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Old 12-09-11, 10:13 AM   #1
mudboy
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Recommendations on a benchtop mill or lathe?

I'm a hobbyist builder who's gotten the bug. While I don't ever see myself going "full production", I do see myself building a couple of frames per year, along with things like racks and stems.

As such, I'm thinking about getting a small (benchtop, under 250 pounds or so, ideally) mill or lathe. I will probably be using it primarily with hole saws for cutting miters (for frames and stems) in cro-mo. Does anyone have any recommendations for a suitable mill or lathe that would be up to the task? Something along the lines of either of these?

http://www.amazon.com/Jet-JHM-610-JE...3446913&sr=8-3

http://www.amazon.com/Jet-JHL-610-JE...3447092&sr=1-8

I'm not considering larger mills or lathes because this is going in a basement (home) workshop where space is at a premium, and this piece of equipment needs to be sold to the wife before I can purchase it.

What other types of accessories would I need to add to a tool like either of these that would allow me to cut accurate miters?

Thanks!

Pete
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Old 12-09-11, 10:19 AM   #2
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I bought a used Smitybuilt mill/lathe combo several years ago for $1800 ($4500 retail) and it came with close to a $1000 worth of tooling as well. Excellent piece of equipment and I really regret selling it rather that moving it across county. I am sure that with the economy in such bad shape that you can find some great deals on used equipment.
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Old 12-09-11, 10:51 AM   #3
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Pete, you really need to go see those in person because they are tiny. I can't imagine using them for bike related activities. I would suggest getting a lathe with a spindle hole big enough to pass at least 1 1/2", that's the best tool if you are only getting one. My recommendation is something like this, although the round column mills might have a bigger work envelope.
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Old 12-09-11, 11:01 AM   #4
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Thanks. Why 1.5" though? For cutting fork crown races?
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Old 12-10-11, 07:46 AM   #5
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I would purchase only a decent, small tool room lathe. Here are my reasons
1) you can take the legs off, stand it on end and move it with a hand truck.
2) the great majority of new, cost effective bench-tops are total junk.
3) if you pick the right lathe it will mitre tubes by holding the cutter in the jaws and using a v-block where the tool post goes. There is even an angle scale. You can also do some mill work with additional pieces.
4) There are millions of small lathes all over and old timers that know how to use them. The made many very good ones. Very few small mills in a decent weight range.
5) PA is a great place to shop for old machines. I used to go door-to-door in industrial areas. Lots of these machines were purchased for a single operation and once the task was over, moved aside and forgotten.
The import machines go down in value once you buy them.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:31 AM   #6
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Those lathes and mills are so small, and light, that they are borderline worthless. You wouldn't think you'd need anything larger for bike work but you do, and once you get them you'll find many other uses for it, and that's when the size will be limiting.

Even mitering tubes will require something with a bit more beef. Holesaws chatter some and that will really test this small machinery. The carriage and crossfeed are simply too small/light to hold an adequate fixture for holding tubes. Weight is your friend.

I have an old ('40s) Southbend 9 inch and it's borderline too small. The spindle bore is 1" and larger would be much better. The swing is too little. The length is too short. Though it's a great lathe and in excellent condition, it's just too small. Even at 400# it's borderline light. It was easy to get in the basement though. It is basically three pieces (minus the motor and clutch). Remove head and tailstock from bed and carry each individually.

Also, I don't use this lathes for mitering tubes. I built five frames last year and don't anticipate any more than this, so tooling up for this doesn't make sense. I've coped some joints using a boring bar, and it's slow going. I know guys get by with using holesaws in a lathe, but I don't think mine will handle it comfortably. Using a cutter like Andy Newland sells (Lan-71) would work great, but the cost is out of range for a few frames a year.

To give you an idea of costs, I paid $1600 for this lathe. It was a steal considering the condition and tooling. I can sell the whole mess and probably even make a little money. To keep the wife happy buy something you can actually use that will hold it's value.
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Old 12-12-11, 08:16 PM   #7
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ighlight=lathe
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Old 12-12-11, 10:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudboy View Post
Thanks. Why 1.5" though? For cutting fork crown races?
the thing I use my lathe for the most is to cut tubes to length. 1.5" is a really nice size, but you probably aren't going to get that with anything less than a 13" lathe. I think that the 13" is a nice size, but it's bigger than what you said. But you will want to cut 1 3/8" tubes, and you aren't going to do that unless they'll pass through the head.
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Old 12-12-11, 11:06 PM   #9
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Do you have any experience with machine tools? A lot more dangerous than a small drill press.
If you must have a two in one style lathe/mill, then look at this one, http://www.grizzly.com/products/12-x...ing-Head/G0492
Better quality than Jet or most of the other small modern machine tools for the home shop, for the price.
If you have never done this type of thing before, go to your local community college and take a course!!!
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