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Thread: New machines

  1. #1
    Senior Member Gerry's Avatar
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    New machines

    In past years my tool selection had been pretty limited. As I got older and more committed to doing things myself, I could clearly see, spending money on tools was a good investment.

    Now I have a pretty comprehensive selection of equipment that goes well beyond 'basic', but from time to time still find myself really having to improvise. Have lost count of all the slotting I have done using a drill, dremel and rat-tail file.

    For a few years now I have thought how nice it would be to have a milling machine and lathe. The cost of such equipment can be pretty high. Most commercial systems, though affordable when used, are so big and heavy. I dreaded the thought of trying to figure out how to get a 2000lb Bridgeport into my shop. I like things that are compact, so even with their limitations, I decided on benchtop units.

    The negatives of benchtop machines are numerous, but with much research I found many could be significantly minimized. Kind of like doing a cross country trip on your TW instead your BMW. A lot has to go into planning and setup. Your expectations have to be adjusted.

    Most, if not all machines presented to the home machinist are made in China. As well, one company seems to build the majority of them regardless of the final branding. Much like the low cost scooter market. There are however significant differences based on how the importer specs the machine they want to sell.

    With any of the smaller machines you have to compensate for it's lack of bulk (weight). I did this by bolting both my units to a 300 lb work bench. My system now weighs over 500 lbs and will likely cut smoother and more aggressively.

    Only time will tell, but it should be fun to play around and see what I can make. Gerry

    Last edited by Gerry; 10-20-2014 at 01:33 AM.
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    Take care my Friend.........

  2. #2
    Senior Member elime's Avatar
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    Looks good! And you shop is a lot neater than the mess in my garage!
    Long live the internal combustion engine!

  3. #3
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Looks great Gerry!

    I find tools to be a constant juggle. Most of us know what tools we want and need but we have to juggle between the cost of each tool, the room to use it in and the amount of tool time usefulness each tool will actually provide. I went through this in a major way with woodworking machinery. Pretty soon I had the tools to do the cabinetmaking work I wanted to do but lost the space in my shop to use and store them all. Every large tool had to be on wheels so I could shove them around and out of the way or in to position. I think tools are important but having the space in a shop is something most of us lack. Here in the NE I can probably afford the much larger shop but I could never afford to keep it heated.

    I had a similar issue with fishing boats. By the time I got the craft all set up with down riggers, fish finders, GPS navigation, communication radios and all the other important gear I then found I needed a first mate to help me run it all. I could not go fishing in my well appointed fishing boat by myself any better than I could cut up a sheet of plywood on my big table saw by myself.

    GaryL
    Last edited by GaryL; 10-20-2014 at 04:53 AM.
    Smitty Blackstone likes this.
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Gerry's Avatar
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    Amen to that Gary... It is all a juggling act; cost, space and actual need. I remember well, when I was a kid, my Dads complete tool kit was nothing more than a hammer, butter knife (screw driver) and two very nice pliers that he got while working at General Electric in Lynn, MA. I still have those neat pliers.

    Thanks Tony. Likely this is the only time you will see my shop this neat. Generally it is rather messy and I spend more time looking for things than making things. Then again, it is all about staying busy. Gerry
    Take care my Friend.........

  6. #5
    Senior Member small's's Avatar
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    Nice setup Gerry. I would love to have a mill and a lathe in the future.

  7. #6
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    I spent the money I saved buying used equipment at estate auctions held in rain to build a shop that is big enough to hold all my tools and toys, and all my son's tools and toys. Still enough room inside to park a semi, but if I do I have no room to fly my RC airplanes inside.



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  8. #7
    Senior Member Smitty Blackstone's Avatar
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    Got an HF mini lathe.
    I use an ancient Delta drill press for rough milling.

  9. #8
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty Blackstone View Post
    Got an HF mini lathe.
    I use an ancient Delta drill press for rough milling.
    You know Smitty, I think most of the Harbor Freight tools are pretty poor quality. That said, I have a few of them that fall in to the category rarely used but must have for certain jobs. I would not depend on them for my daily use tools but ones I did buy seem to be doing pretty good for light use. Chicago Electric is their in house brand and if I can't justify spending $200 on a good tool I am OK spending $50 on one that can get the job done a few times which is all I'll probably ever use them any way. I have their chain saw chain sharpener. When I use it to touch up a chain the chain cuts just fine. I already saved way more than that tool cost just by not having to get my chains professionally sharpened. A buddy has a Snap On compression tester that was close to $200. I have the HF one that was $29 on sale. We tried both on an outboard engine I have and both gave the exact same readings. That is good enough for me and close enough for my needs. We did the same test with his Snap On torque wrench and again my El Cheepo was close enough. I do not buy their hard tools, drill bits, chisels, screw drivers and such because they are just Chinese junk. If I had to depend on a metal lathe for a lot of work where thousandths of an inch was critical I would not buy the cheep one but most of my hobby stuff does not require that serious accuracy. Just having the right tool most times is the difference and on a lot of them it does not have to be the best quality that I simply can't afford. I bought their sliding compound miter saw a few years back to do a job installing crown molding. I needed the sliding capacity to go through 6 inch molding on big compound angles my Dewalt chop saw could not reach through. It got the job done just fine and I have lent it out to buddies who all say they like it and it cuts great. I can't actually say much bad about the cheep tools they sell other than I would not buy them for tools that I use daily and need to be high quality. Getting the jobs done and not having to spend the big money on HQ tools is an acceptable alternative. My little shop air compressor gets my tires filled just as good as my big one and it cost under a hundred where the same size good one would be closer to $500.

    Just be happy you have the tool and a bunch of money left over to buy parts and materials.

    GaryL
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
    2017 Snowdog Track sled tow motor for ice fishing
    Kubota BX2370 Subcompact tractor with snow blower
    Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing Kayaks

  10. #9
    Senior Member Xracer's Avatar
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    They are building a Harbor Freight close to me and both the wife and I are tool junkies. Please pray for us!!!

  11. #10
    Senior Member Gerry's Avatar
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    Smitty, as irony has it, I to have been using an old Delta/Rockwell drill press as my 'mill/lathe'. As well, my new lathe and mill are made by the same Chinese company the makes the Harbor Freight unit. Likely the machines 'skeleton' is the same for all the small lathes that you see. I understand the big difference is how the importer wants the machine speced. The small Harbor Freight unit has generally got good reviews. My machine is presented with an more powerful DC motor and control board. It also appears that the control knobs, nuts/bolts and measurement/calibration scales have been upgraded. I have not done much so far, but I am still impressed with what these small units do with out any fuss. Gerry
    Take care my Friend.........

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