Lathe Set up?

There’s a mini metal lathe on harbor freight for $500. I want it now.

Let me clear some things up.

  1. Wood lathes are ABSOLUTELY capable of modding. The recessed sticker mod? Invented on a wood lathe. Recesses aren’t precision operations really. You do have to be more careful when modding with a wood lathe for precise operations, but they have an advantage when cutting curved shapes. The only downside is you can’t really cut metal very well on them.

  2. Avoid harbor freight lathes. They can be hard to upgrade/modify, hard to find replacement parts for, and use non-standard parts. Taig is the way to go… check my buying guide in the sticky… you can get a full setup for a lot less than you might think.

  3. I don’t recommend drills. Not because they aren’t capable, but because they aren’t all that safe. This is especially true when using things like screwdrivers for cutting tools… they aren’t designed to take lateral pressure and can shatter or come out of the handle… that’s bad. If you are using a proper cutting tool and a properly mounted drill, they can be pretty handy. I still recommend a real lathe however… you’ll find drills don’t normally spin all that true, just because they don’t have to.


The ModFather uses a HarborFreight lathe lol

He didn’t say Harbor Freight lathes couldn’t do the job, just that they are “hard to upgrade/modify, hard to find replacement parts for, and use non-standard parts”. Harbor Freight sources their tools to multiple vendors and the parts may vary from batch to batch. Getting a match can be difficult.

Like jhb said, I never claimed they weren’t capable… go read what I said again.

They’re decent little lathes if you put some work into them… and they’ve gotten a bit better over the years (you use to have to break them down completely and rework everything).

However, you lack a lot of other features, and you can’t really upgrade/replace parts. They are meant to be cheap, nothing more.

The absolute biggest advantage Taig has over just about everybody, is the easily machinable/swappable jaws. You can also add countless upgrades, modifications, etc to improve the lathe as your skill grows. Parts are dirt cheap, you can have spares on hand just for convenience. I have extra chucks set up for various operations, extra tool posts, even an extra carriage assembly just to make things easier. I’ve built follower guides, digital readouts, etc. quite easily from available parts.

With the Harbor Freight lathe, you’re spending MORE, to get LESS options.

Read the lathe buying guide… total cost for a simple setup is well under $400. The harbor freight option is $500. Math says that a better quality, more flexible setup, for well over $100 LESS makes a whole lot of sense.


I’m looking into a job

Then I can start saving for a Taig

Just figured out a guy who likes my grandpas wood that he turns on his lathe offered him a FREE metal lathe since he dosnt use it and he thought about it for making me yoyos but ended up turning it down…