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jdm

Choosing a micro lathe

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Even if my ambition a proper Watchmaker's lathe at this time I don't have the need for one, what I occasionally need to do is working on cases, making tools or parts that are small, but not minuscole, as well learning the use and basic skills. So I went to research on this type of lathes, limited to the ones you can buy new. Below a summary comparison table

Model     Swing over Between  Motor RPM  Spindle Chuck Top    Tailstock     Weight  Price  Notes
           bed mm    centers  Power      Taper    mm   Slide  Taper         Kg 
Proxxon    110        150     100W  800- ER11     50    Yes   Live center   4.5     €450   German Hobbyst quality, many plastic parts
FD 150/E                            5000                      MK0/short                    Zero-adjustable handwheel

SIEG       110        125     150W  100- M14x1    50    Yes   Fixed         13      €435   Chinese Unimat 3 copy, may need adjustment
C0                                  3850                      straight                     Zero-adjustable handwheel

Taig       110        248                3/4"-16  82    $54   Fixed Offset  ?       $360   Also available with ER16 spindle. Great reputation
µLathe II  ext. 165                                           MT1 3/8"-24                  non-adjustable Imperial only handwhells 

Sherline    90        200      60W  70-  3/4"-16  65    $132  MT0           11      $721   Impressive accessory range and literature. package 'A'
4000       ext. 150                 2800                                                   includes faceplate, lathe dog, fixed center, cut tool
                                                                                           drill chuck, arbors. Universal voltage 100-240V

For the Proxxon, the information is mostly available on proxxon.de. I quoted the best price I could find in Europe.
For the SIEG, the best place for information, manual and price (VAT exempt) is axminster.co.uk, the machine is also available on sieg-machines.de, many accessories from arceurotrade.co.uk and littlemachineshop.com, also I've got great help from David Halpenny which coordinates various forums.
About the Taig, I've quoted a kit without a motor, even if one is available from them it's bit expensive, and perhaps not really recommended. Got great help from Nick the owner of cartertools.com, It's also available in UK/EU from Peter of Peatol.com
The Sherline is well documented on sherline.com

I find that there are some pro and cons for each and haven't made the purchase yet, but the Sherline appears to be a tad above the others. Unfortunately, like the Taig, it's more costly and complicated to get outside the US.

 

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In that size I like the U3 as well.  I've I think I have 16 lathes at the moment from a 5200lb DSG down to a 6mm Lorch (that's just the keepers list, and yes I think its a disease) so don't really need it, but there's just something about the U3 that I like.   I don't see the Sieg as a U3 copy, similar shape and size but it doesn't look like a copy.   

 

Edited by measuretwice

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One (or two) nice things about Sherline is they have a screwcutting attachment, which could be nice for making casebacks and many other things, and if I'm not mistaken they offer a hardened spindle and higher bearing class upgrade which is cool. Their chucks are surprisingly good and affordable and I think they offer them in the Unimat spindle thread.

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2 hours ago, measuretwice said:

 I don't see the Sieg as a U3 copy, similar shape and size but it doesn't look like a copy.   

Most people describes it like that. From what I've researched all specs are virtually identical, except for the chuck register of 15mm instead of 14. I like that is cheap, easy to get and it comes with base and screen, however from the net some (early ?) units came out with problems.

s-l1600.jpg

Below the emco-unimat-3-lathe-with-milling-attachm

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seeing them side by side like that t does look really similar, perhaps it was a copy..  I searched images wondering why I thought it wasn't, and I didn't realized how many Sieg models there are

Edited by measuretwice

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13 minutes ago, measuretwice said:

 I didn't realized how many Sieg models there are

If one had to buy SIEG the C0 would probably be an opinable choice. Bigger models aren't that much bigger, but come with a lot more power, flexibility for a modest price increase. I've included the C0 because it's the smaller and more comparable to the others. They used to make a concoction named NL1 but I'm not included it due to many negative review.s  Too bad because I kind of liked it.

 

NL1-150-W-Nano-Tornio-SIEG-N1-Mini-Torni

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2 hours ago, nickelsilver said:

One (or two) nice things about Sherline is they have a screwcutting attachment, which could be nice for making casebacks and many other things,

Correct.
This low-cost attachment enables you to machine thirty-six different unified thread pitches (Pitch range from 80 to 5 threads per inch) and twenty-eight different metric thread pitches (Pitch range from .25 to 2.0 mm). It also allows you to cut them as either left-hand or right-hand threads.

3100_pic-468x351.jpg

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OK, I got myself a Sieg C0. Certainly not a watchmaker's lathe, but it has many pro for what I intend to do.

After few hours cleaning and smoothing it  I took my first cut on alloy using a SS BBQ skewer. I was able to easily part off a washer less than 1mm thick.I 'm very keep on learning on how to use it at its best!

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1 hour ago, jdm said:

OK, I got myself a Sieg C0. Certainly not a watchmaker's lathe, but it has many pro for what I intend to do.

 

way to go, I think they are a nice lathe.  imo its quite a different format and function than a watchmakers lathe.  A watchmakers lathe is great for in close with loupe and graver, but your's is imo more useful for general machining, tools, clock stuff, etc - you really need both :).  Be sure to post some of your work!

