first lathe

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alexnc

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2015
606
12
I'm researching laths for turning stems and found amateur rails with hand drills clamped, etc

Trying to to spend a ridiculous sum on it until I know I'm all in

Does anyone have recommendations or examples?

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
981
24
Basically there's a cost in involved in setting up to do this, and "ridiculous sum" may or may not be involved. The smallest useable stem-turning lathe is probably the Taig mini, but it is real small and still a few hundred bucks to get into - even if you get a lathe for free you need some tooling, and you need to be able to buy or build some way to spin a pre made stem or rod stock. So there's a few hundred bucks to get this moving.
If you want to be able to make pipes en toto, you need a bigger lather, bigger chucks etc, to the tune of 1000 bucks or so, or a lot more.
I have a 10x27 metal lathe and a Jet Mini (6x14 I think) and those are both great. But between them, there's 4,000 bucks worth of lathes and chucks and tooling sitting there...

 

chilllucky

Member
Jul 15, 2018
282
32
Chicago, IL, USA
scoosa.com
If you live in a dense enough area, look into "maker's spaces". Collective/co-operative shops for all sorts of crafts/trades that rent the use of equipment and project storage space by the hour or for a subscription. This should put you in front of a tool where you can decide if you are "all-in" or not in pretty short order.

 

alexnc

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2015
606
12
thanks - I was noting $400 or $500 might do a basic mini, but was not going to entertain thousands. The coop would be perfect if I can find one.
the Jet Mini Lathe 1015 looks about right for me, I need to add a chuck then - would the Teknatool Nova 1 x 8 do it? - LINK
How would this Central Machinery do? -LINK

 

alexnc

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2015
606
12
I did find coops near me - need to check out that avenue too - thx for the tips
would something like this fit a drill mounted on a jig? LINK

 

chilllucky

Member
Jul 15, 2018
282
32
Chicago, IL, USA
scoosa.com
It could be made to work, but it would take so much time to set up with any amount of rigidity that you would be better off getting apart-time gig for those hours and put the money into a better tool.
If you can get to a pipe show, there are sometimes pipemaking classes ahead of them where you could talk with folks about various solutions and learn about drilling, stem-making, or what not.

 

fishfly

Member
Oct 12, 2014
116
0
Most people who use Jet lathes like them. Just note that it isn't variable speed, which I find a very useful feature. Another one to consider is the Nova Comet II (which is variable speed).
Nova Comet II
I have one and love it. With the inclusion of the chuck and tools, the cost is pretty similar. It is also 3/4 horse compared to the Jet 1/2 horse. Be warned that you will probably need different jaws for the chuck and the Nova has many available.
The Central Machinery/Harbor freight lathe, on the other hand, I can't praise. Mine, albeit an older mode, was less than sturdy and didn't even have standard headstock threads.

 

alexnc

Preferred Member
Oct 25, 2015
606
12
I really appreciate all of the input! I was worried no one would be here to lend advice!

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
981
24
My JET is variable speed, just flip a belt from spindle to spindle, probably identical to the Nova.
Forget drill mounting anything. Forget it. You need rigidity and repeatability and even these little lathes are just barely good enough for that.
I made lots of pipes with basically just a drill press. Buy delrin at a tenon-size and use that. There's lots of ways to skin this cat. Depends on if you are making or repairing too....
Chucks again depend on what you want to do. I use the 3 jaw self-centering my metal lathe came with, and I use a 4 jaw Oneway Talon (like the nova) with 2 jaws removed for briar.

 

fishfly

Member
Oct 12, 2014
116
0
My JET is variable speed, just flip a belt from spindle to spindle, probably identical to the Nova.
The Nova has three belt positions for low, medium, and high ranges. Plus there is a speed control knob that varies the speed within those ranges, even while the lathe is running. I've gotten used to the variable speed control and miss it when I use one of my turning club's lathes without it. It's not necessarily better, but it is quicker.

 
Sep 9, 2017
135
7
66
Greene, Maine, USA
I once owned a Unimat lathe, bought in the late '70s. I had it mounted on a 14"x24" (approx) chunk of 1/4" steel I came across, just to help with the whole rigidity thing.
Never used it for pipe related things, though.

 

derfatdutchman

Preferred Member
Jun 4, 2014
1,135
0
I don't make pipes, but I've cut my share of metal on a lathe. No matter what you buy mounting and set up are your two biggest factor for accuracy. To cut with any repeatable accuracy a lathe needs to be mounted on a rigid base and be properly leveled. If its bouncing around and/or out of level you can expect to turn tapers, work that is not concentric and a host of other problems.