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  1. #1

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    Buying first metal lathe

    I'm about to purchase my first metal lathe. I am a total newbie but think this will be a great new hobby/skill for me.

    I think i have narrowed it down between these two Little Machine Shop machines:

    https://littlemachineshop.com/5200

    and

    https://littlemachineshop.com/3595

    I'm most likely going to get the "deluxe" version of one of those machines. My question to you all is... is the slight increase in working envelope of the 3595 and the "double" the power of the motor worth the $1200 in additional cost of the 3595? Or would that money be better spent on tooling and accessories? I dont want to get something i'll outgrow quickly... but I'm also in the point of my life that the money isnt really the greatest factor. I dont want to spend money foolishly, but on the flip side... is the larger machine is worth it just in greater rigidity and power, i'd probably rather start there then get the smaller version and kick myself in a year or two for struggling with limitations in the smaller machine. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I also intend on getting a mill in a year or so.. and then anther year down the road convert it to a cnc machine (leading candidate for that is the Grizzly G0704 right now)

    Thanks,

    Doug

  2. #2
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    I would suggest neither of those partially because they are very high priced for what they are.

    This is a better lathe, is bigger, but not huge, has a 1" spindle bore, more cross slide travel, has a knob selectable gearbox for setting feeds, larger chuck...

    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...al-Lathe/G0602

  3. #3

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    To be honest... that is where i started.... looking at grizzly machines. But it seems like every forum I was on said the same thing. The grizzly machines are fine if you dont mind totally tearing them down before you first turn them on because the are filled with gunk,grime, and grit and if you skip that step, the life of the lathe with be dramatically shortened. As a beginner and first time lathe user.. i wasn't sure i wanted to spend the first several weeks just tearing everything down and hope i get it reassembled correctly.

    Doug

  4. #4
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by dbfletcher View Post
    To be honest... that is where i started.... looking at grizzly machines. But it seems like every forum I was on said the same thing. The grizzly machines are fine if you dont mind totally tearing them down before you first turn them on because the are filled with gunk,grime, and grit and if you skip that step, the life of the lathe with be dramatically shortened. As a beginner and first time lathe user.. i wasn't sure i wanted to spend the first several weeks just tearing everything down and hope i get it reassembled correctly.

    Doug
    You are correct the Grizzly is a step up from the usual Chinese made machine and I would not have an issue with one. But LMS sells some pretty nice lathes and mills. A big step up from Chinese made and I purchased one of their 7x14 and very happy with it.

    In the past i owned a Emco Super 11 and it was great. Sold to downsize my shop but If you can find one used in good condition, buy it. Built a rotary phase converter but later on went to a Hitachi VFD. Some will tell you to get a old American or UK metal lathe, but they are getting harder and harder to find and get parts for. I had a 1943 South Bend Heavy 10 and put a lot of money into getting it to be useable. Sold to purchase the Emco.
    Retired Master Electrician, HVAC/R Commercial. FLA Saturn 2 4x4 CNC Router Mach4 Kimber 1911 45ACP

  5. #5
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by dbfletcher View Post
    To be honest... that is where i started.... looking at grizzly machines. But it seems like every forum I was on said the same thing. The grizzly machines are fine if you dont mind totally tearing them down before you first turn them on because the are filled with gunk,grime, and grit and if you skip that step, the life of the lathe with be dramatically shortened. As a beginner and first time lathe user.. i wasn't sure i wanted to spend the first several weeks just tearing everything down and hope i get it reassembled correctly.

    Doug
    I have owned several Grizzly machines in the past and currently have 3 in my shop including a G4000 lathe I bought new in 1999. Although I have torn down my mills, it was because I was CNCing them. Other than that I have never had to tear down my grizzly machines. The G4000 lathe gets used infrequently, but has been just fine without disassembly or modification. Bearings and everything else are original and never removed. Only periodic "normal" maintenance adjustments have ever been done and it is running fine 20 years later.

    Also, the LMS machines are also Chinese made machines, so why would you think they are any different?

