Metal lathe buying advice

Cervelo R3sl

New Member
I'm new to the forum and just getting into building and I've realized quickly that I need a metal lathe. Can some members that have lathes give me some advice on brands, sizes etc., that work well for them. Thanks!


Sr Member
no chinese new. better to buy a good brand used. most of times used lathes come with quite some tools too. and its easier to do small parts on a big lathe than bigger parts on a small lathe.


Sr Member
curious why you say no chinese? my chinese lathe is about 5 years old now and still good as new, at a tiny fraction of the cost of a name brand one.


Sr Member
The three things you need to consider are:

1) How much room do you have?
2) How expensive is tooling going to cost?
3) How big a piece do I really need to turn?

For a medium size lathe at reasonable cost some of the Chinese lathes can work well once you get them dialed in. They're never going to compete with a nice Schaublin or Hardinge lathe but they cost a whole heck of a lot less. You can find older good quality Myford and Southbend lathes but you really need to know what you're looking at before you purchase one.

For a small garage workshop benchtop lathe I always recommend Taig lathes as they're pretty hard to beat for the price and the accessories are very inexpensive. Lots of people have them so there's a good support group for them too. You would be surprised what you can make with a Taig lathe.


Sr Member
I have a grizzly 13 x 40. Bought it new in 1997 along with a grizzly mill. Pretty big machines, but they can do anything that I need for props and other stuff.


Master Member
I had a Chinese (Harbor Freight) lathe. Worked well enough, though 7x10 turned out to be a bit shorter than ideal - I was turning aluminum saber hilts, mainly. Something went wonky with the circuitry after a couple of years of sporadic use. I still have it, and may try to get it repaired, but I won't spend a lot of money doing so. If/when I want to do more turning, I'll at least look at just replacing it with something better.
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