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Well, I'm about to do it - 

pulling the trigger on a Sherline 4530A lathe, with a few accessories.

I went back and forth between a watchmaker lathe and the Sherline several times in my mind, and finally landed on the Sherline.

Reason being I want to be up and running making parts as easily as I can, and learning to use a graver freehand seems to be a bit of an impediment. I also have a manufacturing background, and am already familiar with using machine tools, although I'm not much of a machinist.  And, as far as I can tell, I should be able to make just about any part that I need to on the Sherline. 

Just wanted to post here to give anyone who thinks I'm making a horrible mistake to chime in :-)

Cheers!

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It won't be a mistake unless you'll want to take machine shop jobs , I had considered it as well, it has the best accessories and documentation, and reasonable price. In the end I choose something else (Unimat 3 clone) but I think our learning path will be similar. There is always room for a watchmaker lathe and the Sherline will be good to make tooling for it.

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It all depends what you intend to make on a lathe, I can tell you after you start and learn the ropes, you will want to progress in machining more complicated parts. Just make sure accessories  are available, they will also set you back a good sum of money.  

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Well I bought a Sherline everything. A lathe, milling machine, CNC rotary table, and oodles of attachments and tooling. I did this because I make clocks and cutting gears and such on a watchmakers lathe isn't the easiest, and frankly, getting the attachments for a watchmaker's lathe for such tasks isn't easy or cheap. 

Sherline quality and service are both excellent; they actually respond to emails with good solid advice, and they honestly seem to put the customer first over sales. They are also more than willing to discuss issues, and give recommendations, on the phone should that be your preferred form of communications. 

Having said all that, I still use a watchmaker's lathe on occasion, basically for anything that I use a graver for as it's easier and more precise for really fine work and its easier to hunch over and see the work closer up safely. I'd say I use  the lathe 95% of the time. I had hoped I could do away, aka sell, my watchmaker lathe and its attachment and do everything on the Sherline, but I don't think will ever be the case, well not for me anyway.

If I had to have only one, I'd choose the Sherline without hesitation but fortunately that's not a choice I have to make.

 

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Thanks, @Scouseget, I'm scheduled to receive the machine today, and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it. It may not be a full blown instrument lathe, but I keep reading that with the proper techniques quite a lot can be done with the machine. That doesn't mean that *I'll* be able to make anything useful on it, but I'm going to try. :-)

My expectation is that I will still at some point acquire a WW style lathe, but I would really like to try my hand with a graver before I go through the time and expense of rounding up a decent watchmaker lathe. So far no opportunity has come up, but I should be able to put a tool rest on the Sherline  and give it a go when I'm ready.

And yes, I fully expect there will be a continuous flow of accessories showing up at the house :-)

 

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