I've been looking for a lathe sort of informally for 3-4 years. Most of the stuff on Craigslist was too big, 3 phase, beat to crap, too far away, or all of the above. I had actually ordered a mini-lathe from Horror Fright a couple of years ago but after 3 months of "It's on backorder" I got ticked and cancelled it.
Happened to be browsing Grizzly's website and they had their 7x12 on sale for $450, regularly $515. HF's equivalent was well over $600. Some surfing indicates that pretty much ANY mini lathe is coming from China, usually from the same factory, just different paint.
Same surfing expedition made it clear that you can expect to spend some time adjusting and tuning before you get any decent work out of one. Stoning and adjusting the gibs on the cross feed and compound, shimming runout out of the chuck, centering up the tailstock, that sort of thing. Fine, I can deal with that. So, I whipped out the ol' VISA and ordered it.
Got it in, spent a couple of hours disassembling and cleaning off all the cosmoline and just generally inspecting it. I was VERY pleasantly surprised. Without ANY adjustment, chuck runout is just under .001, talestock to chuck center is right on the money within the limits of my ability to check it, no slop at all in the crossfeed or compound, motor mount is square enough that the belt runs right in the center of the pulley. It does walk around a little, but it's not rubbing on anything.
Didn't order any tooling when I ordered the lathe as I wasn't sure what sort of tool holder I was dealing with. So I had to wait another week for the tooling to come in from Amazon. I got some inexpensive stuff to start with. Anytime Tools 5 piece 1/4" indexable carbide cutter set, center drills from the same outfit and a Nova MT2 1/2 drill chuck. That all came in today so I got to play a little.
Turned some steel round stock down from .325 to .310 to make it fit a dial indicator stand I had. Once I got the speed dialed in and used the auto feed, it cut a REAL nice smooth finish.
Had to make a couple of bearing spacers for the ATV I'm helping a neighbor kid rebuild/repair. The old bearings were .340 wider than the new OEM bearings. Happened to have a piece of pipe the right OD and ID, just needed to cut pieces .340 wide. Haven't gotten my parting tool in yet so whacked them off to rough size on the chop saw and then faced them down to finish size, which also ensured the faces were square with the bore. Worked slick.
Slipped the Morse Taper drill chuck into the tail stock, chucked up a center drill and bored a hole in the end of a bolt just for practice. Dead-nuts center within the margin of error of my measuring equipment. That's gonna make cross-drilling pins for grease zerks a snap.
The inexpensive cutters worked better than I expected. Once I got 'em shimmed up on the centerline, they cut nice with no chatter. Not gonna make any big hogging cuts with them, but most of the stuff I'll be fooling with won't need 'em anyway and hey, I'm retired. Time, I got.
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