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  1. #1
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    Buy a MICRO LATHE ?

    Im a guy who like to learn new things and i enjoy building stuff for myself. Including bike lights. Often however i get a bit limited by the tools i have and that i have to adjust to the finnished parts i can get hold on. Many times i have thought about maybee getting some more serious tools for machining metal or plastic so that i can make parts myself . The tool that i have thought about is a lathe but my budget is limited and i dont want it to be a big thing that gets in my way as soon as im not using it so it would have to be a small and quite cheap machine

    would a taig micro lathe be a good buy?
    Other alternatives?
    What other stuff do i need to getting started?

  2. #2
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    yes it would.
    thwang

  3. #3
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    I use a Taig micro lathe and it works great for me and as long as you keep projects small then it's a good answer If you have no space. The only thing is the lack of thread cutting... you have to use taps and dies. Lots of imfo here: http://www.cartertools.com/index.html

    I used it in this thread: Meet Nosey....

    This is a pic of mine making a 7up housing.

    EDIT: If you go with Taig then get the 1/4 HP (500 watt) motor for light building as the 1/8HP motor is better suited to watch making and the four jaw chuck (the only chuck I have) will be of use for non round jobs.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Buy a MICRO LATHE ?-boring-584x440-.jpg  

    Last edited by yetibetty; 02-03-2011 at 04:14 PM.

  4. #4
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    A little lathe would be good. I have no experience with the micro lathes so cannot comment on it's capabilities but I'm sure others on the forum would. If you do get a lathe a 4 and 3 jaw chuck is needed

    As for other stuff to go with it you will need some tool steel and a bench grinder to sharpen them to the correct shape. To go with the steel you will need a parting blade and holder, boring bar and a regular tool holder for general turning.

    A set of vernier calipers and some telescoping gauges for measuring the inside diameters.

    A vertical mill slide to go on the lathe cross feed would be good. That way you can hold your workpiece in it and put a slot drill in the lathe chuck turning your lathe into a mill.

    A dial gauge and holder for centering your work

    A bottle of cutting fluid .

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Sherline.

    The Taig is ok.

    I prefer the Sherline. A bit more expensive, but far more polished as a machine. I have owned both, and I consider the Sherline to be much more capable. Sherline make just about every attachment you could think of, so if you can think of it, you can probably make it on the Sherline. I also have a Taig vertical mill which is pretty good, but I'd prefer a metric machine and Taig only do imperial.

    Either way you'll soon find buying the lathe is only the first step. You'll soon find yourself spending hours online looking at attachments and stuff to buy.

    Ebay is a good source for Sherline stuff.... and Taig too.

    Good luck.

    b.
    Posting on the basis that ignorance shared is ignorance doubled.

  6. #6
    removing nudity
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    here's a good example, I've taken a screen shot as its not ofeten you see things cheaper with the aussie battler than the US$.

    Been like it for a little while now on and off but always puts a smile on my face when see it in writing.

    Buy a MICRO LATHE ?-sherline.jpg

    ebay item here

  7. #7
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    What kind of housing are you making? What made you decide on a lathe over a mill? Both are very capable at cutting metal depending on the shape.
    Current Ride:
    Ibis Mojo SL-R - Medium - South Beach White
    '11 Specialized Roubaix Compact Rival

  8. #8
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    Just to add my 2p, if I could choose again I'd get a mill first. A milling machine and a rotary table anything is possible. You can even do 'lathe' style cuts. I have a vertical slide and a dividing head for my lathe but it's not the easiest to use. It's not very easy to see what's going on because you're looking side on, where as on a mill, you can look down into where you're cutting.

    Happy shopping!

  9. #9
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    Totally agree with piesoup on the vertical slide. It does drive me crazy each time I have to convert the lathe to a mill and then convert it back to a lathe again just to do one little job.

    Milling from a side on view is not too cool as you can only see one side of your work. I have actually had to use a mirror once to see the other side.

    In the end I think trying to do milling on a lathe is a pain but trying to do lathe things on a mill will be a pain too.

    In the end you will want a mill and a lathe.

  10. #10
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    With regards to the mill and rotary table, its a royal pain in the ass having to take the vice of my table, center the rotary table.
    Then remove the rotary table and then indicate the vice for use..

    If you have the space get a mill with a big enough X/Y table so you can mount both and leave them on the table. You'll still have to center the rotay table but without removing the vice.

    I could probably just squeeze mine on both side by side, but cant be bothered to make more clamps at the moment.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldigger
    I could probably just squeeze mine on both side by side, but cant be bothered to make more clamps at the moment.
    IMO you are better off if you do that. I've seen too many small mills that have the wear on the guideways and feedscrew heaviest in the center of the travel. That happens because most people have a tendency to mount their vice or other workholding device in the center of the table. Even out the wear by working over all the table travel.

  12. #12
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    Goldigger, love the custom enclosure

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by yetibetty
    Goldigger, love the custom enclosure

    Thanks...its a work of art isnt it?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker
    IMO you are better off if you do that. I've seen too many small mills that have the wear on the guideways and feedscrew heaviest in the center of the travel. That happens because most people have a tendency to mount their vice or other workholding device in the center of the table. Even out the wear by working over all the table travel.

    Good point that Vancbiker will have to move my vice to the other end of the table and then fit the rotary to it too

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker
    IMO you are better off if you do that. I've seen too many small mills that have the wear on the guideways and feedscrew heaviest in the center of the travel. That happens because most people have a tendency to mount their vice or other workholding device in the center of the table. Even out the wear by working over all the table travel.
    Yep your right, I had this discussion when i bought the mill..But I'd have to add my vice gets used 95% of the time, so that side of the table will get worn more anyway, it makes sense to periodically swap them around.
    I just need to get of my ass and get some of these for my vice, but cant find them in the uk.
    I got p@ssed of with having to make stuff just to use something..
    ..


