looking to buy very first lathe

Yes, it can be legal to make a silencer. For everything Form-1, from silencer designs that are easily made, to filing forms with the BATF, to 3D modeling. Remember, you must have an approved BATF Form-1 to make a silencer. All NFA laws apply.

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kohalajohn
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looking to buy very first lathe

Post by kohalajohn » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:13 pm

This purchase would be my first lathe. Looking at a basic all purpose Grizzly.

G4015Z—19-3/16" Combo Lathe/Mill

I'm not a machinist. Just a semi retired guy with average handy man skills and a wish to get into the hobby. For Form 1 suppressors of course, but for general interest also.


Comments appreciated.

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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by goodsteel » Tue Jul 24, 2018 2:24 pm

I've got a lot of experience running all sorts of lathes. In my humble opinion, the Grizzly is low quality Chinese junk. Yeah, it's extremely versatile Chinese junk, and it will get the job done, but for the same money you could buy a nice old lathe that's built like a Roles Royce.
For myself, I invested in an old LeBlonde Regal 17" swing with 8 foot ways. It's a wonderful machine and I run my gunsmithing business on it. Occasionally I get in trouble with metric threads, but other than that, I'd put it up against the highest end lathes on the market today, and the Grizzly stuff looks like a high point next to an old Wilson 1911.
I gave $3500 for it installed and that's a HELL of a lot of lathe.
If you were to go looking at a nice YAM, Atlas, Clausing, Turnmaster, Southbend, etc I think you could get the lathe, and a boat load of tooling for less than the base machine from Grizzly.
Look at this one on ebay:https://www.ebay.com/itm/Metal-lathe-At ... itleDesc=0
If you buy something like that, sure it aint very pretty, but it doesn't have to be, because if you can't run a paintbrush, you've got no business running a lathe.
On a lathe, the main thing you have to have to do good work is excellent spindle bearings (and they rarely go out). Just chuck a piece of stock and take a light cleanup cut with a sharp tool on a slow feed and high speed.
Place an indicator on the fresh machined surface and see if it runs true to less than .0002. If it does, you're golden.
Next, cut threads on that surface, then make a nut to go over those threads. If they fit tight and screw together smoothly, you have a good halfnut. If they feel like garbage, check your lead screw and half nut. Replace if necessary.
Past that, you need a good live center which is easily replaced if its bad, and sharp tooling, which will be a constant effort anyway.

The point is, you'll want to run these same tests on the new Grizzly if you decide to go that way, but if the Grizzly fails, it's because of cheap junk components, and you'll be replacing them with cheap junk components when they break, whereas the old machine parts will be replaced with new old stock from a time when a machine tool was a much more serious thing and all parts are overbuilt and carefully crafted by or for Americans to make a living with.
It's just a much better situation of quality with the old stuff in my opinion.

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kohalajohn
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by kohalajohn » Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:48 pm

Very helpful. Thanks

ECCO Machine
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by ECCO Machine » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:47 pm

goodsteel wrote:I've got a lot of experience running all sorts of lathes. In my humble opinion, the Grizzly is low quality Chinese junk.
I have the same opinion, less humble. I wouldn't want Grizzly lathes or equivalent Harbor Freight, Seig, Cummins, Microlux, etc. (Same machines) if they were given to me.

You don't have to spend as much or go as big as Goodsteel to get a very serviceable machine. You do have to educate yourself on lathes to get a good deal in the used market, though. A clapped out quality machine won't do any better than a sloppy new chicom piece, and you can easily become upside-down on your investment bringing them back, assuming you can even find the needed parts at all.

Southbends are very well known, and decent machines, but, like Bridgeport mills, the name recognition brings with it a price premium. There are LOTS of other domestic & European machines of equal or better quality that can be had for less. Shop Craigslist, be patient, and carefully research the machines you're considering. You want a standard bench lathe/engine lathe with screw cutting capability, preferably with a quick change gear box. Personally, I'd rather run belt driven back geared machines than geared head for smoothness, but either will work. Plain bearing headstocks are fine if you know and work within their limitations, and can actually give a smoother finish than most ball or roller bearing machines, but bearings are far more tolerant of neglect and abuse, so less likely to have slop in used machines, and generally cheaper/easier to replace if they do.

I strongly recommend at least a 10" swing and 30" between centers. A good machine in that range that can usually be found between $1k-$2k, depending on condition and tooling, are the Atlas QC54 or the later, heavier Atlas-made Craftsman Commercial model 12"x36". Similarly sized 9" and 10" Southbends would fit the bill, too, but there are a lot more variables with so many models from SB. These machines are not going to be nearly as rigid as the heavy engine & tool room lathes many of us are running, but they're superior to the Chicom stuff, have excellent support, and are small & light enough that moving and making room for them isn't a daunting task. I love my 17x60 Rahn-Larmon engine lathe, but with a footprint of 4' deep and almost 10' long with a weight in excess of two tons, it would be really hard to justify if I weren't making money with it. The big 16"+ swing machines also don't typically wind up very high, maybe 800-1,000 RPM, are more expensive to run, to tool up, to maintain. On that note, while I use the snot out of my Atlas 618 for secondary ops and polishing, it's a bit small for general use. My Hardinge HCT is an amazing machine, but having a short chucking lathe with no tailstock as your only machine is the pits, even if it is as good as the Hardinge. If I lived in a place with an average sized garage and were just doing personal stuff as a hobby, of the 6 machines I own, my Southbend Heavy 10L would probably be the one I'd want.
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by T-Rex » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:28 pm

