What kind of lathes do you guys use?

7-11 Jedi

Well-Known Member
To those of you who lathe lightsabers, what kind of lathe do you use? I've lathed wood before, but never metal, and I was thinking of trying it out, but I don't really know the first thing about it. I'd like to get an inexpensive (or less expensive) lathe, and do some practicing on it. Any help?




Well-Known Member
I cant exactly remember the make of the Lathes we use at work,ill look on Monday.The guy who is making my ROTJ sabers is using the same one though.

Shame i only work on Wickman automatic machines all day long :angry


Sr Member
Gonna be tough to find an inexpensive metal lathe. If you're interested, you can try resin as an alternative turning medium. It can be turned just like wood, just have to be a little more careful. you also get a smoother finish.


Well-Known Member
Let me just say this.... Purchasing the machine is one thing. Figure about three times as much for the tooling.


Sr Member
Keep in mind that "inexpensive" is a relative thing. A $1000 piece of equipment is inexpensive compared to a $3000 piece of equipment. Let's see some makes and model numbers please. I'm starting to look into this myself, and first hand testimonials for good equipment would be appreciated. Also, if you've run into a lathe that you've found to be inferior or tough to maintain, please share that as well.


Master Member
I have an almost-too-small Harbor Freight 7x10 model. It's on injured reserve at the moment (the speed control...doesn't) but it'll be up and running again before long. If you end up buying a lathe, I'd suggest something in the 7x14 or better.


Sr Member
There's a ton of information on the web about options for home metal lathes.

Many small lathes come in packages with most of what you need. A lot of guys here ended up with a Sherline and seem pretty happy with them. The good thing about Sherlines is that they're pretty much ready to go from the box and you can do accurate and clean work on them in many materials.

The other option is a 7 x X Chinese lathe (I have a Cummins 7 x 12 and am very happy with it). These things can be a bit rough (especially if you buy the HF 7 x 10), but they can be tuned up to do great work and they have a lot more mass than the Sherline.

LOTS of info. on the latter HERE.


Well-Known Member
Originally posted by RogueScout@Feb 19 2006, 12:26 AM
Let me just say this....  Purchasing the machine is one thing.  Figure about three times as much for the tooling.
amen brother.

when i was looking into getting a lathe, i was seriously considering one of the import 7xX lathes out there, but in my case, growing up around my grandfathers south bend 9" lathe, which is now my dads, i just came to the conclusion that i would be frustrated at some point with the capacity/power of a mini, so i ended up snagging a used south bend model 9A lathe off ebay for $900.

in my opinion, if you have the space and can afford one, i would go with a full sized model over a mini. i may be a bit biased towards south bend lathes, but my grandfather bought his new in 1937, and it still works great to this day. plus, they were manufactured for decades, so spare parts and accessories are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

that being said, if you dont have the space/budget for a full size machine, the import minis are a nice option. they seem to be pretty popular, with a very devoted user base, and several online user groups/message boards.