V6Buicks Reader
4/26/22 7:50 a.m.

I'm really interested in getting my own lathe, but I'm neither experienced enough to justify paying for the real deal nor do I have the space to home one.  I got the idea when I saw the Harbor Freight unit.  Those things are tiny, and super cheap!  While I'd certainly be limited in capability, most of the stuff I need is tiny anyway.  Anybody have experience with these cheap Chinese lathes?  My understanding is that you sorta get what you pay for, but spending the extra time to set the machine up goes a very long way.  Plus, a lot of upgrade parts are available for more capability, reliability, and ease of use.

Anybody here have experience with one?  It sure would be nice to start learning how to make my own parts without tearing up other people's equipment!

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/26/22 10:16 a.m.
Toyman! MegaDork
4/26/22 10:29 a.m.

I had the HF mini mill for a number of years. It was pretty well built and I had no issues with it. 

You might be surprised about what you can build with the small machines. 

I made a set of backhoe pins for a friend on a Taig micro lathe. It didn't do it quickly, but it did get the job done. 


Mr_Asa PowerDork
4/26/22 10:29 a.m.

https://littlemachineshop.com/  is a great place to pick up tools and parts.

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
4/26/22 12:11 p.m.

In reply to Toyman! :

I've wanted a Taig for a long time.

APEowner SuperDork
4/26/22 12:20 p.m.

You can learn a lot with a little machine.  In fact, they force you to develop good habits because they're not ridged enough to tolerate improper speeds and feeds and dull or inappropriate tooling.

stafford1500 Dork
4/26/22 12:30 p.m.

One thing to keep in mind regarding small machines - Most of the cheaper ones do not have threading capability. That may or may not influence you decisions, but I found that once I had a small lathe making parts with threads started to become more of a need than want.

stafford1500 Dork
4/26/22 12:31 p.m.

Also, you will wind up spending as much or more than the the lathe cost on tooling. If you buy the right machine early, trading up to a bigger machine could keep your tooling from becoming obsolete and needing to re-buy.

Toyman! MegaDork
4/26/22 2:20 p.m.

In reply to Woody (Forum Supportum) :

They are great little machines and would compliment your mini mill nicely. 


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