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Old 02-12-2015, 04:51 AM #1
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Default HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

Did some research on the forums and found some conflicting information about what a mini metal lathe can do. Wondering if anyone who's had one of these can clear things up for me.

I'm not allowed to have a job, as per request of my dad because he wants me to do good in school. I've been selling some lasers on ebay and person to person firstly to afford a 520nm laser, but now it's to afford a lathe so I could make my own hosts. I sold lasers in Altoids tins as "lab style" lasers (each takes about 6 hours), but I feel guilty reselling C6 lasers as DIY "just screw it together" from Survival Laser. Once I've liquidated all my current lasers and text books, I'm expecting to have about 700 US monies, and business has stopped dead still since after the Christmas shopping season, so at most I'll be able to afford this:
7" x 12" Mini Metal Lathe
I want to use this lathe to:
-Thread tail caps in aluminum and copper
-Boar 12mm and 19/32" holes for batteries and modules in aluminum and copper
-Maybe just maybe turn/face/bore stainless to make shot glasses, rings, and whatnaught

Specifically, I've read a few whispers that threading on these is a crapshoot. And that it doesn't have enough power to bore into any metal. On the other hand, I'm thinking why would these even be produced if the engineers knew it wouldn't work. And would I be able to work stainless if I only took off like 1 thousandth at a time?


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Old 02-12-2015, 09:28 AM #2
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

I have one very similar to that one. Do
yourself a favor and get a Sherline,
Proxxon, or better yet, keep saving up for
an old South Bend or a Tormach.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:07 PM #3
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

If your funds are limited, that lathe will work, but be sure to allow enough of your funding for tooling, such as drills, reamers, taps, drill chucks, and of course the lathe tooling itself - tool post, tool holders, threading tools etc.

It looks as if this lathe only threads in T.P.I. (english), which is ok if you're making both mating threads, but if you want to thread something to match an existing thread on anything else, such as a flashlight based host, or basically anything from overseas, it's going to be metric threaded.

I've heard some of those same things about "Horrible fright" tools and machinery, but others have said they get the job done, it just depends on your expectations!

Another thing you could look at is your local Craigs list, I've seen some gently used machines that people purchased, and hardly ever used, and some real junk also.


EDIT: Looking at the picture, it looks as if it might come with a tool post, but it doesn't show one in the "contents" list.
Also, I forgot to mention, if you've never used a lathe, be very careful. Even a small lathe like this can be dangerous!
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:28 PM #4
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

Anyone against me posting a review in this thread once I get one? Don't want to necropost. It may be in 3 or more months once I get everything sold and bought.
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Old 02-12-2015, 03:11 PM #5
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

I really think that you need to spend some time with some one that has a lathe before you go buy one! These take lots of practice and if your not careful you could loose a finger or more! If you know any one close that has one and would be willing to teach you that would be what I suggest! These things are Dangerous to the extreme. I worked on a few when I had access to one in high school! They take countless hours of practice to get proficient enough to make what you want. One of my buds in high school lost part of his right index finder to a metal lathe because he was not paying attention to it. I am not trying to scare you away from this its I would not like to see you hurt!

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Old 02-12-2015, 04:59 PM #6
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

Don't worry, I passed high school machine shop before anyone else did.. mainly because everyone else was busy smoking pot. I'm going to take manufacturing again next spring semester.
But the worst thing that happened in that class in high school was someone got high and was using the planing machine after milling the head of a hammer to size, and he didn't activate the magnetic grip, so it shot across the room and smacked a filing cabinet.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:05 PM #7
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

I have a cummins 7x12, which is pretty much the same thing. I'm very happy with it, using it mostly to make heatsinks.
I have not done any threading with it though.




My favorite place for tooling is https://littlemachineshop.com/default.php
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:19 AM #8
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

My main gripes are the toothed belt that
slips, the lack of power, the motor that's
buried deep inside, plastic gears, but
especially the lack of rigidity. They
don't really come with much. There are no
locks on any of the axes. You will have to
spend hundreds of dollars on tooling
anyway. It will arrive loose and
everything will need to be adjusted. You
will HATE to use it after working with real
lathes in school. Every time you touch it
or so much as look at the thing, you will
constantly be thinking, "If only this lathe
. . . like the ones we had in school."

