View Full Version : looking for a lathe - any opinions on this Grizzly?

02-01-2009, 03:04 AM
http://www.grizzly.com/products/g9729 --- there is also a *gunsmith* lathe - not sure that link - it is more money and also 220 instead of 110

we have difficulty find an old used one up here - so we are looking into the Grizzly --- any suggestions are helpful - thanks Bull Shop Mom

here is the gunsmithing one link http://www.grizzly.com/products/Gunsmith-s-Bench-Top-Lathe-with-Stand/G4003G

02-01-2009, 03:48 AM
Bullshop, I know you asked about the Grizzly but I was wondering how hard/costly it would be to go on Craigs List, http://seattle.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=lathe for the Seattle area and have them ship via Alaska Marine Lines or another barge line? Just wondering if this would be an option you hadn't considered. Looks like they have several older models available in the Seattle area. Good luck.

John Taylor
02-01-2009, 11:23 AM
You will find that 1 & 5/8" spindle hole a big plus on the gunsmith model if you plan on working on barrels and actions. If it would have been available when I bought my last lathe it would have been my choice. I never cared much for the 3 in one, to much time to change things.

02-01-2009, 01:32 PM
I don't know a thing about Grizzly, unfortunately the USA has lost to many jobs, precision machines are selling at auction cheap. I have bought and sold quite a few machines to finance my own equipment. I do understand your location makes finding a rigger difficult. I would call Colorado school of trades in lake wood CO. the gunsmith school, ask what they use now. It was the South Bend heavy 10 but I think they changed years ago. I can check with them next week if you'd like, I went to school there years ago.


Elmer Keith
02-01-2009, 03:13 PM
This thread fits better here because it's use will be for gunsmithing / reloading projects.

02-01-2009, 04:28 PM
I've been told some of Grizzly's gears are plastic or nylon. It was said that this was to keep from damaging more expensive parts if the lathe is being run by inexperienced operators. Maybe it's just me but I don't want a lathe with plastic gears. Perhaps not all of their lathe have plastic gears. I sure would ask tho.

02-01-2009, 05:35 PM
I've been studying that subject for a while. The gunsmithing lathe has a lot af good points. BUT my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt, I'm not a machinist.

The gunsmith lathe has a large enough spindle bore to turn barrel blanks.
It has feed rates that are much slower than most lathes in this price range.
The lowest RPM is lower than others, good for chambering work. But the step up to 200 RPM is said to be bigger than most would like.
It seems to be a good choice to me in the $3000 range.

Was talking to Mike Bellm about it and he said the 10x22 lathe was good enough to do a lot of chamber work etc. The spindle bore will take an encore barrel but not a blank.

I wouldn't get a combo machine, but that is my preference for stand alone machines.

I find that getting good feedback on this level of machine tools is hard. The people that don't know didley give off the wall advice. The real machinists think in terms of a dedicated machine shop with a budget way beyond mine.

Right now I'm between the 10x22 and the smaller gunsmith lathe. I'll probably get the 10x22 since I need to buy a mill and all the tooling for the projects on my wish list. Later I'll probably get a bigger lathe if I can afford it.

I hope we could get more comment on this subject. For my shop I have a budget of about $10,000. That has to include lathe, mill, tooling, and consumables. Plan on doing rechambers on contenders/encores, make my own reamers for that, muzzle brakes machined into barrels, then move on to ruger SA work, and lever guns. I have a good collection of T/C barrels waiting and 4 rugers to play with.

Hope that helps. The more I learn the less sure I am.

02-01-2009, 06:28 PM
Howdy Elmer, (tip of ma hat) Say kin I bum a ceeegar from ya? Thanks pard, preciate it!

02-01-2009, 07:33 PM
Lots of good info and opinions on the net if you dig from folks that are using the machines and have nice work to show for it. You tube has some good videos too. I've been studying the net and books like crazy on this subject.

I've bought used as I like old machines, and it fits in my budget. Picked up a Webb Bridgeport clone knee mill last week. Last year I bought my 1950 Logan 11x24 which I think will be a great machine.

I've picked up some quality US made tooling and measuring tools along the way over the years, and rounded out what I think I need with mostly Enco on sale, and Grizzly. The chinese stuff is looking real good. Hope it will do the job for my needs.