  6. #6
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Big difference in quality between venders as to the quality of machines they will accept from the Chinese makers. LMS QC is top notch. Not all machines are made in the same plant or the same quality. Grizzly does a good job also no complaints on what I have purchased.

  7. #7

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by 109jb View Post
    Also, the LMS machines are also Chinese made machines, so why would you think they are any different?
    Yes, I realize they are both Chinese in origin. I'm just going by forum comments ... and a asked that question directly to LMS. Their reply was that they have heard the grizzly arrive pretty gritty... but he assured me the LMS machines do not need any type of cleaning besides removing that protective layer of "stuff" off the ways, etc. Granted... i have to take that with the understanding that of course they are not going to say anything bad about the products they sell. But i have read several forum posts by members who have owned both machines... and they also seem to reiterate that Grizzly is fine, but expect to tear it down and rebuild it before for use. heck.. even when you read the grizzly site, most lathe posts give them a 4-5 star... but said... it is a great machine after tearing it down, cleaning, re-lubing... so I'm not sure if that is another "myth" that get perpetuated... or if it is a real issue.

  8. #8
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    That machine looks very much like my Precision Mathews PM1228 but a little smaller.

    First, virtually all these smaller/lighter lathes are made in China. If you find one that is not, it will cost twice as much. That being said, If you are buying one of these for accuracy/precision you may be disappointed. They are great machines to learn on and you can make some nice parts with them if you understand their limitations. Since these are made of Chinesium and since there are lots of moving parts, you should probably tear it down before you do any serious work with it. Every machine I have that came from China needed a good cleaning before use. The grease they use is the most foul smelling stuff, and there was usually metal shavings in the gearbox. After a good cleaning and lubrication everything seemed to work a bit smoother. If you do this, you will get a much better understanding of how it all works. Just do a little at a time.

    Second, will you be converting this to CNC? If so, you should compare what others have experienced in their conversion. Some machines require more modifications than others. For instance, the G0704 requires significant mods to the X-Axis so the ball nut will fit, where the PM25MV leaves more room for the ball nut so less mods. As for the lathe, if you convert it to CNC, virtually all the mechanical parts are removed and those "Deluxe" parts will go into a box never to be used again. The only specs that will matter is the swing and bed length and maybe HP if you can reuse the motor. Look at stuff like the motor. It is probably a BLDC. If you want to replace the controller for CNC, can you find one that provides a high enough voltage and amps? What have others done.

    Finally, I have always found that I could use a bigger machine if I had one. Once you buy the machine, you will need accessories and tooling. These are the true expense of the hobby. Tool holders, indexable tools, 4 jaw chuck, Live Center, Drill chucks, Collet chuck, ... and the list goes on and on. The tooling is where quality and price really counts. So if you know you will be upgrading in the future, maybe just pull the trigger and get the right machine from the start.

  9. #9

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by maxspongebob View Post
    Second, will you be converting this to CNC?
    I had not really considered converting the lathe to a cnc. I always knew I'll convert the mill to a cnc when I get to that point. Are the benefits for a cnc lathe similar to that of a cnc mill? In my mind, a lot of lathe operations just seem to fall naturally in the realm of manual operation... where it is immediately apparent how cnc control can greatly enhance a milling machine. It may just because I lack the experience and knowledge of using a lathe though.

  10. #10
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    While you CAN make just about anything you would need on a manual lathe, often special tooling is required. Anything with a radius requires a tool to match. Anything with a taper is similar. If it is CNC there are more possibilities.

    The conversion of my lathe to CNC seemed to be easier than my G0704 mill.

