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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2022
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    Default Another Which Lathe Is Best -May 2022

    Hi guys, another which lathe I should buy thread. I have done some searching and found some good information on the forum but the newest tread I can find is over 7 years old and does not include the TU-3008G.


    To give some background, I am a total novice to lathe and have just been reading the forum and watching YT to learn. I canít really think of a project that will require threading but with these sorts of things you donít really know what you are going to use it for until you start to use it.


    Below are what I see as the plusís and minusís of each lathe available locally but how much they will affect me when using it I am not sure on. On thing I can see me doing is been lazy with change gears and using sub optimal feed rates. I originally thought the AL250 was the way to go but now am leaning towards the AL336 but its hard to justify spending double


    AL-250G $2959
    + Price
    + Quick change gear box
    - Small spindle bore
    - 4MT spindle taper
    - No imperial threading


    AL-320G $3619
    + Price
    + 5MT spindle taper
    + 4 Jaw included
    + Good size spindle bore
    + Imperial threading
    - No quick change gear box
    - No D1-4 camlock


    TU-3008G $4279
    + 5MT spindle taper
    + Good size spindle bore
    + Higher Hp motor
    - Change gears
    -No 4 Jaw


    AL-336 $6039
    + 5MT spindle taper
    + Good size spindle bore
    + Higher Hp motor
    -Price
    -1 change gear


    Happy for other suggestion but I will only buy something in store not online which in Western Australia cuts down the options, I would consider second hand but have been looking on and off for about a year and never seen anything that really, I see as value of money compared to new.


    What are your thoughts, any plusís & Minusís I missed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    near Warragul, Victoria
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    Default Noise

    Hi Good luck in your search.
    The generic Asian hobby gear head lathes can be noisy even from new . Can you inspect and hear your choice running before you buy ?. Might be the annoying 'ringing' noise is due to the particular alloy of metals they use for the gears . On the other hand I have a 1950s UK Harrison with noisy gears so you cannot win sometimes.
    How close are your neighbours ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    North Brisbane. Qld. Australia
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    Default

    I chose the TU3008G after a lot of looking. Still yet to get it out of the trailer, which may happen this weekend if it does not rain. Would not have the first on your list. I believe the TU3008G is a much better finished lathe than the AL-320G although mine will need a good clean before use, as it came with free gritty stuff everywhere. The AL336 I do not really like and did not have the room for, or means of moving something that size anyway, which may not be a problem for you.
    Nev.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2022
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    Mandurah
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    Default Thoughts

    Thanks for the reply's

    Morrisman, Nearest neighbour is about 60m but lets face it on a still night it could be 200 and still be as loud. Where I am you can pretty much make as much noise as you want from sun up to sun down. That works fine for me, I could probably hear them running but then I would be buying display stock. Not sure if that is a good thing.

    Nev, Shed is big enough to fit the AL336, Whether I want to take up that much room is still to be decided. Other than size and weight anything else you didn't like about the AL336? DO you thing you will need to change gears on TU3008G regularly when using it?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    York, North Yorkshire UK
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    5,402

    Default

    Hi Amused,

    I have a Myford 3.5" inch centre height lathe with a small spindle bore and MT2 taper also MT2 in the tailstock.
    It has a quick change gearbox and power cross feed. In getting on for forty years, I've never found the need for a larger bore spindle. As far as cutting threads is concerned, I can easily cut both imperial and metric threads, along with BA and some other very odd threads ! Having a quick change gearbox is nice, but it doesn't alleviate the need for change gears.

    The only time that I've felt the need for a bigger lathe, is recently when I found that I couldn't get anything on the faceplate larger than 8" inches diameter or thicker than 45 mm, because it fouled the shears, but even then there is a way to do what I want to.

    I would buy what I could afford, because you will spend almost as much again in tooling !

    JMTPW.
    Best Regards:
    Baron J.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Willowbank QLD
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    309

    Default

    Hello Amused,

    There is no best lathe, there will be a lathe that is a good fit for you. I have not seen where you have mentioned what you want the lathe for.

    If you want to get into clock making, none of the suggestions would be ideal. If you want to do restorations on D9 bull dozers you may need something a bit bigger. If you just want a lathe to learn on, start basic and work out what annoys you and what features you like. Then you will have a clearer idea of the best lathe for you. Do you want to do left hand threads?

