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Old 06-12-2017, 05:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Little Machine Shop Sieg C3

I need some advice. I hear about metal lathes a lot on here and I have been toying around with buying one. Not being a metalsmith, I think I want one but I am not sure what I will do with it that I can't do with my wood lathes. Primary interest is pen making. So some advice and insight please:
1. what do you do with a metal lathe that you can't with a wood lathe in pen making?
2. Do you use both a wood and metal lathe or do you make all your pens on a metal lathe?

Here is the kicker: My wife said a few minutes ago - I want to get you a metal lathe for your birthday and Father's Day. You have been talking about them so I want to get you one! I don't know many guys that will run away from that offer!
So next questions:
1 Reading on several other posts it sounds like Little Machine shop is the place to go?
2. Sounds like the Sieg C3 is the right mini lathe?
3. If I get it what do I need to get in the way of accessories to get me going well? Not looking for all the accessories I can use but which are the smart ones to have?

I appreciate any insights you all give me!
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Old 06-12-2017, 06:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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WOW ! . I thought nobody would ever ask that question(s) !!

I bought a Sieg lathe over 7 years ago and I have been using it ever since to make pens; I find it indispensible.

What do I do with it that I could not do with a wood lathe ? Don't have to use a skew ! Don't have to sharpen !
I make all my pens on it ... 750 of them so far, wood, acrylic and metal.

I can easily get my pen blanks turned round, which is always my starting point. Accurately round and that is a big thing to me.
I can easily drill my blanks accurately, which is extremely important to me.
I can drill to an accurate and reproductible depth ... great for kitless pens.

I can easily do without a mandrel and use TBC bushings or no bushings at all.

I can easily modify pen parts and tubes. (you can do that on a wood lathe too).

The reason I bought it was because I had learned to use a metal lathe at university when I had to make parts and equipmtment for my experiments. . I loved using it, so after I retired, I just happened to see this "cheap" metal lathe and I wanted it. . This was well before I discovered that people make pens. . Suddenly, when I made that discovery, I knew what I wanted to use my metal lathe for !! :)

Little Machine Shop is the place to go, but you can get a Sieg type lathe (and most cheaper metal lathes are likely lathe made in the Sieg factory in China) at other places ... eg. Harbor Freight, Grizzly, etc ... I think they are all the same. . But LMS will give you the best service and they have a huge selection of accessories you might eventually find useful.

You don't need to buy a lot of tools. I got Rick Herrell to make me one toolholder that I use for everything and I occasionally buy replacement cutters for it for about $8 each. Do not buy those cutters with carbide WELDED to steel ... you may eventually want one or two of them for special jobs but I use a 11mm round carbide replaceable cutter on my Rick Herrell tool holder all the time for nearly everything. . Another essential is a parting tool for about $8.

Your lathe will come with a 3-jaw chuck, which is all you really need, but I also bought a 4-jaw chuck which is very handy for pen blanks because most of them start off square.

The tool holder post that comes with the lathe is totally adequate.

Keith, please write to me and ask more questions. . I can't think of everything to tell you but you will never be sorry that you own a Sieg C3 !!!

BTW ... I also bought (more recently) a bench top wood lathe, mainly because I thought I owed it to myself to learn to "turn wood properly" and learn to use a skew. But using a metal lathe is so much more to my liking that I never use the wood lathe except for a little bit of buffing now and then. . Also, I have had a hard time learning to sharpen wood gouges and skews and scrapers. Of course, nowadays you can buy carbide tools for wood turning, but they are really expensive compared to what I use on my metal lathe (and they are not much different).

Keith, it sounds like you have a wonderfully understanding and insightful wife !!! . Just say, "Yes please, darling!" and appreciate her !!
She's a gem !!!!!
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I was around lathes and milling as a kid and I remember watching machining with oil cooling. But on the Seig, on Grizzly and on other small lathes, I don't see oil cooling and lubing.

IS oil cooling/lubing not necessary on small lathes? How do you keep the temps down and lube the cuts when turning machining aluminum, brass, steel, etc.?