    Just my opinion.
    Bob

  11. #11
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by dbfletcher View Post
    Yes, I realize they are both Chinese in origin. I'm just going by forum comments ... and a asked that question directly to LMS. Their reply was that they have heard the grizzly arrive pretty gritty... but he assured me the LMS machines do not need any type of cleaning besides removing that protective layer of "stuff" off the ways, etc. Granted... i have to take that with the understanding that of course they are not going to say anything bad about the products they sell. But i have read several forum posts by members who have owned both machines... and they also seem to reiterate that Grizzly is fine, but expect to tear it down and rebuild it before for use. heck.. even when you read the grizzly site, most lathe posts give them a 4-5 star... but said... it is a great machine after tearing it down, cleaning, re-lubing... so I'm not sure if that is another "myth" that get perpetuated... or if it is a real issue.
    All I can say more is I have ordered a lot of stuff from LMS and they have always sent first rate stuff, even as its Chinese. They order and request, receive the top of the line machines. Just because another maker has a machine that looks the same, they are not. The lathe I ordered came in, I unboxed it and no issues put it right to work. Same with the mini Grizzly milling machine, not quite the quality but pretty darn close. Either one would serve you well. I am picky and I do not like re-working machines.... I just want something that works.

    China has hundreds of companies making machine tools, each company each may make a little different than the other.
    Retired Master Electrician, HVAC/R Commercial. FLA Saturn 2 4x4 CNC Router Mach4 Kimber 1911 45ACP

  12. #12
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    So the 7x16 LMS lathe that you posted is basically the same as any of the 7x whatever lathes out there except that the LMS lathe has a longer bed, rotary DRO's on the compound and cross slide and a 0XA type QCTP. The DRO's IMO are useless since they are rotary. They won't really provide any additional accuracy when compared to a graduated dial and will only alleviate having to do some math. The QCTP is nice but is really only a $135 item. Considering that you can get a 7x lathe for as little as $400 brand new, the $1500 price seems way high to me. On top of that, I owned a 7x12 lathe before my G4000 and I would not recommend any of the 7x lathes if you intend to do any steel cutting. The variable speed DC motor just isn't sufficient when you are turning slower rpm like for steel. My 7x14 was fine for non-ferrous turning at diameters under about 2". Larger than that and you had to be careful of the depth of cut or you could stop the spindle. For turning aluminum parts smaller than about 1.5" they are fine and work well. BTW, the 7x lathes don't have oil bath gears at all, so in terms of "chips in the gearbox", it doesn't matter what brand of these you buy as the change gears are all under the left cover and some varieties have a 2 speed headstock, but with grease-lubricated plastic gears. Only the 2 spindle bearings are greased. Most of these lathes also come with ball bearings on the spindle and If so I would recommend switching to tapered roller bearings or angular contact at some point. In this price range I would still be looking at the G0602 because it is a lot more machine for the money.

    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...al-Lathe/G0602

    The 8.5X20 lathe you posted looks to be a nice machine, but as I said It also appears to overpriced in my opinion for what you get. The compound slide has been milled to accept the AXA tool post and the thinning of the slide alone would be a deal killer for me as that has to support all the tool pressure. Now if you are going to CNC it the compound is no longer necessary, so it becomes a non-issue. As for the brushless DC motor, I have read many posts about brushless motor/drive combos failing and their owners replacing them with 3-phase VFD controlled motors. I have no experience with brushless DC motors except in my model airplanes, so can't comment any more than that. The power cross slide is a nice feature for facing cuts but isn't an absolute necessity. In this price category I would really rather have the G0752 because it has a 3-phase VFD controlled motor, is cheaper, has larger capacities, a larger spindle bore (I'll explain my feelings on this below), comes with steady and follow rest which the LMS apparently doesn't. The difference in price will easily pay for a QCTP and as before the rotary DRO is IMO useless..

    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...ed-Lathe/G0752

    As for the spindle bore, The bigger the better. On my G4000, it has a 3/4" spindle bore and is my biggest heartache with it. Many times I need to turn parts that are larger in diameter and I can't. I am actually planning on making a new spindle for my lathe with a larger bore. That project will start when the new CNC mill conversion is running (not complete, just up and running). I would recommend getting the largest spindle bore you can.