I've seen some real nice work done on import machines lately. I think it all comes down to the operator. A skilled craftsman can make anything work. The best of the best tools won't help someone with no talent.

Where I fall inline in regards to machining is anyone's guess at this point ..:mrgreen:

02-01-2009, 09:25 PM
I have never used a 3 in 1 machine and have no desire to use one. The ones I have seen are real crude and look like they are neither a good mill or a good lathe.
Pat Marlin is right a good machinist can do good work on a worn machine, it just takes a lot longer and will not be as good as work done on a good machine. The time wasted compensating for taper caused by a worn bed or worn tailstock will quickly add up and take away from more profitable endeavours that would have earned more than enough money to pay for a good machine, not counting the butchered jobs tossed into the scrap bin.

How much experience do you have with machine tools?
Once you have used real machine tools it is hard to use tinker toys.

Look for a lathe that has a separate lead screw and feed screw.

02-01-2009, 09:39 PM

I'm not a machinist by any means.
But picked up a Grizzly G9249 lathe and a G3103 mill
2 or 3 years ago and haven't looked back.

Haven't found any plastic gears yet.
Wish they would have had the gunsmith special then.

Swede Nelson

02-01-2009, 11:50 PM
In my opinion, combo machines are mainly for folks who have only occasional hobby or personal uses for machine tools. You waste far too much time in teardown and set-up to seriously consider using them for anything but the simplist business type use.
Even then, I feel that most folks would be much better off with separate machines. Yes, the combo machines WILL get the job done--eventually. If you don't mind slow, and only forsee occasional use for your machine tools, a combo makes sense. Otherwise get a separate lathe and mill.
In my opinion, you would be pretty happy with any of those Grizzly lathes. They have a reputation for excellent customer service, and you will be able to do some quality work with their machinery. I have an HF 13x40, which is a similar platform to Griz's 12x36, and I have been very happy with it.


02-02-2009, 12:55 PM
This thread fits better here because it's use will be for gunsmithing / reloading projects.

tHANKS *EK* ya know i don't post often - and didn't know where to put such a question! Bull Shom MOM

02-02-2009, 01:04 PM
thanks all for the info --- still doing some research and saving --- will have to see what we can come up with .... Bull Shop Mom

02-02-2009, 06:54 PM
Bullshop Mom,
Don't waste your money on a combo machine! Buy a separate lathe and mill. I build Benchrest rifles and a 12X36 lathe is the smallest I'd recommend. In fact that's what I own. Be SURE you have at least a 1 1/2 inch spindle bore as it makes for more precise barrell setup for threading and chambering. I chamber through the headstock and use a spider on the end of the spindle so I can indicate both ends of a barrell. This also lets you to check the straightness of the barrell's bore much easier. a 36 inch lathe bed will just barely let you recontour a 26 inch barrell.
Grizzley makes a fairly good lathe and is identical to ENCO, Harbor Freight and Jet. ALL are made by the same company. ALL these lathes have a nylon drive gear between the gearbox and the drive spindle and has absolutely NO effect on accuracy. Be aware tooling WILL cost you more than the lathe and don't skimp on quality! That is MUCH more important than what name is on the lathe. As far as "vintage iron" a South Bend heavy 10 is about ideal, but consider most come out of commercial machine shops and most likely will be badly worn and in need of a rebuild. That can cost some SERIOUS money! A new Heavy 10 cost $25,000 the last time I looked! That's why I recomend a new Tiawan or chinese lathe.
Hope this helped,

02-02-2009, 07:52 PM
I bought the G4003 12x36 and so far I have been pretty happy with it. If you are used to running a SB9 flat belt lathe the G4003 is a real power house.


It has a 1-7/16 through bore, most unturned barrel blanks are 1.3" so they will fit. I wavered back and forth between the G4003 and the G9249


I finally decided on the G4003 because it's tailstock looks more robust and the tailstock has 1" more travel.

One quirk of the G4003, which I bet a lot of import lathes has, is that the scale for depth on the tailstock quill has hash marks .100" apart not 1/16".

The lathe turns nice and round and straight, and if you go to take off .01" it takes .01".

The compound degree markings are not perfect. Not that the angles are off...but rather the degree scale does not go as far around as on old American iron.

