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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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