    I am stating the obvious here but sometimes the obvious is overlooked. Big lathes are harder to move and take up more space. Some people don't mind a cramped workshop whilst other like to feel they have room to move. Expensive lathes cost more. Whilst you may have the money to buy whatever lathe you desire, it won't be money well spent if the lathe does not fit your requirements. The lathe is just the start, it is the tooling that adds up.

    Change gears and lack of quickly settable power feed was two things I disliked. Some people don't mind the few extra minutes. If you get a lathe that has change gears and it annoys you it can be upgraded with an electronic lead screw. One modification I have made to both of my lathes is a VFD. I like being able to change speeds at the turn of a knob. I you buy a lathe with 3 phase motor fitted you will not be voiding warranty running it on a VFD. You may find a belt drive and VFD a better option than geared head. Also remember the more moving parts the more that may go wrong.

    Once you decide what lathe you want your next question should be what tooling. Make that a separate post. One thing I will mention is if you are a HSS person you will not need as much speed. Don't dismiss HSS because it is not what most shops use. I find HSS more relaxing, but that might just be me.

    To summarize, tell us a bit about what you hope to do with the lathe, how often you hope to use it and maybe a bit about yourself. Why I ask about you is some people like to buy a lathe and just use it. Others are constant tinkers and will make many upgrades. Whilst others will get a basic lathe and within a couple of years have turned it into a full CNC machine, because that is how they like to work.

    Steve

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Picnic Point, Sydney
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    75
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    168

    Default

    Get the biggest lathe that fits your available space. At some stage you'll be confident working a lathe & will find the limitations of those machines you suggest rather annoying.

    My basic list if I was buying another lathe would be
    Centre lathe not a bench type,
    Nothing less than a 52mm hollow spindle,
    1000mm between centres,
    No. 4 MT tailstock,
    Digital readout is a must,
    Camlock chucks ... 3 & 4 jaw + faceplate,
    Metric & imperial screw cutting,
    Foot brake.

    I also have 3 phase power but if you don't then the above list might be hard to fill.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    Willowbank QLD
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Snapey View Post
    Get the biggest lathe that fits your available space. At some stage you'll be confident working a lathe & will find the limitations of those machines you suggest rather annoying.
    I was given the above advice when I first purchased a lathe and many times since. For me it was the worst advice I was given. Granted you need something big enough to have decent rigidity.

    If you are a hobbyist with x amount of dollars, the bigger lathe will leave less money for the rest. I am constantly amazed when watching some youtube videos what can be achieved with a small workshop and small basic equipment. This advice is like get the biggest fastest car you can afford. Not good if you commute in the city and hardly ever leave a 60 zone. In my opinion, which may be completely wrong, finding the limitations of your lathe is the best way to learn. I could find space for a lathe with a three meter bed. I can't think of a single time when I would ever use it. I would go as far as saying if I was given a lathe with a three meter bed I was sell it as fast as I could because it would not be what I need.

    I would like, for my own education, to hear how many use there spindle bore to capacity and what work they do. Also why they find an advantage. I have my ideas, but am self taught so may be missing the obvious.

    Steve

  9. #9
    BobL is offline Member: Blue and white apron brigade
    Join Date
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    Default

    A few random thoughts.

    Geared drive: For newbies a belt drive can be safer, set the belt slightly on the loose side, so if something goes pear shaped the belt will slip so the "pear" doesn't destroy your lathe.

    Bore size: if you have plenty of space then getting a BIG lathe with a BIG bore is great but you have to weigh that up against the potential loss of space. How often will you use the big bore versus how much might you use the often very valuable space for something else. Once you take up turning you should be able to get to know other turners. Some will have big bore lathes so making friends with them or even paying them to do the odd bit of big bore stuff is another alternative. I only had space for a small lathe so ended up with a Hercus with a 3/4" spindle bore. Bore wise I wasn't that worried because for a while I was able to go back to where I use to work to use a big bore lathe but only ended up using it twice in 10 years. If you don't have a MW bandsaw I would suggest getting a smaller lathe and the bandsaw as they really do complement each other and the shed space the bandsaw takes up will usually be much better value for money. If you don't have decent grinder then its worth getting one nd of course more space taken up.

