I think I answered you on the other board as did Neil. It seems kinda expensive considering the knockoffs are $50. I think you are going to abandon the $200 just as fast. l think in your situation it might be worth trying, but I would expect to clean up the miters a little bit. I still say get a lathe, but it isn't going to hurt you to try this. I'd get the one from Grizzly myself. The problem I have with all of them is the thing that holds the tube. It looks like it would easily dent a tube, a problem that I'd rather not think about any more
You might want to look in the archives over there to find out what kind of hole saws people are using. They aren't using the kind of holesaws you get at the hardware stores, because the teeth on those are too aggressive, and they aren't precise enough. Lots of people are using hole saws.
The thing about a lathe is that almost any one will do you. You keep posting looking for ways to save time. I assert that getting a lathe will end up saving you more time over more operations than all sorts of gimmicky shortcuts. It's up to you. I understand that a lathe is a big investment in time, energy and space.
I have the Grizzly one and it works ok but I did made some mods. First, I use some 1"x1" angle iron over the tubes inside the tube holder to make sure they don't get dented. Second, the tube holder is about 4 mm off center from the hole saw shaft. So I had to put a file underneath the 1"x1" angle iron on the "V" side to raise it up so the centerlines intersect. Third, I had to make my own scribe mark for the angle indicator since otherwise, you have no idea what angle you're at. Fourth, the hole saw adapter that came with it was not even close to being square nor concentric (outside threads to inside threads) so I had to use the adapter that came with my Rigid hole saw kit (6 pieces, $38 at Home Depot). Fifth, the bolt that secures the tube holder stripped without nary a pull so I had to get a replacement. Sixth, not really a mod, but keep in mind there are both metric and english bolts on this friggin' thing. So, needless to say, lots of issues. But it does work fine. And Grizzly has been really really responsive to my problems which doesn't make up for a crappy product, but at least has made it workable.
I don't think you can find a $200 lathe, although it has happened. I don't have experience with the notchers. I tried notching in a drill press, and failed miserably. So I went back to files. I probably would have bought a notcher had they been available back then. Now I have a lathe and a mill.
The problem I had notching with a drill press would be solved by the notcher assuming you can get it lined up and concentric. At least you finally found someone that has used one, and the results look good. The one you posted the link to does not look substantially different from the cheap ones to me. I would still track down the hole saws most people use, a normal hole saw is pretty imprecise in my experience. And the pitch of the teeth is too coarse. Use some sort of cutting fluid.
What I was saying about the lathe is that you will find many uses for it, and it will save you lots of time. You want one that has a big enough hole in the headstock spindle to fit a steerer. Unfortunately, this rules out the benchtop lathes.
It's pretty spot on. As long as you have the right hole saw and you have the angles right, the miters fit up really well. The cuts themselves take about 30 seconds. Depends on the angle you're cutting at and the size of the tubing and the size of the hole saw. It probably takes me a little longer since I stop and lubricate periodically to try to extend the life of my hole saws. Otherwise, a minute with a file to clean up the burrs and you're good to go.
I notice you're in Palo Alto. If you're in the city anytime, feel free to stop by and take a look. I'm close to the SF Zoo.
I bought a 9" south bend a little over a year ago for 200 bucks (motor not included), tool room model, you can easily notch tubing on it, though I don't since I bought a Burke Horizontal mill at the same time. I found a motor for the SB for 25 bucks with VFD. I saw a decent looking horizontal mill for 100 bucks 77 in your money, a few months back. I almost bought it but figured I didn't have enough room for it as well as all the other stuff I have. I am becoming a deal master, but overall I am way worse at this than many, and this is a way worse place for it than the US, and SoCal in particular. SF or LA is old tool nirvana as far as I can tell. Stuff I am still looking for is permanently available there, every time I look. And with industry imploding everywhere, the chance to get old stuff is just going to get better. Plus, generationally I feel a the second generation for a lot of this stuff is now dying off and passing it to the third generation. I run into that all the time.
That fox mill sold in Cali for 800 bucks. That is worth a box load of Phil parts as far as I am concerned, and I like Phil parts just fine. And the 9" SB lathe in the pic went for 700 can. just this week.
(OK pics doesn't seem to be working great tonight, so later on that...)
Keep in mind that while you can get a lathe for 200, it will do way more for you than a notcher ever could. So a reasonable budget is probably 1K, not that you will, have to spend it.
And CK, welcome back from 35 + year club, the water is warm here.
Used is the way to go. I really wanted a south bend heavy 10, but I got a Sheldon R13, which was intended to be a precision toolroom lathe. You see lathes around here for less than $1k fairly frequently. There used to be some really nice little benchtop horizontal mills. That's not as useful, but would be a good notcher. They are often available for free because people get them and never use them.
I build my first frame 33 years ago, dunno what that means really. How many of the people over at FF are even that old? I don't know how many of the pros have more than 5 years of experience, there has been a boom in the last few years. Then again, it doesn't take much time to amass quite a bit of experience. But it's impossible to tell for sure on the internet. I see plenty of newbies that get good help on frameforum. It really depends on how someone presents themselves. There is so much good stuff out there, if someone can't be bothered to look around, it raises red flags.
I'm in a learning stage myself. Steel framebuilding techniques are no different, but bikes have changed a lot since I built my last frame.
"I have a very nice Heavy 10. I overpaid for it though. It was just one of those things where if I wanted it I had to pay. Of course all the old stuff is so cheap it's crazy, a new Chinese lathe would have cost as much or more, and there really isn't anything as handy from C that I have seen.
You are right about the machines that make the rounds. People buy shapers and horizontals because they are cute, but the first vertical mill they get breaks the bubble. Still, in a small shop a few small tools can come in handy, more set-up angles and options that can mean expensive accessories, and set-up times on a vertical... Of course we are lucky, because a horizontal is really useful for bikes, at least to me.
"I see plenty of newbies that get good help on frameforum. It really depends on how someone presents themselves."
I sincerely agree, and think it is a great resource. But I am less sure about the last part. Just about everything is drawing fire over there these days. I hope it keeps getting better.
In the run of a day of framebuilding 99% of it from sales to brazing is not frame building, it's marketing, metal working, design, book keeping, finance etc... There are literally millions of people who have an equal view. Also out of the thousands of people who clock in, how many are professionals? I just play at it for my own entertainment, and I don't want to talk to experts as much as I want to exchange ideas with folks who are doing it at the same pace and on the same budget as I am. In fact the pro part is of no interest to me, I wish this was a craft, like some, that was largely amateur like sport airplane construction.
If you aren't in it full time you have to leverage the stuff you know, and dig into the stuff you don't know. Just today I was talking with a guy who machines parts in a shop with a 480 ton bridge crane. You never know who you will meet who may contribute to your fund of knowledge. I prefer that kind of learning environment to one with a red carpet mentality. But that is just me, I hang out where I can.