I went around and around with the adages about buying old american iron, and around where I live there is not any that has both a spindle bore big enough to swallow a rifle barrel, and short enough for some of a normal length barrel to stick out the left side.

I think later on I will put a 3 phase motor on the lathe so I can use a VFD to slow the lowest speed down some.

One thing worthy of thinking about is see which machines they have in stock, they have had some looooong back orders on some of the lathes, that played a part in what machine I got because I did not want to wait some unspecified length of time to get a machine.

I also bought the stand for the lathe, and it is not bad at all.

The free turning and boring tools they give you with the G4003 actually work quite decent, well enough that I would recommend that you buy them even if the machine you pick does not come with them. I turned down some 1.5" hot rolled 1018 to make M98 mauser mandrels and I turned down 2 of them on just one insert corner, thru scale and all.

Oh HEY, I almost forgot, there are yahoo forums for a lot of the import lathes, the one I belong to is called "12x36importlathes" lots of info there.


02-02-2009, 11:24 PM
Will that 1.3 blank fit in my 1 3/8" Logan Bill?

02-02-2009, 11:28 PM
Bill you also may want to consider a DC variable speed controlled motor replacement that will run on 110v. They are infinite in variable speed and have tons of torque. I'm doing a retrofit for the 3ph 3hp motor on my Mill.

02-02-2009, 11:52 PM
Willbird, I just put a 2hp 180 volt DC Baldor motor on my HF 13x--essentially the same lathe that you have. I really like this mod! As Pat says a motor of this size still has tons of torque, and I now shift gears a LOT less. I can't really argue with your VFD approach though, that will also get the job done by a slightly different route. You will like using your lathe more with variable speed, for sure!

02-03-2009, 10:08 AM
If your Logan has a 1.375 thru bore than a 1.3" blank ought to slide thru Pat. I had a Hendey lathe but the headstock was about 48" long...fine for doing barrels on steadyrest.

Another thing I forgot to mention re the old iron argument, not much old iron will do METRIC threads easily via the quickchange...you can rig up some compound gearing to get er done but it is not as quick and easy.

Lathesmith, I have 1 vfd already on my bridgeport, and it has SO many other features like accel and deccel ramp time, DC braking...and tons of other stuff that I'm thinking it offers tons more features than a DC motor ?? I actually ordered the VFD for the larger Grizzly gunsmith lathe....but I canceled the order for that lathe and got the G4003 due to loooong back order on that particular model, and put the vfd on my bridgeport mill.

I would also think a typical vfd would be cheaper and easier to use on a bridgeport that already has a 3 phase motor than putting a DC motor on it ?? My bridgeport is already a vari speed so I do not use the vfd for that function although I could....there is some evidence to support the theory that it is bad to run the vari speed pulley system at the same exact belt position all the time, it can wear grooves in the pulleys. It will be nice if I have some little tiny endmills to run because I can jack the top end rpm up higher with the vfd.


02-03-2009, 12:27 PM
Here's a link to DC retro info, and the pros n' cons of VFD's etc:


DC was a no brainer for me as I got my motors free (I just rymed three times), and have lots of experience doing swaps of various powered equipment.

Lathesmith.. what control did you use for you Baldor?

02-03-2009, 03:31 PM
Willbird, to get DC braking, you have to use a DC motor. Personally, I don't find the feature all that useful, nor do I have much use for Accel/Decel variance, although putting a slight delay upon motor startup does make the lathe somewhat safer. To each their own, though. And, some applications would find more use for this stuff too.
Pat, I just used a simple Leeson Electronics 174308 speedmaster controller. It works great, although I am going to devise a mechanical "reverse lockout" on this one--it's too darned easy to reach up and switch "reverse" instead of "brake". This Baldor motor is rated at 2 hp--I'd say it's pretty honest, this thing weighs 74 lbs and really seems to have the torque. I'd say converting this lathe to variable speed DC was even easier than converting my small lathe was, or maybe I just have the benefit of a little experience...

02-03-2009, 05:58 PM
DC braking is a feature that many VFD's use with a 3 phase AC motor :-). People on the Practical Machinist board are buying used VFD's from fleabay for $80-$120 each. I did buy mine new so I paid a bit more. A new Hitachi 2hp VFD is $211, if you get the right drive they can be used with single phase input and 3 phase output. The VFD I have does not require derating to use single phase input.

