I have been considering buying a lathe for some time. I would possibly in time would want to be able to do some barrel work. I have been looking at a lot of used lathes, but I really don't know what to look for in a used lathe. The more affordable lathes (grizzly, PM) big enough for barrel work start around $3000. I know that is just the start of spending, looks like you can spend as much in tooling. Any recommendations? Thanks
Ron There is definitely a lot to consider and you will probably get many opinions. I started out from scratch and could give you some advice but typing it could be very time consuming. You have my number, why not give a call? While I am not a professional machinist, I think I know enough to help you on the right track for what you want to do. Richard
Grizzly makes a good machine for the money, so I would look there.. You will also need tooling and that can cost a pretty good chunk.. One thing I've learned for sure is don't buy cheap tooling, it just ain't worth it.. Every end mill I buy is solid carbide. They are expensive but will last a very long time.. All my lathe tooling is indexable carbide and I think that's the best way to go.. I will grind my tools sometimes from tool steel blanks depending on the material I'm cutting but that's not very often any more.. Was common practice back in my early days working in a machine shop..
When deciding on a machine, look at all its specs, make sure it meets all your requirements. If you buy one to small you can't use it on large parts, if you buy a big machine then you have to use it even on the smaller jobs and sometimes that a pain in the butt.
A good all around size is 12-36, 13-40, 14-40 make sure the spinal bore is big enough to except the largest parts you plan on turning.. Rifle work you need at least 1.375 bore. Speeds and feeds are important also.. The machine must be able to go slow enough for threading and fast enough for turning... Also the thread selection is important. Make sure it is capable of cutting all the thread pitches you will ever need..
And my best piece of advice is..... "Never buy a used machine unless you can operate it first.".