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Historical discussion on buying a new or used lathe

Large used lathes sell for cheap. They have the capacity to work large pieces, and they may be of very high quality for the price. Transporting them is difficult: they can weigh (literally) a ton. Getting spares when they arrive incomplete, they break, or we want accessories could be very difficult. Making a decision as a group about what to buy could be very difficult -- the used market is a moving target.

New lathes cost a lot, but there are entry level lathes of reasonable quality that would get us started. The downsides are a more limited capacity, and a less rigid machine. The small machines coming out of China dominate the small-lathe market, and buying one of these would make it easy to get spares and accessories from multiple sources. There is also an online community of hobbyists using them that we could draw upon. Chester, Machine-Mart, Axminster, and Arc Euro Trade all re-brand and sell very similar Chinese lathes.

Desirable Features

  • Thread cutting
  • Variable speed
  • Quick change tool post

Concrete suggestions

The following small lathes have the features:

Joe says that these are rather small, and he knows, from experience, that they are easy to knock out of alignment. He recommends a bigger machine for beginners: -- 1,575.00 inc. VAT

(MT) That looks like a very good lathe. There still could be a place for a smaller, less expensive lathe in addition to a big lathe. If the Chester one is not a good choice for this, what about something like: - 725.00 inc vat

And in the same spirit for a lower cost milling machine: 1100.00 inc