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Chinese mini metal lathe differences?

Susquatch

Ultra Member
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Use it to do what specifically? I can't picture a mini-lathe replacing any of your reloading tools.

I don't want to put a lot on the forum but just picture turning case necks to a uniform thickness +/- a tenth alone. Right now I do it manually. Lots and lots of other very similar tasks well suited to a very small lathe with a powered spindle. Right now I have three tiny little manual lathes for these purposes. Some folks power them with a drill or a dedicated drive motor. Back in the day when such practices were developed there were no small lathes like this and for those who had a real lathe, it was much bigger.
 

DavidR8

Scrap maker
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I don't want to put a lot on the forum but just picture turning case necks to a uniform thickness +/- a tenth alone. Right now I do it manually. Lots and lots of other very similar tasks well suited to a very small lathe with a powered spindle. Right now I have three tiny little manual lathes for these purposes. Some folks power them with a drill or a dedicated drive motor. Back in the day when such practices were developed there were no small lathes like this and for those who had a real lathe, it was much bigger.
Do you have a Taig or similar?
 

Dabbler

ersatz engineer
@JradM Here is alternative. Instead of buying new, for under1000$ guys in Calgary can help you source a used Atlas or similar small lathe, usually with a little bit of starter tooling. It does depend on the room you have. I saw a Southbend 9A go for 1100 last year, but that is about 40" long overall. It does still sit on a bench though.

With controller board issues to somewhat poor fitting, and very low torque on the headstock, these machines have to be used carefully. In the hands of a highly skilled operator, they can do excellent work. I'm trying to propose something with a better return on the dollar, with perhaps better resale value.

Frankly it will prolly take about 3-5 months to find a great deal, but you will be starting with a much more rigid lathe that will be easier to start with.

Some of us have extra tooling which can be given or sold at nominal cost to get you started turning. ;)
 

Lapua

New Member
I don't want to put a lot on the forum but just picture turning case necks to a uniform thickness +/- a tenth alone. Right now I do it manually. Lots and lots of other very similar tasks well suited to a very small lathe with a powered spindle. Right now I have three tiny little manual lathes for these purposes. Some folks power them with a drill or a dedicated drive motor. Back in the day when such practices were developed there were no small lathes like this and for those who had a real lathe, it was much bigger.
Just curious how you would hold the brass to turn the necks? If by tenth, your meaning .0001”, that’s pretty tight tolerances for a Chinese lathe I would think.
 

Susquatch

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Just curious how you would hold the brass to turn the necks? If by tenth, your meaning .0001”, that’s pretty tight tolerances for a Chinese lathe I would think.

Yes, that's what I meant. +/- 0.0001.

I believe that most Chinese lathes are easily capable of that and better. The difficulty of doing it isn't as great as knowing that you really did. Metrology equipment exists for that but the technique usually limits their ability. I strive for consistency more so than an absolute number.

The truth is that the precision of the lathe isn't as important as the precision of the cutting tool. I learned how to use a lathe on a machine built in the mid 1880s. It couldn't hold a thou on its own if it's life depended on it! But there are ways to improve that dramatically. Applying these techniques to a modern lathe can produce amazing results.

For the subject at hand, I only really use the lathe to turn the brass slowly and consistently. The brass is held in collets that I made myself. I have three of them to fit 308 bases, 222 bases, and PPC. The actual cutting process floats to find its own axis of rotation independent of the lathe spindle.

Only new high quality Lapua annealed brass is used. I thought it quite interesting that Lapua is also your user name...... I'm guessing that is no coincidence. LOL!

First I cut the necks one thou oversize of my target dimension. Then I size them down a few thou in a forming die, then I size them back up over a precision ground mandrel that forms a smooth consistent inside diameter across the whole length of the neck. Finally, a floating cutter, that rides that smooth inside diameter like a reverse gauge pin, cuts the outside to the target thickness dimension relative to the inside.

In effect, the brass neck itself is used to create the reference for its own cutting process - not the lathe. But it sure helps when you have a nice smooth powerful machine to do all the spinning.
 

Lapua

New Member
@Susquatch
Lapua as my name is not a coincidence. lol
for your next custom rifle you should consider chambering it for Lapua brass using a no turn neck (with the exception of PPC).
But I digress, I am getting off topic from the original post.
cheers
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
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for your next custom rifle you should consider chambering it for Lapua brass using a no turn neck (with the exception of PPC).
But I digress, I am getting off topic from the original post.
cheers

About half my reamers have no turn necks for Lapua brass. Most guys don't like turning necks. For my own stuff, I prefer to turn. It only takes a couple of days at senior speed to prepare 100 brass.

No worries - Getting off topic is the norm here. Focussed topic threads are rare.
 

historicalarms

Ultra Member
I tried using a mini lathe I owned ( sold to a very fine forum member) at one time for brass trimming but it was a dismal failure for me altho it was no fault of the machines it was just my failure to properly build the holding devises needed to hold everything solidly in place for the job ...brass catches & bites & grabs against cutters if not held adequately.
if I would have done my part properly instead of haphazardly I think that mini lathe would have sure done its part.
 

Susquatch

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Premium Member
I tried using a mini lathe I owned ( sold to a very fine forum member) at one time for brass trimming but it was a dismal failure for me altho it was no fault of the machines it was just my failure to properly build the holding devises needed to hold everything solidly in place for the job ...

Glad to hear you don't blame the machine.

A friend got a new toy in an old caliber but new for him and wanted a modified Hornady seating depth gauge case. He asked if I would make it for him. Duh...... Is the Pope Catholic?

I used my big lathe to drill and tap the fired case. It's so easy it's ridiculous. But there we were back N forth between the shop and the house. Good thing the bride wasn't home.

As I did the job, I was constantly reminded of how useful a mini lathe in the basement would have been. Lotta money for such a thing new but maybe used........ I already have a heavy work table on top of a tool chest and bar fridge in that basement room where it could go.......... Just need to clean it off and find someplace else for everything that is there now........
 

Lapua

New Member
@Susquatch What cartridges are you shooting with Lapua brass? And if you don’t mind me asking, what rifles do you use? I used to be a gun nut, but sold everything off and was out of the country for a several years. I am just getting back into it now again.
 
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