    Most newbie lathe buyers don't allow enough $$ for tooling and measuring gear. It's a bit like the lathe, you won't know what you need until you take up the project and whether you take a up a project can often depend on what tooling you have on hand. For a newbie I recommend Eccentric Engineering's diamond tool holders and Crobalt cutting tips. Their T-shaped parting tools are also really good. Costs a bit more but they are by far the easiest tips to set up especially for a newbie. They come with a sharpening tool and you cannot go wrong with them.

    4 Jaw. A must. They take some time to learn how to use properly but they're such a versatile chuck that you will find lots of uses for it. I used mine recently to drill the holes in a bunch of home made SS barrel nuts.
    4jawarrangement.jpg

    Materials. Most total novices start turning on totally crap metal and wonder why they get crap results - I did exactly this. You are far better off buying quality metals and learning on these. Then when you get some skills have a go a bit of rebar and see how you go. Some think it's wasteful to spend hundreds on quality metals just to turn most of it into swarf but you should convince yourself its part of the learning process, along with broken and repeatedly sharpening bits, and (hopefully not too may) bent things. You may be lucky and find stuff like Al and brass at scrap dealers but most steels are very hard to identify so go to a reputable metal merchant and and buy small amounts (often that's quite difficult) of good quality steel. The difference between piece of free machine steel and bit of rear is like chalk and cheese.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    near Warragul, Victoria
    Posts
    3,591

    Default Repairs

    Hi Amused

    Whatever lathe you choose you have to think ahead in terms of: if something goes wrong , can I repair the problem myself - new lathes will have a warranty but often the dealer or seller can be a pain to deal with if you lodge a warranty claim.

    As a total novice I started with a Ex-tech school belt drive Sheraton AR9 ( same as a Hercus ) Over time I dismantled it, tuned it ,tweaked it, fitted new spindle bearings , new cross slide ACME screw and nut and I've done lots more fettling to it, it has been brilliant as a learning lathe. At tafe I made a threading dial indicator for it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Reidy41 View Post
    I have my ideas, but am self taught so may be missing the obvious.

    Steve
    After 60 years as a toolmaker it looks like I've missed the obvious.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    Willowbank QLD
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Snapey View Post
    After 60 years as a toolmaker it looks like I've missed the obvious.
    Hello Snappy, I am not trying to be argumentative. For home use I have not had a job where I could not work around a smaller bore. Sometimes there has been a little metal wastage. I am asking the question for two reasons. The first to educate myself and the second is so that Amused gets varied opinions so he can decide what is best for him. My main training with a lathe was in the 80's as part of my Instrument Apprenticeship. Different people use different lathes for different things. My current lathe has a 40mm spindle bore and the last one had 30. Spindle bore was not a consideration when I upgraded. It may be for some so please educate me.

    Steve

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    melbourne australia
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    Default

    Count me in as one who doesn't agree with "get the biggest lathe you can afford/accommodate". In fact, I'd go so far as to say, "buy the smallest lathe you can get away with". Just don't buy a crappy one.

    As already mentioned, the cost of tooling adds up fast. The bigger the lathe, the bigger the tooling, the faster the cost adds up.

    I agree with BobL about Eccentric's diamond tool holder (made in Oz) and their parting blades (made in the US).

    There have been times when I wished I had a spindle bore larger than 26mm, but I've always been able to get around it. Usually by using a fixed steady.

    However, Amused's intended use may render all of my comments irrelevant!
    Chris

  14. #14
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    May 2020
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    Willowbank QLD
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jack620 View Post

    I agree with BobL about Eccentric's diamond tool holder (made in Oz) and their parting blades (made in the US).
    Where were you guys when I started out. It took me years to discover Eccentrics tool holder and parting blades. It would have saved a heap of cash instead of buying stuff and then me buying the Diamond tool holder. I would say it should be the first tool any newcomer buys. It not only teaches you that inserts are not a must for hobby use but it is very versatile and forgiving. Then buy tools as required.

    Steve

  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jack620 View Post
    Count me in as one who doesn't agree with "get the biggest lathe you can afford/accommodate". In fact, I'd go so far as to say, "buy the smallest lathe you can get away with". Just don't buy a crappy one.
    I believe this is the best advice of all. I was considering an AL960B and was pretty well set on getting one. Cost, size, weight, as well as being much more difficult to move made that a dream. With the TU3008G, even though I have yet to use it because it's still in the trailer, is a dream that's started to turn into something real. I'll get there eventually.
    Nev.

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