    Or make these.. http://littlemachineshop.com/Project...ViseClamps.pdf
    Last edited by Goldigger; 02-04-2011 at 12:05 PM.

  16. #16
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    Best to buy a toolmakers vise that has grooves on the sides as well as slots so you don't have to buy those kind of clamps. Something like these:

    http://www.shars.com/product_categor...olmakers_Vises

  17. #17
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    1+ on the grooves.

  18. #18
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    Can't get them in the UK.
    The clamps arnt difficult to make.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldigger
    Can't get them in the UK.
    The clamps arnt difficult to make.
    That was mainly for people who don't own one and may buy one in the future.

  20. #20
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    If i were to turn my mill into CNC, would that do away with the need for the rotary table?
    I'm assuming the software can cut a circle just using x and y co-ordinates.
    also conversion to cnc, would that illiminate the backlash in the x and y??

    Is there any free software that can be used to create the cnc program?

  21. #21
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    I have just read a forum on the very subject.
    Apparently the cost of cnc isn't too bad when you consider that you don't have to buy scales (that info will be on the monitor)or a rotary table but it helps if you had a lead screw operated head travel like the taig mill..... and yes it will do circles or heart shapes if you wanted and will also compensate for backlash(you just tell the program how much backlash you have).

    No good for me though as I'm crap with computers, I can just about draw in paint.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by yetibetty
    I have just read a forum on the very subject.
    Apparently the cost of cnc isn't too bad when you consider that you don't have to buy scales (that info will be on the monitor)or a rotary table but it helps if you had a lead screw operated head travel like the taig mill..... and yes it will do circles or heart shapes if you wanted and will also compensate for backlash(you just tell the program how much backlash you have).

    No good for me though as I'm crap with computers, I can just about draw in paint.

    I can only find one company that do a kit for my mill, but now prices published.

    I have what i think is quiet a lot of backlash, nearly half a turn of the hand wheel, can i illiminate some of this?

  23. #23
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    Not going to be easy to elimimate backlash as your mill doesn't have anti backlash nuts that can be adjusted ( split nuts ).
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    Last edited by yetibetty; 02-06-2011 at 08:27 AM.

  24. #24
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    For a conversion on a mill that needs ballscrews you're looking at:

    ballscrews + nuts + hardware for installation
    nema motors + mounts + couplings + collars
    control board(probably g540) + power supply + enclosure + cables + relays
    cnc software + cam software + cad software

    Of this list, some of the things you can make yourself. Some of the software you can find free or use combo programs that do a little bit of cad with cam. Best combo I've found so far for the price is around $315 for mach3 + cambam.

    It may be easier and more cost effective to buy a small machine that has been converted to cnc. The seig x1/x2/x3 are probably the easiest to find cnc kits for if you're looking for smaller desktop machines and want to DIY. The Taig mill is rather cost effective as you can find used setups for under $2000 that include a lot of stuff.

    Best place on the web for cnc related stuff:
    http://www.cnczone.com

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goldigger
    If i were to turn my mill into CNC, would that do away with the need for the rotary table?
    I'm assuming the software can cut a circle just using x and y co-ordinates.
    also conversion to cnc, would that illiminate the backlash in the x and y??

    Is there any free software that can be used to create the cnc program?
    When I converted my lathe and mill to CNC, I used EMC2 as the control software. I looked at mach3, but it didn't really seem to be full featured. EMC will compensate for the physical backlash in the machine via software, but you will get better results if you minimize the physical backlash. I installed anti-backlash nuts to let me adjust the bulk of the backlash out. EMC2 is free.

    http://linuxcnc.org/

    I did the conversion 4 years ago. At the time, I thought I would just use the CNC when I needed to turn out lots of the same part. But I use it for just about all my machining now. I thought the overhead of creating the CNC programs would be too much for single parts, but it goes fairly quickly once you get the hang of the overall process. There are also so many things you can do that are really difficult via manual machining.

    I started with manual Sherline machines that I ordered with the option for CNC conversion. That means they had servo motor mounts on all the lead screws. I used the machines manually for 3 years before I did the CNC conversion. Now that I look back, doing a good bit of manual machine work is pretty important before converting to CNC. It would be really hard to create good CNC programs without having a good grasp of how to machine manually.

    I will say the overall CNC conversion was no small undertaking. It took me over a year of on and off work. First step was to install servo motors on the mill and lathe. You also have to install a shaft encoder on the lathe if you want to be able to do threading on the lathe. Then I build my own motor controllers and interfaced them to the computer. Next step was setting up and calibrating EMC2. Final step was learning how to create g-code. I spend a huge amount of time trying to find reasonably priced software for this. Maybe there is better stuff now, but I never found anything that seemed any good that wasn't really expensive. I ended up using turbocad to make basic drawings, wrote some utilities to do some of the grunt work of creating the basic g-code from a drawing, and then do a fair amount of hand editing of the g-code.

    In the end, I only spent 300-400 dollars on the entire conversion. So it was a very cost effective route. What I ended up with is very similar to what Sherline later release as their ready made CNC packages. If I were doing it again, I'd think hard about whether I'd just buy their packages, but it does add up to quite a bit of money for both a lathe and and a mill. I also converted my rotary table to CNC, and setup my lathe for threading which is not included in their packages.

    I am interested in what software and process others use for creating g-code. If I could find something that was a lot easier without spending a ton of money on software, I'd consider switching.

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