    As far as any of these machines go, I just can't understand the whole "Chips in the gearbox" statements. I also didn't see any review comments on Grizzly site saying that they needed to clean gearboxes on the G0602, or G0752. In any case, the headstocks on all of these lathes are not sealed oil bath heads. They all have 2 greased or ball oilered bearings on the spindle, belt drives, exposed change gears, and maybe a little gearbox with a sheet metal cover on it. Pull the cover of and blast away with a solvent wash to get rid of whatever is in there, load in new oil and start turning stuff.

    In the end it is your decision and your money, but I don't see the 2 LMS lathes as being a good value.

    and a asked that question directly to LMS. Their reply was that they have heard the grizzly arrive pretty gritty.
    As a Grizzly tool owner, I have direct experience that the tools do not arrive gritty. They arrive with a bunch of preservative coating, but none of the machines i have bought were "gritty"

  13. #13
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    I'd go with the Grizzly one, as long as the spec's are what you need. For that price you could if you wanted install a VFD and 1 Hp 3 Phase motor in the future if you wanted variable speed drive and not shifting gears. I would also get the cabinet unless you have a really, really heavy duty work bench.
    Retired Master Electrician, HVAC/R Commercial. FLA Saturn 2 4x4 CNC Router Mach4 Kimber 1911 45ACP

  14. #14

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Thanks for you input (109jb). I really do appreciate it. The grizzly I was looking at from the beginning was https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...ith-DRO/G0768Z. I'm probably making too much out of having a DRO... but in my mind it seems like a really handy thing to have. Again... I have ZERO experience on any metal lathe, so if i'm make way to much of the DRO.. please tell me. I'll go back and look at the two you suggested.

    I think this is the third or fouth review down on the G0768:

    "First lathe. Have had it for about a month. Took it apart and cleaned it up as recommended, oiled the ways and greased the gears. Installed a QCTP from LMS. Been practicing on brass rod. Already making useful items as gifts. Great machine, so far no issues. Grizzly answered a question I had regarding the DRO vs. dial with a phone call to me which was much appreciated."

    I hadn't noticed the QCTP required them to modify the compound slide... so I am very appreciative that someone pointed that out. This is also an area that I think that a QCTP is almost a must have. The standard tool post seem like they would get very annoying quickly. Again.. just stuff in my mind.. have no experience to base this on anything.

    Would you throw the G0768Z out due to the shortish bed? I do like that it comes with both a 3 & 4 jaw chuck and other accessories that are not included with the LMS Machines.

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    As far as DRO's, they are very very nice to have on a manual machine of any kind but not 100% necessary. You would be amazed at what you can do on a lathe using a magic marker and a scale to provide witness marks to guide you, but DRO's are really nice. That said, if you want to go with a lathe with the pre-installed DRO, then have a look at the G0602Z or the G0752Z. These are the same machines as I linked but with DRO already installed. I'm unsure if the scales are glass scales or magnetic (Glass being better) My guess is that they are magnetic. There are options for adding DRO's relatively inexpensively and easily. Nowadays you can get a glass scale lathe DRO setup for about $250. You have to install it, and that can be challenging because the glass scales are somewhat large because of their protective case. They are also sensitive to installation errors. I cracked a scale years ago installing it on a bridgeport mill and that was when they were $$$$$. Had to go to the boss and tell him what happened. Fortunately he and I had a good relationship and he didn't take it too badly. Magnetic DRO's are really inexpensive and about $30-$40 per axis. These work just like the digital calipers you can buy cheap but the DRO's have remote displays. they are easier to install and less sensitive to mistakes. I actually had on that i used for some calibration checks on my mill and I simply used spring clamps for the testing I was doing and it worked fine. Wound up getting broken when we moved but when a 6"diameter 3 foot long aluminum round falls on it I guess you have to expect that. The magnetic DRO would probably be easy to install on the carriage, but space can be limited on the cross slide on these small lathes. The DRO that you need the most is the one on the carriage because there isn't any graduated dial to read there. For cross slide and compound you can count turns and use the graduations. In rality when turning on the diameters, you are measuring and saying "0.120" to go" so you can just count turns that far.