If I did not already have a varispeed head on the Bport the DC option might have greater attraction, also I had cnc conversion in mind when I got the VFD, many vfd are set up so that the break out board can directly control spindle speed, direction, and start and stop.


02-03-2009, 06:05 PM
Yeah, don't forget to derate the "drive" to 2/3rds power if using a single phase to generate 3 phase. That means if the motor is two horse, get a three horse drive. Really, the term "drive" means "controller plus motor", so what you are looking for is a controller. But, the literature uses both meanings, so know what you are getting when you order something. ... felix

02-03-2009, 06:52 PM
Yeah, don't forget to derate the "drive" to 2/3rds power if using a single phase to generate 3 phase. That means if the motor is two horse, get a three horse drive. Really, the term "drive" means "controller plus motor", so what you are looking for is a controller. But, the literature uses both meanings, so know what you are getting when you order something. ... felix

You do not need to derate if your VFD specifically says "no derating required for single phase input" :-).


02-03-2009, 07:59 PM
Willbird, a VFD is a good path to get variable speed, I'm certainly not knocking it. Those 1- to 3-phase VFD's are about as easy to install as it gets, and as you point out require no derating. I believe Felix is thinking of those static or rotary phase converters, many of which certainly would require derating. With the 1- to 3- VFD's you only need a 3 phase motor and you are in business. Of course, you need 240 volts to run them, but at this level of lathe power you need 240 volts anyway.
I did my big lathe the DC route simply because I happened to run into a super buy on that big Baldor motor. Those things cost almost as much as my lathe did, if bought new. Luckily, I was able to pick it up for pennies on the dollar, and with that Leeson controller I had less than $250 in the whole setup.
My main point is, get variable speed for your lathe, whichever method you prefer. You'll be glad you did!

02-03-2009, 10:48 PM
Ya Lathesmith I unnerstand what your saying. Felix is right in some cases. SOME VFD do require down rating, some of them although it is not many will not work at all on single phase input, some are actually made for it, some will tolerate it with some coaxing.

I wish I had bought a few of the DC treadmill motors when they were cheap.


02-04-2009, 12:09 PM
I spoke to to Nick, the shop instructor at C.S.T. they are currently using Acer lathes. 1340G/ 1440 cost for a single purchase would likely be over $8,000. made in Taiwan. Good info on the power guys. Steve

02-08-2009, 11:33 PM
The "new" Grizzly gunsmith lathe was spec'd by the president of Grizzly, Mr. Shiraz Balolia.
He is an F-Class shooter.
See this link: http://usfclass.com/officers.aspx
Also Mr. Gordy Gritters did a barrel chamering DVD as promo for the new lathe.
This comes from the "for what is worth" column.
I do not own this lathe and I am not an expert. Good luck with your quest!

02-09-2009, 03:44 AM
I wish I had bought a few of the DC treadmill motors when they were cheap.


Bill I probably can get you one in 3hp. Maybe we can work out a trade.

I didn't know I cold get a VFD for my Mill? My Webb (Bridgeport Clone) has a 3hp- 3 phase motor on it. I have 30 amps in 110v single phase to work with.

02-09-2009, 05:22 AM
.............I have a TECO/Westinghouse VFD on my mill.


It has quite a few features I don't use and at $250 paid more for it then I could have gotten away with, but they were the only ones to list a 2 year warranty. I use the On Off mode :-) and the only other is forward and reverse rotation. There's a bunch of other stuff, plus it's setup to be mounted someplace else and you can use a remote panel.

I have it set to coast to a stop, and a moderate acceleration to speed, both of which are programable. Something I probably should hook up is the emergancy stop. I don't suggest I understand, but apparently it dumps a considerable DC voltage into the motor (~3ph 2hp 240v) to stop it almost instantly.


02-18-2009, 09:43 PM
Have you found a lathe yet? I have a cummins 5278 7 x 12 might let go if you are looking for something small. Lots of extras faceplates w/ clamp kit chucks 3 and 4 jaw Lots of extras. 32 brand new C5 Carbide bits and HSS bits, some used c6 carbide bits. can get pics if interested.