A parting tool is the quickest way to
expose the weaknesses of these lathes. You
have to buy a quick change tool post
(another $100 or more) and the lathe has to
be run in reverse. If you try parting with
it fresh out of the box, it is guaranteed
to crash. The jibs are so loose that it
sucks in the tool and jams. Either the
tool breaks, the part goes flying, the belt
slips and starts shredding, or all of the
above.

Okay, so you tighten up the jibs. It might
still jam because there are no compound or
carriage locks. The compound can be
"locked" with the jib screws, but they are
very small and easy to strip out. When it
does work, it takes a REALLY long time
because you have to go so slow to keep it
from chattering, overheating, and the belt
slipping. Parting anything larger than 1"
is a real pain!

After I bought the only parting tool holder
I could find that would fit (also Chinese),
I discovered that it was not even made
right. The bottom of the tool rubs on the
part because it is held at the wrong
angle. I had to make a shim out of a piece
of beer can and it still doesn't really
work right.

Tightening the belt when it starts to slip
is probably the second worst. It is a
toothed belt and toothed belts are not
supposed to slip, but this one does because
it's just so poorly made. To tighten it,
the thing has to be taken almost completely
apart and there are a couple nuts and
screws that are REALLY hard to get at. Then
there are a couple small openings that were
not meant for fingers (at least not
caucasian ones) through which to hold the
motor and the belt tight whilst tightening
the nearly inaccessible nuts and bolts.
Make sure to have some warm water and
Aspirin ready before you start to treat
your sore hands and the inevitable
headache. Now with a nice tight belt, the
weak little motor will just sit there and
hum when you try and take a decent cut.

Now I am stuck with the thing and have to
make due with it, at least until I have
some money to buy something better. If I
could do it all over again, I would have
bought one of the ones I mentioned in my
comment above, or something else along
those lines. Don't make the same mistakes
I did when I was first starting out. But
hey, don't listen to me. Go ahead buy one
and hate yourself forever.
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:29 AM #9
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

If I were to buy a lathe today I'd get:
https://littlemachineshop.com/produc...ory=1271799306
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:51 AM #10
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by T_Warne View Post
If I were to buy a lathe today I'd get:
https://littlemachineshop.com/produc...ory=1271799306
That looks like basically the same thing.
Maybe with a slightly stronger motor
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Old 02-13-2015, 03:44 PM #11
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

" The 500 Watt brushless spindle drive motor provides tremendous low-end torque. And you can vary the speed from 50 RPM to 2500 RPM continuously in both directions. There are no gears to shift. "

@ lightning stalker: which lathe would you recommend for someone starting out?
@ agentmcbaine: what is your budget?
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Old 02-13-2015, 09:26 PM #12
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

@T_Warne: By calculations, once I liquidate all my stock, 678USD at the most

Actually, the Grizzly 7x12 looks pretty legit, finer than the HF POS.

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Old 02-14-2015, 04:37 AM #13
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

OP...you should also take a look at this website.

Some VERY good info on there about mini-lathes, and how to get yours up to snuff if you do get one.

From what I read there, almost all of the 7xN lathes are the same thing, just minor cosmetic changes. The HF 7x12 is among them. This is THE BEST mini-lathe resource I found, and I researched lathes for about 2 months. Still haven't bought one yet, though.

-G
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Old 02-14-2015, 05:27 AM #14
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

@derty21: The only thing I can tell you to do is go to user cp>subscriptions, and unsub from this thread. But I think it's nifty you're getting 4 emails at a time *maniacal laughter*
@Gadget: good source.

Yeah, that 7x12 Grizzly is making me pretty excited. ANSI and ISO threads. Not sure, but the gear train looks like it's made of metal too. $574 with shipping.

So I guess the last thing I have to do is have a 3 or 4 item blowout sale on the B/S/T forum. I estimate 4 weeks until I would have everything made up and ready to sell.
I'm getting really excited, guys.
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Old 02-14-2015, 05:57 PM #15
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

That is the exact same lathe as the HF.
The only difference is the color.
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Old 02-14-2015, 06:33 PM #16
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Default Re: HF 7x12 lathe good enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lightning Stalker View Post
That is the exact same lathe as the HF.
The only difference is the color.
Does grizzly not have ISO thread pitches as they claim? Same cheap electrical engineering? But it is cheaper and comes with a complete set of replacement gears and tools
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