail", here as my Burke Horizontal doesn't swing any larger than the lathes I already have. 40-taper tail, OTOH, and the bigger Quartet combo mill can swing an ice-cream table's top.

    2 A "riser" block to set the cutting tool atop. Or a rail for a hand-graver.

    3)The 'optional" item is a compound rest, salvaged off a parted-out lathe.
    That adds taper and angle capability, also "standard" toolpost holding.

    Not much to it as X,Y, and even Z axis are already there - in my case, with power feeds as well.

    Mills are handy to have in any case. Even if your product needs them not, they are useful for making jigs, fixtures, clamps, and tooling - locating holes more precisely than a drillpress, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlgrimmy View Post
    Ha! There's room still, I think

    Definitely going to have to look into the vertical mill idea, thanks!
    Keerful! NOT a "vertical" as-in BirdPort. A vertical as-in Bullard. But now your angle of dangle requires a lot of mass in the ass. Scarce, too.

    Although a "combo mill" (I have one... just not one I would recommend to others!) or a horizontal with an add-on vertical head can be nice.

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    Found this educational about banjo tone rings:

    Banjo Tone Ring Shootout | Metal vs. Wood Tone Ring - YouTube

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    Ball bearings, in a race? in a banjo? Why?

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    As PM's resident banjo maker, here's my 2 cents.

    First, this is a machinist's site, not a banjo makers site, and the advice you get will be interesting and innovative, but not necessarily practical, especially if you have no metalworking experience or capability. Converting a horizontal mill might be a cool solution, but probably more than you want to bite off.

    A metal lathe is a much easier way to go, and will be useful if you ever need to turn longer items or cut threads. You may not think that important, but once you have that capability, it sure is useful.

    The riser block suggestion is also interesting, but again it should be done by someone experienced. Wooden riser blocks on a metal lathe just seems wrong to me.

    14" is the minimum swing to hold 12" rims for sure, and larger is better. Maybe next year 13" will be the new 12", fashions change. As thermite mentioned, a T lathe would be ideal, I'd like one, but I have yet to ever see one. My first lathe was a circa 1905 17" Leblond Heavy Duty. Clapped out, but fine for banjo work, Very low speed, but if you grind your tools properly can take a fine cut. Replaced that with Leblond 17" Regal round head (50's). Much nicer, can cut threads, tapers, a pleasure to work with. But the lathe I use for wood rims is an Oliver patternmakers lathe. Direct drive, 24" swing (not necessary), but unfortunately 10' long. I never go faster than 900rpm for rims, and 450 is fine.

    I'd recommend at least 15" swing. My friend Will Mosheim at Seeders Instruments got a 15" Leblond Regal square head, looks like a great choice. They turn up, I saw a 15" x 24" a while ago, would be ideal.

    Doug- there can never be enuf banjos in the world!

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  14. #31
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    John Oder is one who had some good photos on PM of that sort of use.
    Not especially handy, but the piece to be done was larger than the available lathes

    Probably have to scroll UP to get to Post #1

    * Horizontal Mill As Lathe

    have fun

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    It would require a little innovation, but I think an automotive brake lathe would fit your requirements for size. And you can probably find a used on dirt cheap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve45 View Post
    It would require a little innovation, but I think an automotive brake lathe would fit your requirements for size. And you can probably find a used on dirt cheap.
    Isn't that an interesting thought

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    Quote Originally Posted by richard newman View Post

    But the lathe I use for wood rims is an Oliver patternmakers lathe. Direct drive, 24" swing (not necessary), but unfortunately 10' long. I never go faster than 900rpm for rims, and 450 is fine.
    !
    I sold an Oliver patternmakers lathe to a dealer a while back. It sounds like exactly the same lathe Richard describes. It is 480 volt three phase only with a complex speed switching system that precludes modification, so you would need 480, which can be derived from single phase if you are sufficiently adventurous. If you are interested, I will dig out his phone number.

    Bill
    Last edited by 9100; 09-20-2020 at 05:51 PM.

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    "Deliverance" Snicker!

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    You might want to consider either a 15" or 17" Sheldon VR series machine. They both come in several bed lengths and have an infinite speed range from 45 rpm to 2500 rpm. A quick Google search shows several for sale, however they may be expensive since all the listings say "request a quote".

    Here's a link to an older video of one for sale: Sheldon R-15 15" x 42" Engine Lathe - YouTube

    It should give you some idea of the size and simplicity of operation.

    They are industrial or commercial machines and as such are heavy ( 3,500 to 3,700 lbs.) and will require either 3 phase power, a rotary converter, a static converter, or a VFD. I currently have an M series machine with the infinite drive. Mine might be a bit small for your application in that it only has a 13 1/8" swing. I think mine has the largest swing of the M series machines. Mine is currently being powered by a static phase converter. Converters are available anywhere from $75.00 to $325.00 depending on the brand and size needed.

    Here's a link to a M series machine like mine (WM-56-P) on eBay. The price looks good, but I'm thinking it might have some problems. It's been listed on and off since 2016.

    Sheldon Lathe Model # WM-56-P | eBay

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    I am wondering for brass and wood if a simple lathe and a woodcutting router would work.
    Bil lD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    I am wondering for brass and wood if a simple lathe and a woodcutting router would work.
    Brass is a bit too strong for a wood lathe, but aluminum is possible so long as the workpiece diameter isn't too large. So long as tolerances are like 0.0625" or maybe half that. Basically, this would be whittling.

    If you want to machine metal, it's best to get tools intended for metal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve45 View Post
    It would require a little innovation, but I think an automotive brake lathe would fit your requirements for size. And you can probably find a used on dirt cheap.
    If the OP likes that idea and thinks it will work, send me a PM, I have a working unit that is in need of a home, it is old heavy duty one, in Nv.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    Brass is a bit too strong for a wood lathe, but aluminum is possible so long as the workpiece diameter isn't too large. So long as tolerances are like 0.0625" or maybe half that. Basically, this would be whittling.

    If you want to machine metal, it's best to get tools intended for metal.
    I meant using the router as a rotating tool in the toolpost of an old metal lathe.
    Bill D.


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