    As far as the bed length goes, you will find that like other specs, you may not need it often but if you do, well there is nothing you can do. That said, probably 95% of my turning isn't even between centers and doesn't reach anywhere near to maxing out the bed length, but where you may need some bed length is if you have to drill a hole with a longish drill. I haven't actually measured it but a 1/2" drill in a chuck eats up probably 6 inches of the bed length. Then say you have a shaft that won't fit into the spindle bore that you need to drill and tap the end of. It doesn't take a very long shaft to run out of length.

    As far as the G0768Z 8x16 lathe, the lathe itself looks fine, but this machine has the 600w variable speed DC motor just like the 7x lathes. I really don't like this small of a DC motor on a lathe for the reasons previously mentioned. Now I will say i am also going to be putting a DC motor on my lathe but it is a 2000 watt 2.8 hp motor. My feeling is that because of the performance issues with the DC motors that you need to overkill it and put a bigger motor on to have acceptable performance at all speeds. To give some perspective on why I'm replacing the 3/4 hp induction motor currently on it, it is purely for constant surface speed machining and CNC spindle control. I am planning to convert the lathe to CNC this year and with the induction motor I would only be able to control on and off but not speed. If I were keeping it a manual machine, I would stay with the one-speed induction motor and just change belts ratios like stock. This system works fine and I don't wind up with torque problems because the belt speed reduction raises the torque at lower speeds. The best variable speed option is hands down a VFD running a 3-phase motor. The G0752 has the benefit of being a step up VFD so that you can run off of 120V circuit.
    .

  16. #16

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    In the specs for the G0602Z, under threading it states Metric threads can only be RH. It also has a RH for imperial threads. Does that mean this machine is not capable of cutting left hand threads?

    And for the specs of the G0752Z it doesnt list RH only for either thread type. Does that mean that machine can do both Left hand and Right hand threads?

    How important is a QCTP? Typically how many inserts would you want?

    Oh ya.. and seeing these machines are well over 400lbs... how many ppl do you need to even lift the beast? I've seen others use an engine hoist (I dont have) to get it on the stand. Is that something that a rental center would have?

  17. #17
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by dbfletcher View Post
    In the specs for the G0602Z, under threading it states Metric threads can only be RH. It also has a RH for imperial threads. Does that mean this machine is not capable of cutting left hand threads?

    And for the specs of the G0752Z it doesnt list RH only for either thread type. Does that mean that machine can do both Left hand and Right hand threads?

    How important is a QCTP? Typically how many inserts would you want?

    Oh ya.. and seeing these machines are well over 400lbs... how many ppl do you need to even lift the beast? I've seen others use an engine hoist (I dont have) to get it on the stand. Is that something that a rental center would have?
    The one with the DRO G0768 only weighs 144 lbs? The bore is less than 1 inch, Would not have a mill without DRO but a lathe I would not need. I buy the other one.
    Retired Master Electrician, HVAC/R Commercial. FLA Saturn 2 4x4 CNC Router Mach4 Kimber 1911 45ACP

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Out of the box the G0602 and G0752 cannot cut left hand threads. Having said that, I have been a hobby machinist for about 35 years, I worked as a job shop machinist for 10 of those same years, and in all that time I never had an occasion to need to cut a left hand thread on a lathe, If you really want to cut left hand threads it is pretty easy to reverse the rotation of the lead screw and I found a thread in a quick google search telling how to do it on a G0602, and since the G0752 is based on the G0602 it should work on that one too.

    The Reverse Tumbler Project

    As for the 432 pound weight of a G0602, that is a shipping weight which includes the pallet, crate, toolbox, etc. The actual weight of the machine alone is probably about 325-350 lbs. A few guys could lift it pretty easily. Rental shops do have hoists for rent. I used to rent them for car work before I just bought one.

