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Thread: Mini Lathe Harbor Freight Question

  1. #61
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Wow....just reading this thread confirms what I already knew...that is how much I don't know.

    I bought a 9 X 19 Grizzly, with stand from an acquaintance worth the money to me. 90% of what I do on it has more to do with working on brass cases than anything else and, it works fine for that. The few projects I do in steel are both small and not very complicated so I just go slow. If any of you guys ever watched me work I'm 100% confident I would provide comic relief.....

    My "in house" basement shop is about 1100 sq. ft. and I'm very grateful. About 2 years after we built the house I went up the hill about 50 yards and built me a 24 X 20 shop that houses my automotive stuff and, believe it or not, 3 MG's, a '55 TF, a '56 A and a '74 B. 'Course I have to back one out to work on anything but there's a plan to add 12 more feet to the back. Then I QUIT!!!
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  2. #62
    Boolit Buddy Scrounge's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by brstevns View Post
    Are any of the Harbor Freight Mini Lathes capable of barrel threading?
    Any books out there for using a Mini Lathe for Dummies?
    https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Lathe-Wo.../dp/1854862545

    https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Lathe-To.../dp/1854862650

    The first book is a basic how to unpack, clean up, and get to know it book for the mini-lathe, and the second is how to make it do more than the basic out-of-the-box mini-lathe is capable of. Both well written, and photographed.

    Here is one guy's work done on a mini-lathe: http://www.packratworkshop.com/pdf/m...e%20rifles.pdf

    Not saying the mini-lathe is the ultimate gunsmith's lathe, because it is not. Am saying anyone who says they're useless is quite wrong.

    Bill

  3. #63
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Northwest Ohio
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    11,915
    Thats a loaded question asking if a mini lathe can thread a barrel many things come into this equation. Spindle bore size barrel od bed length and barrel length. A 3: pistol barrel they will do a fine job in a skilled operators hands a heavy sharps barrel to finish at 34" long probably not.
    They will cut threads but will be much slower and more care will be needed then a bigger heavier machine. What I mean is instead of .015-.020 roughing passes it will be more like .003-.005 per pass then .001 finish to clean up and size.

    But as stated in this post the hobbyist isnt interested in time as much as what can be done and the project. My concern of these small lathes is weight and overloading the bearings.

  4. #64
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    East Tn
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    Been reading this whole thing and I have quite a bit of experience with HF lathes just not the little 7" outfits. An important point that no one has mentioned so far is that from about 12x36 machines on up the Chinese lathes make a huge leap in quality! They certainly won't equal the heavy American or European industrial iron but they are not junk either and are more than capable of doing anything a hobbyist might ask of it. The point is just because it came from China does not automatically make it junk nor does the Harbor Freight name either if it's one of the larger machines. These lathes can be a real bargain and unless they have been neglected (left outside, etc) they usually have seen little use and thus little to no wear. I have seen many discussions about these machines and all too often we see people insisting that a person is much better off with an old industrial machine than a new, or little used, Chinese machine but is that true? Almost all of the old industrial machines in the same price range as the Chinese outfits have significant wear while it's rare to see that on the imports, Chinese machines are also likely to have many desirable features that won't be found on the old iron. From 12x36 on up Chinese lathes are pretty much the same regardless of brand, Enco, Precision Mathews, etc and even the discontinued HF heavy machines are the same except for color. Sure you can find older iron in decent shape sometimes but it's hard to find and rarely cheap these days, do you really want to buy even a nice 10" older American lathe when the same, or nearly so, money will get you a 14" swing, a longer bed, larger through hole and a quick change box? It makes no difference how much better quality the old iron is (was) if the job won't fit, and that's even if if the ways are not worn! I had a lot of people tell me, at least in "sugar coated way, that I was stupid for buying a new Harbor Freight 14x40 lathe but I had done my homework! That HF lathe was IDENTICAL in every way to Birmingham, precision Mathews and several other more expensive lathes that were different only in color and price, the HF lathe even came with a Birmingham YCL 1440 manual but at far less money. ALL of these machines were a lot more capable than any used "old iron" I could find at anywhere near the price, besides I got a new machine with a lot more desirable features and zero wear to deal with.

    But it will just fall apart in no time doncha know, all that Chinese stuff falls apart!

    Well I have run this thing unmercifully for about 12 years now almost everyday but weekends and I am still waiting for the first part to fall off! It's accurate and with 5 HP has all the power I need, I use it to do farm machinery and logging machine repair in addition to my hobby work, anyone who has spent time turning heavy weld buildup usually on badly balanced parts can attest to the punishment that kind of work deals out to a lathe but my Chinese HF "junk" machine has yet to let me down. Well I have to admit about five or six years ago I did have to weld together the engagement lever assembly after it broke, I can't imagine why the darn thing could not withstand my backing into it with a fork lift I mean this was just a small fork lift carrying a few hundred pounds! Chinese junk I suppose.
    Last edited by oldred; Yesterday at 09:27 PM. Reason: spellin
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check