Edited by measuretwice

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On 4/20/2019 at 5:42 AM, jdm said:

Correct.
This low-cost attachment enables you to machine thirty-six different unified thread pitches (Pitch range from 80 to 5 threads per inch) and twenty-eight different metric thread pitches (Pitch range from .25 to 2.0 mm). It also allows you to cut them as either left-hand or right-hand threads.

3100_pic-468x351.jpg

This is what I use and love it, but my small Sherline is a Model 4000. Very accurate and refined compared to the Emco SL that I had.

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On 5/4/2019 at 5:30 PM, measuretwice said:

Be sure to post some of your work!

Since you asked... new plastic "tires" for the workbench drawers :biggrin: Yes they look well used already!

DSC_0051.thumb.JPG.50edc209c684527e0e6e724d2f9161ad.JPG

More seriously, I managed to restore a corroded caseback, something I dreamed to do since a long time. Will post about it separately. The machine is just two times the value of the watch, a good investment I'd say.

I'm happy about the machine so far, got few books and accessories, and a retired machinist (from Cuba nevertheless) to teach me. We will see how my project will go.

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 Did you know you can get a fine feed for milling this

Like this? 

https://www.emcoshop.at/en/emcosparepartssuppliesturninglathesemcounimat3supplies/1722-lathesemcocompact5suppliesemcoverticalfinefeedattachment.html

It's only for the milling head attachment I think. But rather than that I'm getting a TAIG attachment, Z axis vice. 

 

Edited by jdm

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37 minutes ago, Squiffything said:

I recently went for the U3 and upgraded motors. Like you I begin a steep learning curve and am looking for projects to try. 

Plenty here

DSC_0053.thumb.JPG.7c788ddbc419b4623ab30b59989fb734.JPG

Written with humor and human touch. 

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I'm reading the machining articles of Dean Williams, no-nonsense and he praises a lot the use of leaded steel. So I went out and bough some at the metals shop, probably the only one in my city - not even my city anymore, thanks Heaven I'm now 1hr away from it. There are millions of steel types, each country use their own codes, names, nicknames and one could read equivalences for hours. Of that many the shop has maybe three types, and the leaded in round bars only <_<

First I tried turning and I was able to to make 0.10mm cuts in facing a 28mm round bar, even if probably I'm not using the correct cutter and speed. Then I put it on the press drill pictured above (which I paid €32 at the 2nd hand shop), with a menacing black HSS 13mm bit. I was unsure of the result since I had been struggling with much smaller holes before. It went down as if it was butter. I had sprayed some cutting fluid but it wasn't even necessary. And the swarf is amazing. Threading, boring or anything else will be very easy on this material, no need for super-special tools.  Not the strongest, better looking steel on earth, but if you want to go easy on your micro-lathe and not using Aluminium, that is what you want.

DSC_0055.JPG

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Oooo nice looking swirl :) how’s its strength for what you are making? I have a lump of steel that I’m trying to turn and it’s hard going. But so far I’m not using a center piece to hold the other end which I think will improve it. I also meet a rotary Ed to do the milling job that I need to do. 

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I w

12 hours ago, Squiffything said:

Oooo nice looking swirl :) how’s its strength for what you are making? I have a lump of steel that I’m trying to turn and it’s hard going. But so far I’m not using a center piece to hold the other end which I think will improve it. 

I was referring to what is called 12L14 in the USA, from what I read is good for most practical uses.
The rule of thumb is no more than 1 and 1/2 of the diameter hanging, otherwise need a center or rest.
Now I learned to be wary about mistery metal, they can be very bad for small or big machines.
The common advice is to scour machine shops for scrap, I went to see the one which looked more like an arranged tractor salvage, I offered to pay for 1 or 2 small pieces but he declined to give me any. So I'm now buying the stock, at least know more or less exactly what I'm getting. 

Edited by jdm

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I’ve got a mate who is an engineer/troubleshooter and has a workshop in his back yard. When I say workshop that is a bit of an understatement in that it consists of five separate buildings around half a dozen big lathes two or three mills saws that can cut girders etc etc. He has a barn full of metal and he lets me go play. He’s in his seventies so he doesn’t have to take much work anymore but he still gets asked to sort problems out for people so he keeps his shop running. 

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On ‎4‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 12:42 PM, jdm said:

Correct.
This low-cost attachment enables you to machine thirty-six different unified thread pitches (Pitch range from 80 to 5 threads per inch) and twenty-eight different metric thread pitches (Pitch range from .25 to 2.0 mm). It also allows you to cut them as either left-hand or right-hand threads.

3100_pic-468x351.jpg

     thread pitches;  S.A.E. or MM ?   vin

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12 hours ago, jdm said:

e wary about mistery metal, they can be very bad for small o

 

On 6/8/2019 at 12:43 PM, jdm said:

Written with humor and human touch. 

Indeed.  From the golden era of model engineering, those authors were all regular contributors to Model Engineer and they both really knew their stuff and had a friendly and pleasing voice.  Model Engineer and one point was weekly and was popular enough that many made their living at it as authors.  Worth noting, the Tubal Cain of ME and those books is not the youtube video person who took the same name.

With a definite horology connection, Model Engineer ran numerous clock builds over the years

A classic that should be on everyone's bookshelf, at least everyone interested in making things, is "The Amateurs Lathe" by Sparey

Edited by measuretwice

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