Thanks for your insight on this.
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keithbyrd View Post
I need some advice. I hear about metal lathes a lot on here and I have been toying around with buying one. Not being a metalsmith, I think I want one but I am not sure what I will do with it that I can't do with my wood lathes. Primary interest is pen making. So some advice and insight please:
1. what do you do with a metal lathe that you can't with a wood lathe in pen making?
2. Do you use both a wood and metal lathe or do you make all your pens on a metal lathe?

Here is the kicker: My wife said a few minutes ago - I want to get you a metal lathe for your birthday and Father's Day. You have been talking about them so I want to get you one! I don't know many guys that will run away from that offer!
So next questions:
1 Reading on several other posts it sounds like Little Machine shop is the place to go?
2. Sounds like the Sieg C3 is the right mini lathe?
3. If I get it what do I need to get in the way of accessories to get me going well? Not looking for all the accessories I can use but which are the smart ones to have?

I appreciate any insights you all give me!
I am a blacksmith by trade and have 3 southbends as well as a wells index mill. with these lathes I can turn down the damascus blanks that I make like these...The added benifit of turning my own bushings is an added plus. Please feel free to pm me any questions and I will be happy to help in any way.
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leehljp View Post
I was around lathes and milling as a kid and I remember watching machining with oil cooling. But on the Seig, on Grizzly and on other small lathes, I don't see oil cooling and lubing.

IS oil cooling/lubing not necessary on small lathes? How do you keep the temps down and lube the cuts when turning machining aluminum, brass, steel, etc.?

Thanks for your insight on this.
It largely depends on your depth of cut and how fast you are advancing ie. speeds and feeds. on my 9" SB lathe I use oil coolent at an .025" depth of cut but on my 16" SB I don't use anything till my cut exceeds .100". However I always use coolent when drilling or boring. Don't hes atate to pm me with any questions.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I appologize if I'm repeating anything that's been said above. I haven't read the other comments yet.
I've been running a mini metal lathe for about 2 years now.
You CAN do everything you do on a wood lathe with a metal lathe, some it takes some igunity and the making of your own tools, but it can be done. That being said a metal lathe offers a lot that a wood lathe doesn't.

The biggest difference in a metal lathe is the fact that you do not hold the tool in your hand. It is on a slide that is mounted to your bed. You turn a few little wheels to move the tooling. You can buy a wood turning post to mount on your metal lathe however so that you can also turn by hand like you are used to.

But the cross slide tooling allow some for much greater accuracy. If ou know what you are doing you can turn something within 0.001" measurements. You can also much easier cut metal on a metal lathe.

If ou haven't yet, watch some basic videos on YouTube.

I use a Grizzly 7x12 mini lathe. Saving up to upgrade to something larger however, but for what I do (mostly making rings) it is perfect. I'd prefer a larger spindle bore (the hole that runs through the headstock) and some larger jaws. Also a slightly bigger motor would be nice, but it's a great little lathe. I run it for about 5 hours average every day. I've only had to put about $100 into in the past two years and I bought it for around $500. Well worth the money so far. That being said I probably have $5,000 worth of tools for it at this point...

If you are wanting to make kitless pens, I'd suggest going with a slightly larger model. Most bespoke pens makers say you want something with higher torque which is generally in a quite large ($3,000+) model. But my little 7x12 works for them. Metal just takes a little bit of patience.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Turning aluminum and brass on the little Sieg is fine and you don't need to worry much about lubricants ... spray on some WD-40 for doing threads.

No problem doing kitless in aluminum, brass or acrylic

Hank, you don't need to be too concerned about lubes except with steel (which I don't do). . Machining aluminum and brass without lube is OK ... I only take light cuts and spray on a bit of lube for the finishing cuts, or if I am threading.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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So with the 7x12 you can't turn steel/stainless or you have to go slower?
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This is an interesting thread and I appreciate all of your comments. Thanks!
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by keithbyrd View Post
So with the 7x12 you can't turn steel/stainless or you have to go slower?
When it comes to turning metal speed (rpm) is not as important as speed (feed rate) my 9" has 12 speeds and the fastest is 1300 rpm but has well over 30 feed rates. cutter selection is also important weather you use HSS or carbide. how mush does the lathe weigh? the more stout the heavier cut you can make.
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