ECCO Machine wrote: Southbend Heavy 10L
This is a good recommendation.
Completed Builds www.silencertalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=79895
Burst Calculator www.engineersedge.com/calculators/pipe_bust_calc.htm
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by cdhknives » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:25 am

https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads ... the.66135/

There are a LOT of similar threads in machinist forums all over...along with 'what to get for my first lathe' threads. Read read read. There isn't anything special about silencers with regards to lathe selection except some nice features on larger lathes to make holding tubes easier. For example on my little 10" Atlas I have to use a steady rest to hold the tube for threading. A larger lathe with over 1.5" spindle bore can do the same thing through the headstock on a standard chuck.
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kohalajohn
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by kohalajohn » Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:49 pm

Thanks.

I'm starting to research that Southbend model.

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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by fishman » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:08 pm

For example on my little 10" Atlas I have to use a steady rest to hold the tube for threading. A larger lathe with over 1.5" spindle bore can do the same thing through the headstock on a standard chuck.
my spindle bore is like 3/8" and my chuck is about 1/2" deep. I know that feel.
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John A.
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by John A. » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:28 pm

My 7x12 cummins has more spindle room than that. It's around .80'ish through the spindle. Large enough for most standard barrel diameters.

Still not as large as I would like though. I wish I could get at least 1-3/4". That would be about as large as I could foresee ever needing for anything.
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by ECCO Machine » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:18 am

John A. wrote:My 7x12 cummins has more spindle room than that. It's around .80'ish through the spindle. Large enough for most standard barrel diameters.
Most of those 7" chinese mini machines have a 20mm through bore. The headstock is short enough that you won't really get into the larger diameter of a tapered barrel, but 1) there's really no room to adjust for bore axial alignment and 2) even if you can, having any offset weight on those tiny machines will make them shake like an agitator.
John A. wrote: I wish I could get at least 1-3/4". That would be about as large as I could foresee ever needing for anything.
With perhaps a few exceptions, you're looking at a pretty big machine to get 1-3/4 though bore, usually at least 15" or 16" swing. My Rahn-Larmon is 1.8".

It's not difficult to find 1.3"-1.5" in home shop sized machines, though. The SB Heavy 10L is 1-3/8. My Hardinge HCT is 1.41" at the rear, constricts to 1.3 just behind the snout. That has been large enough for pretty well any barrel that doesn't have tangs or bosses attached. For threading those barrels, or others which cannot be easily removed from the receiver, I have a giant cat's head that I use in the 17x60 Rahn-Larmon.
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by John A. » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:32 am

ECCO Machine wrote: Most of those 7" chinese mini machines have a 20mm through bore. The headstock is short enough that you won't really get into the larger diameter of a tapered barrel, but 1) there's really no room to adjust for bore axial alignment and 2) even if you can, having any offset weight on those tiny machines will make them shake like an agitator.

Both points are very true.

When threading barreled receivers, the whole machine will rock the entire time you're working on the piece.

But I have threaded a bunch of barreled receivers on it nonetheless.

Being my intro to lathes, I have learned a lot on the machine and despite it's shortcomings, was worth the $250 I paid for it. I have saved more money than that just threading my own barrels and now I can do it myself. That's worth more to me than what I have in it.
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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by alordnapa » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm

I have a Cummins 7 X 12 that I generally reserve for small parts made of aluminum or plastic. It is pretty representative of Chinese Mini-Lathes ( Most of which I assume are actually made in the same factory) and with some upgrades, i.e, bigger chuck, better tail stock parts, etc, its very serviceable for small jobs. It will never be a gunsmith's lathe; its just not up to snuff for real precision. Also, you tend to buy accessories that will probably be useless on "real" lathes. On the other hand, as fairly cheap entry level toy, it will allow you to learn the fundamentals, and if you do something drastic and stupid ( Assuming you still have fingers and eyes afterwards, and still care) its not so expensive that you will weep over the unit being toasted. If you need a lathe for threading barrels, turning profiles, holding the kinds of tolerances that silencers require, I suggest starting out with a good lathe. Grizzly actually has a few pretty good lathes, but these do not include the combination machines, which in my opinion, are largely worthless. Not everything from China is total junk.

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Re: looking to buy very first lathe

Post by BinaryAndy » Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:58 pm

If you want something brand new, try to get something Taiwanese if you can afford it. They tend to be made much better than the Chinese options, and they usually use better spindle bearings, which is very important.

If used is an option, the Japanese and Korean machines are generally best suited to this hobby. Look far Takisawa, Hwacheon, Mori, Okuma, etc. The American lathes are great iron, but the Jap machines tend to have much higher spindle speeds, which is nice for a lot of reasons.
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