    A QCTP is another very nice thing. They can be added easily and a wedge style (better than piston style) QCTP set is $160 from Shars. It includes enough holders to get you started and from there you can decide what other holders you need.

    https://www.shars.com/products/toolh...e-type-111-axa

    When you asked about the QCTP you then asked about inserts. Are you asking about indexable lathe tooling? If so I would suggest you get a starter set of indexable turning tools. For these smaller lathes a positive rake tooling is what I would choose.

  19. #19

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by 109jb View Post

    When you asked about the QCTP you then asked about inserts. Are you asking about indexable lathe tooling? If so I would suggest you get a starter set of indexable turning tools. For these smaller lathes a positive rake tooling is what I would choose.
    That was my mistake with not using correct terminology. I was referring to the QCTP tool holder mounts. I think most of the QCTP i have seen normally come with 4-5 tool holders. I sure eventually everyone ends up with dozens of tools.... but is there a good number of "almost always in use" tools that you would always want loaded in a tool holder for the QCTP.

    I have purchased some 3/8 HSS blanks and I already have a decent grinder so I planned on grinding my own.... BUT.. i also plan to get some insert tooling.

    I know some have asked "what I'm planning to make" to help determine the best machine. In all honesty, I have nothing in mind specifically. Machining in generally has always fascinated me, but for my day job, I'm and IT Consultant.. so I never really get to have to opportunity to build stuff in the physical world. There is something very satisfying about making something you can hold in your hands. As I edge closer to retirement (still a ways off), I also think having a lathe, mill, etc will keep me occupied when i do get to that stage.

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    I have a 7x HF mini lathe that I've upgraded with a lot of parts from LMS. I have the extended cross slide, 16" bed, QCTP, tailstock, etc. To do it over again, I would probably have gotten something a bit bigger. I'm just doing hobby level stuff on it and it has been fun, but I think something a little bigger would have been better.

    I would also say that the tear down/cleaning process is really educational - especially if you're not in a time crunch. I would try to do that on any machine I purchased regardless of the source.

    Any of these machines will be good, but I think the larger machine will allow you more flexibility in the long run.

  21. #21
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Go on Facebook Marketplace and get something WAY bigger, way better quality, and a fraction of the cost...
    CAD, CAM, Scanning, Modelling, Machining and more. http://www.mcpii.com/3dservices.html

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by mcphill View Post
    Go on Facebook Marketplace and get something WAY bigger, way better quality, and a fraction of the cost...
    I'm not sure I would recommend this to someone who knows basically nothing about lathes and turning. There is a lot of good equipment out there and and lot of essentially scrap metal too. Unless you know what you are looking for you can wind up with a really bad experience.

  23. #23
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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Hire someone that DOES know equipment, and don't waste money on toys. There are SO MANY crazy amazing deals on FB Marketplace, it's crazy!!! I got a 4-Axis Hitachi Seiki 30-tool changer CNC for $3000... Perfectly fine machine with a damaged Z axis servo. So throw in $2k and I got a $60k machine for $5k. Nuts!
    CAD, CAM, Scanning, Modelling, Machining and more. http://www.mcpii.com/3dservices.html

  24. #24

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Just as an FYI.. at this point I am now leaning towards the Grizzly G0752Z. I am a little shocked myself. Two days ago I would have bet money that I would go with one of the two LMS machines I posted in my very first post. I really hope I don't end up with buyer's remorse however. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hope the a full tear-down and rebuild wont be required. It is probably several more weeks until I order, but I do appreciate all the advice and feedback I have received here.

    Doug

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    Re: Buying first metal lathe

    Just another question... the 0752Z is currently out of stock. Does everyone think the Grizzly G0768Z is too small and it is more of a "toy" lathe? I realize the all the pro's probably even consider the 752 too small to be taken seriously. But in reality, I'm just looking for something to screw around with in the garage. I have nothing in mind that I want to build... rather just want to learn a new skill. I've watched a ton of youtube where guys are creating some really exceptional items even on the teeny tiny 7x14 lathes.

    Doug

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